Racial Justice & Human Dignity
Civil rights, immigration, climate change, and the economy - all are connected and tied directly to the issues of justice and human rights.
At the Sanders Institute Gathering, Dr. Jim Zogby moderated a panel on civil rights, immigration, and human dignity with Dr. Radhika Balakrishnan, Representative Tulsi Gabbard, Susan Sarandon, and Ben Jealous. The panelists talked about how climate change and economic injustice are creating conflicts across the world and contributing to mass migration. This in turn has impacted several countries fostering xenophobic far-right movements. They discussed the importance of judging a country's economy, not on how large it is, but on whether it is just and meets the test of providing equal opportunity for all. And they talked about the history of the United States and how genocide against indigenous peoples, indentured servitude, slavery, and disenfranchisement defined the United States' beginning and still shapes our social and our political realities.Read More
My Morehouse Brother Chinedu Okobi Died After Being Electrocuted by Police. Tasers Are Not “Less Lethal” Weapons.
In this article, Shaun King describes the death of a classmate by taser. King decries the use of excessive violence in the United States - whether it is through guns, tasers, or other means - and demonstrates how this excessive violence has a vastly disparate effect on black and brown communities than it does on white communities.Read More
In this article, Shaun King makes the case for racism against two men, Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid, who should be playing in the NFL right now, but lost everything because they knelt in protest during the national anthem.Read More
So let me say it: I am protesting the anthem.
I am protesting its deeply bigoted author - who owned human beings for convenience and profit.
And I am protesting injustice in this nation on behalf of so many families that continue to experience systematic racism, police brutality, and inequality — all while others expect us to get up and sing with a heart full of happiness.Read More
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Leads Legislation to Expand Nationwide Domestic Violence Prevention and Protection
“Every year in Hawai‘i, more than 50,000 women are victims of domestic violence. While domestic violence continues to be an epidemic in our country and we have much more work to do, funding through the Violence Against Women Act has been critical to providing survivors and their families with resources, support, and care and also holding those responsible accountable. However these funds run out on September 30th - there is no time to waste. Congress needs to rise above partisan politics and come together to pass this life-saving legislation now.”Read More
To mark the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination, special correspondent Charlayne Hunter-Gault sits down with one of his closest friends, artist and activist Harry Belafonte, who remembers how they met and what made King so special, as well as why he says America is more racially divided than any other moment in his life.Read More
"It is not so important how long you live, it is important how well you live."
Premiering in April of 2018, this documentary follows Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the last few years of his life, from the vital role he played in the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to his assassination in 1968.
My son is only 5 years old and we’ve already had “the talk.” I can recall being a little older when my grandfather, a probation officer, had the same talk with me. It’s the same talk that has been given time and again in black families following the deaths of Eric Garner, Terence Crutcher and Michael Brown, all unarmed black civilians who lost their lives at the hands of police.Read More
"Artists are the gatekeepers of truth."Read More
Despite the abolition of Roma and African American slavery, criminalization and demonization continuesRead More
A few weeks before his death, 77-year-old Frederick Douglass was asked what advice he would give to a young black American.
“Agitate! Agitate! Agitate!” was his reply.Read More
There are over 2.2 million families in America for whom the holiday season is extremely difficult. As co-workers, fellow parishioners, friends and colleagues wish them happy holidays and inquire whether they will be getting together with family, they cringe and struggle to respond in a way that does not reveal that for them the holidays are a harsh reminder of the pain, separation and loneliness that incarceration means for them. For them, there is no holiday dinner at a nice restaurant, shopping outing for gifts, decorating a tree or attending a religious service. On New Year’s Eve they will not share a kiss at midnight or hold each other tightly. In fact, the words “Happy New Year” ring hollow and reopen the wounds of separation.Read More
In 1993, Dr. Cornel West released his classic Race Matters, which immediately became a best-seller and situated him as one of the most important Black intellectuals of our time.Read More
On Martin Luther King Jr. day, actor, activist, and Founding Fellow of the Sanders Institute Danny Glover received the President's Award at the NAACP Image Awards held on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which highlight the work of people of color in film, TV and other fields.Read More
On August 17th, 2017 Danny Glover participated in a live podcast recording of "Kamau Right Now!" with comedian Irene Tu and Anita Sarkeesian, founder of Feminist Frequency. “Kamau Right Now!,” a debate, discussion and comedy show, records in front of a live audience and broadcasts on San Francisco’s KALW, the oldest FM station west of the Mississippi.
Consumer Watchdog hosts the Rage for Justice Awards to honor the heroes and heroines of the public interest movement. The awards are named after Congressman Phillip Burton, one of the most productive and driven progressive legislators in American history. His story is told in John Jacobs’ acclaimed book A Rage for Justice.
This year's honorees included Bernie & Jane Sanders, Chris Spagnoli, and Jackson Browne.Read More
There have been 1448 executions in the United States since 1976.
This fact sheet covers some key facts and figures about the death penalty, from which 31 states have the death penalty, to the discrepancies between races of the defendants who are executed and the race of the victims in death penalty cases. It specifically looks at racial discrepancies within the criminal justice system overall and within certain states.
On MLK day 2017 Senator Sanders gave a speech recognizing the work done by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. including issues that he fought for that are still relevant to politics today.
The Senator addresses the vision that many people have of MLK and talks about some of his less well known, but still important, initiatives. "It is easy for us today in the year 2017 as the whole country celebrates Dr. King to forget that in the last few years of his life if you think that Governors and Senators and Mayors were standing up saying what a great man Dr. King was, read history because you are sorely mistaken." Senator Sanders specifically looks at Dr. Martin Luther King's commitment to poor people and protests against the Vietnam war in the last years of his life.Read More
On Saturday January 14th, 2017, former Ohio State Senator Nina Turner delivered a speech in front of the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial in Washington D.C. at National Action Network's We Will Not Be Moved rally.
She calls on the crowd to not be discouraged by the situation that they find themselves in. Rather, they should look back at where they and their ancestors have come from and gain courage from that struggle and many of the successes that have led to a better (but not yet perfect) world.
Senator Turner also mentions other groups including the LGBTQ community as well as the hispanic and latino community that are with the African American community fighting for "social, economic, and political justice." She states that: “We may not have gotten here on the same ship but we are in the same boat right now.”
This article from the American Journal of Public Medicine describes a little-known aspect of the Black Panthers: Their dedication to health as a human right.
"The Party took up the right to health... its vision hewed closely to the fundamentally radical idea that achieving health for all demands a more just and equitable world. To model ways in which such a world might work, the Black Panthers opened free health clinics across the country. Eventually 13 were established."
The Black Panther party saw the lack of healthcare as another injustice that kept oppressed people oppressed and fought to change that situation for all oppressed people in America.
The article ends by connecting this vision to the protestors and progressive movements of today, "That health is a right, not a privilege, remains true. It is a proud legacy, one built by many, still unachieved, and still worth fighting for today."View Page
Harry Belafonte has been an activist for his entire life. He grew up in Harlem surrounded by activist leaders and went on to be a critical part of the Civil Rights Movement.
This article describes his thinking about the continuation of activism and movements in the US and around the world.
Belafonte has not stopped being an activist, even with 90 years under his belt. In fact he recently led a music festival to support his charity Sankofa.org and encourage young artists to speak out about current issues. Belafonte believes that while there is an increasing number of black artists and athletes, they have a duty to speak out about the issues in the black community.
Ultimately, Belafonte will never stop being an activist and galvanizing people to speak about issues that are important to them and their communities.: "The same things needed now are the same things needed before,” he went on. “Movements don’t die because struggle doesn’t die.”Read More
This article from PBS delves into Representative Shirley Chisholm's presidential run in 1972. She made history as the first African American woman elected to the House of representatives and then again when she was the first African American woman to run for president.
She was not only an advocate for African American rights, she saw her role in advocating for all Americans. “I am not the candidate of black America, although I am black and proud...,I am not the candidate of the women’s movement of this country, although I am a woman, and I am equally proud of that. I am the candidate of the people of America.”View Page
In this interview, Harry Belafonte describes his reaction to the Kaepernick National Anthem Protest - where Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem in protest against the treatment of African Americans in the United States.
Belafonte states that he thinks that Kaepernick was not only right in doing it but that it was a "noble and courageous act." He states, "It takes a lot of courage to stand up in the face of that onslaught and not bend to the wind."
The backlash that Kaepernick has received due to his protest is very similar to situations that Belafonte found himself in during the height of his career. Belafonte describes that during his most successful years, "The machinery of oppression was always trying to discredit me" by attempting to portray him as a communist and anti-American.
Belafonte ends the interview by describing his disappointment that other black athletes and celebrities have not joined Kaepernick in his protest and brought to light more African American issues.Read More
In this interview with CBSN, Ben Jealous reacts to some of the prominent events and issues around race relations in the United States.
First, he is questioned about a recent poll that indicates that almost seven-in-ten Americans think that race relations in this country are bad. Jealous points to the unprecedented sadness and rawness that characterized the 2016 presidential debate.
Next, Jealous addresses the Black Lives Matter movement. He sees BLM as a continuation of many of the early civil rights movements - with a tradition of truth telling and shedding light on localities that are not performing morally in order to "take our country to a higher and better place." When asked why BLM does not have a unified message, Jealous points out, that when you step back from the individual protestors and individual tweets, the BLM movement has a very strong message: that "Black Lives Matter" and that the police killings have to stop.
When asked about celebrities talking about this issue, Jealous supports their actions. Many people, especially children, look to athletes and celebrities as their heroes. Jealous states that for these "heroes" to come out and say "I am afraid too" can help galvanize people who look up to them - "I am your hero and now I need you to be my hero and join with all of us to help move this country forward."Read More
On March 29 2016 Danny Glover gave a speech to the OAS countries.
In it, he reflects on his life, his heritage and the experience of Afro-Descendants - not only in the United States but across the world.
"In my country, the United States of America, which is the richest and arguably most developed country of the world, there are forty-million Afro Descendants, many of Caribbean and Latin American heritage. On a daily basis, U.S. news is inundated with disturbing and saddening stories of Black women and men, particularly the young, being killed by law enforcement officers and vigilantes or being incarcerated; of young black people facing high rates of under and unemployment, poverty, lack of access to education and health care, and consequently succumbing to high rates of illness and death. The current state of democracy, justice, and socio-economic development for Afro Descendants in the United States is disappointing and tragic."
He ends his speech with three calls: a call for respect, a call for justice, and a call for development.Read More
"Like an avalanche, racial disparity grows cumulatively as people traverse the criminal justice system. This report identifies four key features of the criminal justice system that produce racially unequal outcomes and showcases initiatives to abate these sources of inequity in adult and juvenile justice systems around the country."
This paper stresses three conclusions:
1) Criminal justice practitioners’ use of discretion is - often unintentionally – influenced by racial bias.
2) Key segments of the criminal justice system are underfunded, putting blacks and Latinos – who are disproportionately low-income – at a disadvantage.
3) Criminal justice policies exacerbate socioeconomic inequalities by imposing collateral consequences on those with criminal records and by diverting public spending.
In this article, Ben Jealous looks at a specific encounter that an African American woman, Ashley Overbey, had with the police in Baltimore. He uses it as an example of why the police system in this country, and particularly in Baltimore, needs to be changed.
Jealous points to a report released by grassroots activists and community organizations in Baltimore that suggests six reforms for policing in Baltimore:
1) Fire police officers who have demonstrated corruption or unnecessary violence
2) Remove the “gag order” on victims of police misconduct that silenced Ashley Overbey
3) Speed up the distribution of body cameras
4) Promote community policing; publish all police department policies online
5) Improve de-escalation training
Jealous uses Cincinnati as an example that this sort of reform can happen. "In response to community demands, the department shifted to a community-policing model, encouraged officers to interact more with community members, started tracking officers who received an abnormal number of complaints and took steps to improve transparency." He states that "Over the next 15 years, Cincinnati saw a 69 percent drop in police use-of-force incidents, a 42 percent drop in citizen complaints and a 56 percent drop in injuries experienced by citizens during encounters with police. Importantly, violent crime dropped from a high of 4,137 incidents in the year after Timothy Thomas’ death to 2,352 incidents in 2014."Read More
In his new book, Wages of Rebellion, Chris Hedges-who has long chronicled the malaise of a society in moral decline — investigates what social and psychological factors cause revolution, rebellion, and resistance. In what was a timely and thought-provoking conversation, Cornel West engaged Hedges’ on his message that popular uprisings in the United States and around the world are inevitable in the face of environmental destruction and wealth polarization and together discuss the moral imperative of revolt.
This conversation challenges and questions ideas of political correctness, anti-establishment movements, global climate change, and capitalism itself.
In this video, Chris Hayes speaks with Danny Glover about the evolution of the civil rights movement in the 1960s to the modern Black Lives Matter movement.
Glover points out that many of the issues that were being fought in the 60s are still being fought today and that the continual struggle has been to "change the narrative" for persons of color in the United States. He specifically calls for focus on tangible issues - How political decisions will change people's lives.
He also describes that protests have been successful before - from many of the successes of the civil rights movement to the ways in which protests changed how the Vietnam war was reported and therefore, how the American public reacted to it. Today, there are different instruments for protests (e.g. social media). However, that does not change their power.Read More
The environments in which children grow up profoundly shape their socio-emotional health and development and set the stage for future success.
This essay provides a framework for understanding how various settings influence lives of boys and young men of color. Failure to take these environments into account treats the problems experienced by this group as entirely of their own making and ignores the role that external forces play in contributing to poor outcomes. This essay provides a context for future research and analysis, in hopes that it will examine the lives and circumstances of boys and young men of color using more complex and nuanced perspectives.
In this report, Ben Jealous and his colleague Ryan Haygood investigate the effects of the Supreme Court's 2013 decision Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder that "invalidated core protections in the Voting Rights Act"
They specifically look at 5 states that enacted laws that would have been, or were, considered discriminatory and therefore would not have been put into effect for the 2014 elections. These states are: Texas, Alabama, North Carolina, Virginia, and Georgia
The report finds that "it is clear that the number of people predicted to face increased difficulties in voting during this election either approaches or exceeds the margins of victory for competitive statewide races." In addition, "Consistent with a recent report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office, or GAO, finding that photo ID laws lower voter turnout, especially among voters of color."
A week after his arrest during protests in Ferguson, Dr. Cornel West, Union Theological Seminary professor, and author of (in dialogue with and edited by Christa Buschendorf) Black Prophetic Fire (Beacon Press, 2014), talks about his latest work, a reexamination of the lives and legacies of leading black activists Frederick Douglass, W. E. B. Du Bois, Martin Luther King Jr., Ella Baker, Malcolm X, and Ida B. Wells - and what today’s civil rights activists need to remember about them.
The New School (http://www.newschool.edu) and Haymarket Books (http://www.haymarketbooks.org) present: Danny Glover, Kathleen Cleaver, and Brian Jones discussing the new book: The Black Power Mixtape: 1967-1975. Moderated by School of Media Studies Assistant Professor, Michelle Materre.
The Black Power Mixtape: 1967 -- 1975 is an extraordinary window into the black freedom struggle in the United States, offering a treasure trove of fresh archival information about the Black Power movement from 1967 to 1975 and vivid portraits of some of its most dynamic participants, including Angela Davis and Stokely Carmichael. The book - like the documentary film that inspired it — includes historical speeches and interviews by: Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture), Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Eldridge Cleaver, Bobby Seale, Huey P. Newton, Emile de Antonio, and Angela Davis. And it also features new commentary voiced by: Erykah Badu, Talib Kweli, Harry Belafonte, Kathleen Cleaver, Angela Davis, Robin Kelley, Abiodun Oyewole, Sonia Sanchez, Bobby Seale, John Forte, and Questlove.
Presented by the New School for Public Engagement | http://www.newschool.edu/public-engag... The Black Power Mixtape available at: http://www.haymarketbooks.org/pb/The-... Location: The Auditorium, Alvin Johnson/J.M. Kaplan Hall Monday, May 5 2014 at 8 pmRead More
The fight against profiling by law enforcement is at a critical moment. Ben Jealous talks about racial profiling, the steps that have been taken to mitigate it, and the steps that still need to be taken to get rid of it.
Jealous states that "Members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community are significantly overrepresented in all aspects of the penal system." The problem is even worse for LGBT individuals of color who face multiple types of discrimination. Jealous believes that this racial profiling demands a response from the federal government. He suggests that that the federal government:
1) Ensures that protections against all forms of profiling extend across the country by linking funding to the adoption of bans on profiling.
2) Encourage prosecutors to stop confiscating and citing possession of condoms as evidence.
3) End immigration-enforcement programs that encourage and expand the consequences of discriminatory profiling.
Jealous ends with the statement "We need to end institutionalized homophobia and transphobia, just as we need to end institutionalized racism. Let us be sure to leave no one behind."Read More
In this Tedx talk, Francys Johnson looks at the promises that the United States of American has made to its citizens through its ideals, and founding documents, and yet how through racists laws and policies, a large segment has heed restricted from many of those ideals - among them: "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."
Johnson states that there are three things that he knows about American racism:
- Race itself is a fiction. There is no scientific, biological, proof of different races and in actuality, race is a complete social construct. Therefore, “All persons possess the same faculties for attaining the highest levels of intellectual, economic, political, social, and educational achievements” and where there are gaps they are not on account of the color of a person’s skin. They cannot be attributed to race but they can be attributed to racism and discrimination.
- Racism matters. Race plays and exaggerated role in American culture and in Americans's lives, especially those of African Americans who have higher chance of dying during infancy, mothers not having pre-natal care, fathers more likely to be unemployed, (and those who are employed can expect to earn only 72% of their white counterparts.) They are more likely to attend underperforming schools, more likely to be treated differently in the criminal justice system - whether they are tried as a juvenile or not, what kind of plea bargains they are given, if they will be tried under the death penalty.
- People matter more. There are many values put forward by America's founding documents that are shared by all Americans. Johnson states that if we put people over politics (who gets what when where and how) we will find the solution to overcoming race.
Ultimately, Johnson believes that "We have the ability to struggle with and confront race and deconstruct it where it legally exists. We need to stop separating people. If we root out and destroy any benefit created by race classification, it is only then that we will overcome it."Read More
In 2013, Harry Belafonte was awarded the Spingarn Medal by the NAACP. The Spingarn Medal is awarded annually by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) for outstanding achievement by an African American.
In his acceptance speech, Harry Belafonte call upon all artists to use their art and their positions as celebrities to address many of the unfairness and discrimination leveled at the black community. Belafonte specifically focuses on gun and criminal justice issues.
He points out that "The group most devastated by America’ obsession with the gun is African Americans" and that the majority of the prison population in the United States is African American. When white America talks about Constitutional rights, no one is talking about the "Racial carnage" that is affecting the black America.
Belafonte ends his speech calling on the artist community to make a difference: "Our nation hungers for today’s artists radical songs. Let us not sit back silently. Let us not be charged with patriotic treason...Our children, those who are waiting in the prisons of America are waiting for us to change the system."
In this interview, Danny Glover talks about the documentary "The House I Live In" and the broader societal issues that are addressed in the documentary about the war on drugs that Glover summarizes with the statement: “The war on drugs is not a war on drugs itself, it is a war on people.”
The issues that Glover specifically mentions are the rotating prison pipeline where individuals "are caught up in this perpetual chain of in and out of jail", the disenfranchisement of the population who has served time in jail, and ultimately the "unintended consequences of [the war on drugs] policy" that has adversely affected the African American community.
Glover mentions that it is important for society to take a step back and conduct a civilized conversation about this situation. He states that "we have abandoned certain groups and said that the value of their live if not as important as the value of someone else" and therefore, it is important for people have conversations about their experiences and humanize that population. In so doing, we can raise awareness about the policy, its effects, and demand change.
He believes that we need to take a step back and question the status quo.Read More
Sing Your Song is an up close look at a great American, Harry Belafonte. A patriot to the last and a champion for worldwide human rights, Belafonte is one of the truly heroic cultural and political figures of the past 60 years. Told from Harry’s point of view, the film charts his life from a boy born in New York and raised in Jamaica, who returns to Harlem in his early teens where he discovers the American Negro Theater and the magic of performing.
From there the film follows Belafonte’s rise from the jazz and folk clubs of Greenwich Village and Harlem to his emergence as a star. However, even as a superstar, the life of a black man in 1960s America was far from easy and Belafonte was confronted with the same Jim Crow laws and prejudices that every other black man, woman and child in America was facing.
Among other things, the film presents a brief look at the Civil Rights Movement through the eyes of an insider, someone who despite his high profile, wasn’t afraid to spend time in the trenches.
From Harlem to Mississippi to Africa and South Central Los Angeles, Sing Your Song takes us on a journey through Harry Belafonte’s life, work and most of all, his conscience, as it inspires us all to action!
In this video "Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975" Director Göran Olsson and Producer Danny Glover sit down and talk about the film and why the ideas that were brought to light by the Black Power Movement are still relevant today.
They begin with a discussion of how the film came about - through a discovery of high quality footage of prominent Black Power leaders in Swedish archives and then discussions with prominent individuals like Danny Glover who were exposed to the Black Power, its leaders, and ideas during their youths.
Glover explains that the importance of this documentary is not only showing more footage of the Black Power Movement - it is changing and challenging the accepted narrative of the movement. He describes that this footage gives viewers a glimpse into these people's minds in a much more humanized way than the history books teach. The film educates, enlightens, and will hopefully spark conversation about that period in time and the Black Power movement.
Glover also points out that the ultimate goal of the Black Power Movement was "a re-imagining" of democracy; this is a goal that did not start with the Black Power Movement, or the Civil Rights Movement, and it has not ended. Glover states that there are always issues in this country that need to be challenged - unemployment, and women's rights, through to senior citizens rights. He believes that this documentary provides its watchers with an opportunity to take what they can learn from the Black Power Movement and apply it to their own lives.
The video ends with a conversation about the power of film.Read More
In this interview, Harry Belafonte reflects on his life as an activist, singer, and actor, and describes that to him, they are not separate career paths.
Belafonte explains that "What attracted me to the arts was that I saw theater as a social force, a political force."
He goes on to explain his relationships with some of the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, his friendship and connection with MLK. He even speaks about King's legacy beyond just the United States.
When asked about his connection to leaders around the world who have not consistently been seen as American allies, he defends his choice by saying that it is important to be open to people from all over the world who have different view points than ours.Read More
The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 is a documentary directed by Goran Hugo Olsson and co-produced by Danny Glover. It was created using archival footage of from the time period including footage of interviews of prominent leaders in the Black Power community.
The documentary follows prominent events in the Black Power movement from 1967 through to 1975 while using voiceovers from those at the time, as well as modern individuals.
It includes interviews of prominent Black Power movement leaders including Stokely Carmichael, Bobby Seale, Angela Davis and Eldridge Cleaver who talked both about the events that they were experiencing at the time (e.g. Angela Davis' incarceration) as well as the broader ideas and ideals of the Black Power movement.
The result is a clear depiction ot the evolution of the Black Power movement through a very tumultuous time in American history.
To watch the full documentary, click here.
In the 1970s, Dr. Cornell West wrote a pamphlet on democratic socialism and why and how it could address racism. He did this by looking at various Marxist theories of racism, and then applying them to modern day America.
These theories look at racism as a result of establishing and maintaining differences in the workplace to xenophobic attitudes.
Dr. West then presents a theory of racism that goes beyond the Marxist theories. Marxist theories look at racism as a result of capitalism, when history shows that racism exists far beyond capitalistic countries - Dr. West states "Racism is as much a product of the interaction of cultural ways of life as it is of modern capitalism. A more adequate conception of racism should reflect this twofold context of cultural and economic realities in which racism has flourished."
He concludes by talking about democratic socialism as a way to address racism in this country: "We must frankly acknowledge that a democratic socialist society will not necessarily eradicate racism. Yet a democratic socialist society is the best hope for alleviating and minimizing racism, particularly institutional forms of racism."Read More
It takes something as big as Hurricane Katrina and the misery we saw among the poor black people of New Orleans to get America to focus on race and poverty. It happens about once every 30 or 40 years.Read More