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IN MEMORIAM: The Honorable Nathaniel R. Jones

NNPA NEWSWIRE — “Nathaniel Jones is a pioneer who has never failed to stand for the rights of people denied a chance to be a part of the process,” said Roslyn A. Brock, chairman of the NAACP National Board of Directors. “His distinguished career serves as inspiration to our thousands of youth leaders working to end the profound segregation that continues to exist in our society to this day.

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Judge Nathaniel R. Jones.

Focused on equal opportunity under law

By Dan Yount, The Cincinnati Herald

Equal opportunity under the law. It was the focus of Federal Judge and Civil Rights leader Nathaniel R. Jones’ life for decades, and he has made more of a difference than most people. Judge Jones died of congestive heart failure January 26 at his home in East Walnut Hills, according to his daughter Stephanie Jones, Esq. He was 93.

Jones was born in Youngstown in 1926, 17 years after the founding of the NAACP and the publication of The Call, a document “imploring Americans to discuss and protest the racial problem and to renew the struggle for civil and political rights.” That document deeply influenced him, as did his mentor, J. Maynard Dickerson, according to his autobiography, Answering the Call.

Judge Nathaniel Jones is shown in this cover photograph on his autobiography Answering the Call that was taken in his hometown of Youngstown about a month after he had served as deputy general counsel on the Kerner Commission. Provided.

Judge Nathaniel Jones is shown in this cover photograph on his autobiography Answering the Call that was taken in his hometown of Youngstown about a month after he had served as deputy general counsel on the Kerner Commission. Provided.

After growing up in an integrated neighborhood, Jones writes he learned a hard lesson in “deeply entrenched and pervasive” segregation when he joined the Army in 1945. Attending college on the GI Bill, he enrolled in a pre-law course, continued with law school at night, and became involved in Civil Rights issues, increasingly conscious of the ways that racism was built into voting, housing, health benefits, jobs, and education.

A graduate of his hometown school, Youngstown State University, Jones chose a legal career to help eliminate racial injustice — the kind that led to his being refused a shave in the old Sheraton Gibson barbershop during an early visit to Cincinnati. He earned his law degree from Youngstown State University. In 2003, the federal courthouse in Youngstown was named after Judge Jones.

A year after entering private practice, Jones became the first African American in Ohio to be an Assistant U.S. Attorney, when he was appointed to the Northern District of Ohio at Cleveland, a position he held until 1967.

He then was asked by his friend Merle McCurdy to serve as assistant general counsel to President Johnson’s National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, also known as the Kerner Commission, which made a study of the causes of the urban riots of the 1960s. McCurdy was the commission’s general counsel.

Jones said the commission’s February 1968 report known as the Kerner Report, concluded that the nation was “moving toward two societies, one Black, one White—separate and unequal.” Unless conditions were remedied, the commission warned, the country faced a “system of apartheid” in its major cities.

Jones succeeded Thurgood Marshall as general counsel for the NAACP in the 1970s. His work for the NAACP focused on desegregation, notably in the North, where judges were not convinced that the Brown v. Board of Education decision applied, and on landmark affirmative action cases.

Dinner with South African President Nelson Mandela. In a once-in-a-lifetime experience, Cincinnati federal Judge Nathaniel Jones and his late wife Lillian were asked to dine with South African President Nelson Mandela during Jones’ second visit to the country when he assisted in the drafting of a new constitution for South Africa. Photo provided

Dinner with South African President Nelson Mandela. In a once-in-a-lifetime experience, Cincinnati federal Judge Nathaniel Jones and his late wife Lillian were asked to dine with South African President Nelson Mandela during Jones’ second visit to the country when he assisted in the drafting of a new constitution for South Africa. Photo provided

From 1969 to 1978, Jones’ work for the NAACP took him to the Supreme Court multiple times, where he argued for affirmative action in the public and private sectors, challenged efforts to maintain segregated schools in jurisdictions across the United States, and successfully defended the NAACP against attempts by Mississippi businesses and officials to bankrupt the organization through civil lawsuits brought by the targets of mass boycotts and protests in that state.

Jones also fought to overturn racial discrimination against Black people across Africa in the 1990s, working with South African President Nelson Mandela and others to write a new constitution for South Africa following the apartheid era.

“Nathaniel Jones is a pioneer who has never failed to stand for the rights of people denied a chance to be a part of the process,” said Roslyn A. Brock, chairman of the NAACP National Board of Directors. “His distinguished career serves as inspiration to our thousands of youth leaders working to end the profound segregation that continues to exist in our society to this day.

Judge Nathaniel R. Jones. Photos by Pete Coleman/The Cincinnati Herald

Judge Nathaniel R. Jones. Photos by Pete Coleman/The Cincinnati Herald

Judge Jones was appointed by President Carter to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati in 1979. Judge Jones retired from the Sixth Circuit Court in 2002, and continued to practice law, serving as senior counsel at the firm of Blank Rome LLP until 2018.

“I see enough here to make Cincinnati an exciting place,” said Jones. “People should be proud and press on to make this city an even better place to live.”

During the 101st National NAACP Convention in 2016 in Cincinnati, Judge Jones said in receiving the NAACP’s highest honor, the Spingarn Medal, “Democracy requires participation. If you don’t participate, you don’t have anybody to blame but yourself. To be a player, you have to be involved. I recognize both the blessing of 90 years and the finite character of what is left of my life, but as long as I have breath, my advice will be to stay focused and resist efforts on the real threat, which is the nullification of the remedies that give meaning to laws against discrimination.

“I want to issue a plea to all who still believe in the NAACP’s call, some 107 years after our founding in 1909. The original Call concluded: “Hence we call upon all the believers in democracy to join in a national conference for the discussion of present evils, the voicing of protests, and the renewal of the struggle for civil and political liberty.

“This is why I am truly honored to be part of the continuing legacy of Spingarn Medalists.’’

Mayor John Cranley, on the passing of Judge Nathaniel Jones, said, in a statement, “Nathaniel Jones was one of the greatest Civil Rights leaders this nation has ever known, having worked with Thurgood Marshall during the Brown v Board case, desegregating countless schools and institutions as head of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, to helping South Africa come out of apartheid, to ensuring individual rights as a federal judge. To be in his presence was to be in the presence of greatness. Knowing him has been one of the greatest honors of my life.

“In 2001, he helped me write my first major piece of legislation, the city’s racial profiling ban—that’s the equivalent of getting hitting lessons from Hank Aaron. Among Salmon Chase, Harriet Beecher Stowe, William Howard Taft and Fred Shuttlesworth, Nathaniel Jones was one of the five greatest Cincinnatians to have ever lived among us.”

Former Ohio State Senator Eric H. Kearney remembers being in his early 20s and meeting Judge Jones at the home of family friend, Civil Rights activist Virginia Coffey. Kearney said, “To our community, Nathaniel Jones was a judge, lawyer, educator, and determined defender of social justice. To his family, he was a dedicated father and grandfather. To me, Judge Jones was a mentor, law school professor, and inspiration. Our region, our nation and our world are a better place thanks to his contributions. Judge Jones will be dearly missed.”

In a statement, a representative of the family of the late State Representative William Mallory, said, “Judge Nathaniel R. Jones was a great legal scholar and a confidant to our beloved William L. Mallory Sr. He called Judge Jones to ask if he had a chance to file a lawsuit to change the way judges are elected in Hamilton County. The historic lawsuit was successful and Judge Jones is a big part of that success. He gave an inspiring commencement speech at the law school graduation of Judge Dwane Mallory. He was a humble man who carried himself with great honor and distinction. He fought for democracy here in Cincinnati and all over the world. He had a unique relationship with the Mallory family, and we will miss him. We send our prayers and condolences to the family of Judge Nathaniel R. Jones.’’

Although thrilled at Barack Obama’s “amazing election,” in the discourse surrounding it, Jones writes in Answering the Call, he was reminded of the need to keep Civil Rights history alive for the media, Congress and the judiciary.

Jones praises Civil Rights lawyers for tirelessly establishing legal standards and fighting federal efforts to thwart them. He mentored and inspired many young people by teaching classes at the University of Cincinnati Law School and Harvard Law School. Judge Jones was actively involved in the Summer Work Experience in Law (SWEL) program in Cincinnati.

He felt that the legal community in Cincinnati was too segregated, so with his friend, the late Judge Robert Black, he established the CBA-BLAC (Cincinnati Bar Association-Black Lawyers Association of Cincinnati) Roundtable to foster better relationships with attorneys of different races and ethnic backgrounds.

Among his numerous honors and awards, Judge Jones was named a Great Living Cincinnatian in 1997. He changed the course of history, and we are grateful.

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Tunisia: Raja Amari’s ‘She Had a Dream’ Doc Premieres on AfroPoP

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Amari is one of these artists and Ghofrane is an activist. Exploring how racism has shaped her life in all aspects including her early school days, her romantic life and everyday activities, Amari’s film showcases how Ghofrane uses her experiences as impetus to work to bring change to her country for all people. A compassionate and hopeful exploration of the life and aspirations of Ghofrane, She Had A Dream sheds light on women’s roles in Tunisia’s changing society and one woman’s battle to create change for her community.
The post Tunisia: Raja Amari’s ‘She Had a Dream’ Doc Premieres on AfroPoP first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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By Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D, NNPA Newswire Entertainment and Culture Editor

The documentary She Had A Dream by Tunisian filmmaker Raja Amari premieres on AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange series tonight at 8 p.m. EST on WORLD CHANNEL. Season 14 of the acclaimed documentary series captures Black artists and activists shaping and reclaiming culture, advocating for change and mobilizing for brighter futures. She Had A Dream offers an intimate portrayal of one young Black Tunisian woman’s quest for political office and her fight against racism and oppression in a society that often seeks to overlook both.

The documentary follows Ghofrane, a 20-something Black woman from Tunisia as she walks the path of self-discovery of young adulthood while running for political office in a homeland where many still view her as an outsider.

Watch the trailer below:

A dedicated, charismatic activist and a modern, free-speaking woman, Ghofrane in many ways is the embodiment of contemporary Tunisian political hopes still alive years after the Arab Spring. She Had A Dream follows Ghofrane as she works to conquer her own self-doubts while attempting to persuade close friends and complete strangers to vote for her. As audiences follow her campaign, they also follow the dichotomies of her life as a woman striving for a role in politics in the Arab world and as a Black person in a country where racism is prevalent, yet often denied.

“The 14th season of AfroPoP shines a light on the collective power, strength and resilience of Black people and movements around the world,” said Leslie Fields-Cruz, AfroPoP executive producer. “Viewers will see artists use their platforms to push for progress and human rights and see ‘ordinary’ people do the remarkable in the interest of justice.”

Amari is one of these artists and Ghofrane is an activist. Exploring how racism has shaped her life in all aspects including her early school days, her romantic life and everyday activities, Amari’s film showcases how Ghofrane uses her experiences as impetus to work to bring change to her country for all people. A compassionate and hopeful exploration of the life and aspirations of Ghofrane, She Had A Dream sheds light on women’s roles in Tunisia’s changing society and one woman’s battle to create change for her community.

She Had A Dream airs on AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange Monday, April 11 at 8 p.m. ET on WORLD Channel and begins streaming on worldchannel.org at the same time.

AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange is presented by Black Public Media and WORLD Channel. For more information, visit worldchannel.org or blackpublicmedia.org.

This article was written by Nsenga K. Burton, founder & editor-in-chief of the award-winning news site The Burton Wire. Follow Nsenga on Twitter @Ntellectual.

Follow The Burton Wire on Twitter or Instagram @TheBurtonWire.

The post Tunisia: Raja Amari’s ‘She Had a Dream’ Doc Premieres on AfroPoP first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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Nairobi: Water Crisis Exploits Women & Girls

NNPA NEWSWIRE — “Sextortion” refers to sex being used as currency instead of money for services or products — in this case water. According to the Water Integrity Network (WIN), the testimonies collected from women over the past five years in Kibera and Mukuru Kwa Njenga, which are some of the largest informal settlements in Nairobi, point towards an invisible, unspoken, and sinister consequence of corruption in the water sector i.e. sextortion. Sex for water is not a new phenomena.
The post Nairobi: Water Crisis Exploits Women & Girls first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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BBC Africa is reporting Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya, is facing a water shortage because of changing weather patterns and aging water facilities. The article reports, “Residents in informal communities like Kibra pay private vendors for water, meaning they now control the supply and access to water in the community.” The privatization of water access has led to an increase in the exploitation of women and girls in exchange for water.

“Sextortion” refers to sex being used as currency instead of money for services or products — in this case water. According to the Water Integrity Network (WIN), the testimonies collected from women over the past five years in Kibera and Mukuru Kwa Njenga, which are some of the largest informal settlements in Nairobi, point towards an invisible, unspoken, and sinister consequence of corruption in the water sector i.e. sextortion. Sex for water is not a new phenomena. Check out the 2018 ANEW documentary short below:

The water crisis and the sexual exploitation of girls and women as a result of the water crisis shows no signs of slowing down.

To read more about this crisis, visit BBC Africa‘s series of articles and videos on Kenya’s water crisis and the Water Integrity Network’s (WIN) study on sextortion.

This news brief was curated by Nsenga K. Burton, founder & editor-in-chief of the award-winning news site The Burton Wire. Follow Nsenga on Twitter @Ntellectual.

Follow The Burton Wire on Twitter or Instagram @TheBurtonWire.

The post Nairobi: Water Crisis Exploits Women & Girls first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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#WordinBlack: Schools and Black Students’ Mental Health: The Kids Aren’t Alright

THE AFRO — Prior to the pandemic, in 2019, suicide was the second leading cause of death for Black youths ages 15 to 24, according to the Office of Minority Health. The same report found Black high school-aged girls were 60 percent more likely to attempt suicide than their white peers. And, by June 2020, the CDC saw the rate of Black respondents who reported having “seriously considered suicide” was significantly higher.
The post #WordinBlack: Schools and Black Students’ Mental Health: The Kids Aren’t Alright first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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By Maya Pottiger, Word in Black

It’s no surprise that we’re living through difficult times. After two years, we’re still in a global pandemic, which has predominantly impacted people of color. In addition, Book bans, attacks on critical race theory, and partisan political fights target everything from Black youths’ sexuality, to history, to health.

And we’re seeing the effects.

Prior to the pandemic, in 2019, suicide was the second leading cause of death for Black youths ages 15 to 24, according to the Office of Minority Health. The same report found Black high school-aged girls were 60 percent more likely to attempt suicide than their white peers. And, by June 2020, the CDC saw the rate of Black respondents who reported having “seriously considered suicide” was significantly higher.

For a variety of reasons — ongoing stigma, lack of insurance, most accessible — Black students often rely on the mental health services offered at school.Outside of a mental health-specific practice, Black students were nearly 600 times as likely to get mental health help in an academic setting compared to other options, according to 2020 data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

In fact, mental health services in schools have been steadily gaining popularity among students since 2009, before dropping slightly in 2020 when the school year was interrupted, according to the SAMHSA report. As a result, the rate of students receiving mental health care through school decreased by 14 percent in 2020 compared to 2019.

So how are schools changing the way they address and prioritize mental health — and the specific needs of Black students — since 2020?

The Renewed Focus on Mental Health

For school-aged people, the majority of their time is spent in a school building — about eight hours per day, 10 months out of the year. To help address mental health during academic hours, schools are trying to focus on social-emotional learning: self-awareness, self-control, and interpersonal skills. This includes teaching kids how to be in touch with their emotions and protect against adverse mental health outcomes.

But it’s been difficult.

Though there’s been more conversation, the implementation is challenging, says Dr. Kizzy Albritton, an associate professor of school psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. There was already a shortage of school-based mental health professionals before the pandemic, which has now been exacerbated, as have mental health issues. In addition, though schools clearly recognize the importance of mental health, they aren’t always provided adequate resources.

“Unless there are more resources funneled into the school system, we’re going to see a continued catch-up issue across the board,” Albritton says. “And, unfortunately, our Black students are going to continue to suffer the most.”

In a survey of high school principals and students, Education Week Research Center found discrepancies in how principals and students viewed a school’s mental health services. While 86 percent of the principals said their schools provided services, only about 66 percent of students agreed. The survey did point out it’s possible the school offers these services and students aren’t aware. The survey also found Black and Latinx students were less likely than their peers to say their schools offered services.

Dr. Celeste Malone, the president-elect of the National Association for School Psychologists and a Howard University associate professor, says she hasn’t previously seen this degree of attention to mental health in schools.

“I see that a lot in my role for a school psychology graduate program: the outreach and people contacting me with openings where they didn’t exist previously,” Malone says. “With this increased push in funding to hire more, that’s definitely a very, very positive movement.”

Mental Health Is Not One Size Fits All

Just like with many aspects of health, Black youths need different mental health support from their peers of other races. They need a counselor who understands their lived experiences, like microaggressions and other forms of discrimination or racism, without the student having to explain.

For example, in order to best address the specific mental health needs of Black students, districts need to provide information breaking down mental health stigmas; focus on hiring Black counselors, social workers, and mental health professionals; and fund anti-racist and trauma-informed mental health practices, according to the Center for American Progress.

While she hears a lot of talk, Albritton says she isn’t seeing widespread evidence of these solutions in practice.

“There needs to be a willingness, first of all, to understand that our Black students, their needs look a lot different,” Albritton says. School officials need to understand where Black students are coming from — that their families and households experience systemic and structural racism, which are known to trigger anxiety and depression. The effects of the racial wealth gap also play a role, from the neighborhood kids are living in, to the schools they can attend to the impacts on their health. Students might be bringing worries about these challenges to school, which could be reflected in their behavior. This is why, Albritton says, it’s crucial to also work with students’ families.

The post #WordinBlack: Schools and Black Students’ Mental Health: The Kids Aren’t Alright appeared first on AFRO American Newspapers .

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