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Malcolm X Grandson Decries Allegations of Homosexuality, Infidelity in New Biography

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By Nayaba Arinde, Special to the NNPA from the New York Amsterdam News –

Throwing a book at the book, “Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention,” Malcolm Shabazz, grandson of Malcolm X, is unimpressed with Manning Marable’s hefty tome written about his world famous relative.

Marable’s book stirred up a virtual hornet’s nest when he noted that although there was no evidence, there was a rumor Malcolm X was involved in homosexual acts during the years he hustled on the streets before gaining knowledge of self. Marable went further and mentioned talk of infidelity by both Malcolm and his wife, Betty.

“The rapper M1 stated that we are all human beings, and as human beings, we do have flaws and contradictions, but we can’t apply homosexuality to my grandfather,” Shabazz told the New York Amsterdam News. “Homosexuality is against human nature. This is an assassination of his character. Slander. There is no evidence, no facts. They put these claims out there to sell books and to discredit him.”

On Thursday, May 19, the world observed what would have been the 86th birthday of El Hajj Malik El Shabazz, Malcolm X. The annual motorcade of cars and buses traveled from in front of the Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building to the Fern Cliff Cemetery to the gravesite shared by Malcolm X and Betty.

In town for “Malcolm X Week,” Malcolm Shabazz was scheduled to speak at City College at the Guillermo Morales-Assata Shakur Center.

“I haven’t read the entire book; I have read excerpts,” Shabazz said of Marable’s controversial biography, which was released last month, mere days before Marable’s passing.

“This book is about making money,” Shabazz charged, “but I had known the man personally since I was about 16 years old. The three main things that stick out in the book to me is how he emphasized the homosexual acts that [he implied] my grandfather was engaged in with a rich white man during his hustling days; how my grandparents had a loveless relationship and were unfaithful to each other; and how my grandfather may have embellished his criminal lifestyle.

“They can’t apply homosexuality to my grandfather at all. To try and do so does not humanize him, it dehumanizes him. You know, J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI, and the CIA were monitoring my grandfather to put out dirt about him. If they couldn’t find anything, what makes anyone think Manning Marable has? Manning Marable is a better researcher and investigator than the FBI and the CIA? The FBI and the CIA put out tapes on Dr. Martin Luther King’s indiscretions and other leaders. They couldn’t find anything on my grandfather, so we don’t try to create something that wasn’t there.”

Shabazz’s No. 2 point: “My grandparents had a very unique relationship. It was a model for us as a people. They had six children together, so they were obviously intimate and they were mating. I have one daughter, and she is a blessing. Unfortunately, her mother and I don’t have the best relationship. I wish I would have more children with one woman, but to have six children to one woman—that shows the love right there.”

The young man further said, “As for my grandmother, after my grandfather passed, she didn’t get remarried a year or two years later or somewhere down the line. You could raise the question, but how could he even know that? My grandmother never got remarried. No one could ever fill that void, fill those shoes. No one out there can ever claim that they had a relationship with my grandmother other than my grandfather. No one can make the claim.”

And, his third point, Shabazz assserted, “To say that he embellished his criminal lifestyle…if anything, he downplayed his criminal lifestyle. If anybody is writing about themselves, they are not going to tell all the dirt they did.

“My grandfather spoke out against the social ills that led to situations that produced criminal lifestyles. One thing is though, people from all walks of life, from pimps to a drug addict, drug dealer, convicts, they all can all look at him and think, ‘He’s been in my shoes and look where he is now.’ What did he represent to our people? He is an inspiration. He’s a perfect example of the epitome of change.”

While the 27-year-old father of one said he has not spoken to anyone from Marable’s group, “This is the first time I’m speaking about it. There are way more important things to talk about than the Manning Marable book, which is about making money at the end of the day.”

He questioned why the author “hasn’t relied on any information from the Shabazz family, the Little family, personal family friends, supporters or associates—people who are alive today like Earl Grant, [who is] living in California. He was a member of the OAAU. He was right by my grandfather’s second in command. Or A. Peter Bailey, who was also in the OAAU with my grandfather. Where did this information come from? A third or fourth party?”

Citing the Bible and how it has been revised so many times, Shabazz said sometimes with powerful books, “The truth is there to attract you. And, there are falsehoods there to entrap you—and that’s not scholarly.”

“I’ve spoken to Manning Marable several times since I was 16,” Shabazz noted, adding that he never thought Marable would write such a book about his grandfather. In a world where there is sometimes a state of “education versus certification,” Shabazz said “it’s unfortunate” that there are certain “intellectual leaders” who are able to position themselves to be authorities on issues that they have little or no personal knowledge. “Sometimes we have these people who are raised with a silver spoon in their mouths their whole life, but take the position of being a spokesperson for the people or talk about shared experiences that they just haven’t been through,” said Shabazz.

He quoted the eulogy that actor Ossie Davis delivered at his grandfather’s funeral, in which he called Malcolm X “our Black shining prince, our Black shining manhood.” “They took that and put homosexual on top of that,” said Shabazz. “They want to promote homosexuality at the end of the day. When I was at school, people were not openly gay; today, people are saying they are gay in the first grade. It’s really acceptable today. They want to promote that today to our people with one of our greatest leaders. But, there is no proof. There’s no basis, no facts.”

Asked if this is the consensus with the Shabazz family, he replied, “My aunts and my mother are probably more emotional about it than I am. I just want to protect them. That’s their father. They watched him get murdered. They remember that. Everything their father represents is real personal.”

As he finishes his own book, a coming-of-age memoir packed with social political commentary, the man who was 12-years-old when he was charged with setting the fire that killed his grandmother in 1996, said his book will touch on many issues, including previously undisclosed facts.

Shabazz, the father of Ilyasah, his 4-year-old daughter, is about to return to John Jay College to study international criminal justice and government. During his visit to New York last week, he was also scheduled to visit political prisoner Sekou Odinga, who is currently being held at the Shawangunk Correctional Facility.

Accompanying Shabazz will be journalist J.R. Valrey. The Bay Area–based scribe, creative force and producer of “Operation Small Ax,” an Oscar Grant documentary, is coming to the city to promote his fascinating tome, “Block Reportin.” He has assembled a series of his interviews with a host of notable Black figures, ranging from Malcolm Shabazz to former U.S. Congresswoman and former presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney, Mumia Abu Jamal, Ericka Huggins, and Freeway Ricky Ross.

Citing what happened with Denmark Vesey, Shabazz said that when the leader of a would-be revolt among enslaved Africans was killed by white enslavers, “nobody could mourn. Nobody could wear black, nobody could cry, nobody could know where he was buried, because they didn’t want that place to become a place of homage. So, it is important that we visit the gravesites of people, my grandfather,” he said regarding the May 19 annual pilgrimage to the cemetery, which is located half an hour outside of New York City.

“It’s important that we visit the gravesites and honor and keep [our leaders’] legacies alive. It honors their spirits, their sacrifices, and their contributions. It helps us to honor their memory, but always we keep God first.”

“Malcolm X fought for the freedom of African people worldwide,” said Viola Plummer, co-founder of the December 13th Movement. “He taught us to take our struggle to the international arena and strengthen Pan-African unity.”

Announcing an evening presentation, Plummer declared, “The current imperialist attack on Africans at home and abroad must be beaten back politically and economically. Hands off, Libya and Zimbabwe!...”

Surgeon General Benjamin Urges Med School Graduates to be Socially Conscious

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By Ayana Jones, Special to the NNPA from The Philadelphia Tribune –

When Dr. Regina M. Benjamin, Surgeon General of the U.S., addressed more than 400 Drexel University College of Medicine graduates, she encouraged them to make a difference.

Benjamin shared some of her personal experiences during the commencement ceremony held last week at the Kimmel Center for Performing Arts.

While an intern fresh out of medical school, Benjamin was instrumental in getting a resolution passed in the Georgia delegation of the American Medical Association that encouraged medical schools across the country to include sexually transmitted diseases in their core curriculum.

“I learned that one person can make a difference, whether it’s in medical policy or in medical practice,” said Benjamin, who received an honorary doctorate of science during the ceremony.

Prior to becoming surgeon general, Benjamin practiced medicine at the Bayou La Batre Clinic in a small, poor Alabama fishing village, where her patients had problems that went beyond the prescription pad. With that in mind, she became more involved in the community organizations in an effort to obtain services for her patients.

She shared the story of “Donna,” a young mother of two small children, whose seizures returned because the pharmacy switched her brand-name prescription to a generic drug. Donna, who could not read, did not realize that the generic medication had caused her seizures to return.

“You’re going to have patients like Donna and others that will need you to be their voice. They will need you to advocate for them,” Benjamin told the graduates.

With that in mind, she encouraged the graduates to become active in their respective communities.

As surgeon general, Benjamin provides the public with information available on improving their health and oversees the operational command of 6,500 uniformed health officers. Her priorities include childhood obesity, breastfeeding support, smoking, HIV/AIDS, youth violence, behavior health, medicine adherence, and health disparities.

As she addressed the graduates, Benjamin underscored the trust that people hold in physicians.

“There is nothing like the look on a mother’s face when you tell her, her baby is going to be okay – whether her baby is three or 33. Our patients truly trust us. If a woman is being physically abused, she will tell you her deepest, darkest secrets before she tells her family, her priest, her minister or her rabbi – because she trusts you,” Benjamin said.

“A mother will put her baby in your hands – a perfect stranger – because she trusts you. Your hands are often the first hands an infant feels when it enters this earth and sometimes your hands will be the last hands that an elderly person feels when they exit this earth.”

As leaders, Benjamin reminded the graduates they never know who’s watching them. She recalled receiving an envelope of letters from second graders who were inspired to become doctors, after they read a news article about her.

Benjamin is the former chair of the Federation of State Medical Boards of the United States. In 1995, she became the first physician under age 40 and the first African American woman to be elected to the American Medical Association board of trustees. In 2002, she was named president of the Medical Association of the State of Alabama – the first African American female president of a state medical society.

During the ceremony, former U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter was presented with an honorary doctorate of Humane Letters for his advocacy on behalf of the people of Pennsylvania and his contribution to the advancement of biomedical research and the improvement of the health of the nation. As ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health, and Human Services and Education, Specter was instrumental in doubling the budget for the National Institutes of Health and increasing funding for education.

Specter encouraged the graduates to become political advocates around healthcare issues.

“In order to be successful at delivering healthcare, you must be engaged not only on the bench in the laboratory or at the bedside with the patient, but you must also engage in the political process,” said Specter. “To be successful we have to maintain great programs - Medicare, Medicaid, embryonic stem cell research, NIH funding and that requires political activism.”

With a total of 443 students, the commencement marked the graduation of the largest class of medical students in Drexel’s history. According to Drexel officials, the university has the largest medical student enrollment of any private medical school in the U.S., educating one in every 71 new doctors in the nation.

Contact Tribune Staff Writer Ayana Jones at (215) 893-5747 or AJones@phillytrib.com.

Fight for Justice Continues for African-American, Hispanic Public School Custodians in NYC

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Special to the NNPA from thedefendersonline.com –

New York, NY – Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued an order requiring a federal trial court to further review an agreement that settled an employment discrimination lawsuit against the New York City Board of Education. The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) represents 10 African-American and Hispanic public school custodians who were adversely affected by the board’s discrimination and benefited from the settlement agreement.

This lawsuit, United States v. Board of Education, began in 1996, when the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) sued the board for employment discrimination in recruiting and selecting school custodians. African Americans, Hispanics, Asian Americans, and women were disproportionately excluded by the Board’s hiring process for permanent positions. As a result, most could only obtain provisional employment. Provisional custodians do the same work as permanent custodians and are similarly qualified, but they lack many of the job benefits that permanent custodians enjoy. For instance, they can be fired at any time and have no ability to obtain transfers and promotions.

In 1999, during President Clinton’s Administration, DOJ entered into a settlement with the board, which agreed to give permanent positions with retroactive seniority to those minority and female provisional custodians affected by the discriminatory hiring practices. After a group of white male custodians challenged the lawfulness of the settlement, DOJ proposed revisions, during President George W. Bush’s Administration, that would have dramatically limited the remedies it previously negotiated. LDF intervened at the request of African-American and Hispanic custodians, whose remedies would have been reduced by DOJ’s change in position.

A federal trial court upheld most of the relief awarded to LDF’s custodian clients under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. In its recent ruling, the Court of Appeals sent the case back to the trial court and directed it to apply the Supreme Court’s 2009 decision in Ricci v. DeStefano to determine the lawfulness of the settlement. In Ricci, a narrow majority of the Supreme Court created a new legal standard that places additional hurdles in front of employers seeking to fulfill their obligations under this nation’s core antidiscrimination law.

“We are disappointed that the Court of Appeals did not see fit to bring this long-running dispute to an end,” said John Payton, LDF President and Director-Counsel. “Nevertheless, we are confident that the trial court will ultimately uphold the discrimination remedies for African-American and Hispanic employees who were unfairly denied key job benefits.”

Civil Rights Groups File Motion to Defend Law Ending Prison-Based Gerrymandering

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Voters, Community Groups Intervening in Suit to Ensure All New Yorkers Equally Represented in State and Local Legislatures

Special to the NNPA from thedefendersonline.com –

Albany, NY – Last week, top civil rights organizations filed a motion in New York Supreme Court asking to intervene to help defend New York’s new law allocating people in prison to their home communities for redistricting and reapportionment.

The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the Brennan Center for Justice, the Center for Law and Social Justice, Dmos, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, the New York Civil Liberties Union, and the Prison Policy Initiative, representing 15 rural and urban voters and three statewide nonprofit organizations, are seeking to defend the new law against a legal challenge brought by New York State Senator Elizabeth Little and others. The lawsuit, titled Little v. LATFOR, names the New York State Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment (LATFOR) and the Department of Correctional Services (DOCS) as defendants.

The new law requires that incarcerated persons be counted as residents of their home communities, in accordance with the New York State Constitution’s provision that incarceration does not change one’s residence. The legislation applies to state and local legislative redistricting, and would not affect federal funding distributions.

Previously, legislative districts with prisons were credited with the population of the disenfranchised people temporarily incarcerated there. This practice, often called prison-based gerrymandering, gives extra influence to voters who live in the district with the most prisons, and dilutes the votes of every resident of a district with no (or fewer) prisons. The new law corrects this bias and assures that all communities in New York have equal representation in our government.

The most dramatic examples of prison-based gerrymandering are in upstate counties and cities. For example, half of a Rome City Council ward is incarcerated, giving the residents of that ward twice the influence of other city residents. Recognizing the distorting effect of prison-based gerrymandering at the local level, 13 New York counties with large prisons – including four in Senator Little’s district – have historically exercised their discretion to remove the prison populations prior to redistricting.

The new law brings consistency to redistricting in New York, prohibiting the state and all local governments from giving extra political influence to districts that contain prisons. Sen. Little’s lawsuit seeks to have the new legislation struck down, the effect of which would require legislative districts – most notably her own, which contains 12,000 incarcerated persons – to include prison populations in their apportionment counts to the detriment of all other districts without prisons. Returning to this practice would not only unfairly inflate the districts of those with prisons at the expense of those without but also violate the New York State Constitution.

The organizations seeking to intervene include:

*The NAACP New York State Conference, the state-level body in New York of the NAACP, a membership organization dedicated to protecting and enhancing the civil rights of African Americans and other people of color. The Conference has approximately 90,000 members statewide. “Persons incarcerated in correctional institutions do not participate in the life of the town or county where they are incarcerated,” said Hazel Dukes, president of the NAACP New York State Conference. “Sen. Little and her co-plaintiffs are seeking to reverse one of New York’s most important civil rights advances in the previous decade, which would unfairly dilute the voting rights of New Yorkers in every corner of the state.”

*Common Cause/NY, the New York branch of Common Cause, a nationwide, nonpartisan organization, with 20,000 members in New York State, that advocates for honest, accountable, and responsive government. “The way legislative district lines are drawn impacts citizens’ ability to participate effectively in our democracy,” said Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause / NY. “Prison-based gerrymandering is a fundamentally unfair practice whose end was met with overwhelming applause. Voters in every region of the state would be hurt by a repeal of the new law.”

*Voices of Community Activists and Leaders – New York, or VOCAL -NY, a statewide grassroots membership organization building power among low-income people who are living with and affected by HIV/AIDS, drug use and incarceration, along with the organizations that serve them, to create healthy and just communities. “Many of our members live in communities that are heavily impacted by the criminal justice system and have a disproportionate number of residents sent to state prison,” said Ramon Velasquez, a VOCAL-NY leader. “Every district that has fewer prisons than Senator Little’s district loses representation from prison-based gerrymandering, but the districts that see many of their members counted in prison lose even more.”

President Obama's Speech on Middle East Draws Mixed Reviews

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Special to the NNPA from the AFRO-American newspapers –

President Obama’s May 19th speech on the Middle East garnered a mixed reaction at home and abroad, with the president’s claim it could be time for an “Arab Spring” being met with caution.

In his speech, Obama spoke of the people in the Middle East and North Africa moving toward claiming a free life of their own, in concert with Western values.

“I believe now that we have a stake not just in the stability of nations, but in the self-determination of individuals,” Obama said. “The status quo is not sustainable. Societies held together by fear and repression may offer the illusion of stability for a time, but they are built upon fault lines that will eventually tear asunder.”

Obama’s words were met with optimism by Council of American-Islamic Relations Executive Director Nihad Awad who said it is “significant” that Obama supports the freedom movements that have taken place in the Middle East and North Africa in recent months.

“We appreciate President Obama setting the right tone by applauding the recent freedom movements across the Middle East and North Africa, but the true test of our nation's commitment to freedom and human dignity will be in translating this speech into actions and concrete policies,” Awad said in a statement.

Part of Obama’s speech focused on the conflict between Israel and Palestine. Obama would like Israel to return to using the 1967 borders before the Six-Day War in which Israel invaded East Jerusalem. However, many conservatives have shot down that theory fiercely; including Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who opposed the Obama approach in an Oval Office meeting with the president.

According to The Washington Post, Netanyahu told Obama that the country “cannot go back to the 1967 lines, these lines are indefensible. They don’t take into account certain demographic changes that have taken place on the ground over 44 years.”

Possible GOP candidates for president also slammed Obama’s speech. Former Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Rick Santorum characterized Obama’s speech as an incoherent and inconsistent policy for U.S. in the Middle East. The Obama policy, he said, has allowed dictators like Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Libyan leader Muammar Gaddaffi “to remain in power, while fostering overthrow of our allies in Egypt.”

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