Women Play Integral Role in Civil Rights Meeting with President Obama

February 22, 2014 in National News, News

The Toledo Journal Newswire

[caption id="attachment_99989110" align="alignright" width="275"] Melanie L. Campbell speaking at the White House in 2013[/caption]

Washington, DC – Earlier this week President Barack Obama; Attorney General Eric Holder; senior advisor to President Obama, Valerie Jarrett; and director of the Domestic Policy Council, Cecilia Munoz; met with Black leaders of civil rights organizations at The White House to discuss jobs, income inequality, voter suppression, criminal justice reform and other issues that impact the Black community. Melanie L. Campbell, president and CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation and convener, Black Women’s Roundtable, participated in the meeting and issued the following comments about the conversation:

“My first observation when walking in the room was there were four women and three men representing the civil rights community and several women of the Obama Administration. It was a great way to close out Black History Month and gear up for Women’s History Month by engaging a substantive dialogue with President Obama and his Administration on issues that are important to the black community.

“I was honored to join our sister leaders in the meeting including Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-Counsel, NAACP Legal Defense Fund; Lorraine Miller, interim president, NAACP; Patricia Rosier, president, National Bar Association, alongside our colleagues Reverend Al Sharpton, president and founder, National Action Network; Marc Morial, president, National Urban League; and Wade Henderson, president, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.”

“After hearing President Obama’s agenda priorities, the group had the opportunity to present the 21st Century Agenda for Jobs and Freedom, a document created by Black leadership in 2013 detailing their priorities on economic opportunity, voting rights, education, healthcare and other issues.

“I had an opportunity to commend President Obama on behalf of Black Women’s Roundtable, for his strong emphasis on the gender-wage gap in his State of the Union Address and for his statement, ‘when women succeed, America succeeds.’  I urged President Obama to continue to encourage Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, The Family and Medical Leave Act and to also use his executive powers to address the gender-wage gap.

“The racial disparities in the criminal justice system have had an extremely destructive effect on Black and Latino families and communities across the country, so it was encouraging to hear President Obama and Attorney General Holder discuss their commitment to ending inequities in the criminal justice system.

“It was very clear that our 21st Century Agenda aligns with the president’s agenda in several areas that impact the African American community.  The meeting was extremely productive and, as sister Lorraine Miller, said, ‘a great moment for the civil rights movement.”

President Obama and First Lady Spotlight Higher Education Improvements at White House Summit

January 23, 2014 in Editorials, National News, News, Opinion, opinion/columns

By John W. Boyd Jr.

President, Black Farmers Association

President Obama is far out in front of our stale, stubborn Congress on the issue of expanding college education to more under-represented Americans, just as on many progressive programs this administration struggles to promote.

Last week the President announced his proposals to improve the college education system, but once again he has to use his executive powers to circumvent Congressional resistance and urge college presidents to do more to reach underserved populations. Why? Because our legislature still seems set on stiff-arming against doing what is right for our next generation of leaders.

As I struggle to pay for my son’s college education at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia, I know full well that the high costs of tuition, meals, housing and transportation are just off the charts for middle class Americans. I can only imagine how much these hurdles must strain the growing number of families that are sinking financially.

Let’s face it, without a college degree this day and time, a young person is almost guaranteed to have a tough row to hoe for the future. If anyone believes that a generation divided between those with a collegeeducation and those shut out of one is good for our nation is wearing blinders.

“More than ever a college degree is the surest path to a stable middle class life,” President Obama said during his January 15 summit on expanding college access for lower-income students. The meeting was part of his aggressive effort to push for social advancements, using his presidential powers in lieu of Congressional support.

First Lady Michelle Obama brought her own full-voiced support to the President’s agenda with a moving and eloquent speech about her professional rise by way of an Ivy League education. Hard work and exceptional opportunities enabled her success at Princeton University and Harvard Law School, she said. Such access was beyond her family’s blue-collar background, she said, but not beyond today’s youth if they get solid support.

“If Princeton hadn’t found my brother as a basketball recruit, and if I hadn’t seen that he could succeed on a campus like that, it never would have occurred to me to apply to that school,” she said. “There are so many kids out there just like me — kids who have a world of potential, but maybe their parents never went to college or maybe they’ve never been encouraged to believe they could succeed there.”

The First Lady challenged colleges and universities to improve their efforts in enroll low income high school students who are ready to take on college studies.

But the White House’s initiatives on education will never be enough to meet the President’s goal of being first in the world on college graduation rates. The question is whether we are doing enough as citizens to challenge and strengthen our educational system? The answer is “NO.”

The President and First Lady opened the door. Now, we have to do our part as parents and leaders in our own communities. We can do so by getting involved in our own state programs and policies, by contacting the U.S. Department of Education and becoming informed about what resources are available for students preparing to attend college. What can we change? For example, do we tolerate school counselors who give more support to students from affluent families than those of poorer parents?

Or, how about mentoring one student; think of how much a difference that would make if each American who went to college made a commitment to help one student reach that goal? We, as everyday citizens have to start doing more to make college more accessible and affordable for our children. I believe that we can all find creative ways to further the initiatives the White House announced in these three main areas:

–Reaching out to elementary, middle and high school students in hopes that by engaging earlier, more students will be encouraged to pursue higher education.

–Boosting remedial programs so underprepared students will still have opportunities to succeed.

–Seeking to ensure lower-income students aren’t disadvantaged by lack of access to college advisers and inability to prepare for entrance exams like the SAT and ACT.

As I watched the announcement I expected more college and universities to come forward and endorse the administration’s efforts. I anticipated more from corporate America, especially as often read about how fortune 500 companies cannot find enough qualified persons to fill certain positions. It is not too late.

The President and First Lady have presented a starter set of solutions to the “problem,” which I see as an opportunity. We have to urge businesses and other institutions to invest more resources in college scholarships, mentoring programs and other drives to help raise expectations and mold the minds of young people.

How can we be the greatest country in the world and not provide more muster than we do now toward elevating education? To put it simply, we can do better.

 

www.johnboydjr.com  www.blackfarmers.org

West Nile Virus on Track for Worst Year Ever

August 22, 2012 in National News, News, Top Stories

By DRS. SHARI BARNETT and SWATI SHROFF

 The West Nile virus outbreak that has infected people in 38 states is on track to be the worst in history, a top official at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told a news teleconference today.

The CDC has recorded 1,118 infected people with 41 deaths, but health officials say they expect reported cases to rise dramatically. The disease generally peaks in mid-August, and the new infections generally take a couple of weeks to show up in the tally.

“Thus, we expect many more cases to occur,” said Dr. Lyle R. Petersen, director of the Division of Vector-Borne Infectious Diseases at the CDC.

Petersen said the number of people infected has risen substantially in the past few weeks. Just one month ago, a mere 29 cases had been detected. As of Tuesday, he said, 47 states had reported indications of the virus in humans or animals; only Alaska, Hawaii and Vermont have so far been spared. Human cases have been detected in 38 states.

The total, he said, is the highest number of West Nile virus cases reported to the CDC by this time in the summer since the disease was first detected in the United States in 1999. In short, this outbreak is on track to be the worst in the country’s history.

The worst year on record is 2003, in which the country saw 9,862 cases of West Nile virus infection and 264 deaths.

West Nile Virus Danger

He described more than half of these cases — 56 percent — as neuroinvasive, meaning the infection had spread to the brain in these patients.

While it is unclear why this year has been harder hit than others, many think it is possibly because of the weather.

“It is a very complicated ecological cycle,” Petersen said. “Hot weather, we know from experiments in the laboratory, can increase the transmission of the virus.”

It is possible that the mild winter and the hot summer also increase the number of mosquitoes, which spread the virus.

Miami Cannibal Told Victim, ‘I’m Going to Kill You’

August 9, 2012 in National News, News, Top Stories

(AP/ABC News) The Miami man who had half his face chewed off by a deranged assailant told police that moments before the grisly assault began the man said to him, “You, me, buddy, and nobody else here. I’m going to kill you.”

Rudy Eugene’s assault on Ronald Poppo actually happened on a busy Miami street on May 26 and Eugene had to be shot several times by a police officer to stop the gruesome attack. Eugene was naked and responded to the initial shot by growling at the cop.

Two months after the horrific incident and after several surgeries, Poppo, 65, is now in a long term care facility in the Miami area where he is continuing to recover from his injuries. His doctors say he lost 50 percent of his face, making him almost unrecognizable. His left eye was destroyed. His right eye is still there, but doctors covered it with a flap taken from skin from his forehead and scalp.

In the taped interviews that were conducted on July 19 with two Miami homicide detectives they asked what assailant Rudy Eugene, who was shot and killed by police during the attack, said to Poppo.

“For a very short amount of time I thought he was a good guy,” Poppo calmly told police in the audio recordings. “But he just went and turned berserk….He just ripped me to ribbons. He chewed up my face. He plucked out my eyes…Basically that’s all there is to say about it.”

In the seconds before Eugene began to mutilate him, Poppo recalled that Eugene’s conversation turned ominous.

“You, me, buddy and nobody else here,” Poppo recalled. “I’m going to kill you. Or something like that, I guess.”

“Did he say why?” Detective Sgt. Altarr Williams asked.

“No, he just started to scream,” Poppo said. “And was talking kind of funny talk for a while too… He must have been souped up on something.”

Although Poppo sounded calm through the interview, he recounted very vivid and gruesome moments during the attack.

“He mashed my face into the sidewalk,” he said. “My eyes, my eyes got plucked out. He was strangling me in wrestling holds at the same time he was plucking my eyes out.”

According to CBS Miami in another interview Poppo told detectives that Rudy Eugene blamed him for stealing his Bible although he said he never saw him with a Bible.

Poppo told police he had never met Eugene before the attack and that he did nothing to provoke the attack.

“I just didn’t know how to get away from the guy,” Poppo said.

“I thank the Miami Police Department for saving my life…If they didn’t get there in a nick of time I would’ve definitely be in worse shape. Possibly I’ll be DOA [dead on arrival].”

Eugene was shot and killed by police after they say their repeated pleas to get him to stop attacking Poppo were met with growls. Surveillance video shows that for 18 agonizing minutes Poppo was disrobed from the waist down, kicked, punched and bitten before police shot Eugene four times.

Poppo, who once attended New York City’s elite Stuyvesant High School and dreamed of becoming president, will need months of reconstructive surgery. A foundation set up in his name has raised thousands of dollars.