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'Black Panther Party' Film Seeks Wider Audience

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By Jazelle Hunt
NNPA Washington Correspondent

WASHINGTON (NNPA) – The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, the first feature-length film to focus on the origin and downfall of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense is making waves in the film community. It’s been a breakout entry at the Sundance Film Festival, and has already won an award at the Pan African Film & Arts Festival in Los Angeles.

But for acclaimed director Stanley Nelson, the real triumph will be in getting the film to the masses.

“We’re going to film festivals…and getting great, great, great responses. But one of the things that we feel is that film festivals reach a certain segment of the population,” says Nelson, the filmmaker behind Freedom Riders, The Murder of Emmett Till, and other notable documentaries on the African American experience.

“Another segment of the population doesn’t go to film festivals, and those people are the people we want to reach in the theatrical release.”

Thanks to financial backing from PBS, the film will have a theatrical release in more than a dozen cities across the country this September. Still, the documentary team hopes to raise additional funds through donations website, Kickstarter (kck.st/1IjSI1V). These funds will support the film’s expansion via broad advertising, and public appearances and events with the filmmakers and Black Panther Party leaders.

“Our hope is that if we raise a bit more money…as we go through these [13] cities, if we’re successful and recoup our investment, then we’ll just put that money into going to more cities,” Nelson explains. “Our goal is not to make a profit, our goal is to get people out and have as many people see it as we possibly can.”

Other documentaries and movies have either focused on Black Panther figures such as Kwame Toure and Assata Shakur, or have explored the Panthers as one part of a larger picture. The Black Panther Party focuses solely on the organization in its entirety and weaves together a variety of voices, from Party martyrs to those tasked with their destruction. The film also boasts original content from notables such as Kathleen Cleaver, Elaine Brown, Henry Douglas, Elbert “Big Man” Howard, and more.

“One of the things we tried to do in this film is make sure it’s exciting and we tell a new story to everybody,” both the well-informed and the newcomers, Nelson says. “Some of the great things that have happened in the screenings is, people who were Panthers themselves come up to us and say, ‘You know, I was in the middle of it. I didn’t know half the stuff that was in the film.’ There’s a lot of new information.”

Donations through the Kickstarter come with interesting perks, ranging from social media shout-outs for donations as small as $5, to T-shirts, tickets to screenings, autographed photos, and more. For those who cannot donate, Nelson recommends sharing the Kickstarter link with others (kickstarter.com/projects/blackpanthers/the-black-panthers-theatrical-release).

New York, Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco, Berkeley, Chicago, Boston, Portland, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Atlanta, Seattle and Washington, D.C. are the 13 initial cities slated for wide release this fall. The film will also be screened at several film festivals around the country throughout the summer. More information on these screenings can be found on www.TheBlackPanthers.com.

Most schools teach little to nothing about the political and social movement launched by the Black Panthers. And in the midst of today’s movements against injustice and discrimination – from police violence to reproductive rights – the film is well timed.

“We want a lot of people to see the film, especially young people. It’s not only a film about the Black Panthers, but the Black Panthers represent young people who really became involved in changing the world,” Nelson says. “Right or wrong, they did feel like they were changing the world. And we want young people to get that message.”

Nigerian Girls Forgive But Can’t Forget

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Organization Helps Those Who Escaped from Boko Haram

Special to the NNPA from The Washington Informer

With a slow but steady gait, a petite young woman approached a microphone with her audience expecting to hear her share a frightening tale of being kidnapped by terrorists — and how she escaped.

But instead, Patience, 19, a former schoolgirl in Chibok, Nigeria, who managed to get away from the terrorist group Boko Haram after they took over her school on April 14, 2014, broke out in song. “Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now I’m found, was blind but now I see,” she sang.

And with that, Patience, one of 10 girls who have been attending school in the U.S., returned to her seat. All 10 continue to look for ways to heal wounds, emotional and physical, that still plague them after their harrowing experience.

The program, held at Howard University’s Andrew Rankin Memorial Chapel in Northwest on Tuesday, April 14, focused on the one-year anniversary of the abducted Nigerian schoolgirls by Boko Haram.

But its organizers said they also wanted to bring more attention to the plethora of challenges that continue to trouble those girls who escaped. In order to tell the story of what happened to the girls, the audience, which totaled over 50 in number, watched an animated cartoon told from the perspective of the girls who escaped.

“Many of the girls have since lost their homes (in Nigeria) and family members at the hands of terrorists,” said Emmanuel Ogebe, a human rights attorney who has helped place several of the girls back in U.S.-based schools.

“Patience was the first of several girls with whom I met after their escape,” he said. “For her, it was a long crawl to freedom. But somehow she had the courage to take the first step. She recently lost her father who was being held in a refugee camp.”

“In the last eight months, we’ve been able to place 10 girls in schools in America. But they need so many things — and no donations from leading organizations have come in so far to help us. We’re a grassroots organization and we remain committed to our goal,” Ogebe said.

Ogebe added that while funds are needed in order to provide food, lodging, clothes and school supplies for the girls, one of the most difficult challenges has been securing visas.

“We have had great difficulty obtaining visas from the U.S. Embassy — sometimes we’ve had to pay several times. One girl had hoped to attend school here in the U.S. but couldn’t because we were unable to get a visa for her.”

One of the organizers of the program said she, along with a small delegation, planned to meet on Wednesday, April 15 with members of the Congressional Black Caucus in order to secure their support in getting visas for the girls.

“These girls were targeted because of the narrow belief that girls should not be educated in certain countries,” said Marcia L. Dyson, Ph.D., founder of the Women’s Global Initiative.

Jamaican Teen Stopped from Joining Islamic State

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By Bert Wilkinson
Special to the NNPA from the New York Amsterdam News

Of all the leaders in the 15-nation Caribbean trade bloc, Kamla Persad-Bissessar of Trinidad would appear to have an obsession with terrorist organizations in the Middle East and their impact on the rest of the world, vulnerable youth in particular.

As head of government of Trinidad, at least until general elections, which are expected soon, she is the leader in the bloc with responsibility for matters such as energy and security, so it was no surprise that she led off discussions on the issues when regional leaders met with a visiting President Barack Obama in Jamaica last week.

But just a few days after the third summit meeting between Obama and bloc leaders ended in Jamaica, police in Suriname reported Sunday that they had barred a Jamaican youth from entering the country because they had credible intelligence he was transiting the country to Turkey via a nonstop flight from Suriname to the Netherlands.

The unidentified 16-year-old youth was reportedly on his way to link up with the Islamic State group, the terrorist organization that says it is fighting to drive the West from the Middle East and its affairs once and for all. The West, on the other hand argues, that Islamic State wants to spread and impose Sharia law on a region that needs to democratize and create opportunities for women and others.

A statement from the Surinamese police administration said that the teenager had arrived on a flight at the Johan Adolf Pengel International Airport and was planning to fly to Turkey by way of connections in Amsterdam.

“He was denied entry to Suriname because we received information from a regional intelligence service that he wanted to join ISIS,” the statement said, boasting that his entry denial “sends a clear signal that Suriname is doing everything so the region does not become involved in terrorism.”

It praised the level of intelligence cooperation between Jamaican police, regional intelligence systems and sleuths in Suriname, noting that, in the end, the country’s attorney general, military police and other security agencies made the decision to repatriate the youth back to Jamaica on the next available flight. The country’s national security minister and other officials have yet to respond to the latest developments. The ministry had denied knowledge of any Jamaicans lining up to join Islamic State and related terror networks.

The Miami, Fla.-based U.S. Southern Military Command had only recently warned regional governments that it had suspected approximately 100 nationals from several Caricom countries and northern South America of enlisting and now planning to return to the region, where they could pose new security threats.

It is known that several mostly Afro-Muslim converts in Trinidad have already left from the Middle East. Their stories were widely reported in local media earlier this year.

Concerned Black Men National CEO Steps Down

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Special to the NNPA from the Afro-American Newspaper

George L. Garrow Jr., chief executive officer of Concerned Black Men National, resigned from his position after 17 years. According to a letter he wrote to staff, board, and selected friends, his last day in office was on April 10.

Concerned Black Men is a national organization that develops strategic interventions for African American children and parents, and in particular, Black men and boys. The organization’s vision is to ensure that every child has a responsible and caring adult in his or her life, filling the void of positive Black male role models in many communities. They provide mentors and programs that affirm the care and discipline that all youth need, while providing opportunities for academic and career enrichment.

“I am not retiring,” Garrow told the AFRO on April 13 in an email. “I will continue to provide ‘thought leadership’ nationally on developing positive outcomes for Black men and boys. I will do that through speaking engagements, consulting, media appearances, writing, and other opportunities. I also will remain available to help CBM National and new Executive Director Leroy Hughes pursue this important work.”

Throughout his work with the organization, Garrow helped develop Young Males of Color initiatives, assisted with developing programs for parents to help them create stronger families and healthier children, and many other programs and initiatives.

He currently sits as vice chair of the Board of the District of Columbia Children’s Trust Fund, a nonprofit focused on preventing child abuse and neglect through education and advocacy. He is a member of the Coordinating and Steering committees for the 2025 Network for Black Men and Boys, a national movementbuilding strategy focused on developing positive life outcomes for Black males. He is also a member of the Black Male Achievement advisory board for the Council of Great City Schools, an association representing more than 1800 urban school districts in the country.

“Our communities need to bring long-term strategic interventions to bear in the lives of children, especially Black boys,” he said, referring to the need to support and build institutions from a national perspective. “It’s our best hope to transform the lives of African American men and boys.”

Black Women Face Pay Gap

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By Freddie Allen
NNPA Senior Washington Correspondent

WASHINGTON (NNPA) – Black women working full time earned just 64 cents for every dollar White men made in 2013, according to a new report by the Center for American Progress (CAP).

Researchers with CAP, a nonpartisan education and policy group, released the issue brief that reported that even though the types of jobs and the number of hours that women worked can affect the wage gap, “structural and economic realities that limit women’s abilities to compete with men in the labor force” also contribute to the pay disparities. It noted that Black women working several part-time jobs to make ends meet may be falling further behind.

Although White women working full time also earned less than White men (78 cents for every dollar), women of color often earned because they were stuck in low-paying jobs, worked fewer hours and had greater responsibilities as the primary caregiver in their households.

More than half of all Black children grow up in single-parent homes with their mothers. Black men raise children alone in 9 percent of single-parent households.

Black women are also less likely to graduate from high school or attend college than White women. “This places African American and Hispanic women at a disadvantage from the moment they enter the workforce, creating major structural barriers to entering top-earning professional fields,” stated the report.

Nearly 60 percent of Black women worked in either the service industry, sales or office jobs.

“Jobs in industries such as food service—where women of color are concentrated—are often hourly jobs in which many workers are part time and schedules are subject to cancellation or alteration on short notice,” stated the CAP report.

A recent report on the effects of irregular work schedules by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), a Washington, D.C.-based think tank focused on low- and middle-income workers, noted that employers in the retail and wholesale trade and services industries, such as hospitality and leisure, professional and business services are more likely to hire part-time workers and adjust their schedules without warning to meet immediate customer demands.

“Moreover, because precarious employment is concentrated among relatively lower-income earners, it not only exacerbates growing income inequality stifling potential economic expansion and underutilizing potential available labor input, but takes a toll on the wellbeing of working families,” the report explained.

Workers who made less than $22,500 annually were more likely to work irregular schedules than workers who earned more.

The EPI report said that, “For workers with significant caregiving or financial commitments, having weeks with as few as zero hours and days when there may be either no work or short notice to arrive at work, may make balancing work with life stressful, intolerable, or even impossible, forcing them to choose between participating in the paid labor force, unemployment, or withdrawal from the labor force.”

Just 35 percent of Black women were employed in higher-paying management, professional and related jobs compared to 48 percent of Asian women and 43 percent of White women, according to the CAP report.

EPI researchers also reported that 43 percent of workers may have less than a week’s advanced notice of their hours. Another 8 percent indicated that they knew their work schedules one to two weeks in advance had and 6 percent had two to four weeks.

“Employees who work irregular shift times, in contrast with those with more standard, regular shift times, experience greater work-family conflict, and sometimes experience greater work stress, stated the report and that work-family conflict is in turn associated with lower job and life satisfaction,” the EPI study said.

The CAP report on the race and gender wage gap said that expanding policies like paid family, medical leave and paid sick days, and strengthening equal pay laws would help women of color remain in the labor market and protect them from racial and gender discrimination.

Milia Fisher, a research associate with the Women’s Initiative at CAP and the author of the report, wrote that public policy alone will not close the gender wage gap for women of color.

Fisher concluded: “The United States needs to address both the structural drivers behind the pay gap and the persistent cultural biases against women and people of color if it wants to truly affect change for these populations.”

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BVN National News Wire