Obama's Birthday Party | Abrams & Jealous Aim @ Statehouses | Eritreans Award AfAm
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August 2 – August 15, 2018
On The Dock This Issue:
Will Abrams and Jealous Break the Mold?
The Spellman College graduate may actually be in a stronger position to win the governorship in conservative Georgia than Ben Jealous is in liberal Maryland.
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President Barack Obama's Birthday Celebration
Celebration at Barack Obama Elementary School in Upper Marlboro, Maryland.
The Prince George's County Charter Committee to Celebrate President Barack Obama
will host a community celebration for President Obama's 57th birthday Saturday, August 4, 2018. The party is free, a family-friendly event, and will take place on his actual birthday from 10a–2p at Barack Obama Elementary School
, 12700 Brooke Lane, in Upper Marlboro, Maryland.
Participants will enjoy Obama memorabilia, a variety of children's activities, a book giveaway, community resource information, and birthday refreshments. The purpose of the event is to celebrate the legacy and accomplishments of the Obama Administration and the launching of an annual commemoration beginning on Presidents' Day 2019.
Though the event is free, the Committee asks attendees to bring a "Shoebox Gift
," filled with simple things such as toothpastes, toothbrushes, soap, towel, etc. In partnership with SOME (So Others Might Eat) and other local charitable organizations, the Committee will have the items distributed to homeless men, women, and children in the Washington metropolitan area.
Will Abrams and Jealous Break the Mold?
The Democratic National Committee and others have credited the surge of Black women voters for the Doug Jones' Senate victory in Alabama in December 2017. Stacey Abrams in Georgia
and Ben Jealous in Maryland
are counting on similar surges to propel them to become governors of their respective states this November.
Abrams is a 44–year–old former Georgia House minority leader who supports a large swatch of the progressive agenda from a $15 minimum wage and abortion rights to the inclusion of comprehensive workplace protections for the LGBTQ/SGL community and Medicaid expansion.
"My mission is to use my campaign as a proof of concept that we can go and find (the voters we need), and we can lift their voices up, and we can create a new narrative," said the former Georgia minority leader of the Georgia state House of Representatives. She served in that position from 2011 to 2017 as the first woman to lead a party in either house of the Peach State's legislature.
If elected, she will be the first woman governor of Georgia and the first Black woman governor in the US. Of the 39 women who haves served as a US governor, 25 were first elected in their own right.
The Spellman College graduate may actually be in a stronger position to win than Ben Jealous. Recent polls show that she is between 2 points behind or 3 points ahead of Republican Brian Kemp in a conservative state, while Jealous is 12 to 17 points behind Republican Larry Hogan in a very progressive state.
She won her primary with more than 75 percent of the vote; he won with about 40 percent of the vote. Both Atlantic coast states are about 30 percent Black and expected to become majority–minority by 2025.
Jealous, 45, is a former President and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). When the organization, founded in 1909, elected him in 2008, he was only 35 and the youngest person to serve in that position.
It was during his tenure that the nation's oldest civil rights group lead Black Americans in 2012 into evolving on the marriage equality issue. He then told the Associated Press about the NAACP's groundbreaking support for marriage equality, "There is a game being played right now to enshrine discrimination into state constitutions across the country, and if we can change that game and help ensure that our country's more recent tradition of using federal and state constitutions to expand rights continues, we will be very proud of our work."
Jealous, whose parents had to leave Maryland to get married due to state laws forbidding "the interbreeding of people considered to be of different racial types," has modern progressive proposals including increasing teacher pay by 29 percent and providing Medicare–For–All to regulating marijuana for adult use and police reform.
Interestingly, Jealous had his ancestry traced on PBS's "Finding Your Roots." In an episode, Jealous learned that his ethnicity is about 80 percent European and only 18 percent sub–Saharan African. The show's host, Henry Louis Gates Jr., joked that Jealous was the "Whitest Black man we've ever tested." During the interview session, they laughed and Jealous says he proudly identifies as Black.
If elected, Jealous would be the third Black male elected governor in the United States. The two elected Black governors were Doug Wilder (D–Virginia, 1990 to 1994) and Deval Patrick (D–Massachusetts, 2007 to 2015).
Research and President Obama's historic wins have shown that when Black candidates are on the ballot, it can motivate people of color to vote. In an NPR interview, Jealous explained the situation. "What most Americans fail to realize is you also have swing voters in the Black community who swing between voting – typically for a Democrat – and not voting at all," the Columbia University graduate said.
Steve Phillips, author of "Brown is the New White," also observed
that both candidates are prioritizing voter turnout over trying to change the minds of voters who don't agree with them. "It is the formula that propelled Obama to victory twice, and it is the smart strategy in a country that gets browner by the hour," he explained.
Other groups such as Rock The Vote are pitching in the effort to register and get out voters who do not always do so. You can use their site to register to vote and check your registration status. According to Rock The Vote
, voter registration ends in Georgia Tuesday, Oct 9, 2018 and in Maryland Tuesday, Oct 16, 2018 9p.
In Florida's August 28 primary, Andrew Gillum
, the 39–year–old mayor of Tallahassee and Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University graduate, is a candidate.
Young Progressive Female Candidates Talk About The #MeToo Movement
Four young progressive women running for office in battleground states joined People For the American Way's Next Up Victory Fund for a National Press Club discussion about the impact the #MeToo movement is having on the 2018 midterms.
Rachel Crooks, candidate for Ohio State House District 88, who says she was sexually assaulted by the current US president, joined Anna Eskamani, candidate for Florida State House District 47, Myya Jones, candidate for Michigan State House District 4, and Katie Muth, candidate for Pennsylvania State House District 44 for the discussion.
"We have a sexual predator in the White House, and that is not OK," affirmed Crooks, who spoke about being assaulted by 45 when she was a 22–year–old employee of Trump Tower. "For too long, I was silent and ashamed about what happened. But as I heard more women speak up, I realized I wasn't alone. Watching powerful men like Trump not being held accountable made me realize (that) women need to run and win to change this culture."
The other panelists also shared personal stories about their experiences with sexual harassment and sexual assault, and about how those experiences, in addition to the #MeToo movement and the 2017 Women's March, influenced their decisions to run for office. They also discussed more recent sexist comments they endured such as people giving Crooks unsolicited advice on her clothing, Eskamani's opponents calling her "immature," Muth's opponent calling her "that girl," and of donors and establishment men touching them and other women without first asking.
"Every 98 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted. Generations of survivors have been forced to adapt, but not anymore," declared Eskamani. "I can remember far too many occurrences where donors and elected officials have touched me inappropriately. This doesn't just influence my campaign, it influences the way I would legislate in Florida when I win. It's time for change," continued the daughter of Iranian immigrants.
Even before Trump was elected, I knew as a survivor that we needed more women, and especially women of color, running for office,"
said 23–year–old Jones. "I have long spoken out about the intertwined issues of racial violence and sexual assault –– of the tragedy of Black and Brown people being murdered and about the rampant sexual assault problem we have in America. But with Trump in the White House, it's even more important for Black women to step up and run for office and for people to support us," continued Jones whose rap campaign video has heated the internet
"A lot of people told me that I shouldn't talk about being a rape survivor while running for office," said Muth, an adjunct professor teaching in the Department of Kinesiology at a local Pennsylvania university. "For too long, we survivors have been shamed into silence. But Donald Trump's campaign brought up all of this trauma we had tried to suppress, and we realized we need to speak out instead of being silent," she continued.
The women are being supported by People For the American Way's Next Up Victory Fund
. The Fund helps young progressive candidates age 40 and under win races for state and local offices across the USA.
Van Jones and Alice Marie Johnson at Clemency Is Justice Program
By Wayne A. Young
CNN political commentator Van Jones was one of the many who expressed elation about the current president's recent commutation of Alice Marie Johnson's life without parole sentence. After expressing his low expectations of the current administration, Van Jones declared, while smiling at Johnson, "We have a North Star in Ms. Alice." Johnson served 21 years after the justice system convicted her of conspiracy to sell cocaine and money laundering.
The Mississippi native claims that she never sold drugs, but worked as a "telephone mule" passing messages between people. The government, however, accused the first time offender as being the leader of the ring and sentenced her to life plus 25 years in federal prison.
Jones and Johnson were part of a fast moving program highlighting the value and need for an active use of clemency in the American justice system. "Within clemency fall commutations and pardons," explained, Attorney Taifa Nkechi, covener of the "Clemency: What it was, What it is, What is can be" program. Only the president and governors have this power to lower penalties and they have the power to pardon, or to totally wipe clean a person's criminal record, she continued.
Like Johnson, Kemba Smith, had her sentence commuted; therefore, her conviction remains on her record. During the press opening she shared how she had to fight to have her voting rights restored and that she always faces not being allowed into a foreign country because her conviction still stands. Smith also appeared on the cover of the May–July 2006 issue of Port Of Harlem, Personal Responsibility: Interview with Kemba Smith
"In the state of Virginia, it took me 12 years after my release to get my voting rights restored even though I was a productive taxpaying citizen," Smith told Port Of Harlem. "I was deprived of one of America's basic fundamental human rights even after I served my time," she continued.
Despite the shortcomings of commutations and the difficulty of getting them or a pardon, the panelist agreed that clemency is justice. "There has been so much injustice in sentencing that clemency is needed to right some of the wrongs of the past," Taifa repeated several times during the half day program at the George Washington University Law School in Washington, D.C.
While many of the incarcerated need the assistance of lawyers to press their cases, Jason Hernandez, who was a panelist on one of the four panels, successfully constructed his own clemency petition. President Obama responded by commuting his life without parole for a nonviolent drug crime sentence to twenty years. During his prison reform campaign, Obama granted a historic number of commutations and pardons.
Each of the formerly incarcerated, including Johnson, expressed joy for the Presidents who released them. Naturally, Johnson expressed some disappointment that the Obama administration overlooked her case. However, Roy Austin, who worked for the Department of Justice during the Obama administration, made it very clear that the nation's first Black president had constraints and could not save every one.
Attorney Rachel Barkow was one of many who said that part of fixing the problem of people serving unnecessarily long and costly sentences is removing the Department of Justice out of the bureaucracy. "I think the top priority is to remove the decision whether to grant clemency out of the Department of Justice because the Department will inevitably be biased in favor of prosecutors and their previous decisions," she told Port Of Harlem.
Taifa further explained to Port Of Harlem, "Prosecutors are under the auspices of the Department of Justice and they are the ones who prosecuted the people in the first place. To depend upon them to say they made a mistake is a conflict of interest."
Johnson's commutation by controversial President Trump led to Attorney Brittany Barnett and others to profess their willingness to work with any administration on behalf of their loved one or client. Barnett, the daughter of a formerly incarcerated mother and a member of the legal team that represented Johnson and seven clients who received clemency from Obama said, "I don't care who is in the White House when my client is in prison." Like Jones, she added that Johnson's light is now shining on the many who are "buried alive by the system."
Time is a gift from God testified Johnson. "I was destined for this," the Memphian continued. To "humanize" the issue, Johnson told a story that earned her a thunderous standing ovation. She asked the crowd of mostly young, social justice advocates to imagine failing their first class and passing all others. Then, being told they are a failure not worthy of redemption. "That is what life without the possibility of parole tells you," she said.
HBO will feature the "The Sentence
," October 15. Port Of Harlem saw and posted about the excellent story on Facebook after a preview on Capitol Hill.
In the movie, first-time filmmaker Rudy Valdez's centers his story on the aftermath of his sister Cindy Shank's incarceration and explores the consequences of mandatory minimum sentencing. Shank received a 15-year mandatory sentence in 2008 for conspiracy charges related to crimes committed by her deceased ex-boyfriend.
Valdez's method of coping with the tragedy was to film his sister's family for her, both the everyday details and the milestones. Valdez finds his voice as both a filmmaker and activist, and he and his family begin to fight for Shank's release during the last months of the Obama administration's clemency initiative.
Also See: The Other Side
and T. Michael Colbert
, Port Of Harlem's incarcerated contributor.
Seven Questions for African American Honored at Friends of Eritrea Dinner
Kip Mackey, Kentucky native and Friend of Eritrea.
How did Eritrea first get your attention? Way back in the early 1970s, I meet some Eritrean students at Eastern Kentucky University and I was captivated by the national liberation process in Eritrea and the transformation component of the process.
Since you first started going to and working with Eritreans, about how many times have you been there? I have been there about nine or ten times including a couple of times during the war with Ethiopia in the 1980s.
What was the first project you completed and with whom? I was working on the ground with the Eritrean Relief Association/Eritrean Relief Committee. Our project was to ship needed medical and grain supplies from Sudan into Eritrea at night during the war. I also helped raise money in the States, buy the products, ship the products, and deliver them into Eritrea.
What project are you working on now? We are finishing up a health clinic we had built in Kerkebet with the National Union of Eritrean Women.
What is your favorite place in Eritrea and why? Matara. It is a historic, mountainous region that has the trail the people used to trade with ancient Egypt. There are underground caverns and steles, which provided ancient Eritreans directions and information much like the current highway signs. And, the mountains are beautiful.
When you are back in the United States, what aspects of Eritrean life do you miss the most? The people I have met and the interactions I have had with them including their wisdom, willingness to share, and their determination to be self–sufficient.
How Has Working with the Eritreans Affected You? Working for Eritrea and its people has humbled me in many ways and given me the opportunity to receive many teachable moments. For instance, Eritreans can take meager materials and build state of the art machines, buildings, and culturally enhanced materials that are long lasting and effective.
In Eritrea, Muslims and Christians work and live side by side. Their motto is that justice for all means that everyone should have access to education, healthcare, and the tools to produce sustainable living standards. This effort should be an example to the world. I have truly been honored to be a part of their legacy and look forward to another 20 years, for in the words of the old African American spiritual, "I am in no ways tired."
During the past two weeks, child marriage survivor Jonsaba Jaiteh
moved into her own space in time to start summer school. Without the threat of becoming homeless, she told Port Of Harlem, "Having basic shelter allows me to finish high school, so that I may have a chance to support myself and my daughter and continue to show women that we can break the culture of silence and win!" And, The Port Of Harlem Gambian Education Partnership shipped new books to The Gambia for three libraries.
As I was repacking and taking inventory of the 350 new books before shipping them to The Gambia, I remembered how important it was for me as a child to be in a library and as an adult how the library remains one of the happiest places in which to be. What a joy, I think the children will have at the Balal Public Library in Soma, The Gambia when the new books arrive.
The Balal library is run by Mandela Fellow Alhassan Bah
. The avid social media user's recent photos and captions on Facebook are an inspiration to me. He wrote, "Earlier today, students from New Soma, Pakalinding, and Karantaba Lower Basic Schools took part in our reading session." Yet, I know he is struggling doing his work in a space without ceiling fans and age–appropriate books.
And I think about what Jabel Ceesey says about the library in Nema Kunku, The Gambia, "With the presence of the library, they (the village's children) have virtually increased their desire to read and their vocabulary, and they have improved their English speaking skills." Ceesay was once honored as "Teacher of the Year."
All of the money you donate goes to impact the lives of The Gambians. A small portion goes to administrative costs such as transaction fees, which is only 1.9% plus $.0.30 per transaction. This compares to 2.9% plus $0.30 per transaction that a low–cost crowd funding platform such as GoFundMe would charge us. My expenses to and from and those I incur in The Gambia come from my personal resources.
This means we are able to send more money to where it will make the greatest impact including to Jaiteh, who continues to serve as a role model for other women fighting to control their own lives and the more than 7, 000 children who will have access to books in the three libraries.
Our shipper, a Gambian, provided us a significant discount for shipping the books as his contribution. Now, I need your contribution before Saturday, September 1.
Donate Today. Abaraka (Thank you in Mandika)
From Black Cargoes To Black Lives Matter, A History of Black Protest
1350 49th St, NE
Thu, Aug 2, 7p
Film Screening: UZIKEE, Washington, DC's Ancestral Sculptor
Anacostia Community Museum
1901 Fort Place, SE
Sat, Aug 4, 2p–4p, free
Black Money: Then, Now, and in the Future
Institute for Policy Studies
1301 Connecticut Avenue, NW, 6th Floor
Wed, Aug, 8,12:30p–2p
Airmail Centennial Celebration Family Day
College Park Aviation Museum
1985 Corporal Frank Scott Drive
College Park, MD
Sat, Aug 11, 10a–4p, free
Anacostia Diaspora Group
2018 Summer Scholarship Jazz Concert
Tamara Wellons Sings Aretha Franklin, Anita Baker,
Chaka Kahn, Mavis Staples and Roberta Flack
1901 Mississippi Ave, SE
Sun, Aug 12, 2018, 2p–4p, $35
Tubman & Douglass Underground Railroad Trail Tour
with Lou Fields (443–983–7974)
Departures from Baltimore and DC
Fri, Aug 3–Sun, Aug 5, $475
2018 Summer Summer Spirit Festival
with BZB Marketplace
Merriweather Post Pavilion
Sat & Sun, Aug 4–5, $
Basket Making: Cat's Head Basket
Benjamin Banneker Historical Park & Museum
300 Oella Ave
Sat, Aug 11 at 9a–3p
2nd Annual Taste of Black Chicago 2018
7351 S. Stony Island Ave
Sat, Aug 18, 1p–8p, free
Ritz Theatre & Museum
829 North Davis Street
Sun, Aug 5, 1p–6p, free
Premarital Counselling August Intake 2018
Tue, Aug 7, 6p–8p, free
4th Annual National Jamaican Patty Day
with a Special Performance by Sean Kingston
1381 East Gunhill Road
Sat, Aug 4, 12p-4p, free
BlackStar2018 Film Festival
Thu, Aug 2–Sun, Aug 5, $
Pretoria, South Africa
The NBA Africa Game
Sun Arena at Time Square
Sat, Aug 4,
11a (ESPN2-In USA)
The First to Die