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History-Making U.S. Secretary of Interior Tours Mississippi’s Civil Rights Sites

NNPA NEWSWIRE — The tour’s first stop was the now dilapidated, overgrown-with-vines Bryant’s Grocery, on Money Road, in Greenwood, Miss., where 14-year-old Emmett Till of Chicago was accused of allegedly whistling at the white store clerk.
The post History-Making U.S. Secretary of Interior Tours Mississippi’s Civil Rights Sites first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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New National Park Unit Discussed for the Delta; ETHIC, a Focal Point

By Gail H.M. Brown, Ph.D., Contributing Writer to The Mississippi Link

Hosted by U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, history-making Native American U.S. Secretary of Interior (DOI) Deb Haaland toured crucial civil rights sites of Mississippi, Tuesday, Feb. 15.

Appointed by the Biden-Harris Administration, Haaland made history when she became the first Native American to serve as a cabinet secretary.

Historically, the U.S. Department of the Interior, created March 3, 1849, is in charge of the Nation’s internal affairs. (https://www.doi.gov/whoweare/history).

Secretary Holland expresses gratitude to members participating in roundtable at the courthouse in Sumner, MS where the murder trial took place

Also joining Haaland on the tour was White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) Chair Brenda Mallory, also a history-maker. The 12th chair of CEQ, Mallory is the first African American to serve in this position. As chair, she advises the President on environmental and natural resources policies that improve, preserve and protect public health and the environment for America’s communities.

Cassius Cash, deputy regional director, National Park Service (NPS), served as facilitator and guide.

The tour’s first stop was the now dilapidated, overgrown-with-vines Bryant’s Grocery, on Money Road, in Greenwood, Miss., where 14-year-old Emmett Till of Chicago was accused of allegedly whistling at the white store clerk.

“This is one of the most impactful stops for me personally,” said Cash, as he began the tour. “It took me a while to leave this spot. Just tried to put myself in the place of Emmett on the day that event started.” He then yielded to Thompson for welcoming remarks.

“First of all, Madam Secretary, we are glad to have you in the Second District,” Thompson said. “What you have with this situation is a lot of what happened in the south when people were trying to pursue freedom, justice and equality, and the brutality associated with it.”

“The story behind this, and a lot of stories like this, needs to be told as accurate as possible,” said Thompson. “We are glad that there is interest from the Park Service as well as from you being here; [which] says volumes for that interest.”

Following Thompson, Till’s cousin, Reverend Wheeler Parker Jr., who shared his first-hand knowledge of what happened that summer day in 1955 at the now barely recognizable Bryant Grocery.

Parker first reflected on his cousin Emmett growing up in Chicago as a “fun-loving guy; never had a dull day in his life.” Parker said that was part of the reason his mother and others did not want Emmitt to visit Mississippi as he so much wanted.

Parker stressed that “so many stories have been told about the incident that it is unbelievable.” He will be sharing his account in a book that is due out later this year.

The next stop was the Emmett Till Historic Intrepid Center (ETHIC) in Glendora, Miss., where Mayor Johnny Thomas, locals, state representatives and other dignitaries welcomed Haaland, Mallory, staff members and others.

State Representative Tracey Rosebud and Mississippi Transportation Commissioner Willie Simmons were also among Glendora’s welcome wagon.

Thompson praised the people of Glendora for putting “sweat equity” into developing what he called, “the house the community built in memory of young Till.”

It was at the ETHIC that Haaland began to share her sentiments that Native American history and Black history are American history. And “the complete story must be told,” she said.

“[We], Native Americans, weren’t even citizens of the United States until 1924, and we’d been here for millennia. We were here before the first Europeans came to this country,” Haaland said. “I feel like we are allies in the fight to make sure that our history is represented in the way that we feel it should be.”

She said that is where the National Park Service comes in. According to the DOI, The National Park Service is currently conducting a Special Resource Study of significant civil rights sites in Mississippi. Authorized by Congress in 2017, the study is designed to provide Congress with critical information used in the legislative process of designating a new unit.”

During the tour, citizens in Glendora made the case for the new National Park designation be there with the Till Center as the focus point.

Other sites on the tour included the Emmett Till Interpretive Center in Sumner, Miss., and the historic City of Mound Bayou where Mayor Leighton Aldridge invited practically all of the former mayors and others to welcome Secretary Haaland.

In Sumner, a round table discussion was held on the social injustice of the Till murder and its sparking impact on civil rights.

Roundtable panelist, Shiann McDanail, a 12th grader of West Tallahatchie High School, said, “I’m glad a curriculum [is being developed] for us to learn more about Emmett Till because in school, the teachers are not able to teach how they want to teach.” She is in favor of the National Park being there. “Just not for us but for other people and generations,” McDanail said.

“Who could we be if we don’t know our own history?”

The 12th-grader later told The Mississippi Link that to be honest, unfortunately some of her peers do not understand the importance of the Emmett Till story. “My generation should want to get together to help like kindergartners, six- and seven-graders, to understand what [went] on with Emmett and other people that left a historical mark on us today,” she said. “So, when they graduate high school, they will know and appreciate our history.”

McDanail aspires to become a teacher.

During the final stop at the historic Jackson, Miss. home of Medgar and Myrlie Evers, Haaland also stressed the importance of educating children about their history. “It’s important that we educate our children because they deserve to know the history of our country,” she said.

Haaland and entourage were warmly welcomed by the Evers’ daughter Reena Evers and Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba.

Having been donated to and preserved by Tougaloo College for many years, the Evers’ home, where Medgar was assassinated in his carport, is currently a National Monument since December 10, 2020. It is National Monument No. 423.

The post History-Making U.S. Secretary of Interior Tours Mississippi’s Civil Rights Sites first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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PRESS ROOM: First Book, an Innovative Leader in Education Equity, Releases Groundbreaking Research Illustrating the Impact of COVID-19 on Emotional Wellness of Students in Underserved Communities

NNPA NEWSWIRE — “Collaborating with First Book to provide educators with evidence-informed activities and curriculum is one more step forward in making sure they feel more prepared to support their students,” said Ariana Hoet, Ph.D., clinical director of On Our Sleeves and pediatric psychologist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. “Educators have been on the frontline supporting children’s mental health before and throughout the pandemic with limited resources. We know the pandemic has exacerbated worries around children’s mental health, so this need is even more crucial than ever.”

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Nearly One Thousand Educators Participated; Report that over half (53%) of the students they serve struggle with their mental health

WASHINGTON, First Book, a nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring education equity for children living in poverty, today announced the results of a national survey designed to identify emotional wellness challenges faced by school-age children. In addition to reinforcing earlier findings regarding the devastating mental health effects of COVID-19, this survey shed new light on the severity of this impact — especially in communities of need. It also established that emotional wellness issues have become a significant barrier to education for many students who attend schools in these communities – a majority of whom are children of color. Pediatric psychologists from Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s On Our Sleeves movement for children’s mental health partnered with First Book to offer a clinical perspective on survey questions and process.

In the new survey findings, educators report that 53 percent of the students they serve struggle with their mental health and only 20 percent of educators feel prepared to support the mental well-being of their students. Of significant concern, 98 percent of educators say mental health challenges act as a barrier to children’s education. And notably, educators are facing their own mental health challenges. Student mental wellness issues have a ripple effect on educators who feel helpless and unsupported.

“Educators across the country are speaking out about the urgency of the mental wellness issues that their students are facing, how they don’t feel prepared to address the issues, and how those issues act as a barrier to learning. Based on what we’re hearing from our Network of educators, this is truly a crisis,” said Kyle Zimmer, president and CEO, First Book. “First Book is committed to supporting low-income communities that have been disproportionally impacted by the pandemic and the data revealed in this survey is guiding us in providing educators with high-quality, research-driven tools to nurture emotional wellness and develop healthy habits that prepare students to not only learn but thrive.”

On an ongoing basis First Book solicits input from its Network of more than 525,000 educators – all of whom serve children in need – to enable the organization to directly address the needs of practitioners and the children they serve. Mental wellness was spotlighted as a critical problem exacerbated by COVID-19, leading the organization to design focus groups and a survey to better understand the magnitude and scope of the issue, as well as what is needed to address this barrier to education. Nearly 1,000 educators responded to the survey providing startling data. The results provided a framework for the resource, which is now available, entitled: Taking Care: An Educator Guide to Healthy Habits for Student Emotional Wellness, a free resource created in collaboration with On Our Sleeves. The resource and study are now available through First Book.

“Collaborating with First Book to provide educators with evidence-informed activities and curriculum is one more step forward in making sure they feel more prepared to support their students,” said Ariana Hoet, Ph.D., clinical director of On Our Sleeves and pediatric psychologist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. “Educators have been on the frontline supporting children’s mental health before and throughout the pandemic with limited resources. We know the pandemic has exacerbated worries around children’s mental health, so this need is even more crucial than ever.”

According to the First Book study, the top three life circumstances or experiences that contribute to children’s mental health challenges are 1) unstable or difficult home life; 2) hunger/food insecurity and 3) isolation due to Covid-19. Because these three factors often intersect as children grapple with returning to normalcy post-pandemic, the resources First Book provides to educators are essential tools for helping them become better equipped to aid students who are still dealing with the effects of Covid-related depression, trauma, loneliness, and loss.

First Book’s findings are particularly relevant given recent warnings issued by professional organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the Children’s Hospital Association. These groups have declared a national emergency in children’s mental health and have noted that psychological strains, made worse over the past few years by pandemic-associated isolation, anxiety, fear, and grief, have caused a crisis in several societal sectors including education. They also emphasize that children in communities of color have been disproportionately impacted due to previously unresolved inequities linked to structural racism.

Additional key findings in First Book’s survey include:

  • 72% of educators say the pandemic has introduced new mental health challenges among students/children;
  • 65% of educators report the pandemic has exacerbated the existing mental health challenges students already faced;
  • 80% of educators believe gaining access to mental health support is a high or emergency priority in relation to students’ overall needs at this time;
  • 98% of educators say mental health challenges act as a barrier to children’s education;
  • 93% of educators became aware that a student was struggling with mental health issues due to a noticeable change in behavior;
  • 92% of educators indicated they are very or extremely interested in accessing support resources focused on promoting the general mental health and well-being of all students;
  • 51% of educators report that a student’s race/racial identity is relevant to their mental health;
  • 68% of respondents indicate that they take a child’s race and/or culture into consideration when supporting their mental well-being (e.g. observe family/cultural norms, design a culturally inclusive curriculum, and foster open and trusting relationships with their students);
  • 74% of educators are very or extremely interested in accessing support resources to help them approach mental health challenges related to race, identity, and intersectionality;
  • Older children reportedly struggle more than younger children. Educators serving middle and high school students estimate that 59% and 60% (respectively) of the students they serve struggle with mental health, while early childhood and elementary educators estimate 50% and 52% (respectively) of their students struggle.  This compares to the general population at 53%;
  • Educators in urban and suburban communities consider addressing mental health as a stronger priority (83% high/emergency priority) vs. their rural counterparts (75% high/emergency priority).

About First Book

Founded in Washington, D.C., in 1992 as a 501(c)3 nonprofit social enterprise, First Book is a leader in the educational equity field. Over its 29-year history, First Book has distributed more than 200 million books and educational resources, with a retail value of more than $2 billion. First Book believes education offers children in need the best path out of poverty. First Book breaks down barriers to quality education by providing its Network of more than 525,000 registered teachers, librarians, after school program leaders, and others serving children in need with millions of free and affordable new, high-quality books, educational resources, and basic needs items through the award-winning First Book Marketplace nonprofit eCommerce site. The First Book Network comprises the largest and fastest-growing community of formal and informal educators serving children in need.

First Book also expands the breadth and depth of the education field through a family of social enterprises, including First Book Research & Insights, its proprietary research initiative, and the First Book Accelerator, which brings best-in-class research-based strategies to the classroom via relevant, usable educator resources. First Book Impact Funds target support to areas of need, such as rural communities or increasing diversity in children’s books. For more information about First Book, please visit http://www.firstbook.org.

About On Our Sleeves®

Children don’t wear their thoughts on their sleeves. With 1 in 5 children living with a significant mental health concern and half of all lifetime mental health concerns starting by age 14, we need to give them a voice. On Our Sleeves®, powered by behavioral health experts at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, aims to provide every community in America with free resources necessary for breaking child mental health stigmas and educating families and advocates, because no child or family should struggle alone.

Since the inception of On Our Sleeves® in 2018, more than 3 million people in every state across America have interacted with the movement’s free pediatric mental health educational resources at OnOurSleeves.org and educator curricula have reached more than four of five classrooms across the United States.

To schedule an interview with a spokesperson for First Book, please contact Ian Kenison at ikenison@firstbook.org.

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Moore Brown: Maryland Set to Have Two Black Statewide Officials

NNPA NEWSWIRE — If they are elected, Maryland would be the first state to have two Black statewide officials. Wes Moore has caught lightning in a bottle. He has run ads that have been narrated by Oprah Winfrey and has captured the excitement of the moment in Maryland.

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By Lauren Victoria Burke, NNPA Newswire Contributor

On July 19, Wes Moore and Congressman Anthony Brown won their primary contests to be Governor of Maryland and Attorney General.

Maryland is a deep blue state that currently has a moderate Republican Governor. It is expected that Moore and Brown will have a major advantage over their Republican competitors.

If they are elected, Maryland would be the first state to have two Black statewide officials. Wes Moore has caught lightning in a bottle. He has run ads that have been narrated by Oprah Winfrey and has captured the excitement of the moment in Maryland.

Moore’s main opponent was former DOJ Civil Rights chief and DNC Chair Tom Perez. Perez came in second to Moore. The results were 36 percent for Moore, 27 percent for Perez and 19 percent for Peter Franchot.

Wes Moore’s victory is verification that Black statewide candidates in states with over 20 percent of the Black vote can run and win strong campaigns.

Current Governor Larry Hogan has said publicly that he will not vote for the Republican nominee for Governor. That nominee, Dan Cox, is a supporter of Donald Trump.

“Dan Cox …is a QAnon whack job who was in favor of calling Mike Pence, my friend, a traitor, when they were talking about hanging him,” Hogan said at a news conference on July 19.

Attorney and former prosecutor Glenn Ivey defeated former Congresswoman Donna Edwards in a primary to replace Anthony Brown in Maryland’s 4th district. Ivey is all but certain to be elected to Congress in such a blue district.

Lauren Victoria Burke is an independent investigative journalist and the host of the podcast BURKEFILE. She is a political analyst who appears regularly on #RolandMartinUnfiltered. She may be contacted at LBurke007@gmail.com and on twitter at @LVBurke

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DOJ Indicts Four Police Officers Who Allegedly Lied to Secure Search Warrants for Breonna Taylor’s Home

NNPA NEWSWIRE — “Breonna Taylor should have awakened in her home, as usual, on the morning of March 13, 2020. Tragically, she did not. She was just 26 years old. As Attorney General Garland just stated, today’s indictments allege that Louisville Police Detective Joshua Jaynes and Sergeant Kyle Meany drafted and approved what they knew was a false affidavit to support a search warrant for Ms. Taylor’s home. That false affidavit set in motion events that led to Ms. Taylor’s death when other LMPD officers executed that warrant,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke on August 4. 

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By Lauren Victoria Burke, NNPA Newswire Contributor

Tamika Palmer, Breonna Taylor’s mother, has long been insisting that Louisville police have never been at her daughter Breonna Taylor’s apartment on the night they shot her dead.

On August 4, the Department of Justice, led by the Attorney General and Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Kristen Clarke, announced the indictments of four police officers who fatally shot Ms. Taylor during a nighttime raid on her apartment.

They asserted that the officers lied in order to get a search warrant for Taylor’s apartment.

The Justice Department announced that the indictments against the four current and former police officers would include federal charges of using “unconstitutionally excessive force.”

“Breonna Taylor should have awakened in her home, as usual, on the morning of March 13, 2020. Tragically, she did not. She was just 26 years old. As Attorney General Garland just stated, today’s indictments allege that Louisville Police Detective Joshua Jaynes and Sergeant Kyle Meany drafted and approved what they knew was a false affidavit to support a search warrant for Ms. Taylor’s home. That false affidavit set in motion events that led to Ms. Taylor’s death when other LMPD officers executed that warrant,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke on August 4.

“The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution ensures that people are subject to searches only when there is probable cause supporting a search warrant. Falsified warrants create unnecessary hazards for the public and for the police, who rely on facts that fellow officers report in carrying out their public duties,” Clarke added.

“These charges focus on the conduct of the Louisville Metro Police Department’s Place-Based Investigations Unit. In the first indictment filed today, we allege that in early 2020, that unit was investigating suspected drug trafficking in the West End [area] of Louisville. On March 12, 2020, officers from that unit sought 5 search warrants they claimed were related to the suspected drug trafficking.  Four of those warrants targeted properties in the West End where that activity was allegedly occurring,” said Attorney General Merrick Garland before Clarke spoke.

Lauren Victoria Burke is an independent investigative journalist and the host of the podcast BURKEFILE. She is a political analyst who appears regularly on #RolandMartinUnfiltered. She may be contacted at LBurke007@gmail.com and on twitter at @LVBurke

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