September 12, 2013
By James Wright
Special to the NNPA from The Washington Informer
Friends and family members honored the work of the District’s coordinator for the 1963 March on Washington and the city’s first delegate in the 20th century to represent the nation’s capital in the U.S. Congress.
The Rev. Walter Fauntroy, who served as the District’s delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives from 1971-1991, received recognition for his civil rights work in the city and his political impact on Capitol Hill, during a tribute hosted by District attorney Johnny Barnes and former Ward 6 advisory neighborhood commissioner Keith Silver at Tony Cheng’s Restaurant in Northwest on Thursday, Aug. 22. Barnes, 64, said Fauntroy has always been more than generous when it comes to helping others.
“He lived his life in sacrifice so that we could live in comfort,” Barnes told about 90 guests, who came out on a warm and sultry evening to honor the man of the hour, prior to the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.
Silver, a resident of Northwest, said that Fauntroy didn’t attend the tribute because he’s traveling overseas. However, Fauntroy’s wife, Dorothy, and son, Marvin attended the event along with his brother, Billy, and nephew, Michael Fauntroy, a nationally-known political scientist.
Fauntroy, 80, worked with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and other civil rights leader to host the historic 1963 March on Washington on Aug. 28, 1963. He worked on breaking down racial barriers for black District residents in the 1960s and served as the leader of the Washington bureau of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
A graduate of the segregated Dunbar High School in Northwest in 1951, Fauntroy received a bachelor’s degree from Virginia Union University in Richmond., Va., and the Yale University Divinity School in New Haven, Conn. He is the retired pastor of the New Bethel Baptist Church in Northwest.
Fauntroy, as a delegate, successfully worked to get the city limited self-governance and a congressionally-passed U.S. constitutional amendment to admit the District as the 51st state. He also played a key role in the effective campaign to have the U.S. government prohibit investment in apartheid South Africa in the 1980s.
Fauntroy ran unsuccessfully for mayor of the District of Columbia in 1990.
D.C. Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), a 2014 candidate for mayor, welcomed the crowd to Tony Cheng’s, which is located in his ward. He described Fauntroy as being a champion of the city and of the country. In essence, Evans said that Fauntroy’s simply a great leader.
Darrel Thompson, deputy chief of staff to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and a possible candidate for the Ward 6 D.C. Council seat in 2014, said that District residents owe Fauntroy a tremendous debt of gratitude.
Landen McCall, principal and CEO of Bryant Mitchell, PLLC in Northwest, cried when he talked about how Fauntroy helped him to move forward in his life.
“Walter Fauntroy co-signed a loan to help me finish my education,” said McCall, 66. “All that I have become is because I was standing on Walter Fauntroy’s shoulders. He changed the paradigm of my life and he made a difference in my life.”
Fauntroy’s friends such as radio talk show host Joe Madison, comedian and civil rights activist Dick Gregory, D.C. Council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8), National Congress of Black Women National Chair E. Faye Williams, United Black Fund President Barry LeNoir and Anacostia Coordinating Council Executive Director Philip Pannell attended the evening event. Barnes challenged everyone who showed up to help him with a special project for Fauntroy.
“I would like to establish a fellowship chair in the name of Walter Fauntroy,” Barnes said. “We need to support people who can study his life and carry out the work of Walter Fauntroy.”
September 05, 2013
City News Service
In a step in the fight against sex trafficking, Los Angeles County Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Don Knabe are calling on state legislators to dramatically stiffen penalties for adults convicted of soliciting sex from children. There have been numerous efforts over the past several years to combat the growing scourge of sex trafficking, but the majority of those efforts at the local and state level have focused either on the pimps who exploit the girls, or on providing treatment and help for the victims. While these efforts are to be applauded, there is a loophole that must be closed with regard to the so-called “Johns” – whose punishment should fit their crime, according to a board motion by Ridley-Thomas and Knabe.
Every day, children – primarily girls – as young as 10-years old are being coerced and sold into prostitution in Los Angeles County and in counties throughout the state. According to experts in the field, the average life expectancy of these children once they enter the sex trade is seven years, due to the ravages of HIV/AIDS and the violence to which they are regularly subjected. The men who solicit sex from children, however, often are not arrested and prosecuted, and even when they are, typically face only a proverbial slap on the wrist. But this is not consensual sex; it is child molestation and rape, and the punishment should fit the crime. Only the state legislature, however, can mandate criminal penalties.
The motion, presented Tuesday September 3, authored by Supervisors Ridley-Thomas and Knabe, asks lawmakers to amend the state penal code to make paying for sex a felony, rather than a misdemeanor, if the victim is a minor. It also requires the “customers” to register as sex offenders, and increases the fine from $1,000 to $10,000. And it calls on law enforcement to refocus its priorities and actively arrest and prosecute these predators.
“I am proud of the work Los Angeles County has done over the past 18 months to bring awareness to the horrific crime of child sex trafficking,” said Knabe. “However, in addition to doing all we can to protect the young victims, we must aggressively penalize those who solicit girls for sex and ensure they are the ones prosecuted, not the victims.”
In addition, the motion calls on the board to support federal legislation currently under consideration that would strengthen federal laws against child sex trafficking.
Chairman Ridley-Thomas emphasized that all levels of government and law enforcement must work together to protect these children, mainly girls, from being exploited and terrorized. While children cannot legally consent to sex, they are often charged with a prostitution related offense and become enmeshed in the criminal justice system.
“This is not a victimless crime,” said Chairman Ridley-Thomas. “These are children who are being exploited for the enjoyment of unscrupulous men, and it is our duty to protect them. To that end, California should step up and create the toughest laws in the nation that will either deter or, if necessary, punish those who purchase children.”
August 15, 2013
By TOM VERDIN
California on Monday August 12 became the first state to enshrine certain rights for transgender K-12 students in state law, requiring public schools to allow those students access to whichever restroom and locker room they want.
Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown announced that he had signed AB1266, which also will allow transgender students to choose whether they want to play boys’ or girls’ sports. The new law gives students the right “to participate in sex-segregated programs, activities and facilities” based on their self-perception and regardless of their birth gender.
Supporters said it will help reduce bullying and discrimination against transgender students. It comes as the families of transgender students have been waging local battles with school districts across the country over what restrooms and locker rooms their children can use, disagreements that have sometimes landed in court.
The National Center for Lesbian Rights and the ACLU of California were among the bill's supporters. Detractors, including some Republican lawmakers, said allowing students of one gender to use facilities intended for the other could invade the other students' privacy.
Such fears are overblown, said Carlos Alcala, spokesman for the bill’s author, Democratic Assemblyman Tom Ammiano of San Francisco. In general, he said, transgender students are trying to blend in and are not trying to call attention to themselves.
“They’re not interested in going into bathrooms and flaunting their physiology,” Alcala said.
He also noted that the state’s largest school district, Los Angeles Unified, has had such a policy for nearly a decade and reported no problems. San Francisco schools also have had a policy similar to the new law, and numerous other districts signed on in support of the legislation.
“Clearly, there are some parents who are not going to like it,” Alcala said. “We are hopeful school districts will work with them so no students are put in an uncomfortable position.”
Brown signed the bill, which amends the state Education Code, without comment. Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, said the law “puts California at the forefront of leadership on transgender rights.”
The Gay-Straight Alliance Network said two states, Massachusetts and Connecticut, have statewide policies granting the same protections, but California is the first to put them into statute and require them in all school districts.
A Sacramento-based conservative organization that opposed the bill said previous state law was sufficient to address the concerns of transgender students and their families. Before Brown signed AB1266, state law already prohibited schools from discriminating against students based on their gender identity.
Karen England, executive director of Capitol Resource Institute, criticized the Legislature and governor for spreading “San Francisco values” throughout the state.
“The answer is not to force something this radical on every single grade in California,” she said.
She said the new law does not require students to prove they have a gender-identity issue, but rather requires school administrators to rely on students’ opinions of themselves. England also noted that there is no accurate way to gauge the effect of such policies because no uniform data on student or parent complaints is being collected.
“What about the right to privacy of a junior high school girl wanting to go to the bathroom and having some privacy, or after PE showering and having to worry about being in the locker room with a boy?” she said.
She predicted school districts will face lawsuits from parents of other children who feel their rights have been violated by the new law.
Hours after the governor’s signing was announced, a conservative legal group based in Sacramento issued a news release soliciting plaintiffs for a future lawsuit against the law, which will take effect Jan. 1. The Pacific Justice Institute says AB1266 has the potential to raise privacy questions and lead to a type of reverse discrimination if it prevents students from making a sports team “because someone from the opposite gender took their place.”
Assemblymember Chris Holden’s (D-Pasadena) bill to expand on the state’s iHub innovation network by creating economic opportunities for pioneering start-up companies has been approved by the state Legislature and now goes to the governor for signature.
“We want to put California in a position to cultivate and incubate young companies that are developing new technologies that will promote conservation and other public policy goals,” explained Holden.
“Establishing the iHub Accelerator Fund will allow the state to compete for grant funding from the federal government, private sector and foundations to encourage innovation.”
• Establishes the California Innovation Hub (iHub) Program into law.
• Creates the iHub Accelerator Fund in the state treasury to accept private sector funding to operate the program.
• AB 250 will expand the development of iHubs across California and develop more economic opportunities for start-up companies, promoting greater collaboration between innovators and venture capital investment within the state.
• AB 250 was passed with overwhelming, bi-partisan support in both the Senate and Assembly. Governor Brown now has 30 days to sign the measure.
August 08, 2013
By Freddie Allen
NNPA Washington Correspondent
The unemployment rate for Blacks fell from 13.7 percent in June to 12.6 percent in July, the lowest jobless rate for Blacks since January 2009, according to the latest jobs report from the Labor Department.
Although economists warn against being too optimistic about one month’s jobs numbers, some economists found it unusual for the Black unemployment rate to fall more than a percentage point from June to July, as the jobless rate for Whites remained stagnant at 6.6 percent.
The unemployment rate for Black men over 20 was 13 percent in June and 12.5 percent in July. The jobless rate for White men over 20 was 6.2 percent in June and rose slightly to 6.3 percent in July.
The unemployment rate for Black women over 20 plummeted from 12 percent in June to 10.5 percent in July. The jobless rate for White women over 20 dipped from 6 percent to 5.8 percent over the same time period.
The national unemployment rate fell from 7.6 percent in June to 7.4 percent in July and the economy added 162,000 jobs. Analysts at the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank focused on the needs of low- and middle-income workers, estimate that it will take at least six years to reach full employment at this rate of job creation.
Despite falling more than a percentage point, the jobless rate for Blacks is still nearly double the unemployment rate for Whites, a troubling statistic that has persisted for 50 years. According to EPI, “The average unemployment rate for blacks over the past 50 years, at 11.6 percent, is considerably higher than the average rate during recessions of 6.7 percent. In only one year (1969), did the black unemployment rate dip slightly below the recession average to 6.4 percent. Thus, over the last 50 years, the black unemployment rate has been at a level typical for a recession or higher.”
William Darity, a professor of economics and African and African American studies at Duke University in Durham, N.C. said, “The racial unemployment gap is a direct index of discrimination.”
In an effort to combat the inherent discrimination that exists in hiring and employment practices in the job market, Darity has long advocated for a federally-funded program called the “National Investment Employment Corps,” that guarantees a job for every American 18 years or older. Darity said that the federal job guarantee proposal doesn’t presume that the reason why so many Black people are out of work is because there is something wrong with them.
“The major reason that people are out of work is because there is not enough jobs out there,” said Darity. “If one group has the capacity to get privileged access to the available jobs, they will do it and that’s what is happening.”
Funding the job guarantee program would require shifting resources from other anti-poverty programs, programs that Darity and others believe won’t be as necessary as people start earning living wages on jobs that would address the “nation’s physical and human infrastructure, from building roads, bridges, dams and schools, to staffing high quality day care.”
Darity said that supporters for the National Investment Employment Corps drawing inspiration from American history. The Works Progress Administration, introduced during the Great Depression, provided more than 8 million jobs from 1935 to 1943, building bridges, parks, and schools across the nation.
“We know how to do this, we’ve done it before in the U.S.,” said Darity. The WPA program even funded jobs for music, media and literacy projects for artists. “Under circumstances where people are disturbed about the idea of paying people not to work, why don’t we introduce a program that pays people to work?”
According to Darity, the federally-funded job guarantee program has received support from both ends of the political spectrum and Rep. Jon Conyers (D-Mich.) introduced a bill that could jumpstart talks about the program in March 2013.
Darity said: “There is a potential appeal of this kind of policy that bridges the political divide, but people simply are not talking about it very much.”
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