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Oakland Post: Week of April 17 – 23, 2024

The printed Weekly Edition of the Oakland Post: Week of April 17 – 23, 2024

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“A Time to Reflect and Rejoice”: Black Caucus Members Commemorate Juneteenth on Assembly Floor

On June 17, two days before Juneteenth, members of the California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC) delivered remarks on the Assembly floor commemorating the national holiday and its significance in American history.
ACR 192, introduced by Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles), aims to honor, and reflect on the emancipation of African Americans from chattel slavery and honor their contributions throughout America’s history.

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Assemblymember Dr. Akilah Weber (D-La Mesa) speaking on the California Assembly Floor.
Assemblymember Dr. Akilah Weber (D-La Mesa) speaking on the California Assembly Floor.

By California Black Media

On June 17, two days before Juneteenth, members of the California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC) delivered remarks on the Assembly floor commemorating the national holiday and its significance in American history.

ACR 192, introduced by Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles), aims to honor, and reflect on the emancipation of African Americans from chattel slavery and honor their contributions throughout America’s history.

Speaking on the Assembly floor, Jones-Sawyer said the resolution is the CLBC’s annual commemoration of Juneteenth as “Freedom Day.”

“Two years after President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, the bell of freedom rang true for over 3 million Black Americans, marking the beginning of the fight to secure the freedom of those still enslaved and provide fair and equal treatment for the formerly enslaved,” Jones-Sawyer said.

“Juneteenth is a time to reflect and rejoice for all the work it took to reach this point, as well as a reminder that true equality is not accomplished overnight,” he added. “While there have been great strides to acknowledge and address the history and plight of Black Americans, society, as a whole, still has a long way to go. Juneteenth is an opportunity to educate all communities that we may not repeat injustices and abuses committed in the past.”

The resolution particularly highlights how Black Americans have helped enrich American civic life through their steadfast commitment to promoting unity and equality.

Assemblymember Dr. Akilah Weber (D-La Mesa), also a member of the CLBC, spoke on behalf of the Women’s Caucus in support of Assembly Concurrent Resolution (ACR) 192, the California Legislature’s resolution acknowledging the federal holiday and celebrating the emancipation of African Americans from slavery.

Weber highlighted that African Americans won their hard-won freedom after providing free labor illegally for two-and-a-half more years in Texas.

Weber shared the story of Opal Lee, known as the “Grandmother of Juneteenth.”  Lee is among numerous civil rights activists and leaders who campaigned for decades for June 19th to be recognized as a federal holiday.

Lee traveled around the country educating people about Juneteenth and led walks each year commemorating Juneteenth before it was federally recognized.

At 89, Lee led a symbolic walk, said Weber, from her hometown of Ft. Worth, Texas, to Washington, D.C., leaving in September of 2016 and arriving in January of 2017.

Juneteenth became a federal holiday in 2021 and Lee was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2024 for her activism.

“Lee represents the millions of women throughout the history of this country who have worked tirelessly to ensure that our history is not erased, reframed nor ignored,” said Weber.

Other lawmakers who recognized Juneteenth on the Assembly floor included Assemblymember Lori Wilson (D-Suisun City), Chair of the CLBC; Eloise Gomez Reyes (D-Colton), chair of the California Legislative Latino Caucus; Assemblymember Jim Patterson (R-Fresno); Assemblymember James C. Ramos (D-San Bernardino), chair of the California Native American Legislative Caucus; and Assemblymember Corey Jackson (D-Moreno Valley), also a member of CLBC.

“It is a call-to-action for all Californians to interrogate the systems that keeps others in bondage,” said Wilson.

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60th Anniversary of Civil Rights Act: Reflecting on Progress and Persistent Challenges

As the United States commemorates the 60th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the nation reflects on a transformative law that reshaped American society by prohibiting discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. The landmark legislation emerged from a period of intense struggle and demand for the fulfillment of the 14th Amendment’s promise of “equal protection of the laws.”

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The landmark legislation emerged from a period of intense struggle and demand for the fulfillment of the 14th Amendment’s promise of “equal protection of the laws.” Above, protesters from the March on Washington in 1963. NNPA file photo.
The landmark legislation emerged from a period of intense struggle and demand for the fulfillment of the 14th Amendment’s promise of “equal protection of the laws.” Above, protesters from the March on Washington in 1963. NNPA file photo.

By Stacy M. Brown
NNPA Newswire

As the United States commemorates the 60th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the nation reflects on a transformative law that reshaped American society by prohibiting discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. The landmark legislation emerged from a period of intense struggle and demand for the fulfillment of the 14th Amendment’s promise of “equal protection of the laws.”

Due to widespread opposition to desegregation and the assassination of civil rights activist Medgar Evers, President John F. Kennedy urged Congress to pass a comprehensive civil rights bill in June 1963. After Kennedy’s death, President Lyndon B. Johnson, with crucial support from civil rights leaders Roy Wilkins and Clarence Mitchell, championed the bill’s passage.

On July 2, 1964, Congress enacted the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The law prohibited discrimination in hiring, promoting, and firing, extending these protections to public accommodations and federally funded programs. It also strengthened the enforcement of voting rights and mandated the desegregation of schools.

“The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is the nation’s benchmark civil rights legislation, and it continues to resonate in America,” said Melanie Campbell, president of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation. The Act dismantled “Jim Crow” laws upheld by the 1896 Supreme Court decision in Plessy v. Ferguson, which had deemed racial segregation constitutional under the “separate but equal” doctrine.

The Act’s impact has been profound and far-reaching. “It propelled a movement that was able to make major civil rights gains,” stated Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League. “It has not only changed the arc for Black people. It has changed the arc for women and for other people of color in a profound way.”

Maya Wiley, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, highlighted the tangible benefits of the Act, particularly in healthcare and education. “The Civil Rights Act of 1964 added years, literally about three to four years, onto the life expectancy of Black people when healthcare had to open its once-segregated doors,” Wiley explained. The Act also significantly reduced segregation in Southern schools, benefiting both Black and white students.

Despite these advancements, the 60th anniversary comes amid concerns over recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings perceived as eroding civil rights protections, including affirmative action, legalized abortion, and diversity initiatives. Critics argue that the Court’s favorable ruling in former President Donald Trump’s immunity case further threatens American democracy. The ruling, which rejected Trump’s sweeping immunity claim but maintained protections for actions tied to presidential duties, has sparked intense debate about the boundaries of presidential power and accountability.

“Securing our civil rights remains the unfinished fight of our time,” President Joe Biden said in a proclamation commemorating the anniversary. “Our country is still facing attacks on some of our most fundamental civil liberties and rights, including the right to vote and have that vote counted and the right to live free from the threat of violence, hate, and discrimination. That is why my administration is remaining vigilant—fighting actively to protect the rights of every American.”

Biden emphasized his commitment to reversing the legacy of segregation and creating new opportunities for all Americans. “My administration is investing more money than ever in Black families and Black communities,” Biden asserted. “We are reconnecting historic business districts and neighborhoods cut off by old highways, redlining, and decades of discrimination and disinvestment. We have invested over $16 billion in historically Black colleges and universities, which will help raise the next generation of Black leaders. At the same time, we are creating good-paying jobs on which people can raise a family; making capital and loans for starting small businesses and buying homes more accessible; and making health insurance and prescription drugs more affordable.”

In popular memory, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was seen as a legislative response to the demands of the March on Washington. “Sixty years later, we must be honest: the federal minimum wage, indexed for inflation, is lower than it was in 1964,” said Rev. William Barber, president of Repairers of the Breach and co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign. “What’s more, because the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in its 2013 Shelby decision and Congress has failed to remedy it, we have less voting rights protections today than we did on August 6, 1965.”

Barber continued, “The celebration of historic wins alongside this egregious decay is a source of discontent among everyday Americans. But we have no time for despair. We are determined to channel discontent for a resurrection rather than an insurrection.”

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Oakland Post: Week of July 3 – 9, 2024

The printed Weekly Edition of the Oakland Post: Week of July 3 – 9, 2024

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