July 25, 2014

Video Game Innovation Fellowship for Minority Youth

Leaders on Fast Track (LOFT) has partnered with the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) to run the ESA LOFT Video Game Innovation Fellowship. We are asking all villagers to take a close look at this fellowship opportunity.  Your goal is simple: create a video game or application that can inspire social change in your community.
  • Eligible: Minority youth ages 16-24
  • Reward: 20 winners will receive $1,000 grants and a trip to DC
  • Deadline: August 15, 2014.

July 24, 2014

36th Annual BDPA Technology Conference (Indianapolis, August 5-9, 2014)

Learn more about the 36th annual BDPA Technology Conference being held August 5-9, 2014 in Indianapolis.  Here is a brief video clip with some of the details of this remarkable STEM-based event.

Call BDPA on (301) 584-3135 to learn more about connecting with the organization's programs, scholarships and services on a local, regional or national level.

Rest In Peace: Sherman Hemsley (1928-2012)

Sherman Hemsley was an actor that we didn't appreciate as much as we should. I suspect that we will end up appreciating him more in death than we did in life. He died at the age of 74. He had no wife or children.

He made a good living as an actor after spending four years in the Air Force and eight years working at the post office. Hemsley made a name for himself as George Jefferson, carrying the iconic sitcom for a decade and earning a 1984 Emmy nomination for his work as lead actor in a comedy series. He also starred as Deacon Ernest Frye on the NBC series "Amen" for several years.

Sherman Hemsley created his own future with the energy and creativity that he gave to his supporting character on 'All In The Family'. He was a great foil to 'Archie Bunker's white supremacist attitude as the Black neighbor. Hemsley's brilliance led to a spin-off situation comedy called 'The Jefferson'.

His bodacious portrayal of a successful Black entrepreneur trying to 'move on up' hit home for many of us ... he had a successful marriage in that show and he raised a good son in a tradition nuclear family. His comedic genius was evident in each episode ... and he showed a different side of Black America that hadn't been seen before on prime-time television.

I suspect that there never would have been a Huxtable family in the 'Cosby Show' if George Jefferson hadn't been so great in 'The Jeffersons'.

Rest In Peace Mr. Hemsley!

July 5, 2014

Taser Lawsuit: Doug Boucher (Mason, OH)

The Indiana family of an unarmed, mentally ill Ohio man who died after police tortured him seven times with a Taser stun gun has settled its wrongful-death lawsuit in the case. The city of Mason, Ohio and two police officers settled lawsuit for $375,000.

39-year-old Doug Boucher died in December 2009 after a confrontation with two officers outside a Mason convenience store. Mason police said at the time that Boucher had died after being tortured by taser gun.

No wonder.

Boucher had been stunned seven times, and he was immobile and face-down on the ground for five of them.

I don't track taser deaths as much as I once did ... but, this killing happened in my hometown. I'm very sorry for the loss experienced by the Boucher family.

How Black Folks Feel About Independence Day

On the 2nd of July, 1776, the old Continental Congress gave words to the idea of liberty as follows:
"Resolved, That these united colonies are, and of right, ought to be free and Independent States; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown; and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, dissolved."
Our Declaration of Independence was signed on the 4th of July ... and our nation celebrates it with great pride and patriotism. The principles in the Declaration of Independence should be sacrosanct to all of us.

However, we know that the principles were not applied to Americans of African descent. Frederick Douglass said it best on July 5, 1852 when he was a keynote speaker.

I encourage all villagers to read the full speech.

However, here is the section of his speech that I read to myself every year on the 4th of July. This part of his speech resonates with all African Americans:
"What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are, to Him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy-a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States, at this very hour."
Villagers, our nation is much better today than we were 162 years ago on the date of this speech from Frederick Douglass.

All Americans can share in the pride of our nationality. However, we must never forget our past, lest it be repeated!

July 4, 2014

Happy Birthday: Malia Obama -- A Teenager Lives at the White House

Malia Obama, the eldest of President Barack Obama's two daughters, turned 16 today. I wonder how cool it must be to celebrate a birthday in the White House?

National Anthem Stylings of Marvin Gaye and Whitney Houston

Villagers, we had cause to be perturbed about Independence Day back in the day.

And we should be proud that Lift Every Voice and Sing is a remarkable anthem for African Americans.

However, there really isn't any reason to substitute one anthem for the other ... especially on this special day -- July 4, 2014. Today is our nation's 238th birthday!

Truth to tell, I'm proud of my country for the growth that has occurred since I was born over half-century ago. In fact, there are times when I get the chills listening to the National Anthem. Two times that are seared into my memory occurred in 1983 (Marvin Gaye) and 1991 (Whitney Houston).

National Anthem - USA-Whitney Houston (Star... by EINSTEINXP

If you don't know, you better ask somebody!

July 3, 2014

White High School Dropout Has Same Chances of Getting a Job as Black College Graduate

Some have claimed that America is in a post-racial, color-blind era since the election of President Barack Obama. They tell us that the need for race-based affirmative action policies is long-gone. However, those of us in this 'village' beg to differ.

For example, when it comes to employment, a white high school drop-out has the same chance of getting a job as a Black college graduate. That fact alone highlights the level of bias still present in the U.S., but it doesn’t end there.

According to ThinkProgress, the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Census researched how race impacts education and employment and the result should disabuse anyone of the notion that the U.S. is even close to becoming a post-racial society. The study found that a Black man with an associates degree has the same chance of getting a job as a white man with only a high school diploma.  That is wrong on so many levels.

At every level of education, race impacts a person’s chance of getting a job,” researcher Tom Allison told ThinkProgress.

This fact is evidenced not only by the overall unemployment rate, but the unemployment rate for Black millennials, which was 16.6 percent in May, as compared to 7.1 percent for white millennials.

What are all the factors contributing to a high unemployment rate for Blacks?

The study attributes the employment gap mainly to hiring discrimination, high incarceration rates for Black people, and African Americans’ lack of inherited wealth from past generations due to a long history of discrimination. Less inherited wealth results in low homeownership rates and high deficits among African Americans: While a college-educated white American has an average net worth of $75,000, a college-educated Black American has a net worth of less than $17,500.

There is a bright light though, considering that, according to Rory O’Sullivan of the Young Invincibles’, Blacks do much better when they obtain advanced degrees. As an example, “a professional degree gives a Black male a 146 percent larger increase in employment opportunities than his white counterparts.”

'Post-racial' my ass!

Rest in Peace: Andy Griffith (1926-2012)

Andy Griffith will be remembered as a remarkable television star for his work on television series such as 'Mayberry, RFD', 'Andy Griffith Show' and 'Matlock'. Griffith died at the age of 86 on this day in 2012 .

America was so much more innocent when Sheriff Andy, Opie, Aunt Bea and Deputy Barney Fife were creating memories on our black-and-white television sets. Later in his life Griffith created a memorable character, 'Matlock', who kicked butt with the regularity of Perry Mason. I remember liking Matlock because the show had strong Black male supporting characters throughout its run.

However, my favorite television image of Andy Griffith occurred early in his career when he played Lonesome Rhodes in the movie, 'A Face in the Crowd'. That is a movie that you should add to your Netflix queue if you haven't seen it yet. I think it must have been a favorite movie of disgraced presidential candidate John Edwards ... but, that is another story.

Rest In Peace Andy Griffith -- your legacy is secure in our 'village'.

July 2, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Things Tim Howard Could Save

Happy Birthday: Thurgood Marshall (1908-1993)

Born in Baltimore, Maryland on July 2, 1908, Thurgood Marshall was the grandson of a slave. His father, William Marshall, instilled in him from youth an appreciation for the United States Constitution and the rule of law.

After graduating from Frederick Douglass High School in 1925, Thurgood followed his brother, William Aubrey Marshall, to Lincoln University in Chester County, Pennsylvania. His classmates at Lincoln included a distinguished group of future Black leaders such as the poet and author Langston Hughes, the future President of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah, and musician Cab Calloway.

Just before graduation, he married his first wife, Vivian "Buster" Burey. Their twenty-five year marriage ended with her death from cancer in 1955.

In 1930, he applied to the University of Maryland Law School, but was denied admission because he was Black. This was an event that was to haunt him and direct his future professional life.

Thurgood sought admission and was accepted at the Howard University Law School that same year and came under the immediate influence of the dynamic new dean, Charles Houston, who instilled in all of his students the desire to apply the tenets of the Constitution to all Americans.

Paramount in Houston's outlook was the need to overturn the 1898 Supreme Court ruling, Plessy v. Ferguson which established the legal doctrine called, "separate but equal." Marshall's first major court case came in 1933 when he successfully sued the University of Maryland to admit a young African American Amherst University graduate named Donald Gaines Murray.

Applauding Marshall's victory, author H.L. Mencken wrote that the decision of denial by the University of Maryland Law School was "brutal and absurd," and they should not object to the "presence among them of a self-respecting and ambitious young Afro-American well prepared for his studies by four years of hard work in a class A college."
Thurgood Marshall followed his Howard University mentor, Charles Houston to New York and later became Chief Counsel for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). During this period, Mr. Marshall was asked by the United Nations and the United Kingdom to help draft the constitutions of the emerging African nations of Ghana and what is now Tanzania. It was felt that the person who so successfully fought for the rights of America's oppressed minority would be the perfect person to ensure the rights of the White citizens in these two former European colonies.

After amassing an impressive record of Supreme Court challenges to state-sponsored discrimination, including the landmark Brown v. Board decision in 1954, President John F. Kennedy appointed Thurgood Marshall to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. In this capacity, he wrote over 150 decisions including support for the rights of immigrants, limiting government intrusion in cases involving illegal search and seizure, double jeopardy, and right to privacy issues. Biographers
Michael Davis and Hunter Clark note that, "none of his (Marshall's) 98 majority decisions was ever reversed by the Supreme Court."
In 1965 President Lyndon Johnson appointed Judge Marshall to the office of U.S. Solicitor General. Before his subsequent nomination to the United States Supreme Court in 1967, Thurgood Marshall won 14 of the 19 cases he argued before the Supreme Court on behalf of the government. Indeed, Thurgood Marshall represented and won more cases before the United States Supreme Court than any other American.

Until his retirement from the highest court in the land, Justice Marshall established a record for supporting the voiceless American. Having honed his skills since the case against the University of Maryland, he developed a profound sensitivity to injustice by way of the crucible of racial discrimination in this country. As an Associate Supreme Court Justice, Thurgood Marshall leaves a legacy that expands that early sensitivity to include all of America's voiceless.

Justice Marshall died on January 24, 1993.

I invite all villagers to use the COMMENTS section ('Village Voices') to share your thoughts, memories or insights on Thurgood Marshall.