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Bakari Sellers Reflects on History and the Future

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Sellers notes how his life has been bookended by tragedy – the 1968 Orangeburg Massacre and the 2015 Charleston Massacre, where he lost a friend. “This is the Negro experience in America,” Sellers decided. “I want to tell the stories about the Black women who always sit on the front two rows of the church wearing their big hats, and when you hug them, you smell like Chanel all day long, and they use two sticks of butter in their pies. And the stories of the men who served in Vietnam and who sit in the barbershop all day without getting a haircut and talking about why Muhammad Ali would beat Mike Tyson and when Dr. King came through town.”
The post Bakari Sellers Reflects on History and the Future first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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

At 22, Bakari Sellers had already made history.

The son of civil rights icon Cleveland Sellers, Bakari stunned the political world by defeating a 26-year incumbent state representative to become the youngest member of the South Carolina state legislature.

With the improbable 2006 victory, Sellers became the youngest African American elected official.

Sellers earned an undergraduate degree from Morehouse College and a law degree from the University of South Carolina.

Like his father, Sellers has displayed a commitment to civil rights and addressing issues plaguing Black America like education, poverty, domestic violence, and childhood obesity.

He served on President Barack Obama’s South Carolina steering committee during Obama’s historic 2008 run for the oval office.

A lawyer, best-selling author, and CNN commentator, Sellers earned the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor of South Carolina in 2014.

Reflecting on his still young and already successful life, Sellers refuses to take anything for granted.

He continues to draw inspiration from his father, Stokely Carmichael, and other civil rights champions as he seeks to push the dialogue about the vast racial inequalities for which Black leaders have fought and died.

“I think in the conversations we’re having across the country; people want to know how to talk to their kids about the issues of race. So, with young Brown kids, Black kids, they’ll get a sense of pride,” Sellers said during an interview with National Newspaper Publishers Association President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr.

“With white kids or others, they’ll read the book, and they’ll get a sense of understanding. We live in a country where we have an empathy deficit because we don’t know or understand the struggles of others. I think this book helps break it down for kids who are ages four to eight, if not younger, to understand and be prideful in who they are and where they come from,” Sellers continued during the interview that is available on PBS television’s The Chavis Chronicles.

While Sellers’ books like “Who Are Your People?” and “My Vanishing Country: A Memoir” have sparked needed dialogue, he plans to do more.

Notably, he said he wants to lift the importance of the civil rights movement.

“I want to put together an overview and then dig down deep into pieces, and maybe tell some stories about the heroes and heroines who got us this far, the shoulders upon which we stand,” Sellers asserted.

His father, Cleveland, counted as a key figure in pushing the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee – or SNCC – in the direction of grassroots organizing for Black political power.

Cleveland Sellers was one of the 28 people wounded during The Orangeburg Massacre in 1968.

The deadly incident occurred at South Carolina State University as highway patrol units fired upon nonviolent and unarmed student protestors.

Three students were killed.

“My father was shot in the shoulder,” Bakari Sellers remarked. “The unique part of that is that all of the officers were charged, and it was the first time in the country’s history that law enforcement was charged with federal crimes.”

A jury rendered not guilty verdicts, and prosecutors lodged five felony charges against Cleveland Sellers that carried a 75-year prison sentence.

“My father was charged, convicted, and sentenced to hard labor,” Sellers said. “Ironically, they misplaced evidence and backdated the indictment from February 8 (when the massacre occurred) to February 6, meaning that my father was really convicted of being a one-man riot.”

Sellers remarked how his family got involved in the movement after the murder of Emmet Till.

“My father came to Howard University and befriended Stokely Carmichael, and the rest is history,” he said.

Following Cleveland’s stint in hard labor, Sellers said his father returned home facing the odds of being Black with a felony on his record.

He recalled how his mother would give birth to his sister while Cleveland was in prison.

However, Cleveland would earn a degree from Harvard, and later, he landed a job as a college president.

“I joke that my family was probably the only guy on the yard with a degree from Harvard,” Sellers said.

He noted that his mother “was one of the strongest people I know.”

“Her family was middle class, and they weren’t necessarily too keen of the movement but aware,” Sellers recounted. “But my mother was part of that school desegregation class at Hamilton High School in Memphis, so there’s that history on both sides of the family,” he said.

Sellers notes how his life has been bookended by tragedy – the 1968 Orangeburg Massacre and the 2015 Charleston Massacre, where he lost a friend.

“This is the Negro experience in America,” Sellers decided.

“I want to tell the stories about the Black women who always sit on the front two rows of the church wearing their big hats, and when you hug them, you smell like Chanel all day long, and they use two sticks of butter in their pies.”

He continued:

“And the stories of the men who served in Vietnam and who sit in the barbershop all day without getting a haircut and talking about why Muhammad Ali would beat Mike Tyson and when Dr. King came through town.

“We have to own our story. If we don’t, people will tell you that Dr. King came down to this country, won a Nobel Prize, told you to judge people by the content of their character and not by their skin color, and then he died in his sleep. They don’t tell you about the revolutionary that was Dr. King.”

Dr. Benjamin F, Chavis, Jr, affirmed, “We are grateful to American Public Television (APT), PBS TV stations, CRW Productions, and the National Newspaper Publishers Association for enabling The Chavis Chronicles to produce such an inspiring and visionary interview with Bakari Sellers. In fact, the Sellers family continues to exemplify intergenerationally the best of what it means to be a Freedom-Fighting Family.”

The post Bakari Sellers Reflects on History and the Future first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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Brittney Griner Sentenced to More than 9 years in Russian Prison

NNPA NEWSWIRE — The lawyers of WNBA star Brittney Griner, Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov, said in a written statement following the verdict announcement that the court ignored all the evidence they presented and that they will appeal the decision. “We are very disappointed by the verdict. As legal professionals, we believe that the court should be fair to everyone regardless of nationality,” Attorneys Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov said in a statement.

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

WNBA Superstar Brittney Griner has been sentenced to more than 9 years in a Russian prison following her conviction on drug charges.

Her lawyers called the verdict a disappointment and vowed to appeal.

The lawyers of WNBA star Brittney Griner, Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov, said in a written statement following the verdict announcement that the court ignored all the evidence they presented and that they will appeal the decision.

“We are very disappointed by the verdict. As legal professionals, we believe that the court should be fair to everyone regardless of nationality,” Attorneys Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov said in a statement.

“The court completely ignored all the evidence of the defense, and most importantly, the guilty plea. This contradicts the existing legal practice.

“Taking into account the amount of the substance (not to mention the defects of the expertise) and the plea, the verdict is absolutely unreasonable. We will certainly file an appeal,” they added.

Russian officials contended that Griner committed the crime on purpose. They also levied a fine totaling about $16,400 American dollars on the basketball star.

Authorities arrested Griner on Feb. 17 at an airport in Moscow after finding less than a gram of cannabis oil in her luggage.

She has been detained since then.

Recently, American officials revealed that the Biden-Harris administration had offered notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout in exchange for the release of Griner and Paul Whelan.

“Today, American citizen Brittney Griner received a prison sentence that is one more reminder of what the world already knew: Russia is wrongfully detaining Brittney,” President Biden said.

“It’s unacceptable, and I call on Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends, and teammates. My administration will continue to work tirelessly and pursue every possible avenue to bring Brittney and Paul Whelan home safely as soon as possible.”

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Report: Human Rights Violations in Prisons Throughout Southern United States Cause Disparate and Lasting Harm in Black Communities  

NNPA NEWSWIRE — “The U.S. has long failed to live up to its international human rights treaty obligations on eliminating racial discrimination, perhaps more so in the area of mass incarceration and prison conditions than in any other context,” said Lisa Borden, Senior Policy Counsel, International Advocacy at the Southern Poverty Law Center. 

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NNPA Newswire

NEW YORK – The Southern Prisons Coalition, a group of civil and human rights organizations, submitted a new report to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination on the devastating consequences of incarceration on Black people throughout the southern United States.

With the long-term goal of eliminating all forms of racial discrimination in the criminal legal system, including the carceral system, the report describes the widespread, disparate harms resulting from the arrests, harsh prison sentences, and incarceration on Black communities.

The report also cites the devastating impacts of solitary confinement, prison labor, the school to prison pipeline, and incarceration of parents on Black families.

On August 8, 2022, the UN will review the United States’ compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination for the first time since 2014.

Among the ongoing stark racial disparities throughout prisons in the southern United States, Black people are five times more likely to be incarcerated in state prisons.

In states like Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas, where Black communities comprise 38% of the total population, Black individuals account for as much as 67% of the total incarcerated population.

While incarcerated, Black people are more than eight times more likely to be placed in solitary confinement, and they are 10 times more likely to be held there for exceedingly long periods of time.

By submitting the report to the United Nations, the Southern Prisons Coalition hopes to solicit concrete recommendations from the UN Committee as well as commitments from the United States delegation about their plans to address systemic issues in the United States prison system, particularly in the South.

According to the report, several states in the United States have also failed to meet several of the UN’s Standard Minimum Rules for the treatment of incarcerated people, including:

  • Work should help to prepare incarcerated people for their release from prison, including life and job skills;
  • Safety measures and labor protections for incarcerated workers should be the same as those that cover workers who are not incarcerated;
  • Incarcerated workers should receive equitable pay, be able to send money home to their families, and have a portion of their wages set aside to be given to them upon release.

“The U.S. has long failed to live up to its international human rights treaty obligations on eliminating racial discrimination, perhaps more so in the area of mass incarceration and prison conditions than in any other context,” said Lisa Borden, Senior Policy Counsel, International Advocacy at the Southern Poverty Law Center.

“We hope the Committee will help to shine a light on these very dark truths and prompt the U.S. to take its obligation to make significant improvements more seriously.”

“The abuses of forced labor are inextricably tied to racial discrimination in our nation,” said Jamila Johnson, Deputy Director at the Promise of Justice Initiative.

“In Louisiana, for instance, people are still sent into the fields to labor by hand in dangerously high heat indexes, for little to no compensation, and with brutal enforcement reminiscent of slavery and the era of ‘convict leasing’.”

“This report reveals the suffering of Black people in southern U.S. prisons, whose stories of marginalization and discrimination echo the racial subjugation of slavery and convict leasing during our country’s most shameful past,” said Antonio L. Ingram II, Assistant Counsel at the Legal Defense Fund.

“Despite widespread knowledge of the longstanding racial inequalities in the criminal legal and carceral systems, the United States continues to allow egregious human rights violations to persist for Black incarcerated people in violation of international law. This report serves as a sobering reminder of how far we need to go.”

Read the full report here.

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Celebrate your birthday with 10 free items

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Is your birthday coming up, and you’re not sure how to celebrate? Beat the summer heat by grabbing free ice cream at Cold Stone Creamery, or a daiquiri at WhoDaq Daquiris “The Daiquiri Shoppe.” Not in the mood for sweets? Head over to Jersey Mike’s or McDonald’s. Check out the rest of these Top 10 places giving out free items on your special day.

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By Angelina Liu, Entertainment Editor of The Trendsetter / Texas Metro News

Is your birthday coming up, and you’re not sure how to celebrate? Beat the summer heat by grabbing free ice cream at Cold Stone Creamery, or a daiquiri at WhoDaq Daquiris “The Daiquiri Shoppe.” Not in the mood for sweets? Head over to Jersey Mike’s or McDonald’s. Check out the rest of these Top 10 places giving out free items on your special day.

1. Chocolate Secrets

At Chocolate Secrets, located at 3926 Oak Lawn Ave, Dallas, TX 75219, you can celebrate your birthday by getting one free piece of candy under their candy cases.

2. WhoDaq Daquiris “The Daiquiri Shoppe”

Head to WhoDaq Daquiris “The Daiquiri Shoppe”, located at 684 W Pioneer Pkwy Suite 100, Grand Prairie, Texas 75051, to claim a free small personal daiquiri on your birthday. Quench your thirst with signature flavors such as “Strawberry Shortcake” or “Bahama Mama.”

3. Sephora

Sign up for a free, Beauty Insider account and receive your choice of 250 bonus points, Laura Mercier, Amika or Tatcha sets on your birthday. The choice of powders, lipsticks and skincare is bound to make you look fabulous for your special day.

4. Starbucks

Need a quick pick-me-up on your birthday? Starbucks has it covered! Join the Starbucks Rewards Program seven days prior to your birthday and make one purchase. Starbucks will then email you a coupon for a free food or beverage item two days before your birthday. The birthday reward qualifies for anything on the menu, including any size handcrafted drink or food item.

5. Jersey Mike’s

In the mood for a sub? Head over to Jersey Mike’s and receive a free sub and drink. Make sure to sign up for the Jersey Mike’s Subs Email Club prior to your birthday to receive this reward. Nothing tastes quite like melted cheese and meat in between a toasted baguette, along with an icy cold drink.

6. The Cheesecake Factory

Celebrating with friends? Tell your server it’s your birthday and receive a free treat as well as a song. It may be mildly embarrassing, but hey, it’s free!

7. Culver’s

Need something cold and sweet to beat the Texas heat? Head to Culver’s for a free sundae when you sign up for their rewards program. The sweet creaminess will surely not disappoint.

8. IHOP

Want to indulge in a sweet breakfast before birthday festivities? Join the International Bank of Pancakes rewards program to receive a free stack of pancakes on your birthday. Pair your pancakes with a choice of chocolate chips, syrup, fresh fruit or a dollop of whipped cream.

9. McDonald’s

Need a snack before embarking on your next birthday adventure? Download the McDonald’s app and join MyMcDonald’s Rewards to receive free large fries. Mmm, the taste and smell of fresh, perfectly salted french fries.

10. Smoothie King

Want to celebrate your birthday with a healthier option? Enjoy a birthday smoothie at Smoothie King. Download the Smoothie King app to receive this offer.

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Photos courtesy of Ella Baker Center, photography by Brooke Anderson
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