September 30, 2014

Good News Tuesday: Polite Stewart, Jr. (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory)

Polite Stewart Jr. was 3 years old when his parents pulled him out of day care and his father began teaching him at home. The Baton Rouge, La., native loved learning science — and he clearly had an aptitude for it. At 14, he enrolled as a full time student at Southern University, majoring in physics. Polite graduated in December 2012 at 18, and is believed to be the youngest to do so in the university’s history.

He plans to pursue a career in biotechnology that will allow him to apply the science he loves to the real world. He is currently programming for BL7.3.3(SAXS/WAXS),providing user support, completing mechanical work and devising research proposals as a Postbaccalaureate Fellow at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

This blog will continue to seek out Good News stories about people of African descent and share them with you each Tuesday. We need to tell the positive and upbeat information about OURstory. We can't depend on others to do it for us. Please pass along any Good News story that comes your way. In the case of bloggers ... we want you to join our Good News parade every Tuesday.

September 29, 2014

Schedule an Hour of Code, December 8-14, 2014

Join the largest learning event in history, December 8-14. The Hour of Code is a global movement reaching tens of millions of students in 170+ countries. Anyone, anywhere can organize an Hour of Code event.

One-hour tutorials are available in more than 30 languages. No experience needed. Ages 4 to 104.

September 28, 2014

Sunday Inspiration: To Realize...

To realize The value of a brother or sister:
Ask someone Who doesn't have one.

To realize The value of ten years:
Ask a newly Divorced couple.

To realize The value of four years:
Ask a graduate.

To realize The value of one year:
Ask a student who Has failed a final exam.

To realize The value of nine months:
Ask a mother who gave birth to a still born.

To realize The value of one month:
Ask a mother who has Given birth to a premature baby.

To realize The value of one week:
Ask an editor of a weekly newspaper.

To realize The value of one hour:
Ask the lovers who are waiting to Meet.

To realize The value of one minute:
Ask a person
Who has missed the train, bus or plane.

To realize The value of one-second:
Ask a person
Who has survived an accident.

To realize The value of one millisecond:
Ask the person who has
Won a silver medal in the Olympics.

To realize the value of a friend
Lose one.

Hold on tight to the ones you love!!

~ Author Unknown

This blog will continue to seek out Sunday Inspirations, a meme inspired by Sojourner's Place. Sunday Inspirations is just one way to help get us through the week ahead, the trials we may face, and yes, to say 'Thank You Jesus' and testify! I invite you to participate in this weekly meme as your contribution might serve as an inspiration to someone in need.

September 27, 2014

Happy Birthday: Hiram Revels (1822-1901)

Hiram R. (Rhodes) Revels was born on this date in 1822. He was a Black educator, minister, and politician, and the first African American to serve in the United States Senate.

He was born as a free man in Fayetteville, N.C. Unfortunately, all Blacks in the South, free or slaves, were forbidden to learn to read and write. Revels was secretly taught these basics by a free Black woman. When he was 15, his family moved to Lincointon, N.C., where Revels worked as a barber. In 1844, he moved to Indiana (a free state) and began studying at Beech Grove Seminary, a Quaker school.

At this time Revels became involved with the teachings of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, a significant religious and educational force in the Black community. In 1845, Revels began studying for the ministry in Drake County, Ohio. Later that year, he was ordained as a minister of the AME Church, and made an elder in 1849.

Revels, an itinerant preacher, was imprisoned in Missouri in 1854, for preaching the gospel to Negroes. In the early 1850s, Revels married Phoeba A. Bass, and together they raised six daughters. He attended Knox College in Galesburg, IL, and in 1857, he became a minister became principal of an African American high school in Baltimore, Maryland.

When the Civil War started, He raised two Black regiments during the Civil War and fought at the battle of Vicksburg in Mississippi. He established a school for freedmen in St. Louis, in 1863, and worked with the U.S. Provost Marshall to handle the affairs of ex-slaves.

In 1865, Revels joined the Methodist Episcopal (ME) Church, which offered more opportunities for his work in the South. After the Civil War, the Reconstruction Act of 1867 required the Southern states to write new constitutions permitting African Americans to vote and hold public office. In the following year.  African Americans were officially recognized as citizens of the United States as a result of the Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution.

Later that year, Revels was appointed for a term on the Natchez city board of aldermen. During the first session of the Mississippi legislature in January 1868, Revels was asked to open the session with a prayer. According to John R. Lynch,
"That prayer-—one of the most impressive and eloquent prayers that had ever been delivered in the [Mississippi] Senate Chamber-made Revels a United States Senator. He made a profound impression upon all who heard him. It impressed those who heard it that Revels was not only a man of great natural ability but that he was also a man of superior attainments."
In 1869, Lynch, a Black political figure from Natchez, encouraged him to enter as a candidate for state senator, representing Adams County. Revels accepted the nomination at the Republican caucus in December 1869.

In January 1870, Mississippi elected Hiram Revels as a U.S. senator. He was seated on February 25, 1870, and held the office until March 3, 1871, becoming the first African American member of Congress. During Revels' short tenure, he introduced several bills, presented a number of petitions, and served on the Committee on the District of Columbia and the Committee on Education. After his term in the senate, Revels became president of Alcorn College from 1871 to 1873.

He then reentered the ministry as the pastor of the Holly Springs, Mississippi, ME church. In 1876, he came back to Alcorn College until 1882, then taught theology at Rust College in Holly Springs. On January 16, 1901, Revels died of a stroke.

To date, six African Americans have served in the United States Senate. Although Revels served in the Senate for just a year, he broke new ground for African Americans in Congress!

September 26, 2014

Greenville Pays $500,000 to Settle With Family of Andrew Torres in Taser-Torture Lawsuit

Andrew Torres
Andrew Torres, 39, was an unarmed and mentally-ill man who needed help. Instead he was the victim of prejudicial electrocution by Greenville (SC) police officers. The city of Greenville paid $500,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by the Torres family to make it go away.

The lawsuit was filed in June 2012 alleging the police violated Torres' civil rights.

Torres, a Greenville High School and University of South Carolina-Spartanburg graduate, had been diagnosed as schizophrenic and had suffered from mental illness beginning at the age of 21.

In August 2010, Torres' mental state had eroded to the point where his family asked police to enforce a court order allowing Torres to be involuntarily committed to a mental hospital.

The family asked that plainclothes officers with training in dealing with the mentally ill be dispatched. Instead the officers used excessive force in electrocuting Torres with multiple Taser shots over an extended time. The officers pushed him onto the bedroom floor face down and handcuffed him. After a series of struggles, Torres went limp and his face and fingers began turning blue.

The family alleges that officers continued to hold him down after he had stopped resisting and made no efforts to resuscitate him before EMS arrived.  Emergency workers determined that Torres was in cardiac arrest and transported him to a hospital where he was pronounced dead a short time later.

Read more.

September 25, 2014

A Letter to My Younger Brother...

The following letter was written by a young Black millennial to his younger brother. Their generation is experiencing life in America quite different than those of past generations. But, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Past generations had Emmett Till (1955) and Medgar Evers (1963). This generation has Trayvon Martin (2013) and Michael Brown (2014).

After reading this letter written to his younger brother my hopes for the current and following generations of Black men and women in this county has been uplifted. He demonstrates in this letter that he has a good understanding of the problems. More importantly, he shows that he has the intellect, determination and desire to help seek equal justice for all Black People in this nation.

We need this young man to continue on his quest to gain equality and justice for all. After all, it will be HIS GENERATION who has the mission to recover all of the progress that we had accomplished, as a race of people, during the last 60+ years. Some would say that the nation is backsliding on those accomplishments and that progress ... but, after reading this letter, I'm encouraged more than discouraged!

NOTE: This letter was written on July 13, 2013 ... just moments after Trayvon Martin's killer was declared 'Not Guilty' in Florida.

Dear Brother,

I have included family on this email. I want them to know that I have done my best to adequately arm you for the war taking place outside our doors on you and young men that look like you.

You are a wonderful, strong Black man, and I love you. I love you so very much. I love us, all of us.

Dear brother, I would fight for you at every opportunity. I would die for you. There is nothing that you could ever do, or that anybody could ever accuse you of, which would change just how much I love you. I am so proud of the young man you are, and the man that I can see you becoming. You are an honor student who loves to solve Rubik’s cubes. Not just the basic Rubik’s cubes, but the 5x5 and 6x6. You are learning both Mandarin and French. You excel in math and science, and have ambitions of attending Stanford University and becoming and neurosurgeon, satisfying your curiosity of the workings of the brain. You are a phenomenal athlete and a physical specimen who works hard to maintain a healthy lifestyle, abstaining from drugs, alcohol, coffee, fast food, and overindulgence of sweets. You love your mom and your family.

You are everything that this country has asked you to be; everything that qualifies as success. But you are Black. You are a young, Black, man. And you are a threat.

Your voice is deep, like your father and your grandfathers, commanding attention and respect. You are tall and will grow taller. You are strong, and will only become stronger because it is in your genes. Your family has tried to protect you from the realities of the world by professing the equality of all men in the United States of America. We have convinced you that despite a history of racism and a plethora of contemporary examples, with hard work and dedication you can achieve anything hear, and you’ve believed us.

However, tonight I am convinced otherwise. It is possible for you to reach the lofty goals you have set for yourself. But it is incredibly likely that the brightness of your star will intimidate others. And if not the brightness of your star, then the complexion of your skin most certainly will. For that, you can be shot dead in the streets. Not just by police. By anybody.

Please believe that you, and I, your cousins ... we are all Trayvon. We are Black men. Anything in your powerful hands can be construed and depicted as a weapon. The concrete beneath your feet for example, is a weapon. Your two Black hands themselves are weapons. The base in your voice is like the vicious bark of a rabid dog to so many who could never imagine that you were an amazing human being. Far too many people out there don’t see you as a human being to begin with, let alone amazing.

Brother, you have asked to get your ears pierced. You feel this is an expression of your identity. To this, I say no. I cannot and will not allow it. I wish I could. You should have the right to express yourself as you see fit. After all, you’ve earned it. You’ve worked hard, and I have no doubt that you will continue. You are incredibly polite and respectful of both elders and peers. If your complexion was lighter, and your hair straighter, and you could pass for something other than the Black young man that you are, then maybe, just maybe, you’d be safe.

But you are a strong Black man in the United States, and I am not willing to lose you, so you can express your right to make a fashion statement. I pray others continue to show that you can’t judge a book by its cover. I hope that men of color, men with tattoos and piercings, men of all backgrounds continue to do amazing things and show the world that their assumptions about people are incredibly ignorant. I hope people of all colors around the country will dawn hoodies as a symbol of solidarity with all those who have been unfairly judged by a court of law, or a court of public or individual opinion. But you will not. Such actions will draw visibility to the issue and eventually bring about a real conversation about race, fear, and the legal system in America.

But I will not sacrifice my brother to this battle. The cards are already stacked against you. They have been since birth. Tonight, we were reminded the degree to which this is true. One move too quickly or one glance too long is all it takes. To lose you would be more than I could bear. But to lose you and to watch your killer walk free from punishment ... that would absolutely break me. You will not willingly provide another reason for them to take you out. You and your powerful blackness have provided enough already. I am sorry that I cannot always be there to protect you.

This letter brought to mind a video of famous Black actors that was shared during the height of the Trayvon Martin tragedy. I think it is appropriate to share it with you now:

September 23, 2014

Taser Death: Daniel Satre (Ballston Spa, NY)

Daniel Satre
It happened again! This time an unarmed man was electrocuted by 50,000 volts from each of the taser guns used on him by some or all of the six unidentified Ballston Spa (NY) police officers called to his home on Saturday, September 20, 2014.

The police officers were coming to arrest 43-old Daniel Satre for 'disorderly conduct'. I'm not a lawyer ... but, I'm fairly certain that the death penalty is not the legal penalty for 'disorderly conduct'. Again, we see a case of overzealous police officers using their not-quite-lethal taser guns when they feel the slightest bit of disrespect from a citizen.

This time the taser torture was caught on video by a neighbor.

A total of six officers were at the scene. They couldn't be patient or strategic enough to take Mr. Satre into custody without taser-torture. As a result, another unarmed human being is dead.

At a news conference the next day, Village Police Chief Charles Koenig said Satre was warned several times that officers were preparing to tase him. Koenig said criminal and internal investigations are being conducted, and that no disciplinary action had been taken against the officers who used the taser guns on Satre. Officers from both Ballston Spa and the State Police electrocuted Satre, officials confirmed.

OURstory: Mary Church Terrell (1863-1954)

Black History is something that should be shared 24/7/365 ... not just in the month of February. We should glorify OURstory whenever we have the chance to do so.

Villagers, it turns out that a remarkable nubian woman was born on this day (September 23) in 1863. Her name was Mary Church Terrell and she lived for 90 years and had a remarkable influence for African Americans ... particularly women.

You can click here to read her full bio. Here are some excerpts that I found uplifting:
She was a popular speaker and lecturer and wrote many articles denouncing segregation. Her appointment to the District of Columbia Board of Education in 1895 was a first in America for a woman of color. She resigned in 1901, was reappointed in 1906, and held the post until 1911. In 1909, she was one of two Black women (Ida B. Wells-Barnett was the other) invited to sign the "Call" and be present at the organizational meeting of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, thus becoming a charter member of the national organization. She assisted in the formation of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority at Howard University in 1914, accepted honorary membership, and wrote the Delta Creed, which outlined a code of conduct for young women.

Mary Church Terrell was involved in the international women's movement on three occasions. She represented Black women on the American delegation to the International Congress of Women at Berlin in 1904 and was the only women to deliver her address in English, German, and French. Her theme was equal rights for women and people of African descent wherever they may be found. In 1919, she received international recognition as a speaker on the program at the Quinquennial International Peace Conference in Zurich, and in 1937 she delivered an address before the International Assembly of the World Fellowship of Faith in London. In 1940, she wrote her autobiography, A Colored Woman In A White World.
This is an example of a powerful African American who may not be known well enough in our community. Villagers, did you know of this sister before today?

September 21, 2014

Sunday Inspiration: And Then It Is Winter

You know. . . time has a way of moving quickly and catching you unaware of the passing years.

It seems just yesterday that I was young, just married and embarking on my new life with my mate. Yet in a way, it seems like eons ago, and I wonder where all the years went. I know that I lived them all. I have glimpses of how it was back then and of all my hopes and dreams. But, here it is... the winter of my life and it catches me by surprise...How did I get here so fast? Where did the years go and where did my youth go?

I remember well seeing older people through the years and thinking that those older people were years away from me and that winter was so far off that I could not fathom it or imagine fully what it would be like. But, here it friends are retired and getting grey...they move slower and I see an older person now. Some are in better and some worse shape than me...but, I see the great change....Not like the ones that I remember who were young and vibrant...but, like me, their age is beginning to show and we are now those older folks that we used to see and never thought we'd be.

Each day now, I find that just getting a shower is a real target for the day! And taking a nap is not a treat anymore... it's mandatory! Cause if I don't on my own free will... I just fall asleep where I sit!

And I enter into this new season of my life unprepared for all the aches and pains and the loss of strength and ability to go and do things that I wish I had done but never did!

But, at least I know, that though the winter has come, and I'm not sure how long it will last...this I know, that when it's over on this's NOT over. A new adventure will begin!

Yes, I have regrets. There are things I wish I hadn't done...things I should have done, but indeed, there are many things I'm happy to have done. It's all in a lifetime.

So, if you're not in your winter yet...let me remind you, that it will be here faster than you think. So, whatever you would like to accomplish in your life please do it quickly! Don't put things off too long!

Life goes by quickly. So, do what you can today, as you can never be sure whether this is your winter or not! You have no promise that you will see all the seasons of your, live for today and say all the things that you want your loved ones to remember...and hope that they appreciate and love you for all the things that you have done for them in all the years past!

~ Author Unknown

It's Not What You Gather,
But What You Scatter That Tells What Kind Of Life You Have Lived.

This blog will continue to seek out Sunday Inspirations, a meme inspired by Sojourner's Place. Sunday Inspirations is just one way to help get us through the week ahead, the trials we may face, and yes, to say 'Thank You Jesus' and testify! I invite you to participate in this weekly meme as your contribution might serve as an inspiration to someone in need.

Rest in Peace: Troy Davis (1968-2011)

The state of Georgia carried out the death penalty on Troy Davis on this date in 2011.   He was declared dead at 11:08 pm ET on September 21, 2011.  Not much else to say at this point.

May God have mercy on his soul.

Happy Birthday: Kwame Nkrumah (1909-1972)

On this date we mark the birth of Kwame Nkrumah in 1909. Kwame Nkrumah became the first prime minister and later president of Ghana. He was born at Nkroful in what was then the British-ruled Gold Coast, the son of a goldsmith.

In 1930, at Achimota College in Accra, the capital of the Gold Coast Nkrumah earned a teacher's certificate and taught at several Catholic elementary schools. In 1939 he graduated from Lincoln University with B. A. degrees in economics and sociology, earned a theology degree from the Lincoln Theological Seminary in 1942, and received M. A. degrees in education and philosophy from the University of Pennsylvania in 1942 and 1943.

He also promoted Pan-Africanism, a movement for cooperation between all people of African descent and for the political union of an independent Africa. In 1945 he went to London, to study economics and law. That year he helped organize the fifth Pan-African Congress, in Manchester; with Black American sociologist and writer W.E.B. Du Bois, future president of Kenya Jomo Kenyatta, and American actor and civil rights activist Paul Robeson. In 1946 Nkrumah left his academic studies to become secretary general of the West African National Secretariat. That same year, Nkrumah became vice president of the West African Students Union, a pro-independence organization of younger, more politically aggressive African students studying in Britain.

He returned to Ghana in 1947 and became general secretary of the newly founded United Gold Coast Convention but split from it in 1949 to form the Convention People's party (CPP).

However, the strikes had convinced the British authorities to move the colony toward independence. In 1951 Nkrumah, while still in prison, won the central Accra seat by a landslide. The British governor of the Gold Coast released Nkrumah from prison and appointed him leader of government business. The following year he named him Prime Minister. Reelected in 1954 and 1956, Nkrumah guided the Gold Coast to independence in 1957 under the name Ghana, after an ancient West African empire. Nkrumah built a strong central government and attempted to unify the country politically and to muster all its resources for rapid economic development.

As a proponent of Pan-Africanism, he sought the liberation of the entire continent from colonial rule, offered generous assistance to other African nationalists, and initially pursued a policy of nonalignment with the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). His goal was never realized, but his efforts helped bring about the Organization of African Unity in 1963, which promotes peace and cooperation between African nations. In 1960 Ghana became a republic and Nkrumah was elected president. Between 1961 and 1966 Nkrumah put together an ambitious and very expensive hydroelectric project on the Volta River that though highly successful, was laced with economic mismanagement along with several other developmental schemes over the period.

As time passed he was accused of forming a dictatorship. In 1964 he formed a one-party state, with himself as president for life, and was accused of actively promoting a cult of his own personality.

Nkrumah did not hesitate to use strong-arm methods in implementing his domestic programs. He remained popular with the masses, yet his tactics made enemies among civil servants, judges, intellectuals, and army officers. While Nkrumah was visiting China in 1966, his government was overthrown in an army coup. He spent his last years in exile, dying in Bucharest, Romania, on April 27, 1972, while receiving treatment for throat cancer. Kwame Nkrumah's remains were returned to Ghana for burial in his hometown.

His legacy and dream of a "United States of Africa" still remains a goal among many.

September 20, 2014

Never a Good Idea to Refer to Shonda Rimes as an 'Angry Black Woman'

The Black Twitterverse exploded when Alessandra Stanley published her New York Times op-ed re: media mogul Shonda Rhimes earlier this week. I suspect that Alessandra didn't understand the blow-back that would be unleashed about the story referring to the 'Grey's Anatomy' and 'Scandal' powerhouse as "an angry black woman".

Shonda Rhimes went to Twitter to let folks know she wasn't happy with the description.

Shonda's star in 'Scandal', Kerry Washington, also had a short and sweet retort to the NY Times article:

There was a fury of Twitter posts using the #IWasAnAngryBlackWoman hashtag after the article was published.   And there is an online petition seeking to have an apology and retraction of the article.

Moral of the story? Don't use the phrase 'Angry Black Woman' unless you can back it up!

September 19, 2014

Obama's Weekly Address: The World Is United in the Fight Against ISIL

In this week’s address (transcript/video), the President thanked Congress for its strong bipartisan support for efforts to train and equip Syrian opposition forces to fight ISIL. This plan is part of the President’s comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy to degrade and destroy the terrorist group, and does not commit our troops to fighting another ground war. America, working with a broad coalition of nations, will continue to train, equip, advise, and assist our partners in the region in the battle against ISIL.

In the coming week, the President will speak at the United Nations General Assembly and continue to lead the world against terror, a fight in which all countries have a stake.

September 18, 2014

DNC Ad Uses President Obama to Rally Black Voters

President Obama is featured in a new ad for the Democratic National Committee, the first in a $1 million campaign to turn out young, minority and female voters in the midterm elections.

The radio ad titled “Obstruction” released Monday laments the opposition Obama has faced from congressional Republicans. It is aimed at black voters and will run on African American radio stations nationwide.

No Democratic President in U.S history has faced the level of obstruction from the Republicans that Barack Obama has. It’s critical that we continue to fight for change and vote on Nov. 4,” the narrator says.

Obama then outlines his vision for an economy where “hard work pays off.” The radio spot features excerpts from a speech, where the president touts higher wages, affordable health insurance and decent health benefits.

Read full article on TheHill.

September 17, 2014

Does Anyone Care About Alarming Dropout Rates Among Black Men?

The federal government should require all colleges to create early-alert systems that flag students with low test scores, missing assignments, or spotty attendance. That would be one way, according to a report released on Tuesday, to curb the alarming number of minority men who drop out of college. [SOURCE]

The report, "Advancing the Success of Boys and Men of Color in Education," is the result of brainstorming by diversity researchers at seven higher-education institutions. It is aimed at building on the momentum of My Brother's Keeper, the Obama administration's effort to improve education and career outcomes for young minority men.

Black men lag behind their peers in other races when it comes to graduating from both two- and four-year colleges, according to federal statistics that track their completion through 2009 and 2012, respectively. Only a third of black male students graduated from four-year colleges within six years, compared with 45 percent of Hispanic men, 57 percent of white men, and 64 percent of Asian men.

For two-year colleges, the percentages who received a certificate or degree or who transferred to a four-year college over six years were 32 for black, 30 for Latino, 40 for white, and 43 for Asian men. But minority men aren't the only ones who would benefit from the changes the group is proposing.

The report makes 11 policy recommendations aimed at better preparing and tracking students as they progress from pre-school through 12th grade. In addition, it offers four that specifically relate to higher education.

Read the full Black Star Journal article.

September 16, 2014

Technology Expresso Cafe: Taking Social Media Serious - Social Media Job Search Tips (Dawn Major)

Jacqueline Sanders is the co-host of a vibrant Internet radio show, Technology Expresso Cafe. Her efforts are regularly showcased on my other blog. However, I thought that many 'villagers' would benefit from the discussion that Jacqueline has with Dawn Major.

At the end of the day, the question that you're being asked is a simple one: 'Is Social Media your hobby or is it your next career move?!'

Check Out Relationships Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Tech Expresso Cafe on BlogTalkRadio

What did you learn from this online dialogue?

September 15, 2014

Alabama Deputy Sheriff Serves as Judge, Jury and Executioner-by-Taser of Unarmed Ricky Hinkle

Ricky Hinkle
It happened again! This time we learned from one of our blog readers about the taser-torture applied to 47-year old Ricky Hinkle by unidentified officers of the Jefferson County Jail in Birmingham, AL on September 13, 2014. The Jefferson County Sheriff's office indicates that one of its deputies was disrespected by this unarmed inmate and as a result they feel justified in taking his life with this extra-judicial electrocution. [SOURCE]
"While in the process of moving, the inmate threatened to harm himself. At that point it was determined the inmate should be placed in a cell that allowed twenty-four-hour monitoring to prevent any possible suicide attempt," the agency said.

"When they arrived at the cell the inmate became combative, refused to enter and began scuffling with one of the deputies. A second deputy deployed a Taser to bring the inmate under control. After engagement the inmate fell to the floor and became unresponsive," according to the statement.
... or as I like to think of it:
"Unarmed human being disrespected a sheriff deputy. Sheriff deputy and his posse pulled out their tasers and pumped the unarmed human being with over 50,000 volts of electricity. Surprise. He fell to the floor and died."
Mr. Hinkley is just another in a growing list of human beings that are being killed in front of our eyes. I wonder if the unidentified deputy sheriff will be disciplined for serving as judge, jury and executioner?

OURstory: Jan Matzeliger (1852-1887)

I agree with President Obama ... Kanye West is a 'jackass'. However, he seems to be a cultural icon for African American youth. Perhaps it is time for us to get busy providing some alternative icons for our youth. We have large numbers of Black and Brown students with little or not preparation in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) subjects. Without STEM background in the future, these students may find themselves with no employment opportunities.

Jan Ernst Matzeliger realized as much. Did you know that Jan Matzeliger was born on this date in 1852. He used STEM knowledge to create a shoe-lasting machine that mechanically shaped the upper portions of shoes.

Matzeliger was born on September 15, 1852 in Suriname (South America), the child of a biracial marriage. His father was a white engineer from Holland and his mother was a Black woman in the Dutch colony. By his third birthday Matzeliger was sent to live with his father’s sister. By the time he turned 10 years old, Matzeliger became a worker in the machine shop that his father owned. It was at this time that he quickly became aware of his talent for working with machinery.

Although he was skilled in this area, Matzeliger did not initially pursue a career in engineering or inventing. In 1871 at the age of 19 he left Surinam and worked as a sailor for two years. By 1873 he settled in Philadelphia where he worked in a variety of trades.

In 1876 he moved to Lynn, Massachusetts. Matzeliger arrived in Lynn barely able to speak English. Nonetheless he began working in a shoe factory. Despite his language difficulties, Matzeliger began working on various innovations that would improve shoe manufacturing productivity. Working alone and at night for six months, he produced a model in wood and on March 20, 1883, received a patent. The patent number is 459,899.

His patent was subsequently bought by Sydney W. Winslow, who established the United Shoe Machine Company. The continued success of this business brought about a 50% reduction in the price of shoes across the nation, doubled wages, and improved working conditions for millions of people dependent on the shoe industry for their livelihood. Winslow’s corporation made $50 million in the next dozen years and put Lynn, MA on the map as the shoe capital of the world.

Matzeliger’s work habits and his neglect of his health, however, soon took a toll. In the summer of 1887, he caught a cold then developed tuberculosis. Jan Matzeliger died on August 24 of that year in his mid-30s, long before he had the chance to realize a share of the enormous profit derived from his invention.

Matzeliger is not a household name but it should be. He was honored on a 29 cent first class U.S. postage stamp in 1991.

I hope that he included in the American history lessons of our public schools around the nation! Jan Matzeliger should be discussed with our young people ... not Kanye West.

September 14, 2014

Sunday Inspiration: Time

If you had a bank that credited your account each morning with $86,400 - with no balance carried from day to day - what would you do? How would you spend your money?

Well, you do have such a bank ... time.

Every morning, time credits you with 86,400 seconds to use for whatever purpose you choose. Every night it rules off as “lost” whatever you have failed to use toward good purposes.

It carries over no balances and allows no overdrafts. You can’t hoard it, save it, store it, loan it, or invest it. You can only use it.
  1. Nobody can manage time. But you can manage those things that take up your time. 
  2. Time is a priority. You have enough time for anything in the world, so long as it ranks high enough among your priorities.
  3. Time is expensive. As a matter of fact, 80 percent of our day is spent on those things or those people that only bring us two percent of our results. 
  4. Time is irreplaceable. We never make back time once it is gone.
  5. Time is measurable. Everybody has the same amount of time…pauper or king. It is not how much time you have; it is how much you use.
  6. Time is perishable. It cannot be saved for later use.
I can’t control what life does to me but I can control how I react to what life does.”  ~ Lewis Timberlake ('First Thing Every Morning')

This blog will continue to seek out Sunday Inspirations, a meme inspired by Sojourner's Place. Sunday Inspirations is just one way to help get us through the week ahead, the trials we may face, and yes, to say 'Thank You Jesus' and testify! I invite you to participate in this weekly meme as your contribution might serve as an inspiration to someone in need.

Rest in Peace: Patrick Swayze (1952-2009)

Patrick Swayze is an actor that I always enjoyed without telling anyone. I'm sad that he died on this date in 2009. He fought a strong battle against cancer for over 18 months.

I watch him in Red Dawn whenever it comes on television. I like the fact that his guys in the movie called themselves Wolverines. I like that his character is a strong big brother in the film. And I like that Ron O'Neal was able to demonstrate some acting chops outside of his Super Fly role.

When I was much younger Swayze showed me what Dirty Dancing was all about. "Nobody puts Baby in a corner!" is the line I remember ... but, it was the writhing bodies that I enjoyed. Villagers, my dancing moves are mostly from my college years in the late 1970s ... but, late at night with the right partner ... I can Dirty Dance with the best of them courtesy of Patrick Swayze!

I also enjoyed Swayze's role in Road House. It was a wild west story told in a suburban bar. It is always good to see the good guys kick the bad guys in the butt at the end of the movie. Swayze has me thinking about taking up martial arts whenever I watch this flick. Anyone remember when he said, 'Pain don't hurt' in this movie?

Finally, who among us doesn't wish that we had a love as strong as Patrick Swayze had with Demi Moore in Ghost. You can visualize that scene with the clay right now, huh!?! There are two bad guys in this movie ... Tony Goldwyn (Carl Bruner) and Rick Aviles (Willie Lopez). I didn't realize until tonight that actor Rick Aviles died of AIDS back in 1995.

I'm having flashbacks to Next of Kin and Point Blank!

Anyhow, I share all this to let you know that I'm truly sad to learn that Patrick Swayze has transitioned. May he rest in peace.

September 13, 2014

President Obama: 'We Will Degrade and Destroy ISIL'

In this week’s address, the President reiterated his comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy to degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group ISIL.

His plan brings together a campaign of targeted airstrikes, increased support for Iraqi and Kurdish forces already taking on terrorists, assistance from allies and partners, expanded efforts to train and equip the Syrian opposition, and ongoing humanitarian aid for those displaced by ISIL. The President expressed his immense appreciation for the military men and women who make these efforts possible, and reminded the world that America continues to lead and stand strong against terror.

What is your take on our Commander-in-Chief's message re: the continuing terrorist threat?

September 12, 2014

Hey White People: A Kinda Awkward Note to America by Ferguson Kids

Racism is not over, but these kids from Ferguson, Missouri, are way over it.

In a new video from social justice-oriented T-shirt company FCKH8, several Ferguson children lampoon the excuses white people give to avoid getting involved in ending discrimination in America and deliver a call to action to stomp out racism.
"Just because Beyoncé is on your playlist and you voted for Obama doesn't mean that our generation has seen the end of racist drama," the kids, who range in age from 6 to 13, say. They add later, "We just want an equal shot at life, not to be shot to death."

September 10, 2014

Blackonomics: 'No Justice, No Profit!'

Jim Clingman
by Jim Clingman
Cross-posted from Blackonomics

In a previous article, “The Profit of Protest,” I noted the ridiculous scenario of Black people protesting while others profited, how we travel across the nation to march and never march into a Black hotel, a Black restaurant, or to a Black owned bus company to get to the march, or fill up at a Black owned gas station. I ended that column by noting that we count people “at” our protests while others count profits “from” our protests. Through the years I have wondered when we would “get it.” It took a group of young people who went to Ferguson, Missouri over the Labor Day weekend to encourage me in that regard.

They get it. The Howard University Student Association, led by its incoming President, Mr. Leighton Watson, organized a 13-hour bus trip from Washington, D.C. to protest alongside other students from Washington University and other colleges. They went to stand with the residents of Ferguson to seek real solutions to the issues that plague that city.

An interesting thing happened on their way to the march. Those young people marched to a Black company to charter their bus. When they got there they marched to a Black restaurant to eat. They made every effort to find a Black owned hotel, but the Roberts Hotel in St. Louis is closed. They did, however, manage to get accommodations at a black owned franchised hotel. They let their money speak as they protested; I even saw a sign that said, “No Justice, No Profit.”

Click here to read the rest of this Blackonomics article.

Rest In Peace: Dr. Ron Walters (1938-2010)

Dr. Ron Walters died on this date in 2010 in Bethesda, Maryland after a long battle with cancer at the age of 72.

Born in Wichita, Kansas, on July 20, 1938, Walters led a renowned career as a political scholar and expert in Black politics.

A graduate of Fisk University, Dr. Walters earned his graduate degrees from American University. He taught at Georgetown and Syracuse Universities; chaired the African and Afro-American Studies Department at Brandeis University and the Political Science Department at Howard University; and worked as professor of government and politics at the University of Maryland. He served as director of the African American Leadership Institute and Scholar Practitioner Program. Later, he became the distinguished leadership scholar at the James MacGregor Burns Academy of Leadership.

Walters served as a campaign manager and consultant for the Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. during his two presidential bids and was a policy adviser for Congressmen Charles Diggs and William Gray. During the 2000 election season, Walters worked as a political analyst for Black Entertainment Television's Lead Story. He was a regular guest and commentator for several political talk shows on radio and television.

Walters was a political columnist for the Black Press. Beginning in The Washington Informer. Walter's weekly column From the Desk of Ron was syndicated in more than 200 Black newspapers across the country.

He published more than 100 academic articles and authored several award-winning books including including The Price of Racial Reconciliation and Freedom Is Not Enough.

He leaves behind his wife Patricia Ann Walters.

September 9, 2014

8th Annual Blogging While Brown Conference (June 19-20, 2015)

'Villagers' are encouraged to mark your calendars with an eye towards attending the 8th Annual Blogging While Brown conference on June 19-20, 2015 in Austin, TX. Austin is a thriving tech-centric city and is where the Blogging While Brown operation is headquartered. Early registration will open soon.

For information about sponsoring Blogging While Brown 2015, email Joi Gamble, director of Brand Partnerships at

September 8, 2014

Elevator Knockout Video Ends Career of Ray Rice with Baltimore Ravens

The Baltimore Ravens announced via their Twitter account that they have cut Ray Rice from the team after video of his physical assault of a woman in an elevator went public.

'Villagers' may recall that Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was suspended for two games in July following an indictment for felony aggravated assault against his then-fiancée Janay Palmer, and now TMZ has published video of the incident.

In the disturbing video, Rice and Palmer — who were married in March — are seen arguing outside of an elevator in an Atlantic City casino. They each take a swing at each other before Rice punches Palmer hard with his left fist, throwing her back into a railing and knocking her out cold. The rest of the video, parts of which surfaced in February, show Rice haphazardly dragging an unconscious Palmer out of the elevator.

Twenty-seven-year-old Rice received a two-game suspension for the incident, which many protested as far too lenient. In August, in response to the backlash, the NFL announced tougher penalties for players who commit abuse or assault: six games for a first offense, and a potential lifetime ban for a second.

As for the charges, Rice entered a pretrial intervention program instead of going to jail, and completion of the program could lead to the charge being wiped from his record completely.

This was a no-brainer once you see the video. It is unlikely that Ray Rice will ever play again in the NFL. What franchise would hire this guy? I suspect we'll see him fighting women in the WWE before long...

September 7, 2014

Spoken Word: Daniel Beaty, 'Knock, Knock'

Soulclap to my sister for sharing this with us via her Pinterest account.

Daniel Beaty is an actor, singer and author ... as well as a spoken word artist. I hope you enjoy his personal 'Knock, Knock' story.

September 6, 2014

When Did Americans Become the Enemy?

Armored tanks. Automatic weapons. Tear gas. In small towns across America.

When did we all become the potential target of hostile military-police aggression? When the federal government decided to spend billions getting police every toy they could possibly want.

To use against our own citizens. With no protocol or training on when such force and intimidation may be justified.

Soulclap to the folks at Brave New Films for pulling this information together. Quick facts on Police Militarization:
  • Pentagon’s Excess Property Program (1033 Program) has supplied police departments across the country with more than $4.3 billion in gear since 1997. This includes $449 million in 2013.
  • St. Louis County, where Ferguson is located, received two military vehicles, a trailer, a generator, 12 5.56-millimeter rifles and six .45 caliber pistols from the Pentagon.
  • Military style police raids have increased in recent years, with one count putting the number at 80,000 such raids last year.
  • In SWAT style raids, people of color are most affected - 37% were Black, 12% Latino, and 19% White. Race was not known for the remainder.

Police militarization grew out of our failed drug war. Does a town of 2,200 need a massive military tank? Why does the police department in Dundee Michigan need a MRAP (Mine-Resistant, Ambush-Protected vehicle)? They don’t. Military grade gear does not improve the safety and security in small towns. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel must end the flow of military grade gear from the Pentagon to our local communities. It’s time for the militarizing of police to end.

Last month, protests in Ferguson, MO turned violent after police showed up in full SWAT gear after fellow officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown. But Ferguson isn’t the only community receiving military grade weaponry from the Pentagon.

You can fight back. SIGN THE PETITION:

September 5, 2014

Old School Friday: The O'Jays and Simply Red

The theme for this week's Old School Friday meme is All About the Benjamins.

The first song that came to mind was simple ... who doesn't remember The O'Jays talking about cash money in their 1974 hit song, For The Love of Money!

However, my current economic situation seems to flow more with Simply Red and his lyrics from his first big hit, Money's Too Tight To Mention:

I been laid off, my rent is due
My kids all need brand new shoes
So I went to the bank to see what they could do
They said 'son looks like bad luck got a hold on you'

September 4, 2014

Spoken Word: Carvens Lissaint, 'Tell Them'

If your message is right ... you don't need music to make a connection. I'm discovering that I enjoy listening to the spoken word quite a bit. I just heard this particular poetic genius and decided to share him with the entire 'village'. Let me introduce you to Carvens Lissaint!

His message is powerful in so many ways ... however as a Black man in America ... it struck a deep chord with me.

Carvens Lissaint is a Haitian American award winning performance artist who began his career as a spoken word artist in 2006. You can find this brother on Twitter and Facebook.

Did you enjoy his flow? What was your favorite part of the poem?

September 3, 2014

Rest In Peace: Michael Clarke Duncan (1957-2012)

Michael Clarke Duncan, nominated for an Academy Award for his role in the 1999 film "The Green Mile," on this date in 2012 at age 54. Clarke died at a Los Angeles hospital where he had been since having a heart attack.

September 1, 2014

Taser Lawsuit: Gregory Towns (East Point, GA)

Gregory Towns
It is nice to see that the family of Gregory Towns is suing the police department and its officers who killed him on April 11, 2014 when they fired at him 13 times with their taser guns while he was in handcuff.

The wrongful death lawsuit seeks damages from the East Point police department and two former police officers - Marcus Eberhart and Howard Weems.

Perhaps the best way to change the hearts and minds of the police who seem to use their taser guns at the slightest whim is to win some more of these lawsuits.