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Gun Violence Leading Cause of Death of Black Children

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By Freddie Allen
NNPA Washington Correspondent

WASHINGTON (NNPA) – Gun violence is the leading cause of death among Black children and teens, according to a new report by the Children’s Defense Fund, a nonprofit, child advocacy group.

The report titled, “Protect Children, Not Guns 2013,” painted grim picture of the national gun violence epidemic that is the second-leading cause of death among all children ages 1-19. Only car accidents claim the lives of more children and teenagers than guns.

According to the report, White children were nearly three times more likely to be killed in a car accident than by a gun. In stark contrast, “Black children and teens were twice as likely to be killed by a gun than to be killed in a car accident.” Examining the most recent data available, the CDF study reported that 18,270 children and teens were killed or injured by guns in 2010.

“Children and teens in America are 17 times more likely to die from gun violence than their peers in other high-income countries,” stated the CDF report.

Despite the claims of pro-gun advocates, having a gun in the home does not make kids safer. In some cases, those homes are even more dangerous, because guns are present.

“A gun in the home makes the likelihood of homicide three times higher, suicide three to five times higher, and accidental death four times higher,” stated the report.

The CDF report continued: “More than half of youth who committed suicide with a gun obtained the gun from their home, usually a parent’s gun.”

In the last 50 years, White children and teenagers accounted for 53 percent of the gun deaths, and Black children and teenagers accounted for 36 percent.

Yet, looking at the gun deaths in 2010 alone, 45 percent of gun deaths and 46 percent of gun injuries were among Black children and teens, according to the report, even though they account for only 15 percent of all children and teens living in the United States. Nearly 2,700 children died from gun violence that year.

The CDF report also challenged the perceived power of the National Rifle Association, a group founded in 1871 that promotes gun ownership, marksmanship and self-defense training in the United States. According to the report, the NRA represents a small segment of all gun owners, which may show why the National Rifle Association’s hard-line stance on gun control policies often contradicts that of most gun owners.

The report said that the NRA claims nearly 5 million members, but somewhere between 52 million and 68 million adults living in the United States own the roughly 310 million guns in circulation. That means that the NRA represents less than 10 percent of all adult gun owners in the United States.

In the wake of last December 14 school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. that claimed the lives of 20 first-graders and six school staff, even a majority of NRA members (74 percent) were in favor of expanded background checks, at time when NRA leadership fiercely opposed any bills that would do so.

The report offered a number of solutions to address the gun violence that children and teens face growing up in America, including universal background checks that cover sales on the Internet and at gun shows, limits on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, boycotting products that glamorize violence and “supporting non-violent conflict resolution in our homes, schools, congregations and communities.”

Writing in the report, Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF), implored parents, families and friends mentors community stakeholders to pressure Congress to support common sense gun safety and gun violence prevention measures for the nation, including consumer safety standards for all guns, public funding for gun violence prevention research, and resources and authority for law enforcement agencies to properly enforce gun laws.

“Parents, remove guns from your home and be vigilant about where your children play. Boycott products that glamorize violence,” wrote Edelman.

Edelman continued: “The overwhelming majority of Americans agree we can and must do better. Polls show the vast majority of Americans, gun owners and non-gun owners, Republicans and Democrats support universal background checks as a first step to making America safer for our children and for all of us. Together we can—and must—do better right now. So many child lives depend on it.”

Black Unemployment Rate Lowest Since 2009

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By Freddie Allen
NNPA Washington Correspondent

WASHINGTON (NNPA) – 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.”

Blacks Attend Underfunded 'Racially Separate' Colleges

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By Freddie Allen
NNPA Washington Correspondent

WASHINGTON (NNPA) – Despite high test scores and access to higher education, Black students often attend poorly-funded colleges and receive certificates instead of earning degrees, according to a recent report.

The report titled “Separate and Unequal,” by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, found that, “White students are increasingly concentrated today, relative to population share, in the nation’s 468 most well-funded, selective four-year colleges and universities while African-American and Hispanic students are more and more concentrated in the 3,250 least well-funded, open-access, two- and four-year colleges.”

According to the report, Black freshman enrollment increased by 73 percent compared to 15 percent for Whites freshman from 1995-2009, but 72 percent of Black college students attend resource-bare schools.

“The American postsecondary system increasingly has become a dual system of racially separate pathways, even as overall minority access to the postsecondary system has grown dramatically,” said Jeff Strohl, one of the report’s co-authors and the research director at the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.

Blacks were underrepresented at the nation’s top schools by 8 percentage points, Whites were overrepresented by 13 percentage points compared to their share of the college age (18-24 years-old) population, the study found.

Blacks accounted for just 7 percent of freshmen student enrollment at the best 468 colleges and universities in the nation, compared to Whites students who captured a 75 percent share of the students attending top schools.

According to the report, “Eighty-two percent of the growth in white freshman enrollment has been in the nation’s 468 most selective four-year colleges from 1995-2009.” On the other hand, Blacks represented 48 percent of the enrollment in open-access schools, while Whites accounted for just 21 percent of the growth in such schools.

According to The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, a nonprofit organization that advocates for educational and training opportunities after high school, open-access schools are “public four-year colleges and universities that admit at least 80% of applicants.”

Georgetown researchers found that even when Blacks and Hispanics finish high school with good SAT/ACT test scores, they are still don’t go to college as much as their White counterparts and are often guided into two-year and open-access colleges.

“This data clearly shows that race matters, even controlling for readiness – high scoring African Americans and Hispanics go to college at the same rates as similarly high-scoring, Whites but drop out more often and are less likely to graduate with a Bachelor’s degree,” stated the report

Even as colleges and universities are urged to adopt race-neutral diversity policies for admission, the report found that admission policies based on class or income alone would not improve racial diversity in the our colleges and universities.

“While politically attractive, the direct substitution of class for race-based preferences does not yield the same numbers of African-American and Hispanic candidates as a more direct reliance on race-based admissions,” stated the report.

Only 12 percent of low-income Black college students graduate with bachelors’ degrees, compared to 23 percent of low-income Whites that earn bachelors’ degrees.

The bachelor’s degree is often seen as the gateway to higher lifetime earnings with more than $2 million in earnings separating those with bachelors’ degrees and those without them.

“African Americans and Hispanics gain 21 percent in earnings advantages when they attend the more selective schools compared with 15 percent for whites who attend the same colleges,” stated the report.

Researchers admitted that admission policies alone would not change the enrollment numbers for Blacks at high-achieving selective colleges and universities; that would take a concerted effort among policymakers.

“In combination, both race- and class-based affirmative action can ensure that highly qualified African- American, Hispanic, and lower-income students gain access to well-funded and selective colleges that lead to elite careers,” said the report. “Affirmative action, whether it is race- or class-based or some combination of the two, can help out those who strive and overcome the odds, yet does relatively little to change the odds themselves.”

The report stated: “Ultimately, there is no better way to guarantee a certain level of racial diversity than by employing race per se at some juncture in the selection process.”

Inscription Removed from MLK Memorial

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By Dorothy Rowley
Special to the NNPA from The Washington Informer

A controversial inscription on the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the National Mall has been removed by its sculptor.

The removal was launched after many people voiced concern about the inscription on the side of the towering figure which read, “I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness.”

The inscription, however, is a paraphrase of comments King delivered at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church in 1968, two months before he was killed. King actually stated, “If you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice, say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter.”

Critics, including poet and author Maya Angelou, said the shortened quote made the civil rights icon sound arrogant.

China native Lei Yixin, who was commissioned in 2007 to create the statue, announced Wednesday through an interpreter that he is working on the side of the sculpture where the inscription was carved, in preparation for a replacement quote.

Angelou said in an interview in 2011 shortly after the statue was publicly unveiled that omitting the word “if” in King’s comments made him “look like an arrogant twit.”

King “was anything but that,” she said. “He was far too profound a man for that four-letter word to apply.”

Meanwhile, it’s costing the Memorial Foundation about $800,000 for the corrective work.

Lei said he expects the work to be completed in time for the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, slated for Aug. 24-28.

“The difficulty is the new striations — so they won’t damage the integrity of the statue itself,” Lei said, adding that the new carvings are unlikely to cause any cracks in the statue.

“It’s not a big problem because the striations are designed to appear on the sides,” he said. “If it has some cracks, we could deal with them.”

The celebration, which is being sponsored by several civil rights organizations, is expected to attract thousands of people from across the country, culminating with a commemoration of the 50th anniversary of King’s “I Have A Dream” speech, which he delivered Aug. 28, 1963 on the Mall.

CBC: GOP Senators Stalling Appointment of Black Judges

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By Askia Muhammad
Special to the NNPA from The Final Call

WASHINGTON (FinalCall.com) - The critical need for judicial diversity has been willfully stalled and obstructed due to negligence by a handful of Republican members of the U.S. Senate, according to an exhaustive study by the Congressional Black Caucus.

“It is imperative that we have a criminal justice system that is reflective of the society in which we live,” CBC Chair Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) told reporters at the Capitol July 17. “When we do not, we run the risk of an unjust interpretation and an unfair application of our laws in courtrooms where the fate of so many of our young people are decided.

“According to the Brennan Center for Justice, White males are over-represented on state appellate benches by a margin of 2-1. Almost every other demographic group is under-represented, when compared to their share of the nation’s population,” she said.

What’s worse, Rep. Fudge continued: “There is evidence that the number of Black male judges is actually decreasing, with one study finding that there were proportionately fewer Black male state appellate judges in 1999 than there were in 1985.”

Currently, there are 10 highly qualified Black judicial nominees awaiting confirmation in the Senate—30 percent of those pending confirmation—according to the CBC.

“For the CBC, judicial nominations have always been matters of very special, high priority,” Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), chair of the CBC Judicial Nominations Working Group said. “It was the federal courts, not Congress, that found racial segregation and discrimination to be unconstitutional, and it is the courts, more than the other branches that have most often guaranteed the rights of African Americans.”

The CBC working group met with the White House counsel as well as with judicial nomination experts and found that President Barack Obama is not the source of the problem, Mrs. Norton said. “Overall, 17 percent of the president’s confirmed judges have been African American, compared to 7 percent for President George W. Bush and 16 percent for President Bill Clinton.

“More African American federal judges have been confirmed than in President George W. Bush’s entire eight years (33 to 24), including more African American Circuit Court judges (8 to 6). The president has appointed the same number of African American Circuit Court judges as President Clinton did in eight years (8),” she said.

But at the present pace of Senate confirmations, there is a risk of losing more Black judges than there are to be gained. Black judges now make up 8.3 percent of the federal bench—95 out of 787—and many of them, who were appointed by President Clinton, have taken or are close to being eligible for senior status.

The confirmation process employs a so-called “blue slip” system, which requires each senator where the judicial vacancy occurs to notify the Senate leadership in order for the nomination to move forward. This system has sometimes kept Black nominees who have been found to be qualified by bar associations and by professional experts to be fully qualified, from moving forward to a hearing, committee vote and to confirmation. “This deliberately constructed bottleneck has left as our only recourse, to come forward today to publicly ask senators, particularly Republicans, to submit the necessary blue slips and move African American judges to confirmation,” Del. Norton said.

CBC members singled out Florida, where 2 of the 10 stalled Black judicial nominees would serve. Republican Sen. Marco Rubio has not submitted the required blue slips for nominees Brian Davis and William Thomas.

“I am thoroughly frustrated that Marco Rubio is continuing to hold up the nomination of a stellar judge from Jacksonville,” Rep. Corrine Brown (D-Fla.) told reporters. “Judge Brian J. Davis was first nominated by President Obama last February to serve on the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida. Given the decision made in Florida just last week in the Trayvon Martin case, the desperate need to bring a greater sense of fairness into our courtrooms and to increase the number of high quality, African American judges is blatantly obvious,” she insisted.

Sanford, Fla., where unarmed, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was slain by community watch, vigilante George Zimmerman, and where Mr. Zimmerman was acquitted of second degree murder and manslaughter charges, is inside Rep. Brown’s Fifth District boundaries.

Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.), himself a former federal judge, also condemned Sen. Rubio’s failure to release the nominees for confirmation, pointing out that Judge Thomas and his family have served the Florida judicial system since even before Sen. Rubio or his parents even migrated to this country from Cuba.

“Prior to this instance, never before has there been any kind of dissension within the Florida delegation,” Rep. Brown said. “Indeed, this is the very first time that one of the Florida senators has gone out of his way to obstruct the promotion of a judge from his own state.”

The reason for this obstruction is clear, according to a CBC source. “As the president said in June, this is not about principle, it is about political obstruction.”

Indeed, even as conservative Republicans have worked to undermine the entire Obama agenda—House Republicans have voted 37 times to outlaw the Affordable Care Act (so called “Obamacare”) even though it has been upheld by the Supreme Court—they have turned around and mocked the president referring to this administration as “the fourth term of President Bush.”

The CBC did commend some GOP senators who have “been fair in voting to move judges forward on the merits, instead of withholding blue slips for Black judges.” Republican Senator Tim Scott—who is himself Black—and Senators Lindsey Graham both from South Carolina; Thad Cochran and Frederick Wicker, of Mississippi; and Mark Kirk of Illinois are all deserving of mention, according to Mrs. Norton.

In addition to the Florida nominees, one appointee—Vernon Broderick of New York—has been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee and is awaiting only a floor vote. Three others have had hearings and are awaiting a committee vote; and two others have been nominated and are waiting for a committee hearing.

“As our country has become one of the most diverse in the world, a judiciary that reflects that diversity is virtually mandatory,” said Congresswoman Norton. “The Congressional Black Caucus will not quietly allow highly qualified African American judges to be sidelined without hearings or to be held up on the Senate floor after being voted out of the committee.”

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