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Senators Booker and Harris Lead Roundtable Discussion on Issues Concerning African Americans

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Only journalists of color received an invitation to the event, which included remarks from Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), and several others. The senators said they wanted to open the floor to issues that pertain mostly to African Americans.

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

When asked what challenges she and fellow Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) faced as Black candidates during their 2019 run for president, Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) urged everyone in the room to close their eyes.

“Then, imagine the boy next door and think of a four-letter word phrase that would define mine and Cory’s campaign,” Harris said.

“You don’t have it. It doesn’t exist. So, we had to consistently explain who we are as people, and our character.”

It seemed quite the metaphor for a roundtable discussion on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, March 11.

Led by Sens. Harris and Booker, the frank one-hour conversation tackled everything from voter suppression to the coronavirus.

Only journalists of color received an invitation to the event, which included remarks from Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), and several others.

The senators said they wanted to open the floor to issues that pertain mostly to African Americans.

Kaine, who has openly championed the Black Press of America, said he was pleased that the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) was among the news organizations represented.

The NNPA is a trade organization of the more than 220 African-American owned newspapers and media companies in the United States.

Harris said the gathering was important, particularly since just 7.5 percent of American journalists are Black, and that was evident as she hit the campaign trail last year.

“I wish more Blacks were covering me,” Harris continued.

She noted that while campaigning for president, White journalists proved unfamiliar with her Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority or the Divine 9. Another White reporter asked her why she chose to attend Howard University, a historically Black college and university.

“Howard University is referred to as the Mecca,” Harris stated.

Schumer said voting rights and protections are among the primary issues facing the country, particularly African Americans.

“One of the three worst decisions of this Supreme Court was Shelby County vs. Holder, which eliminated a key provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act,” Schumer noted. “That’s because [Chief Justice] John Roberts said there’s no longer any racism.”

Because of the rising crisis that is the coronavirus, the senators each said they’re working diligently to ensure that Blacks and all Americans receive necessary relief.

“Coronavirus is the news that’s driving the country and the world,” Schumer proclaimed. “I’m very worried that the president’s incompetence and lack of focus are hurting us. He seems more focused on the Stock Market than the supermarket, to quote Stacey Abrams.”

Schumer added that he hopes that President Trump refrains from attaching fighting the coronavirus to his campaign, thus minimizing the seriousness of the disease by making it a political issue.

“He needs to put people before corporations and take appropriate steps,” Schumer stated. He outlined part of a proposal that he’s working on with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

“Speaker Pelosi and I have called for, and the House will pass, paid sick leave for workers impacted by quarantine orders and not just those who can’t work, but if schools are closed, it will apply.”

Schumer continued.

“Enhanced unemployment and do it quickly and do it fast. Food security, both in terms of SNAP and for many kids, their best meal is at school. So, we have to figure out a way to get those lunches and breakfast delivered to people’s homes if the kids are not going to school.

“We also have to have protection for frontline workers, and tests and the administration of tests shouldn’t cost anything. Doctors shouldn’t be allowed to charge a fee. This is a very important issue.”

Each of the senators stressed that universal health care is needed in the United States.

They promised to work toward such a plan if Democrats can take back the Senate while maintaining control of the House this fall.

Schumer, Booker, Harris, and the rest of their colleagues noted the importance of getting their message to journalists of color.

“This is a time where having a free press is more important than ever before,” Booker said.

“I can’t stress the importance of Black journalists and Black journalism,” Harris stated.

“Had Ida B. Wells not been present with her voice and her willingness to speak on the issues of the day, the issues of lynching in America would not have taken on the dialogue it absolutely deserved. She started that discussion in a real way.

“JET Magazine. Had Emmett Till’s mother not trusted Simeon Booker to appropriately tell her story and treat that photograph with dignity, the story of Emmett Till would not have taken on the importance that it did.”

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Fighting an Unjust System, The Bail Project Helps People Get Out of Jail and Reunites Families

In addition to posting bail at no cost to the person or their family, The Bail Project works to connect its clients to social services and community resources based on an individual’s identified needs, including substance use treatment, mental health support, stable housing and employment.

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Adrienne Johnson, the regional director for The Bail Project, told NNPA’s Let It Be Known that the organization seeks to accomplish its mission one person at a time.
Adrienne Johnson, the regional director for The Bail Project, told NNPA’s Let It Be Known that the organization seeks to accomplish its mission one person at a time.

Hundreds of thousands of individuals locked up in jails almost daily — many find it challenging to pay bail

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

As public support for criminal justice reform continues to build — and as the pandemic raises the stakes higher — advocates remain adamant that it’s more important than ever that the facts are straight, and everyone understands the bigger picture.

“The U.S. doesn’t have one ‘criminal justice system;’ instead, we have thousands of federal, state, local, and tribal systems,” Wendy Sawyer and Peter Wagner found in a study released by the nonprofit Prison Policy Initiative.

Together, these systems hold almost 2 million people in 1,566 state prisons, 102 federal prisons, 2,850 local jails, 1,510 juvenile correctional facilities, 186 immigration detention facilities, and 82 Indian country jails, as well as in military prisons, civil commitment centers, state psychiatric hospitals, and prisons in the U.S. territories,” the study authors said in a press release.

With hundreds of thousands of individuals locked up in jails almost daily, many find it challenging to pay bail.

Recognizing America’s ongoing mass incarceration problem and the difficulties families have in bailing out their loved ones, a new organization began in 2018 to offer some relief.

The Bail Project, a nationwide charitable fund for pretrial defendants, started with a vision of combating mass incarceration by disrupting the money bail system.

Adrienne Johnson, the regional director for The Bail Project, told NNPA’s Let It Be Known that the organization seeks to accomplish its mission one person at a time.

“We have a mission of doing exactly what we hope our criminal system would do: protect the presumption of innocence, reunite families, and challenge a system that we know can criminalize poverty,” Johnson stated.

“Our mission is to end cash bail and create a more just, equitable, and humane pretrial system,” she insisted.

Johnson said The Bronx Freedom Fund, at the time a new revolving bail fund that launched in New York, planted the seed for The Bail Project more than a decade ago.

“Because bail is returned at the end of a case, we can build a sustainable revolving fund where philanthropic dollars can be used several times per year, maximizing the impact of every contribution,” Johnson stated.

In addition to posting bail at no cost to the person or their family, The Bail Project works to connect its clients to social services and community resources based on an individual’s identified needs, including substance use treatment, mental health support, stable housing and employment.

Johnson noted that officials created cash bail to incentivize people to return to court.

Instead, she said, judges routinely set cash bail well beyond most people’s ability to afford it, resulting in thousands of legally innocent people incarcerated while they await court dates.

According to The Bail Project, Black Americans are disproportionately impacted by cash bail, and of all Black Americans in jail in the U.S., nearly half are from southern prisons.

“There is no way to do the work of advancing pretrial reform without addressing the harmful effects of cash bail in the South,” said Robin Steinberg, Founder, and CEO of The Bail Project.

“Cash bail fuels racial and economic disparities in our legal system, and we look forward to supporting the community in Greenville as we work to eliminate cash bail and put ourselves out of business.”

Since its launch, The Bail Project has stationed teams in more than 25 cities, posting bail for more than 18,000 people nationwide.

Johnson said the organization uses its national revolving bail fund, powered by individual donations, to pay bail.

The Bail Project has spent over $47 million on bail.

“When we post bail for a person, we post the full cash amount at court,” Johnson stated.

“Upon resolution of the case, the money returns to whoever posted. So, if I posted $5,000 to bail someone out, we then help the person get back to court and resolve the case,” she continued.

“The money then comes back to us, and we can use that money to help someone else. So, we recycle that.”

Johnson said eliminating cash bail and the need for bail funds remains the goal.

“It’s the just thing to do. It restores the presumption of innocence, and it restores families,” Johnson asserted.

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PRESS ROOM: EPA Administrator Regan to Join Leaders of Civil Rights, Environmental Justice Movement for Significant Announcement in Warren County, North Carolina

NNPA NEWSWIRE — U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael S. Regan will be joined by significant figures from the civil rights and environmental justice movements, including Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., president and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association and other participants from the original Warren County protests for the event.
The post PRESS ROOM: EPA Administrator Regan to Join Leaders of Civil Rights, Environmental Justice Movement for Significant Announcement in Warren County, North Carolina first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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Administrator to honor legacy of environmental justice and civil rights at event in Warren County, site of protests that launched the movement 40 years ago

WASHINGTON (September 22, 2022) – On Saturday, September 24, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael S. Regan will travel to Warren County, North Carolina to deliver remarks on EPA’s environmental justice and civil rights priorities and the progress we’ve achieved since the first protest and march that launched the movement 40 years ago this week. Administrator Regan will make a significant announcement on President Biden’s commitment to elevate environmental justice and civil rights enforcement at EPA and across the federal government and ensure the work to support our most vulnerable communities continues for years to come.

Administrator Regan will be joined by significant figures from the civil rights and environmental justice movements, including participants from the original Warren County protests for the event.

Who:
EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan
Congressman G. K. Butterfield (NC-01)
Environmental Justice and Civil Rights Leaders
Warren County residents and community leaders
Additional stakeholders

What: Remarks on EPA environmental justice and civil rights priorities and honoring the legacy of the environmental justice and civil rights movement
When: Saturday, September 24, 2022,
Doors Open: 11:30 AM ET
Program: 12:45 PM ET
;
Where: Warren County Courthouse
109 S Main Street
Warrenton, NC 27589
Livestream: A livestream of this event will be available at epa.gov/live.

The post PRESS ROOM: EPA Administrator Regan to Join Leaders of Civil Rights, Environmental Justice Movement for Significant Announcement in Warren County, North Carolina first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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#NNPA BlackPress

September 26 | Governance at the Local Level | The Conversation with Al McFarlane

Join Al McFarlane (Host), Brenda Lyle-Gray (Co-Host) and Special Guest Co-Host Diana Hawkins, Executive Director for …
The post September 26 | Governance at the Local Level | The Conversation with Al McFarlane first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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Join Al McFarlane (Host), Brenda Lyle-Gray (Co-Host) and Special Guest Co-Host Diana Hawkins, Executive Director for …

The post September 26 | Governance at the Local Level | The Conversation with Al McFarlane first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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