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NNPA Urges Better U.S.-Cuba Relations

NNPA NEWSWIRE — “The majority of the people of the United States want better relations with Cuba, and that is the will that must prevail,” stated Chavis, who counted among the delegation of 30 American scholars who attended the 18th edition of the Series of Academic Conversations on Cuba in the Foreign Policy of the United States of America.

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Pictured, left to right: Dean DeWayne Wickman of Morgan State University, Dr. Tony Draper, Publisher of The Afro, and Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., President and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association.

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

National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. joined experts and academics from the United States and Cuba in Havana to seek strategies, solutions, and projects they hope would help rekindle relations between the countries.

“The majority of the people of the United States want better relations with Cuba, and that is the will that must prevail,” stated Chavis, who counted among the delegation of 30 American scholars who attended the 18th edition of the Series of Academic Conversations on Cuba in the Foreign Policy of the United States of America.

Sponsored by the Research Center on International Policies and the Raul Roa Higher Institute for International Relations, the conference highlighted how the Trump Administration has setback U.S.-Cuba relations after former President Barack Obama worked toward a more agreeable relationship.

Here’s the text of Dr. Chavis’ full keynote address:

On behalf of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), the national trade association of the Black Press of America representing 225 African American owned newspapers across the United States of America, I bring to each of you our expressions of solidarity and comradeship in the ongoing international struggle for freedom, justice, equality for all of humanity throughout the world.

Today’s conference is very important not only for the people of Cuba and for the people of the United States, but also this dialogue and these discussions over the next days here in Havana will have a positive impact, I believe, on improving the quality of life for all people throughout the world who especially cry out for freedom. I stand before you as a longtime freedom fighter, former U.S. political prisoner, journalist and as the President and CEO of the NNPA, but most importantly, I stand before you as your Brother and as your Comrade in our joint struggle and global movement for freedom and justice.

The truth is if we all together can work to improve relations between the United States and Cuba, that success will bring benefits to all people in this region of the world and to all people in all regions of the world. Why is it that still in 2019, the United States is still imposing a “Blockade on Cuba?” Why? Whose interests are being served in this prolonged and unjust economic, political, and social blockade of Cuba by the United States?

It is not in the interests of the people of Cuba for the blockade to continue.

And it is not in the interests of the people of the United States for the blockade to continue.  Therefore, my first point to emphasize today is that the most effective expression of international solidarity between the people of the Cuba and the people of the United States requires and demands an immediate end to the United States blockade of Cuba.

The U.S. blockade of Cuba is a contradictory relic of the past, but it is a present day reminder of the awful, sinful, counterproductive, and devastating realities of international imperialism, exploitation and racism.

I can state without fear of reprisal that the Black Press of America does not support the blockade of Cuba. We demand an end to the blockade immediately.

We want to help improve relations between our two nations.

I say “our” two nations because, as a descendant of Africa living, striving and struggling in the United States, whenever I am in Cuba, I not only feel at home, I know that I am at home here in Cuba because of what Cuba has done and continues to do for Africa and for all African people throughout the African Diaspora, as well as what Cuba continues to do today internationally to improve healthcare for all of humanity throughout the world.

Several weeks ago, I spoke at the Embassy of Cuba to the United States on November 25, 2019 noting the anniversary when H.E. Comrade President Fidel Castro made his transition to eternal life. I noted then, and I want to repeat it here as part my intervention and statement to this outstanding gathering of colleagues and those who are interested in improving international relations.

The Cuban Revolution led by Fidel Castro was one of the most important and effective revolutions of the 20th Century against imperialism, colonialism and racism.

Today at the end of the second decade of the 21st Century, the Cuban Revolution led by Fidel Castro’s enduring legacy, government, values, commitments, achievements and vast social and economic transformations continue to set a righteous and transformative ideal for the rest of the world to learn from and to follow.

This past November 25th , I reminded the people gathered at the Cuban Embassy in Washington, DC, that when Fidel Castro dispatched thousands of courageous Cuban troops to Angola in southern Africa in the 1980’s, it permanently changed and reversed the tragic oppressive trajectory of imperialism, neocolonialism, and the brutal Apartheid South Africa’s quest to dominate and control all of southern Africa.

My remarks today are not just from reading the books of history that are in fact important to read for all who stand for the liberation of humanity from the systems and structures of oppression.

But my remarks are from being an actual firsthand witness to history being made and continuing to be made by the contributions and interventions of Cuban to the liberation of humanity.

I witnessed and had fellowship with Cuban soldiers in Angola in 1988 in the aftermath of the heroic victory of the Battle of Cuito Cuanavale in southern Angola.

I vividly remember as an African America Christian clergy going down into the fresh war-zone foxholes with Cuban soldiers who were deployed on the frontlines near Cuito Cuanavale.

We broke bead together. We prayed together. We fought for freedom together against the imperialistic enemies. And we won an historic victory together against the racism and oppression of “apartheid” for the benefit of Angola, South Africa and Namibia that permanently changed the course of history in southern Africa.

In fact, that strategic and consequential victory of Angolan, Namibian, and African National Congress soldiers fighting alongside Cuban troops against the apartheid armed forces inside of southern Angola at the battle of Cuito Cuanavale actually led to the eventual release of Comrade Nelson Mandela from prison in South Africa.

That is a piece of history that sometimes does not get reported or appreciated in the so-called mainstream media in the United States. I am proud that the Black Press of America: African American owned newspapers, digital companies, social media channels, radio stations and other broadcast media does continue today to report and distribute the news about Cuba and about all of our people throughout the African Diaspora.

And, of course, the Republic of Cuba is a nation that is a vital and strategic part of the African Diaspora that sometimes is misunderstood, undervalued, and at times not referenced sufficiently in the local, national, and international media.

My point here, before moving on, is that history is important.

We should learn from history. What are the lessons of history that we all have to remind ourselves of today with respect to success of the Cuban Revolution?

What is the lingering relevance of White Supremacy and race in American foreign policy as well as its domestic policy when it comes to Cuba and the rest of the Diaspora?

The purpose of this conference goes beyond the articulation of contemporary analyses, new research data, and the stated quest for overcoming the new and old challenges to improve relations between Cuba and the United States.

I therefore state the following additional six points to further our dialogue and conversations about the current state of affairs, policies, challenges, opportunities and responsibilities for the conference to outline possible solutions to advance the interests of the people and government of Cuba in the wake of the continuation of the U.S. blockade, as well as the new sanctions and restrictions on this island nation.

Cuba’s national and international contributions to improving healthcare and medical research, in addition to the academic and professional provision of free medical education for thousands of aspiring and evolving medical doctors and post-graduate medical researchers.

Cuba has emerged as a world leader in the healthcare and medical education sectors.

Thus, the U.S. embargo and new travel restrictions stand as an obstacle to advances in healthcare and medical education for Cubans, Americans and for all of humanity.

Hight quality education in Cuba is accessible and affordable to all of its citizens from pre-K through post-graduate school. In the U.S. education is not accessible nor affordable for all of its citizens from pre-K through post-graduate school.

Instead of imposing more economic sanctions and social restrictions on Cuba, the U.S. should try to learn from the success of the Cuban educational system.

We propose that the Black Press of America and the Cuban Press Agencies find ways and means to work collaboratively to better mutually inform the people of the United States and the people of Cuba on the vital issues that are being outlined in this conference to enhance the policies and relations between the United States and Cuba.

We call for the establishment of a Free Trade Zone and free trade policies the United States and Cuba, as well as the repeal of the Helms-Burton Act that targets and discriminates against the economic, political and social interests of the people and government of Cuba.

We call for a bilateral focus between the United States and Cuba on the issues and challenges that millennials face with respect to youth leadership development programs and joint projects that have as a goal of increasing mutual understandings and affirmations of the interests of the youth of Cuba and United States to help improve overall bilateral relations.

Last but not least, are the opportunities and responsibilities to foster, promote and coordinate cultural exchange programs between the United States and Cuba. Both nations are rich with cultural genius and talent that should be more forthrightly mutually shared and affirmed by both Cuba and the United States. Basta la repression! Basta la imperialism! Basta la racism! Viva Cuba and United States Relations! Viva Fidel! Viva la revolution! A luta continua! Victoria es cert! Thank you for listening. God bless.

#NNPA BlackPress

FILM: Top 10 Must-See Black documentaries

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Below you will find a list of documentaries, based on the roots of African American culture, compiled by Word in Black partner, The Houston Defender. From “I Am Not Your Negro” to “High on the Hog,” each film offers up the origin stories of our most important activists, artists, athletes and traditions.
The post FILM: Top 10 Must-See Black documentaries first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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By The Houston Defender | Word in Black

The AFRO’s October Special Edition is all about the roots of our culture, our family lineage and the return to old ways and traditions. Below you will find a list of documentaries, based on the roots of African American culture, compiled by our Word in Black partner, The Houston Defender. From I Am Not Your Negro to High on the Hog, each film offers up the origin stories of our most important activists, artists, athletes and traditions.

#10: Attica (2021) 

In September 1971, Attica Prison became the location of one of the largest prison riots in US history, taking place just weeks after revolutionary activist George Jackson was murdered by prison guards at Rikers Island, an act that initiated the birth of Black August and the prison reform movement. The constant abject cruelty and inhumane treatment doled out to the incarcerated (who were overwhelmingly Black and Latinx) by Attica guards (all White) created the context. The riot itself, and its aftermath, are something all human beings should be required to reckon with.

#9: Quincy (2018) 

If you’re Black, it literally doesn’t matter when you were born, what generation you’re a part of, or where you’re from. You’ve been impacted by the genius of Quincy Jones. We’ve all been influenced by the genius of Quincy Jones. The music he made, the albums he produced, the artists he developed, the movies he scored, and about a gazillion other things Jones did, means, as I’ve already said, if you’re Black, Quincy has had a hand in your life. Don’t believe me. What Black person do you know who isn’t a Michael Jackson fan, who hasn’t seen The Wiz, or who doesn’t have a family member who worships jazz music? Quincy Jones had his hand in all that and so much more. Directed by one of his daughters, actress Rashida Jones, this doc is most definitely a must see.

#8: Four Little Girls (1997) 

On Sept. 15, 1963, just 18 short days after the much-celebrated March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., was bombed by four members of a Ku Klux Klan-affiliated racist group. Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, and Cynthia Wesley, four African American girls between the ages of 11 and 14 who had been attending the church’s Sunday school, were killed in the blast, an act of White domestic terrorism that served as a horrific and sober reminder that Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech was not enough to end the hold the myth of White supremacy had on so many. Director Spike Lee tells this powerfully compelling and important story as only he can.

#7: The Two Killings of Sam Cooke (2019) 

For generations that came after the Baby Boomers, it’s hard for us to fully fathom how big a star Sam Cooke was. Think of the biggest singer of any generation. That was Sam Cooke in his heyday. And not only was he hyper-talented, but not only did he call some of the biggest names in Black history his personal friends (Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X just to name a few), Cooke was a man of the people. And he was heavily invested in the Civil Rights Movement and an advocate for Black self-determination and Black ownership. Cooke even pulled a “Prince” long before Prince—gaining ownership of his own music, something that was as rare then as it is today. This documentary chronicles Cooke’s life, rise to fame, and eventual end, though his influence never died.

#6: Thunder Soul (2010) 

Here’s a hometown entry. Thunder Soul spotlights the extraordinary alumni from Houston’s storied Kashmere High School Stage Band which the iconic Conrad Johnson led. These alums return home after 35 years to play a tribute concert for the 92-year-old ‘Prof’, their beloved band leader who transformed the schools struggling jazz band into a world-class funk powerhouse in the early 1970s. This one will have you out of your seat and dancing in the streets. Check it out.

#5: Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America (2021)  

In this documentary, criminal defense/civil rights lawyer Jeffery Robinson “draws a stark timeline of anti-Black racism in the United States, from slavery to the modern myth of a post-racial America.” It’s that simple, and yet that complex. And it goes without saying; it’s a must see.

#4: Jeen-Yuhs (2022) 

No matter where you score on the Love Ye / Hate Ye scale, this 2022 documentary about his rise to superstardom is beyond compelling. I mean, who thinks to chronicle their every move from the moment they start pursuing their dream until they either give up on it or see it to fruition and beyond? Who does that? No one but this negro Kanye. He may be the only human being with an ego big enough to conceive of such a project. And believe me, the scope and scale of this documentary match that galaxy-sized self-obsession brahman has that make him both insanely talented and just plain insane at the same time.

#3: I Am Not Your Negro (2016) 

This documentary by Raoul Peck, director of Exterminate All the Brutes (2021) which made the first list of must-see documentaries, introduced the brilliance and unabashed Black of James Baldwin to a whole new generation. Described as a work that imagines the completion of Baldwin’s unfinished manuscript, Remember This House (about Baldwin’s personal reflections on and recollections of three of his personal friends who were killed during the Civil Rights and Black Power movements—Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.), I Am Not Your Negro is about so much more.

#2: The Last Dance (2020) 

You don’t have to be a basketball fan to get caught up in the chronicling of the last run at an NBA championship by the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls who had been told before the season began that the team would be broken up. The doc not only takes you on that 1996 Bulls’ championship ride, but it also digs deep into the past of players, coaches, and family members, spotlighting triumphs and tragedies that are part of the human story, not just the story of professional athletes.

#1: High on the Hog 

How African American Cuisine Transformed America (2021)

If you know me, you know I’m a sucker for anything that celebrates our history, especially those things that connect us to our African roots and our Pan-African family. This documentary does all that and more. Because the main character is food. Our food. The stuff we grew up on. The meals many of us are eating right now, and never stopped eating since our youth. This beautifully filmed, beautifully narrated piece of art is full of both the familiar and the foreign; or rather, things we’ve come to believe are foreign to us, but are really part of our story and our heritage. And the okra on top? High on the Hog has a powerful H-Town connection. A few, in fact.

This list of documentaries based on the roots of African American culture was compiled by Word In Black.

This article originally appeared in The Afro.

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Lawsuit Alleges U.S. Government Discriminated Against Black Veterans for Decades

NNPA NEWSWIRE — According to internal VA data obtained by the Washington Post, Black applicants seeking disability benefits were denied 30 percent of the time from 2002 to 2020. White applicants were denied 24 percent of the time.
The post Lawsuit Alleges U.S. Government Discriminated Against Black Veterans for Decades first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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Black Information Network | Atlanta Daily World

A new lawsuit against the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) alleges that the U.S. government discriminated against Black veterans for decades.

On Monday (November 28), the suit was filed by Yale Law School’s Veterans Legal Services Clinic (VLSC) on behalf of Vietnam War veteran Conley Monk Jr, whose applications for education, housing, and disability benefits have been denied since he returned home from the war, per The Hill.

According to the suit, discrimination by the VA has left Black veterans without benefits more frequently than their white counterparts.

Yale’s VLSC said the lawsuit could “provide a legal pathway for Black veterans to seek reparations from the VA.”

“This lawsuit seeks to hold the VA accountable for years of discriminatory conduct,” Adam Henderson, a law student working with the VLSC on the case, said in a statement, per the Hill.

“VA leaders knew, or should have known, that they were administering benefits in a discriminatory manner, yet they failed to address this unlawful bias,” Henderson added. “Mr. Monk — and thousands of Black veterans like him — deserve redress for the harms caused by these negligently administered programs.”

According to internal VA data obtained by the Washington Post, Black applicants seeking disability benefits were denied 30 percent of the time from 2002 to 2020. White applicants were denied 24 percent of the time.

VA press secretary Terrence Hayes said the agency is working to combat “institutional racism.”

“Throughout history, there have been unacceptable disparities in both VA benefits decisions and military discharge status due to racism, which have wrongly left Black veterans without access to VA care and benefits,” Hayes said. “We are actively working to right these wrongs.”

The post U.S. Government Discriminated Against Black Veterans For Decades: Lawsuit appeared first on Atlanta Daily World.

The post Lawsuit Alleges U.S. Government Discriminated Against Black Veterans for Decades first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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BOOKS: Jerald LeVon Hoover Blends a Love of Sport & Friendship into New Children’s Book

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Through colorful pictures with vibrant imagery, young readers will easily get drawn into the exciting adventures of Bennett Mayco Wilson’s fictional yet exciting world and learn valuable childhood lessons together, when Bennet gets a basketball as a present from his father on his fourth birthday.
The post BOOKS: Jerald LeVon Hoover Blends a Love of Sport & Friendship into New Children’s Book first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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‘A Basketball Hero is Born’ is a part of The Hero Book Series by Jerald LeVon Hoover, which aims to inspire youth to make a positive change in their communities and the world in general

Widely celebrated African American author, Jerald LeVon Hoover, is once again inspiring young people to make a positive change in their communities with the launch of a new children’s book. Titled A Basketball Hero is Born, the new children’s reading book contains colorful pictures that warm the heart and keep young readers glued to its pages.

The plot follows the exciting adventures of Bennett Mayco Wilson who gets a basketball as a present from his father on his fourth birthday. Affectionately naming the new basketball “Lucky,” the story unfolds as young Bennett tries to take his new best friend everywhere, including the dinner table, to school, and to bed when it is time for sleep.

Jerald L. Hoover

Jerald L. Hoover

Through colorful pictures with vibrant imagery, young readers will easily get drawn into Bennett’s fictional yet exciting world and learn valuable childhood lessons together. Currently available for purchase on Amazon, A Basketball Hero is Born is a part of The Hero Book Series by Jerald LeVon Hoover, which emphasizes instilling a love of sports and friendship in young readers.

About The Author

Jerald L. Hoover is a multi-talented individual with countless accomplishments in the creative, literary, and entertainment worlds. After winning an award for “The Best New Male Writer of the Year” for his fictional novel, My Friend, My Hero Jerald went on to be listed from 1994 – 1996 as a best-selling author among young Black writers in various African American publications. In 1995, he was awarded the Writers Corp Award by then-President Bill Clinton. In 1998, Jerald was inducted into the Mount Vernon Boy’s and Girl’s Club Hall of Fame. Since then, Jerald has won several other awards and is also an in-demand motivational speaker who overcame a childhood speech impediment.

The post BOOKS: Jerald LeVon Hoover Blends a Love of Sport & Friendship into New Children’s Book first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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