Current Affairs

July 01, 2008

Nelson Mandela Removed from FBI Terror Watch List

In honor of Nelson Mandela's 90th birthday on July 18th, President Bush saw to it that he be removed from the FBI's terror watch list, on which he had been placed over 30 years ago.  This will give Mandela the ability to visit the United States from now on without having to be given permission from the secretary of state.

Mandela had been placed on the terror watch list because of his involvement with the African National Congress, which in 1960, the Apartheid government had banned.  Mandela spent 27 years behind bars as a political prisoner.  In 1994, the African National Congress took control as the new governing body of South Africa.  Nelson Mandela was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for peacefully ending the Apartheid segregation.

June 12, 2008

Obama: Black, Or Bi-racial?

As The Black Factor blog points out, CNN Online thought enough of the question as to whether Barack Obama is "black," or "bi-racial" to ask its readers for an answer. As the blogger also points out, it's a shame the question wasn't on policy. However, as long as these questions seem to matter, is it accurate to portray Obama as a post-racial candidate? It appears to me he is more of a barrier breaker in that sense, than anything else.

A CNN reporter, Jason Carroll, posed a question to CNN online readers asking about Sen. Barack Obama’s racial identity. He says he received heated responses regarding whether or not Obama is Black or bi-racial.

Some Blacks and bi-racial people think that Obama is not Black. They say he is bi-racial, which is different. Obama refers to himself as Black because he says that’s what people see, when they look at him. It’s the same comment made by actress Halle Berry.

Anyway, it’s a shame that people are not focusing on Obama’s policies and ideas for the country because they are fixated on continuous discussions about his race and color. But, when we think of this country’s history, race and color are always going to be issues. Blacks even deal with these issues as a collective group.

June 09, 2008

Detroit's 2008 Rosa Parks Foundation Scholarships Awarded

The link features the high school photos of the scholarship winners. It's nice to see such bright faces so full of promise.

Since 1980, more than 800 high school seniors have received more than $1.6 million in scholarships from the foundation, established by The Detroit News and the Detroit Public Schools. Here, we present this year's winners.

June 04, 2008

Milestone: Are We There, Yet?

Despite the apparent reluctance of Hillary Clinton to concede, it would seem America has reached a new milestone in its history of race relations. For the first time in history, it looks as if a black individual has secured the presidential nomination of a major party.

There are too many stories to link, perhaps the Drudge Report, Afronary dot net and Memeorandum are good enough for those who would like to read through the coverage.

May 29, 2008

Reparations Suit

The Anderson at Large blog addresses a case currently working its way through the Federal Courts. More background at link.

Back in the day, the Gap Band had a big hit with “You Dropped a Bomb on Me.” The group is from Tulsa, Okla., where in 1921 white vigilantes looted and burned America’s most prosperous black community. More than 300 people were killed, 1,200 homes and businesses destroyed, and 10,000 citizens displaced.

As my friend Harvard Law Prof. Charles A. Ogletree Jr. likes to tell audiences, the band’s name memorializes the site of the race riot. Gap is short for Greenwood Avenue, and Archer and Pine streets that were the heart of the Greenwood business district known as the “Black Wall Street.”

Ogletree is the lead counsel in a lawsuit to get reparations for the survivors, who include 105-year-old Otis Clark and Dr. John Hope Franklin. Dr. Franklin’s father’s law office was burned down by the white mob.

The time for justice is long overdue. To commemorate the 87th anniversary of one of the worst acts of domestic terrorism in U.S. history, there will be a series of events in Tulsa this weekend.

The events will include the premiere of “Before They Die,” the story of the survivors’ four-year search for justice through the federal court system. Reggie Turner, the film’s director and producer, said:

May 23, 2008

NPR Op-Ed On Statue Design

National Public Radio has an audio op-ed from Ibram Rogers on the recent design controversy. Rogers is strongly in favor of a "confrontational" image.

"King was never happy with America, so why are the feds forcing him to smile now?" Rogers writes. "An activist by his or her very nature is confrontational, and King was the quintessential activist. King was not only confrontational, he thought it was morally imperative for his countrymen to be the same."

Rogers' op-ed, "A Stone-Faced Lie on the Mall," appeared Thursday in The Root.

May 22, 2008

King As He Was

President and CEO of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation, Harry Johnson addresses the recent design controversy via an item in the AJC.

While it is not unusual for the CFA and foundations similar to ours to have creative differences, we were surprised at the timing of such criticism, since we had submitted similar images of the Stone of Hope to the CFA since November.

As a result of the criticism, we scheduled a face-to-face meeting with the chairman of the CFA this week and agreed that we are not as far apart as reported. We agreed that some tweaking —- not a major overhaul —- is needed. Additionally, we were pleased to read that the CFA member who communicated this criticism told The New York Times this past weekend that he now regrets the language of the letter. We will submit an updated image at the beginning of June, and it is our hope to receive final CFA approval.

Also, with the header "King As He Was," Chris Suellentrop at The New York Times appears to agree with Eugene Robinson's piece we linked two days ago.

May 20, 2008

Audio: NPR: Talk of the Nation - Confrontational Image is Appropriate

Ibram Rogers, writer for the Root, gives an Op-Ed on NPR's Talk of the Nation supporting the current design of the Stone of Hope.  Callers express both approval as well as displeasure.

To hear an online recording of the discussion, go here and click "Listen Now."

The U.S. Commission of Fine Arts has expressed concern that a statue of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. planned for the Washington Mall makes him appear "confrontational." In a recent op-ed, Ibram Rogers says a confrontational rendering of the civil rights leader is entirely appropriate.

"King was never happy with America, so why are the feds forcing him to smile now?" Rogers writes. "An activist by his or her very nature is confrontational, and King was the quintessential activist. King was not only confrontational, he thought it was morally imperative for his countrymen to be the same."

Rogers' op-ed, "A Stone-Faced Lie on the Mall," appeared Thursday in The Root.

Robinson On King

Columnist Eugene Robinson weighs in on the current monument design discussion via The Washington Post today.

Here's what is really going on: It's clear that some people would prefer to remember King as some sort of paragon of forbearance who, through suffering and martyrdom, shamed the nation into doing the right thing. In truth, King was supremely impatient. He was a man of action who used pressure, not shame, to change the nation. The Montgomery bus boycott, to cite just one example, was less an act of passive resistance than a campaign of economic warfare. Yes, he knew that televised images of black people walking miles to work would help mold opinion around the world. But he also knew that depriving the bus companies of needed revenue would hit the Jim Crow system where it really hurt.

Lei, the sculptor, is understandably miffed at the commission's second-guessing, especially since the panel had already approved the basic concept -- King is supposed to be emerging from a massive "Stone of Hope" like a superhero with the power to walk through walls. The artist points out that the chosen pose comes from a famous photograph of King, standing -- with his arms crossed -- in front of a picture of Gandhi, who was his hero (and who, by the way, also was supremely confrontational).

May 19, 2008

Design Review Just Part Of The Process

The Washington Post has an item out today addressing the progress being made in discussions over the statue of Dr. King that's to be completed for the memorial. The piece also points out that these types of discussions are not unusual in the erection of DC monuments.

Most memorials and monuments proposed for Washington undergo rigorous review and public debate, which can go on for years and involve significant design changes. The Korean War Veterans Memorial, for example, had more than a dozen statues subtracted from its design.

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