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Andrew Gillum Addresses Future, Importance of Black Press

NNPA NEWSWIRE — “Beginning in about two weeks I will be teaching a fellowship at Harvard University,” Gillum said in an exclusive tidbit from a fireside chat conducted by NNPA President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. during a luncheon at the Hilton Orlando Hotel on Thursday, Jan. 24.

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By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

Former Tallahassee Mayor and Florida Gubernatorial Candidate, Andrew Gillum, didn’t break the kind of news that many publishers, editors and journalists may have wanted at the National Newspaper Publishers Association’s (NNPA) annual Midwinter Training Conference in Orlando, but the HBCU graduate did provide the Black Press of America some newsworthy tidbits about what he’s doing now and what the future might hold.

“Beginning in about two weeks I will be teaching a fellowship at Harvard University,” Gillum said in an exclusive tidbit from a fireside chat conducted by NNPA President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. during a luncheon at the Hilton Orlando Hotel on Thursday, Jan. 24.

The luncheon was sponsored by General Motors and Wells Fargo and representatives of both companies were on hand to talk about their commitment to the Black Press.

Gillum, who lost a tight and controversial race to Republican Ron De Santis by just 30,000 votes, said he has also been spending time with his family.

“Right now, I’m planning to date my wife,” the former Tallahassee mayor said.

However, even with a wife, three children and a new teaching job, Gillum also hasn’t lost his focus on politics or the 2020 presidential election. “My grandmother says ‘know better, do better,’” Gillum said.

“I learned something about the gap that exists in my state and that there are road barriers for the Democrats. The young voters turned out at the highest rate in the history of the state of Florida,” he said, noting that his goal is to help register 1 million voters by the 2020 election.

For those seeking to win in 2020, Gillum said it’s paramount that they engage the Black Press.

“Anybody trying to win in 2020, specifically if they are trying to win off the backs of black folk, those investments have to be made and they have to be made early,” Gillum said. “There’s always a lot of lip service, but those investments need to be made.”

Gillum made note of the partnership between the Black Press and corporations like Wells Fargo and General Motors.

He called relationships like that a win-win where there’s major benefits for each party, but he still commended those companies for “putting their money where their mouths are.” It’s something that presidential and other political hopefuls should follow, Gillum said.

Chavis told the Democrat that the Black Press couldn’t be more proud of his efforts.” All of us, and Mayor Gillum, let me tell you that we represent over 215 African American newspapers and media companies across the country and, conservatively, we reach about 25 million in print, digital and social media,” Chavis said.

“There’s about 47 million African Americans in the country and we reach the majority. On behalf of the Black Press of America, we couldn’t be prouder than to witness your campaign,” Chavis said, in a comment echoed by Houston Forward Times Associate Editor and Columnist Jeffrey Boney.

“Thank you for running an outstanding race that was full of class and showing us what class and intelligence looks like as opposed to foolishness and racism,” Boney told Gillum.

As he’s toured the country, Gillum said he’s surprised about how many have zeroed in on the particulars of his race against De Santis. “I have to tell you this race was the highlight of my life to this point,” he said. “We put a lot into it and it took a lot out of me.”

Since the election, he said he’s been invited to speak at many events but has remained selective. However, he said the Black Press remains important, which is why he accepted an invite to attend the Midwinter Training Conference.

Gillum also took time to thank Chavis, NNPA Chair and Crusader Newspapers Publisher Dorothy R. Leavell, and other members of the Black Press for fair and accurate reporting during his campaign.

He said he’s picked up a few lessons from his campaign, including how important a role Florida played in past elections and how critical a role it’ll play in future campaigns. “In terms of electoral politics and where we are going as a nation, the conversation is on full display here,” Gillum said.

“Here in the state of Florida, we deal in real-time voter suppression and voter disenfranchisement and we undermine the democratic process,” he said, noting that he lost by 30,000 votes in a race where 8.2 million ballots were cast.

“You had about 20,000 votes rejected off of signature and these are voters who had ballots sent to them, fixed their signature and added their own postage because in my state, every county pays for postage,” Gillum said.

A recent study noted that of the rejected signatures, 7 out of 10 were individuals of color.

“I don’t know that there’s something so particular about how black people sign their names, but there’s something peculiar about this,” he said.

It’s another reason why the role of the Black Press, it’s publishers and journalists are so important, Gillum said. “You couldn’t be more important in today’s politics and culture than you are right now. As we stare down the barrel of the 2020 presidential election where we have the most diverse candidates, if you’re not at the table they say you’re on the menu.”

Gillum referenced the recent CBS News release which touted the network’s 2020 election coverage team. It didn’t include an African American and has since drawn the ire of those in the Black community. “It’s a problem,” Gillum said of the CBS release.

“Anybody who looked at that and thought it was celebratory is clearly missing out on some important lenses in the context of this conversation,” he said.

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NNPA – Black Press w/ Hendriks Video Interview

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Black Woman to Lead United States Park Police

 Chief Smith’s experience serving in leadership roles in every U.S. Park Police field office has provided her with an unmatched foundation to lead the diverse agency,” said Flynn, who oversees law enforcement programs at USPP.

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Pamela A. Smith

Pamela A. Smith, a 23-year veteran of the United States Park Police, will lead the nation’s oldest federal law enforcement agency.

Smith, who became the first African American woman to lead the 230-year-old agency, immediately remarked that she would establish a body-worn camera program for USPP within 90 days.

The program will initially begin in San Francisco and be implemented across the country by the end of the year, Smith said.

“Body-worn cameras are good for the public and good for our officers, which is why I am prioritizing implementing a body-worn camera program within my first 90 days,” Smith offered in a statement.

 “This is one of the many steps we must take to continue to build trust and credibility with the public we have been entrusted to serve.”

Smith earned a bachelor’s degree in Education from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and graduated from the FBI National Academy. She is a member of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives and the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

During her law enforcement career, the proud Zeta Phi Beta Sorority sister has served as a patrol officer, field training officer, canine handler, and academy instructor at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center.

 According to a news release, Smith also served as executive lieutenant to the chief of police, assistant commander of the San Francisco Field Office, commander of the New York Field Office, acting deputy chief of the Homeland Security Division, and deputy chief for the Field Operations Division.

Smith was the first woman to lead the New York Field Office as its Major.

At the USPP, she will lead a 560-member workforce that protects the public, parks, and the nation’s most iconic landmarks in Wash., D.C., New York City, and San Francisco metropolitan areas.

“Chief Smith’s commitment to policing as public service and her willingness to listen and collaborate make her the right person to lead the U.S. Park Police at this pivotal moment in our country,” Shawn Benge, deputy director exercising the delegated authority of the NPS director, noted in a statement.

 “Over the coming months, the leadership of the National Park Service will explore opportunities with Chief Smith designed to strengthen our organization’s commitment to transparency. Her personal and professional experience make her acutely aware of and ready to meet the challenges and responsibilities that face U.S. Park Police and law enforcement agencies across the nation.”

 Jennifer Flynn, the associate director for Visitor Resource Protection at the National Park Service added that she’s looking forward to Smith’s leadership.

“Chief Smith’s experience serving in leadership roles in every U.S. Park Police field office has provided her with an unmatched foundation to lead the diverse agency,” said Flynn, who oversees law enforcement programs at USPP.

 “As federal law enforcement officers, the U.S. Park Police officers have a new opportunity each day to give their best to the American people. Chief Smith exemplifies that approach as a colleague and mentor, and she will be instrumental in refining and shaping the future of the organization,” Flynn said.

Smith declared that she would lead by example and expects all officers to display integrity.

 “I have dedicated my career to the professionalism of law enforcement, and it is my highest honor and privilege to serve as chief of police,” Chief Smith declared. “Today’s officers face many challenges, and I firmly believe challenges present opportunities. I look forward to leading this exemplary team as we carry out our mission with honesty and integrity.”  

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Children’s Defense Fund: State of America’s Children Reveals that 71 Percent of Children of Color Live in Poverty

“While we reported on the 73 million children in the U.S. in 2019, which is 22 percent of the nation’s population, we also note that 2020 was the first year in American history that a majority of children are projected to be children of color,” said the Rev. Dr. Starsky Wilson, the president and CEO of the Children’s Defense Fund.

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Dr. Wilson did note that the Children’s Defense Fund is pleased about President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, which, among other things, makes it easier for parents to keep their jobs and provides a lifeline for disadvantaged children. (Photo: iStockphoto / NNPA)
Dr. Wilson did note that the Children’s Defense Fund is pleased about President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, which, among other things, makes it easier for parents to keep their jobs and provides a lifeline for disadvantaged children. (Photo: iStockphoto / NNPA)

Part One of an ongoing series on this impactful and informative report.

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

The child population in America is the most diverse in history, but children remain the poorest age group in the country with youth of color suffering the highest poverty rates.

“While we reported on the 73 million children in the U.S. in 2019, which is 22 percent of the nation’s population, we also note that 2020 was the first year in American history that a majority of children are projected to be children of color,” said the Rev. Dr. Starsky Wilson, the president and CEO of the Children’s Defense Fund.

Dr. Wilson’s remarks come as the Marian Wright Edelman founded nonprofit released “The State of America’s Children 2021.”

The comprehensive report is eye-opening.

It highlights how children remain the poorest age group in America, with children of color and young children suffering the highest poverty rates. For instance, of the more than 10.5 million poverty-stricken children in America in 2019, approximately 71 percent were those of color.

The stunning exposé revealed that income and wealth inequality are growing and harming children in low-income, Black and Brown families.

While the share of all wealth held by the top one percent of Americans grew from 30 percent to 37 percent, the share held by the bottom 90 percent fell from 33 percent to 23 percent between 1989 and 2019.

Today, a member of the top 10 percent of income earners makes about 39 times as much as the average earner in the bottom 90 percent.

The median family income of White households with children ($95,700) was more than double that of Black ($43,900), and Hispanic households with children ($52,300).

Further, the report noted that the lack of affordable housing and federal rental assistance leaves millions of children homeless or at risk of homelessness.

More than 1.5 million children enrolled in public schools experienced homelessness during the 2017-2018 school year, and 74 percent of unhoused students during the 2017-2018 school year were living temporarily with family or friends.

Millions of children live in food-insecure households, lacking reliable access to safe, sufficient, and nutritious food, and more than 1 in 7 children – 10.7 million – were food insecure, meaning they lived in households where not everyone had enough to eat.

Black and Hispanic children were twice as likely to live in food-insecure households as White children.

The report further found that America’s schools have continued to slip backwards into patterns of deep racial and socioeconomic segregation, perpetuating achievement gaps.

For instance, during the 2017-2018 public school year, 19 percent of Black, 21 percent of Hispanic, and more than 26 percent of American Indian/Alaska Native school students did not graduate on time compared with only 11 percent of White students.

More than 77 percent of Hispanic and more than 79 percent of Black fourth and eighth grade public school students were not proficient in reading or math in 2019, compared with less than 60 percent of White students.

“We find that in the course of the last year, we’ve come to the point where our conversations about child well-being and our dialogue and reckoning around racial justice has really met a point of intersection, and so we must consider child well-being in every conversation about racial justice and quite frankly you can only sustainably speak of racial justice if we’re talking about the state of our children,” Dr. Wilson observed.

Some more of the startling statistics found in the report include:

  • A White public school student is suspended every six seconds, while students of color and non-White students are suspended every two seconds.
  • Conditions leading to a person dropping out of high school occur with white students every 19 seconds, while it occurs every nine seconds for non-White and students of color.
  • A White child is arrested every 1 minute and 12 seconds, while students of color and non-whites are arrested every 45 seconds.
  • A White student in public school is corporally punished every two minutes, while students of color and non-Whites face such action every 49 seconds.

Dr. Wilson asserted that federal spending “reflects the nation’s skewed priorities.”

In the report, he notes that children are not receiving the investment they need to thrive, and despite making up such a large portion of the population, less than 7.5 percent of federal spending went towards children in fiscal year 2020.

Despite Congress raising statutory caps on discretionary spending in fiscal years 2018 to 2020, children did not receive their fair share of those increases and children’s share of total federal spending has continued to decline.

“Children continue to be the poorest segment of the population,” Dr. Wilson demanded. “We are headed into a dark place as it relates to poverty and inequity on the American landscape because our children become the canary in the coal mine.”

Dr. Wilson did note that the Children’s Defense Fund is pleased about President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, which, among other things, makes it easier for parents to keep their jobs and provides a lifeline for disadvantaged children.

The $1.9 trillion plan not only contained $1,400 checks for individuals, it includes monthly allowances and other elements to help reduce child poverty.

The President’s plan expands home visitation programs that help at-risk parents from pregnancy through early childhood and is presents universal access to top-notch pre-K for 3- and 4-year-olds.

“The American Rescue Plan carried significant and powerful anti-poverty messages that will have remarkable benefits on the lives of children in America over the course of the next two years,” Dr. Wilson declared.

“The Children’s Defense Fund was quick to applaud the efforts of the President. We have worked with partners, including leading a child poverty coalition, to advance the ideas of that investment,” he continued.

“Most notably, the expansion of the child tax credit which has the impact of reducing poverty, lifting more than 50 percent of African American children out of poverty, 81 percent of Indigenous children, 45 percent of Hispanic children. It’s not only good policy, but it’s specifically good policy for Black and Brown children.”

Click here to view the full report.

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