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Activists Fight for Voting Rights In North Carolina: “This Is Our Selma”

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Arguments began this week in federal court in Winston-Salem, North Carolina in N.C. NAACP v. McCrory, a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the most restrictive voting law in the nation.

 

Outside the courthouse, voting rights advocates gathered for prayer, teach-ins and a mass march. They compare what’s happening today to a watershed moment in the 20th century fight for voting rights.

 

“This is our Selma,” said Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, N.C. NAACP president. “The people of North Carolina are standing up — in the courts and the streets — because we refuse to accept the revival of Jim Crow tactics used to block access to the ballot for African-American and Latino voters.”

 

Two years ago in June, the U.S. Supreme Court in the Alabama case Shelby County v. Holder struck down a key section of the Voting Rights Act, effectively lifting federal pre-clearance requirements for voting law changes in jurisdictions with a history of voter discrimination, most of them in the South.

 

In the year following that ruling, at least 10 of the 15 states that had been covered in whole or part by pre-clearance requirements introduced legislation making it harder for voters to cast ballots.

 

Republican-controlled North Carolina led the pack: On Aug. 12, 2013, Gov. Pat McCrory (R) signed into law the state’s Voter Information Verification Act (HB 589), which critics dubbed the “monster law.” It shortened the early voting period by a full week and eliminated same-day registration, out-of-precinct voting, straight-party voting and pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-olds, ending recent reforms that had helped expand the state’s electorate.

 

North Carolina’s law also has a provision set to take effect next year requiring would-be voters to show one of a limited number of pieces of acceptable photo identification in order to cast a ballot. Last month, however, state legislators responded to criticism of the photo ID provision’s draconian requirements by passing a law loosening the strict ID rules and allowing voters who lack photo ID to sign an affidavit and present alternative forms of identification. The ID provision is no longer being considered in the voting rights trial.

 

State data shows North Carolina’s law disproportionately affects voters of color. In 2012, for example, 70 percent of all African Americans in North Carolina used early voting, compared to 56 percent of the overall voting population.

 

And while African Americans make up about 22 percent of the state’s voting population, they account for 41 percent of voters who used same-day registration and about 30 percent of those who cast out-of-precinct ballots.

 

Because the law has a disparate impact on voters of color, the N.C. NAACP argues that it violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits voting practices that discriminate on the basis of race, as well as the 14th and 15th Amendments of the U.S Constitution, which mandate equal protection under the law and prohibit denial of voting rights on account of race.

 

The Advancement Project is representing the state NAACP in the lawsuit, along with churches and individual plaintiffs. The Southern Coalition for Social Justice is representing other plaintiffs involved in the case including the League of Women Voters and the A. Philip Randolph Institute. The U.S. Department of Justice is also challenging the law.

 

Voting rights advocates have organized a host of public events around the trial, including community forums on voting rights and the screening of a film about discriminatory policing in Ferguson, Missouri.

 

Following the first day’s testimony, the N.C. NAACP and the Forward Together Moral Movement — the groups behind the Moral Monday protests at the state legislature — led a mass march for voting rights through downtown Winston-Salem, where the trial will take place in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina.

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Events

Bust of BPP Co-Founder Huey P. Newton to be Unveiled at West Oakland Block Party on Oct. 24

The Dr. Huey P.  Newton Foundation is hosting a block party celebration for the unveiling on Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021, from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. that will feature local artists, politicians and businesses and the community is invited. The event will be MC’d by Ms. Gina Belafonte.

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Rendering of the Huey P. Newton memorial bust that will be unveiled in Oakland, CA on Oct 24, 2021./ Artist rendering provided by Karin Unger

Installed on a granite base with a seating area for people to reflect on the legacy of Black Panther Party Co-Founder Huey Newton, the memorial bust of his image is the first permanent art installation honoring the BPP in the City of Oakland.

The Dr. Huey P.  Newton Foundation is hosting a block party celebration for the unveiling on Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021, from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. that will feature local artists, politicians and businesses and the community is invited. The event will be MC’d by Ms. Gina Belafonte.

The Foundation collaborated with world-renowned and local artist Dana King on the creation, which will be placed on Dr. Huey P. Newton Way (formerly 9th Street) and Mandela Parkway, the same street where Huey took his last breath more than 32 years ago.

The Black Panther Party was co-founded by Newton and Bobby Seale in 1966. As the foundation and others commemorate the 55th anniversary of the BPP’s beginnings, the Party is remembered as both a small grassroots organization in Oakland and the international organization it grew into.

From legal self-defense from abusive police officers to survival programs that provided essential services, like free food, medical clinics, and education to the communities they served, the BPP was an exemplary organization of the Black Power era and continues to have rippling effects to this day.

Despite the FBI’s counterintelligence program, known as COINTELPRO, the Black Panther Party was the most influential revolutionary movement of the 20th century.

Newton’s widow, Fredrika Newton, founded The Dr. Huey P. Newton Foundation to preserve and promulgate the important history, legacy and contributions of the BPP. The Foundation is proud to gift the Huey Newton Memorial Bust to the City of Oakland as a permanent fixture in their landscape.

 

The Oakland Post’s coverage of local news in Alameda County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.

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Activism

Ask County Supervisors Not to Spend Millions in Tax Dollars on Oakland A’s Real Estate Deal

Please attend the meeting Tuesday, October 26 and express your opinion; call or e-mail your supervisor and Keith Carson, president of the Board of Supervisors, through his chief of staff Amy Shrago at (510) 272-6685 or Amy.Shrago@acgov.org

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A rendering of the proposed new A’s ballpark at the Howard Terminal site, surrounded by port cranes and warehouses. Image courtesy of MANICA Architecture.

The East Oakland Stadium Alliance (EOSA) and other groups are asking local residents to attend and speak at next week’s Alameda County Board of Supervisors meeting to oppose a proposal to spend county residents’ tax dollars to pay for the Oakland A’s massive multi-billion-dollar real estate deal at Howard Terminal at the Port of Oakland. 

Please attend the meeting Tuesday, October 26 and express your opinion; call or e-mail your supervisor and Keith Carson, president of the Board of Supervisors, through his chief of staff Amy Shrago at (510) 272-6685 or Amy.Shrago@acgov.org

The Stadium Alliance urges community members to “let (the supervisors) know that Alameda County residents don’t want our tax dollars to pay for a private luxury development. This proposal does not include privately funded community benefits and would harm our region’s economic engine – the port- putting tens of thousands of good-paying jobs at risk.”

 

“The Oakland Post’s coverage of local news in Alameda County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.”

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Coronavirus

Colin L. Powell, former Secretary of State, 84

Colin L. Powell, the first Black man to serve as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and first Black Secretary of State, died Monday of complications of COVID-19. The 84-year-old was also diagnosed with and being treated for a form of blood cancer and Parkinson’s disease. 

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United States Army General Colin Powell, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff/ Wiki Commons

Colin L. Powell, the first Black man to serve as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and first Black Secretary of State, died Monday of complications of COVID-19. The 84-year-old was also diagnosed with and being treated for a form of blood cancer and Parkinson’s disease.

A four-star general who also served on the National Security Council, Powell was born in Harlem, New York, to Jamaican immigrants in 1937. He attended public schools in the Bronx, where he grew up, and would graduate from City College of New York before joining the armed services in 1958 as a second lieutenant because of his participation in ROTC.

He was a professional soldier for 37 years, including two tours in Vietnam, rising steadily through the ranks until achieving 4-star general status in 1989 and, later that year, became the youngest and the first Afro-Caribbean to serve as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of staff, the highest military position in the Department of Defense.

Powell was an exceptional military leader.  He earned the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star, and the Soldier’s Medal for heroism.

A moderate, the lifelong Republican was well liked by both political parties, but he ultimately decided against running for public office himself.

He was selected in 2000 to be Secretary of State, transforming General Powell from soldier to statesman.

He became known for persuading the American public and world leaders that Iraq was creating weapons of mass destruction when he ultimately agreed with President George Bush’s administration determination to remove Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. 

It would turn out that the allegations of weapons of mass destruction were not true and Powell would consider the war and loss of life a blot on his record the rest of his life. He returned to private life in 2005 and became an acclaimed speaker in high demand.

He broke rank with his fellow Republicans when he supported then-candidate Barack Obama’s bid for president in 2008. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom twice.

Powell earned the trust of U.S. presidents, foreign leaders, diplomats, and the American people.

“I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of General Colin Powell. I send my sincere condolences to General Powell’s wife, Alma, his family, his friends, and all of his loved ones” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee.

“General Powell was a trailblazer, serving as the first Black Secretary of State,” Lee continued. “I was fortunate enough to travel with General Powell during my early days in Congress to monitor elections in Nigeria and was moved by his kindness and expertise. I witnessed the close friendship between the late Congressman Ron Dellums, Chair of the House Armed Services Committee, and General Powell.

“Their relationship was a powerful example of a mutual admiration and respect between public officials despite their different opinions on policy. Despite our disagreements on some issues, General Powell was steadfast in his commitment to racial equity, diversity and our democracy. General Powell served this country with decency, integrity, and showed respect to everyone he encountered.

“May he rest in eternal peace and power,” Lee concluded.

Powell is survived by his wife, Alma, and three children.

Sources for this story include various news sites, Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s press office and Wikipedia.

The Oakland Post’s coverage of local news in Alameda County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.

 

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