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Lori Lights Up Chicago

NNPA NEWSWIRE — To hundreds of her supporters Lightfoot said, ‘You created more than just history. You created a movement for change. When we started this journey 11 months ago, nobody gave us much of a chance. We were up against powerful interests, a powerful machine and a powerful mayor. [Dr.] Martin Luther King said something when I was very young. Faith, he said, is taking the first step when you can’t see the staircase…We let our faith overcome our fears.

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By Erick Johnson, The Chicago Crusader

On a historic night, Lori Lightfoot cemented her inspiring rise to political power to become Chicago’s first Black female mayor commanding a landslide victory over machine politics in the nation’s third largest city where there are more Blacks in public office than anywhere in the country.

In the second mayoral runoff in Chicago’s 182-year history, she swept all 50 wards as she delivered a crushing defeat to her opponent, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, a Black female political “Boss” who after rising to political prominence, lost an election for the first time in 32 years.

The evening also marked an unprecedented achievement for Chicago Blacks-one that set new records in Black political power in Chicago and Cook County. For the first time in the country, two Black women at the same time will lead Chicago, and Cook County, the second biggest county in America.

Chicago is now the largest city to elect a Black female mayor. It joins 13 cities headed by Black female mayors. They include San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Baltimore, New Orleans, Baton Rouge (LA), Charlotte (NC), New Haven (CT) and Rochester (NY).

In another historic victory, State Representative Melissa Conyears-Ervin became the city’s first Black female treasurer.

Blacks in Chicago now head the nation’s second largest police department, the second largest transit system, the third biggest public school system as well as the Chicago Fire Department, the Chicago Housing Authority and the Water Department.

With many Black residents struggling and disillusioned, some of these positions carry more symbolism than power and influence. With Lightfoot poised to take over, there’s the question of whether she will challenge or even shakeup the Black public leadership that Mayor Rahm Emanuel created, to restore trust with Black voters.

Lightfoot will be sworn in next month and replace Emanuel, an embattled official who decided not to run for a third term after losing trust among Chicago’s Black voters amid the police shooting of 17-year Laquan McDonald.

But the spotlight is on Lightfoot, a former prosecutor who was born to a working class family in Ohio. Thirty-six years after Harold Washington became the city’s first Black mayor, Lightfoot steps into the role at a time when hundreds of thousands of Blacks are leaving the city after years of crime, poverty and sweeping segregation among its Black and white residents.

Lightfoot is also the city’s first openly gay public official.

The evening set records on various levels in an election where only 30 percent of Chicago’s 1.6 million voters went to the polls after a long, highly publicized campaign season that for the first time saw two Black women vie for the city’s highest political office.

Lightfoot’s victory is being viewed as extraordinary. She defied odds as a gay, political rookie who had never held an elective office. There was concern that she would not get the support of the Black electorate because of her sexual orientation. In addition to being  an ‘outsider’ at City Hall, the Chicago Black Caucus as an organization did not endorse her, or publicly campaign for Lightfoot. A WGN poll on March 5 showed that Lightfoot led her opponent by as much as 53 percent to Preckwinkle’s 30 percent. Another poll showed that 29 percent of voters remained undecided on their candidate of choice.

That left Preckwinkle’s supporters hopeful. But Lightfoot won anyway.

Forty-six minutes after the polls closed at 7 p.m, Lightfoot was declared the winner.

She grabbed nearly 74 percent of 498,154 votes that were cast. Lightfoot kept a massive lead over her opponent throughout the evening. When the first results appeared on the screens at her election night watch party at the Hilton Chicago on Michigan Avenue, cheers erupted from a diverse crowd of supporters in a packed ballroom where Reverend Jesse Jackson Sr., businessman Willie Wilson, activist Ja’Mal Green and several Black aldermen were in attendance.

With her wife and daughter standing behind her, Lightfoot gave an 18-minute speech that highlighted her tough journey to victory and expressed her vision for Chicago.

To hundreds of her supporters Lightfoot said, ‘You created more than just history. You created a movement for change. When we started this journey 11 months ago, nobody gave us much of a chance. We were up against powerful interests, a powerful machine and a powerful mayor. [Dr.] Martin Luther King said something when I was very young. Faith, he said, is taking the first step when you can’t see the staircase…We let our faith overcome our fears.

“Together, we can and will, finally put first the interests of our people-all of our people, and not the interests of a powerful few. We can and will make Chicago a place where your zip code doesn’t determine your destiny.”

Lightfoot also won all of the city’s Black wards, weeks after she was endorsed by Black businessman and former mayoral candidate Willie Wilson, who won 13 Black wards in the general election in February. Wilson’s endorsement is being viewed as a game changer in Lightfoot’s campaign, and his influence signaled his own rise to political prominence in a city that never took him seriously as an ambitious figure seeking to shake up Chicago’s political machine.

His downfall gave rise to Lightfoot, a relatively unknown figure in the Black community who quit her mayoral-appointed job to take on Emanuel and the machine politics at City Hall. She stunned the city’s status quo after beating 14 candidates in the February 26 election with little support from big donors and the political elite.

The victory added more fuel and momentum to Lightfoot as she remained defiant and outspoken about the city’s machine politics that for years have left many residents disenfranchised and disillusioned.

Standing in Lightfoot’s way was Preckwinkle, a political heavyweight, who has grown after she helped put in office Cook County’s first Black female State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, and Juliana Stratton, the first Black female Lieutenant Governor of Illinois. After winning the Primary in March, 2018, Preckwinkle became the first Black female to serve as chairman of the powerful Cook County Democratic Party.

Preckwinkle launched a negative advertising campaign that painted Lightfoot as an affluent attorney who built her legal career on defending powerful corporations while she served as a partner at the high-profile global law firm of Mayer Brown. But in the end, Preckwinkle’s ties to the corruption scandal of Alderman Ed Burke played into her opponent’s message that she is part of Chicago’s political machine. And Preckwinkle’s negative attacks only boosted her negative image as a mean-spirited public official.

In the final weeks leading up to the runoff election, the two racked up political endorsements at a pace not seen before in recent Chicago memory.

Lightfoot was endorsed by the city’s daily newspapers and several Black aldermen. Many of Preckwinkle’s endorsements came from unions. Former President Barack Obama and several organizations remained silent, fueling speculation that many Democrats had abandoned Preckwinkle when she really needed them. Obama’s former Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett endorsed Preckwinkle in the final weeks of her mayoral campaign.

Obama, whose mansion is in Hyde Park where Preckwinkle lives, endorsed Preckwinkle during her campaign for a third term as Cook County Board President.

Lightfoot in her victory speech promised to heal the wounds, after a bitter campaign season among two strong Black women.

“In this election, Toni and I were competitors. But our differences are nothing compared to what we can achieve together. Now that it’s over, I know that we will work together in a city that we both love.”

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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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