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Northam Apologies for Racist College Photo

NNPA NEWSWIRE — CBS News reported that it conducted further research, uncovering another page in Northam’s yearbook at the Virginia Military Institute that displays nicknames listed underneath his name, including the word “Coonman,” a known racial slur.

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By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam apologized Friday for an offensive photo in his 1984 medical school yearbook page.

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam apologized Friday for an offensive photo in his 1984 medical school yearbook page.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam released a statement on Friday apologizing for an uncovered racist photo from his 1984 East Virginia Medical School yearbook that depicts him and another man in blackface and in Ku Klux Klan garb.

An accompanying quote under the photo reads: “There are more old drunks than old doctors in this world, so I think I’ll have another beer.”

CBS News reported that it conducted further research, uncovering another page in Northam’s yearbook at the Virginia Military Institute that displays nicknames listed underneath his name, including the word “Coonman,” a known racial slur.

The photo and CBS’ discovery have led some to call for Northam’s resignation.

Democratic presidential candidates Kamala Harris of California and former Obama Administration official Julian Castro as well as NAACP President Derrick Johnson have each called for Northam’s immediate resignation.

Virginia Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine also demanded that Northam step aside.

“This causes pain in a state and a country where centuries of racism have already left an open wound,” Kaine said in a statement.

“I hope the governor …. Now takes the time to listen to those he has hurt and reflect on how to move forward,” Kaine said.

The Governor released the following statement:

“I am deeply sorry for the decision I made to appear as I did in this photo and for the hurt that decision caused then and now.

“This behavior is not in keeping with who I am today and the values I have fought for throughout my career in the military, in medicine, and in public service.

“But I want to be clear, I understand how this decision shakes Virginians’ faith in that commitment.

“I recognize that it will take time and serious effort to heal the damage this conduct has caused. I am ready to do that important work. The first step is to offer my sincerest apology and to state my absolute commitment to living up to the expectations Virginians set for me when they elected me to be their Governor.”

Several hours later, Northam posted a video on Twitter saying his previous statement fell “far short of the standard you set for me when you elected me to be your governor” and “I believe you deserve to hear directly from me.”

“That photo, and the racist and offensive attitudes it represents, does not reflect the person I am today, or the way that I have conducted myself as a soldier, a doctor, and a public servant,” Northam said.

“I am deeply sorry. I cannot change the decisions I made, nor can I undo the harm my behavior caused then and today. But I accept responsibility for my past actions, and I am ready to do the hard work of regaining your trust.”

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Black History

Alexandre Dumas: The French Author of ‘The Three Musketeers’

Alexandre Dumas wrote plays, both comedies and dramas. Scholars describe his writing as having a “heavy emphasis on plot; his primary skill as a writer consisted of his capacity to imagine and execute tales of breathtaking adventures that cause the reader to experience feelings of excitement.”

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Alexandre Dumas.Wikipedia.org image.
Alexandre Dumas.Wikipedia.org image.

By Tamara Shiloh

Best known for having penned the historical adventure novels “The Three Musketeers” (1844) and “The Count of Monte Cristo,” (1846) Alexandre Dumas (1802–1870) established himself as one of the most popular and prolific authors in France.

He wrote essays, short stories, volumes of romantic novels, plays, and travelogues, many having been translated into more than 100 languages and adapted for numerous films. But Dumas’ own story begins with his father, Thomas-Alexandre Davy de la Pailleterie.

Thomas-Alexandre adopted the Dumas name from his Haitian grandmother. He did so just prior to enlisting in Napoleon Bonaparte’s army. He rose to the rank of general, the highest rank of any Black man in a European army. He would separate from the military after clashing with Bonaparte over his Egyptian Campaign.

The elder Dumas left Egypt in 1799 traveling on what was known to be an unsound vessel. The ship’s troubles forced it to put aground in Naples, a city in southern Italy. There Thomas-Alexandre Dumas was arrested, thrown into a dungeon, and held for two years.

After his release, he returned to France. The following year, Alexandre was born. Thomas-Alexandre died when his son was four.

Dumas’ mother, Marie Louise Labouret, took on several jobs to ensure that her son was educated. He attended Abbé Grégoire’s school, but later quit to take a job assisting a local notary.

He held such a great interest in reading and books that he relocated to Paris at age 20 to immerse himself in literature. There he met the duc d’Orléans (later named King Louis Philippe) and began working for him as a scribe. It was then that Dumas dreamed of publishing his own works.

He wrote plays, both comedies and dramas. Scholars describe his writing as having a “heavy emphasis on plot; his primary skill as a writer consisted of his capacity to imagine and execute tales of breathtaking adventures that cause the reader to experience feelings of excitement.”

Dumas’ style is often compared to that of his contemporary and rival Victor Hugo.

It is estimated that all his published writings, if placed in one document, would span about 100,000 pages.

Dumas did well financially, but his spending rivaled his earnings. He spent much of his life in debt because of his extravagant lifestyle. He built a home in the country himself (now a museum), but after two years of lavish living, financial difficulties forced him to sell it. Another downfall was that he kept several mistresses.

Dumas married actress Ida Ferrier (1840) yet continued to have relationships with other women. According to scholar Claude Schopp, Dumas entertained about 40 women and fathered at least four children outside of the marriage.

To escape creditors, Dumas fled to Belgium, then to Russia. Still, he published his work, including travel books on Russia. He continued to take on mistresses, including much younger women in his old age. He remained married to Ferrier until his death in 1870.

Suggested reading: “Alexandre Dumas: Genius of Life,” by Claude Schopp.

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Activism

Collaboration Key to Anti-Trafficking Efforts

According to District Attorney Lori Frugoli, community education is paramount in the work of the coalition. Student, parent, and teacher education is also something that MCCEHT strongly supports through the PROTECT program, coordinated with the Marin County Office of Education (MCOE). MCCEHT member Marlene Capra has worked with MCOE and the 3 Strands Global Foundation to keep efforts to stop human trafficking in the spotlight and teach residents and school educators about the realities of human trafficking.

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Many human trafficking victims are reluctant to report the crime as they are genuinely in fear for their life or that of their family.
Many human trafficking victims are reluctant to report the crime as they are genuinely in fear for their life or that of their family.

Local work t stop human exploitation coordinated through DA’s Office

Courtesy of Marin County

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the North Bay region and San Francisco are among the top sex trafficking areas in the United States. As the co-chair organization of the Marin County Coalition to End Human Trafficking (MCCEHT), the Marin County District Attorney’s Office is addressing the problem and working with partnering nonprofits and agencies to increase public awareness, prosecute those who commit the crimes, and put a halt to all types of slavery.

On Jan. 11, the Marin County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution to proclaim the month of January as National Slavery & Human Trafficking Prevention Month. Jan. 11 happened to be Human Trafficking Awareness Day as well. Video of the presentation is on the County website (skip ahead to agenda item #4, Consent Calendar A).

The DA’s staff has worked closely with key stakeholders to make sure the red-flag warnings of human trafficking are widely known, even using advertisements at bus stops to urge people to speak up and report potential exploitation.

According to District Attorney Lori Frugoli, community education is paramount in the work of the coalition. Student, parent, and teacher education is also something that MCCEHT strongly supports through the PROTECT program, coordinated with the Marin County Office of Education (MCOE). MCCEHT member Marlene Capra has worked with MCOE and the 3 Strands Global Foundation to keep efforts to stop human trafficking in the spotlight and teach residents and school educators about the realities of human trafficking.

A new nonprofit created by Capra arose from her community work. SpeakSAFE, with SAFE meaning Save Adolescents from Exploitation, assists with local fundraising for educational efforts and has provided online learning opportunities during the pandemic.

“With our coalition, the DA’s Office [has] been extremely supportive and helpful in partnering on our work and connecting us with law enforcement, service providers and community members,” Capra said. “It really is all hands on deck, and their involvement has been pivotal. Our work has always been a priority with them in supporting our youth.”

Frugoli said human trafficking is difficult to detect and rarely reported. Many victims are moved from county to county or state to state, making the trafficker harder to follow and the victim feel isolated and unfamiliar with surroundings.

“Many victims are reluctant to report the crime as they are genuinely in fear for their life or that of their family,” Frugoli said. “Our coalition’s mission is to develop our regional collaborative approach to end all forms of human trafficking. We’ve focused our efforts on education and outreach advocacy. We have turned several cases over to state and federal authorities because the conduct occurred over multiple jurisdictions.”

Cecilia Zamora, Executive Director of the Latino Council and Co-Chair of MCCEHT, emphasized the need to have the coalition’s work be grounded in multicultural best practices, ensuring that the messaging and resources are shared with our thriving Latino communities across the county.

“We do this,” she said, “by successfully utilizing our nonprofit members as partners in the education and outreach to their own constituents.”

The Human Trafficking Prevention Education and Training Act (AB 1227) became California law in 2017 and provides a basis for localized anti-trafficking work. The MCCEHT Steering Committee meets monthly. MCCEHT’s quarterly online meeting on Jan. 19 will feature guest speaker Antonia Lavine of the San Francisco Collaborative Against Human Trafficking and County Supervisor Judy Arnold. The videoconference begins at 11 a.m., Spanish translation will be provided. Participation details are on the MCCEHT website.

Learn more about local anti-trafficking efforts via the PROTECT website or call the DA’s Office at (415) 473-6450.

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Activism

Weber’s AB 1655 Would Make Juneteenth a Paid Holiday in California

“Here we are now in this century, in this time frame, in 2022, and we are talking about something that took place in 1965 in terms of the Voting Rights Act,” said California Secretary of State Shirley Weber. “Dr. King told us, ‘I see governors with the words of interposition and nullification dripping from their lips.’ In other words, ‘I see Jim Crow laws. I see governors trying to overturn federal law with regards to what is right and what is just in this country.’”

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California Secretary of State Shirley Weber, who is a former chair of the CLBC, said “the crisis of democracy is center stage, we are still fighting for our fundamental rights.”

By Aldon Thomas Stiles | California Black Media

Voting rights was the central theme at a virtual breakfast the California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC) held Jan. 12 to celebrate the sacrifices and impact of Martin Luther King Jr. on American life and politics.

“It is not enough to evoke Dr. King’s name on his birthday, post on social media and then take the day off,” said Sen. Steve Bradford (D-Inglewood), CLBC chair, reminding the audience of King’s activism and how his efforts led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Bradford said there are forces still attacking the rights of some Americans to vote, and more work needs to be done to make sure the voices of all Americans are heard and that all voters have access to the ballot box.

“His birthday should be about a day on, a day of activity in our community, of activism and continuing to push for real change in this country,” he continued.

California Secretary of State Shirley Weber, who is a former chair of the CLBC, said “the crisis of democracy is center stage, we are still fighting for our fundamental rights.”

“In 1965, we secured [the vote] and now we find ourselves debating the same issue over again and with great concern about the fact that we are faced with the rolling back of what we had thought was just old stuff that people would never go back to,” said Weber.

Weber said there are about 400 bills making their way through state legislatures across the country that are attempting to restrict voting rights.

“Here we are now in this century, in this time frame, in 2022, and we are talking about something that took place in 1965 in terms of the Voting Rights Act,” said Weber. “Dr. King told us, ‘I see governors with the words of interposition and nullification dripping from their lips.’ In other words, ‘I see Jim Crow laws. I see governors trying to overturn federal law with regards to what is right and what is just in this country.’”

Civil rights activist and friend of Dr. King, Rev. James Lawson, also spoke at the virtual breakfast and encouraged Black leaders to fight for their communities.

“Black elected officials must support the community of Black people all around the country, organizing continuous campaigns,” said Lawson who shared intimate details of his work with Dr. King and how much King’s ideas, strategizing and activism secured the human rights of all Americans.

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