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Edward Brooke, 1st Black Elected U.S. Senator, Dies

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File-This Oct. 28, 2009, file photo shows President Barack Obama greeting former Massachusetts Sen. Edward Brooke in the Rotunda on Capitol Hill in Washington, during a ceremony where Brooke received the Congressional Gold Medal. Brooke, the first black to win popular election to the Senate, has died. He was 95. Ralph Neas, a former aide, said Brooke died Saturday, Jan. 3, 2015, of natural causes at his Coral Gables, Fla, home. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

This Oct. 28, 2009, file photo shows President Barack Obama greeting former Massachusetts Sen. Edward Brooke in the Rotunda on Capitol Hill in Washington, during a ceremony where Brooke received the Congressional Gold Medal. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

Sylvia Wingfield and Mark Pratt, ASSOCIATED PRESS

 

BOSTON (AP) — Former U.S. Sen. Edward W. Brooke, a liberal Republican who became the first black in U.S. history to win popular election to the Senate, died Saturday. He was 95.

Brooke died of natural causes at his Coral Gables, Florida, home, said Ralph Neas, Brooke’s former chief counsel. Brooke was surrounded by his family.

Brooke was elected to the Senate in 1966, becoming the first black to sit in that branch from any state since Reconstruction and one of nine blacks who have ever served there — including Barack Obama.

Brooke told The Associated Press he was “thankful to God” that he lived to see Obama’s election. And the president was on hand in October 2009 when Brooke was presented with the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest award Congress has to honor civilians. Obama hailed Brooke as “a man who’s spent his life breaking barriers and bridging divides across this country.”

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell recalled his first impression of the newly elected senator when McConnell was a Senate staffer and described Brooke as “a model of courage and honesty in office.”

“… even from across the Senate chamber, you could sense that this was a Senator of historic importance,” McConnell said in a statement Saturday. “Indeed, he was.”

A Republican in a largely Democratic state, Brooke was one of Massachusetts’ most popular political figures during most of his 12 years in the Senate.

Massachusetts Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick, the state’s first black governor, remembered Brooke for his unselfish public service.

“He carried the added honor and burden of being ‘the first’ and did so with distinction and grace,” Patrick said. “I have lost a friend and mentor. America has lost a superb example of selfless service.”

Brooke earned his reputation as a Senate liberal in part by becoming the first Republican senator to publicly urge President Richard Nixon to resign. He helped lead the forces in favor of the Equal Rights Amendment and was a defender of school busing to achieve racial integration, a bitterly divisive issue in Boston.

He also lent his name to the Brooke amendment to the federal housing act, passed in 1969, which limited to 25 percent the amount of income a family must pay for rent in public housing.

However, late in his second term, Brooke divorced his wife of 31 years, Remigia, in a stormy proceeding that attracted national attention.

Repercussions from the case spurred an investigation into his personal finances by the Senate Ethics Committee and a probe by the state welfare department and ultimately cost him the 1978 election. He was defeated by Democrat Rep. Paul E. Tsongas.

Tsongas’ widow, U.S. Rep. Nikki Tsongas, said Saturday that Brooke’s career was “as courageous as it was historic.”

In a Boston Globe interview in 2000, Brooke recalled the pain of losing his bid for a third term.

“It was just a divorce case. It was never about my work in the Senate. There was never a charge that I committed a crime, or even nearly committed a crime,” Brooke said.

In 2008, pioneering newswoman Barbara Walters said she had an affair with the then-married Brooke in the 1970s, but it ended before he lost the 1978 election. She called him “exciting” and “brilliant.”

Brooke received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in a White House ceremony in 2004. Five years later, when Brooke received the congressional honor in Washington, he cited the issues facing Congress — health care, the economy and the wars overseas — and called on lawmakers to put their partisan differences aside.

“We’ve got to get together,” Brooke said, turning his eyes to Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. “We have no alternative. There’s nothing left. It’s time for politics to be put aside on the back burner.”

As Brooke sought the Senate seat in 1966, profiles in the national media reminded readers that he had won office handily in a state where blacks made up just 2 percent of the population — the state that had also given the nation its only Roman Catholic president, John F. Kennedy.

He beat Democrat Endicott Peabody, a former governor who also supported civil rights, by a 3-to-2 margin despite predictions of a “white backlash” against him.

Commenting on Brooke’s election and other developments that day, Martin Luther King Jr. commented that “despite appeals to bigotry of an intensity and vulgarity never before witnessed in the North, millions of white voters remained unshaken in their commitment to decency.”

Brooke had parlayed his probes of local corruption into a successful run for state attorney general in 1962 when he became the highest ranking black elected official in the nation. He won re-election as attorney general in 1964 even though Democrats dominated other races.

Somewhat aloof from the civil rights movement of the 1960s, especially the militant wing, he said blacks had to win allies, not fight adversaries. But he also said of civil rights leaders: “Thank God we have them. But everyone has to do it in the best way he can.”

He had refused to endorse Sen. Barry Goldwater for president in 1964, commenting later, “You can’t say the Negro left the Republican Party; the Negro feels he was evicted from the Republican Party.”

The son of a Veterans Administration lawyer, Brooke was raised in a middle-class black section of Washington, attending segregated schools through his graduation from Howard University in 1941. He served in an all-black combat unit in World War II, and later settled in Boston after graduating from Boston University Law School.

Brooke was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002 and went public the following year, saying he wanted to encourage men to perform self-examinations and advocating that insurance companies cover male mammograms.

Brooke is survived by his second wife, Anne Fleming Brooke; their son Edward Brooke IV; his daughters from his first marriage, Remi Goldstone and Edwina Petit; stepdaughter Melanie Laflamme, and four grandchildren.
Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Politics

After Winning Recall Election, Newsom Says “Let’s Get Back to Work”

According to preliminary results, just under 65% of the voters have said “no” to recalling Newsom in the special election that is estimated to have cost California taxpayers $276 million.

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Governor Gavin Newsom Speaking, Photo courtesy of California Black Media

It looks like Gov. Gavin Newsom will remain in the office he won in 2018 after he secured an insurmountable lead in votes counted so far in Tuesday’s gubernatorial recall election.

Several media outlets projected shortly before midnight Tuesday that the attempt to remove Newsom from office failed.

About an hour after thanking Californians for keeping him in office, Newsom tweeted, “Now, let’s get back to work.”

Larry Elder, a conservative Republican Los Angeles-based talk show host, who was the leading candidate vying to remove Newsom from office conceded the race. A total of 46 candidates were on the ballot to replace Newsom.

“Let’s be gracious in defeat,” Elder said after the results started pouring in and it was obvious he had no chance of winning.  “We may have lost the battle, but we are going to win the war.”

According to preliminary results, just under 65% of the voters have said “no” to recalling Newsom in the special election that is estimated to have cost California taxpayers $276 million.

With about 67% of all votes counted on September 14, only a little over 35% voted ‘yes’ on the recall.

Reactions on social media included the following:

Kevin Mullin (D-San Mateo), Assembly Speaker Pro Tem tweeted, “A $276 million waste just to reaffirm 2018’s results with an election coming in 2022. The CA recall process must be reformed including elevating the Lt. Guv in the event of a recall. But to avoid partisan power grabs the Governor/LG should be a ticket of the same party (like NY).”

Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis wrote, “Thank you California for recognizing that @GavinNewsom is exactly where he needs to be, in the Governor’s office! His commitment to the people of California is unwavering and I look forward to his continued leadership of our great state!”

Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA 37) tweeted, “Proud of our governor. Proud of our people. Proud of California.”

Newsom told supporters, although Californians voted “no” to the recall, he wants to focus on all the things they were saying ‘yes’ to by their votes.

“‘No’ is not the only thing that was expressed tonight,” Newsom said. “I want to focus on what we said ‘yes’ to as a state. We said ‘yes’ to science. We said ‘yes’ to vaccines. We said ‘yes’ to ending this pandemic. We said ‘yes’ to people’s right to vote without fear of fake fraud or voter suppression.”

The gubernatorial recall was the fifth statewide vote Dr. Shirley Weber has overseen since she was appointed Secretary of State on January 19. Throughout the process, Weber, a former assemblymember who represented the 79th District in San Diego County, says she worked hard to make sure that voter fraud or the talk of fraud of would not interfere in the results of this election.

“We worked hard to secure our elections. There’s no evidence of fraud or miscounting,” Weber said on CNN. “As Secretary of State, we’ve been even-handed in how we’ve handled every issue. I was sued by the governor as well as by others because of some of the decisions we made that were fair and just.”

Weber’s office has 30 days to certify the recall election once all of the votes have been counted. If there are any discrepancies, Weber said those issues will be addressed.

“I like to say to those that continue to challenge this issue of fairness and so forth, I always say, ‘where’s the evidence?’” Weber said. “We are willing to accept the evidence as it is not just to simply (claim) open-ended allegations of fraud and deceptions. Those things are easy to say. But we have yet to get evidence of fraud and deception.”

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Black History

BlackHistoryEveryday.com

Springfield Race Riot of 1908, Sixteen people died. $150,000 in property damage. The riot was a catalyst of the formation of the NAACP. The population of Springfield, Illinois was 45,000 at that time.

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9/15/2021: Black Theatre United “. . . stand[s] together to help protect Black people, Black talent and Black lives of all shapes and orientations in theatre and communities across the country.”

9/08/2021: Alliance for Digital Equality (Julius Hollis founder) was a “non-profit consumer advocacy organization that serves to facilitate and ensure equal access to technology in underserved communities.”

8/25/2021: Eugene Williams first victim at age 17, by being stoned and drowned on July 27, 1919, during “Red Summer” of 1919 race riot in Chicago.

8/18/2021: Springfield Race Riot of 1908, Sixteen people died. $150,000 in property damage. The riot was a catalyst of the formation of the NAACP. The population of Springfield, Illinois was 45,000 at that time.

8/11/2021: Enslaved Africans politically correct term coined for slaves who landed on the now U.S. shores in 1619.

8/4/2021: Trini Ross nominated to lead the U.S. attorney’s office for the Western District of New York based in Buffalo, if confirmed she will be the first Black woman to head that office.

7/28/2021: Kimberly Drew born 1990 art curator and writer. Former Metropolitan Museum social media manager.

7/21/2021: Ketanji Brown Jackson born 1970, in 2021 elevated by Biden to U.S. Court of Appeals for D.C. and is a contender to be the first Black woman on the U.S. Supreme Court.

7/14/2021: Mary Ellen Pleasant 1814 – 1904 “The Mother of Civil (or Human) Rights in California.” Also a chef.

7/7/2021:  Florence Price 1887-1953 first Black woman to be recognized as a symphonic composer, and the first to have a composition played by a major orchestra.

6/30/2021: Skylar Heath, 20, Black transgender woman shot and killed in Miami, FL in November 20, 2020.

6/23/2021: Dior H Ova (aka Tiffany Harris), 32,  Black transgender woman, killed July 26, 2020 in Bronx, NY.

6/16/2021: Danika “Danny” Henson, 31, Black transgender woman shot and killed May 4. 2021 in Baltimore, Maryland.

6/9/2021: Alexus Braxton, 45, Black transgender woman aka Kimmy Icon Braxton, killed on 2/4/2021 in Miami, Florida.

6/2/2021: Serenity Hollis, 24, Black transgender woman shot and killed May 8, 2021 in Albany, Georgia.

5/26/2021: Cassie Ventura born in 1986 is a Black and Filipino singer, songwriter, actor, and dancer.

5/19/2021: Naomi Campbell born 1970. British actress, business woman and model of Afro-Jamaican and Chinese-Jamaican descent.

5/12/2021: George Maxwell Richards 1931-2018, first president of Trinidad and Tobago to be of Amerindian (and Chinese) descent.

5/5/2021: Marabou is Haitian and means mixed-race including European, African, Taíno and South Asian.

4/28/2021:  Thelma Harper 1940 – 2021.  First Black woman elected to the Tennessee legislature in 1989.

4/21/2021:  Baby Esther born Esther Lee Jones 1918 – 1921, date of death unknown.  Singer and child entertainer in the 1920s.

4/14/2021: Tishaura O. Jones born March 10. 1972, first Black woman mayor of St. Louis, MO in April 2021.

4/7/2021: Something Good—Negro Kiss 1898 first recorded kiss between Black folks on film.

3/31/2021:  Jayla Roxx first transgender woman of color to launch a beauty brand, “BatMe! Cosmetics” in the United States.

3/24/2021:  Nnenna Stella founded The Wrap Life out of her exploration of her individuality and the wraps are for everyone.

3/17/2021:  Maia Chaka first Black woman to officiate in the NFL.

3/10/2021:  Sheila Edwonna Branford 1/27/1960 – 1/29/2021  created Scottsboro Boys Museum and Cultural Center.

3/3/2021:  Katrina Adams born 8/5/1968. First Black president of the United States Tennis Association (USTA).

1/27/2021: Calendly is a Black owned scheduling app.

 

more facts log onto BlackHistoryEveryday.com

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African American News & Issues

Jobs, Mental Health, Gun Violence: Cal Leaders Discuss Helping Black Men and Boys

Services include criminal record expungement for some marijuana-related crimes; job training and placement help; mental health treatment; addiction services; housing placement and more.

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Young Black Boy Reading a Book, Stock Photo courtesy of California Black Media

The California Assembly’s Select Committee on the Status of Boys and Men of Color held a meeting last month that brought legislators face-to-face with community organizers to discuss investing in African American and other youth of color in a “post-pandemic California.”

Introducing the various panelists, committee chair Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles), who is a member of the California Legislative Black Caucus, spoke about the bipartisan nature of the committee’s goals.

He said people from different backgrounds and political perspectives reach agreement when talking about the plight of youth of color because their conversations are based on hard numbers.

In California, per capita, Black men and boys are incarcerated more than any other group; are unhoused more than any other group; are affected by gun violence more than any other group; and in public schools, Black children’s standardized test scores fall only above children with disabilities.

“One of the things that brings both sides of the aisle together is data. What we would like to see is either internal audits or accountability measures to show that your numbers are not only successful but you’re keeping data over a period of time showing your success rate,” Jones-Sawyer said.

Committee vice-chair Assemblymember Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale), a Republican, agreed with this assertion.

“I am looking forward to the instruction that we’re going to get today,” Lackey said. “This is a part of our population that deserves the attention and a much stronger effort than has been displayed in the past.”

The first topic discussed during this meeting was gun violence, as panelists towed the line between cracking down on gun violence and preventing the over-policing of communities of color.

“How can we do this without returning to a punitive approach that grows the prisons, the jails and the criminalization of our community without achieving the public safety we so desire,” asked the Rev. Michael McBride who is known in the Bay Area as “Pastor Mike.” McBride is a social justice advocate and the national director for Urban Strategies/LIVE FREE Campaign with the Faith in Action Network.

The meeting was an opportunity for participants representing community-based organizations to share ideas with legislators with the hope of influencing their decision-making.

As of 2019, California had the seventh-lowest firearm mortality rate in the country. But with the state’s large population of almost 40 million people – the largest in the country — that still equated to 2,945 deaths that year.

“As everyone knows, there are probably too many guns in too many people’s hands who should never probably ever have guns,” Jones-Sawyer said.

Jones-Sawyer addressed the racial element of victims of gun violence in America.

“Many of those individuals were Latino and African American so it behooves us that post-pandemic, we need to figure out what we’re doing, what we need to do if we want to protect our boys and men of color,” Jones-Sawyer said.

He also offered up part of a solution.

“This year we need to infuse the California Violence Intervention and Prevention grant program (CalVIP) with a large sum. We did put in money for a large sum to fund the work that we so desperately need to get not only guns off the street but out of the hands of people who should not have them.”

The second topic on the agenda was post-pandemic mental health care.

Le Ondra Clark Harvey, chief executive officer of the California Council of Community Behavioral Health Agencies, spoke on the intersectional nature of mental health issues in communities of color.

“Historically, Black and Indigenous people of color (BIPOC) communities’ mental health and substance abuse disorder services have been impacted by several factors including access to treatment, cultural beliefs and stigma,” she said.

Largely, Clark Harvey said mental health treatment for BIPOC people has not been preventative.

“When BIPOC individuals do seek help, it tends to be at a time of crisis; at an emergency room, a psychiatric hospital or due to some type of interaction with law enforcement,” Harvey said.

She also spoke about the increase in opioid use, suicide and calls to crisis hotlines for boys and men of color.

Two of the programs in California mentioned during the meeting that are making headway on mental health problems facing Black men and boys are COVID-19 Black, an organization dedicated to lessening the effects the pandemic has had on the Black community, and Strong Family Home Visiting Program, a Los Angeles County-based program that provides in-home family support services.

Wraparound service approaches to care were also discussed as a way to shift “focus away from a traditional service-driven, problem-based approach to care and instead follows a strengths-based, needs-driven approach,” according to the California Department of Social Services.

The last topic of discussion was on career pathways and building generational wealth for communities of color.

Tara Lynn Gray, director of the California Office of the Small Business Advocate, highlighted that most of the disparities in communities of color can be traced to economics.

“Some of the challenges facing boys and men of color stem from economic challenges in their communities and lack of investment for years prior to this administration,” Gray said.

“The pandemic induced economic hardships that we’ve experienced have exacerbated those issues with many businesses closing their doors and roughly 40% of Black and Latinx businesses closed,” Gray continued.

Gray claimed that it is not all doom and gloom, however, as she mentioned what the state has done to assuage these disparities.

“The good news about the challenges we have seen is that our leadership, both in the administration and in the Legislature, have created access to programs, resources and financial assistance for small businesses to help with economic recovery and make an impact on some of the challenges facing boys and men of color,” Gray said.

Gray also spoke about investing in business opportunities for the formerly incarcerated.

Through the California Reinvestment Grant Program CalCRG, for example, the state has been directly funding community-based organizations across California to expand job and re-entry programs for Black and other men of color who were impacted by the “War on Drugs.”

Services include criminal record expungement for some marijuana-related crimes; job training and placement help; mental health treatment; addiction services; housing placement and more.

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