Black History Month begins today. The official 2020 Black History Month theme is “African Americans and the Vote.” 2020 is an important election year, and a landmark year for voting rights. This year is the 100th anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment and the culmination of the women’s suffrage movement. The year 2020 also marks the 150th anniversary of the Fifteenth Amendment (1870) and the right of African American men to vote after the Civil War. African American suffragists made important contributions to the broader women’s movement and also to the 20th-century voting rights movement. The fight for voting rights continues today. The theme emphasizes the ongoing struggle on the part of both African American men and women for the right to vote. We must remember the past and vow never to return to those times.
The current administration is has headed down a racist and nationalist path. This Black History Month, I call on all people of goodwill and character to take a stand. Do not stand-by while the Republicans dismantle our democracy and our human rights. Our current President and all his henchmen are working hard to roll-back the progress we have made over the past 150 years. Please vote, volunteer, phone bank, donate and make sure your American friends and family are registered to vote and vote.Read more
Last year the GBC initiated a search for a Poet Laureate for 2020. Thanks to everyone who submitted a poem. In November, we narrowed down the submissions to three finalists who we interviewed. After interviewing the finalists, we realized all three poets were so wonderfully talented; we couldn’t choose just one. So we decided to create a Poet Laureate Circle. All three members will share the title Poet Laureate and the writing.
The members of our 2020 Poet Laureate Circle are:
Jasmine Cochran from China - Read Jasmine's Bio
Elaine Thomas from Germany - Read Elaine's Bio
Nadine Pinede from Belgium - Read Nadine's Bio
Congratulations to all of you!
You can read/hear the first poem, Time and Time Again, by Elaine Thomas here.
Please share this inspirational poem on your social networks. There will be more beautiful and inspiring poetry to come this year.
You can register to vote and request a ballot for the 2020 elections at https://www.votefromabroad.org/. The sooner you do it, the better.
My name is Robyn T. Emerson; I’m the lead country coordinator for Kenya and Co-Chair of the Black Caucus here. I have traveled, studied, or worked in every corner of the United States, with my last port-of-call and my voting district being Austin, Texas. I am proud to say I have knocked on thousands of doors, managed hundreds of phone banks, did hundreds of advance work, coordinated hundreds of rides to polls all for the belief in collective power and justice prevailing. I’ve now lived in Kenya for over ten years, where creating communities and empowering people continues.
I’m an urban planner and a consummate organizer. People of color, more specifically people of African descent, are staggering in the life-affirming statistics and leading in the life-threatening statistics. Despite this, we keep rising; we keep singing, we keep fighting.
Living in what #45 considers a sh**hole country and the U.S. clamping down on immigration and refugee permissions out of nationalism and racism, I can not stand for its continuance another moment. With brilliant Americans living in Kenya, we aim to make our voices known and count on issues impacting African Americans. We’ve coined this 13-months to Change, being inspired by the 13th amendment. We will continue community socializing, sharing information, and taking action as a community of African-Americans. We will make a concerted effort to cast the net wider by having monthly meet-ups, connecting the dots between oppression & discrimination here to the experience on the same of our people in the U.S. We stand in solidarity for dignity, freedom, and justice for everyone. We will exercise our rights afforded to us...voting is our top emphasis. I hope you will join us in exploring, learning, and growing.
If you would like to join the DA Kenya Global Black Caucus, just click the join button on our homepage. Everyone is welcome, and I look forward to meeting up, discussing important issues, and winning some important seats with you!
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Mississippi: African American voters sue over election law rooted in the state's racist past
A lawsuit over a Mississippi election law, if successful, will change the way that state elects its governor.
Four African Americans filed the federal civil rights lawsuit in May 2019, charging that the way their state elects its statewide officials violates the Voting Rights Act, the 14th Amendment and the principle of “one-person, one-vote.”
To win election, a candidate for governor of Mississippi has to win an outright majority of the popular vote – and win a majority of the state’s 122 House districts.
If no candidate does both, the state House gets to select the next governor, regardless of who got the most votes. No African American has been elected statewide since 1890.
Republican legislators in Mississippi defended the law by arguing that the plaintiffs provide “nothing more than conjecture” that they would be harmed by this election method.
Media coverage of the lawsuit has emphasized that “no Mississippi candidate who won the most votes for a statewide office has been prevented from taking office because of the other requirements.”
As a historian of 19th-century voting rights in the U.S., I believe this analysis ignores the history of anti-democratic gubernatorial election laws.
Today, Mississippi is one of only two states where the winner of the popular vote does not automatically become governor. Vermont is the other. In the 19th century, however, many states had such laws.
The damage that these laws did to democratic legitimacy and political stability in the 1870s, ‘80s and '90s was not conjecture. These laws were intended to entrench the rule of the party in power.
This November, Mississippi is preparing for its first close gubernatorial election since 1999. The election law that is the focus of the lawsuit could decide who wins. Its origins and the track record of similar laws in more competitive states bear investigation.Read more
The Global Black Caucus seeks to raise the consciousness of our current and potential constituency. To that end, we are looking for our first Poet Laureate (volunteer) for the 2020 election cycle. The Poet Laureate will be selected annually for a term that lasts from January to December. Poetry selections will be featured on the GBC page of the DA website throughout the selected Poet Laureate's term.
The person selected would:
- Create a Poetry Series to explore societal issues and the 2020 elections through poetry's focused lens to describe “truth,” or at the very least, “truths,” in our world.
- They will be called upon to write poetry on significant occasions and throughout the election season.
- Poems should also encourage people to vote, volunteer, or donate.
- It would be great if the person selected would like to make multimedia/spoken word videos or other visual media.
- Occasionally, meet with the GBC Steering Committee.
The poet must be a member of Democrats Abroad and a member of the GBC. Any member of Democrats Abroad who supports universal, unconditional human rights can join the GBC.Read more
Connect with the Global Black Caucus:
Find out how to start a Black Caucus in your country committee here.
Summer is a time for drift, for lapping waters, sipped cocktails, and rambling walks. One day it’s lobster rolls and white wine. The next day could be Andalusian gazpacho and Dos Equis. The weekend might bring Mul Naengmyeon (cold noodle soup) and Soju. And as your choice of food and entertainment varies with the temperature and your ebbing and flowing lethargy, so may your taste in books.
The lengthening days and piercing sunshine of summertime is the perfect time to crack open that book you might not otherwise read, you may have forgotten about, or that is low on your decades-long list of “must-reads.” And in this spirit, below you will find ten quirky, fun, intriguing memoirs and novels to while away a few of those precious summer hours. Enjoy!
Mycroft Holmes by Kareem Abdul-Jabar
Paperback: 336 pages
Fight off a sense of slacker-hood as you dive into this delightful mystery by screenwriter Anna Waterhouse and beloved former NBA star Kareem Abdul-Jabar. Mycroft Holmes is the lesser known but equally brilliant older brother of the infamous Sherlock, and we are introduced to him at the beginning of his illustrious investigative career. Abdul-Jabar also introduces us to Cyrus Douglas, a black man of Trinidadian descent, an intrepid cigar shop owner, and Mycroft’s best friend. The two men head to Cyrus’ homeland to solve a mystery which includes strange disappearances and spirits that lure children to their deaths; their bodies found drained of blood.
Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Spiegel & Grau
I approached this memoir with light expectations. Noah is charming and funny on his cable talk show the Daily Show, and although bright, I wasn’t expecting James McBride. But I was pleasantly surprised. “Born a Crime” is funny and poignant and feminist as AF. Noah loves his country and his mama, and he lovingly writes about both as he offers sharp tidbits of South African history along with wild stories of his childhood as a poor, mixed-race child under Apartheid.
Earth Day: Colonialism's role in the overexploitation of natural resources
We are currently experiencing the worst environmental crisis in human history, including a “biological annihilation” of wildlife and dire risks for the future of human civilization.
The scale of that environmental devastation has increased drastically in recent years. Mostly to blame are anthropogenic, or human-generated factors, including the burning of fossil fuels like coal and oil.
Other industries like gem and mineral mining also destroy the world’s ecological sustainability, leading to deforestation and the destruction of natural habitats. Much of this traumatic exploitation of natural resources traces its origins to early colonialism.
Colonialists saw “new” territories as places with unlimited resources to exploit, with little consideration for the long-term impacts. They exploited what they considered to be an “unending frontier” at the service of early modern state-making and capitalist development.
To understand our current ecological catastrophe, described as “a world of worsening food shortages and wildfires, and a mass die-off of coral reefs as soon as 2040,” we need to look at the role of colonialism at its roots.
This exploration is not a debate over whether colonialism was “good” or “bad”. Instead, it is about understanding how this global process helped create the world we currently inhabit.Read more
When it comes to how deeply embedded racism is in American society, blacks and whites have sharply different views.
For instance, 70 percent of whites believe that individual discrimination is a bigger problem than discrimination built into the nation’s laws and institutions. Only 48 percent of blacks believe that is true.
Many blacks and whites also fail to see eye to eye regarding the use of blackface, which dominated the news cycle during the early part of 2019 due to a series of scandals that involve the highest elected leaders in Virginia, where I teach.
The donning of blackface happens throughout the country, particularly on college campuses. Recent polls indicate that 42 percent of white American adults either think blackface is acceptable or are uncertain as to whether it is.
One of the most recent blackface scandals has involved Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, whose yearbook page from medical school features someone in blackface standing alongside another person dressed in a Ku Klux Klan robe. Northam has denied being either person. The more Northam has tried to defend his past actions, the clearer it has become to me how little he appears to know about fundamental aspects of American history, such as slavery. For instance, Northam referred to Virginia’s earliest slaves as “indentured servants”. His ignorance has led to greater scrutiny of how he managed to ascend to the highest leadership position in a racially diverse state with such a profound history of racism and white supremacy.Read more
Just as Black history is American history, so too is Women’s history. Just as the “African American” section of the bookstore is as infuriating as it is necessary, so too is the Chick Lit genre and the “Women’s” section. They serve the purpose of highlighting writers, ideas, points of view, and histories that sadly might go unknown, unexplored, or underappreciated otherwise.
In celebration of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, we’ve put together a list of some of our favorite women writers. Some are well-known, some less so but all are deserving of their turn in the spotlight. We invite you to turn the page!
Song in a Weary Throat: Memoir of an American Pilgrimage
Pauli Murray and Patricia Bell-Scott
Paperback: 624 pages
Although she is relatively unknown today—despite a rich, fascinating life---there are a decent handful of biographies to choose from if you are interested in learning about Pauli Murray. Born in Baltimore in 1910, and raised in Durham, North Carolina, Murray, the first African American woman to receive a Doctor of Law at Yale, a poet, a social activist, a confidante of Eleanor Roosevelt and Thurgood Marshall, tells her own tale in this hefty memoir. It is a lyrical, powerful story.Read more