Insight News

Oct 13th


Challenging the privatized prison industry

A few months ago a group of earnest and determined stockholders traveled together by bus from Washington, D.C. to Nashville, Tennessee, to attend a shareholders’ meeting. On the surface, it sounded like a fairly ordinary trip, but this was an unusual group on an extraordinary mission. The shareholders’ meeting was for the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the largest private prison company in the country; and the group of shareholders included ex-offenders who now each hold one share of stock in CCA to get an ownership stake in some of the same prisons that once held them captive. They attended the meeting in hopes of sharing their perspective on how the privatized prison industry can better serve society by rehabilitating inmates rather than just serving its own profits by perpetuating the prison cycle.

Justice and compensation for farmers

After decades of struggle, it appears that Black and Native American farmers will finally receive compensation—in the form of nearly $4.6 billion—from the federal government for injustices carried out against them.

In 1997, 400 black farmers joined in a class action lawsuit against the United States Department of Agriculture, alleging they were unfairly denied governmental loans and other support.  The farmers ultimately won their lawsuit.  But, more than $1 billion of that settlement was never paid out—$1.2 billion of the $4.6 approved by Congress will finish paying off that debt.

Twenty years of beating the odds

How does a child endure unspeakable hardship and still manage to succeed?  What does it mean to save rather than give up on a child?  When you read the stories of the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF)’s Beat the Odds® award recipients, you’ll find the answers.  Too often we hear about teens getting into trouble, dropping out of school, getting involved with drugs, crime, and gangs, or becoming parents too soon.  Yet thousands of children overcome tremendous obstacles like these and poverty, homelessness, hunger, abuse and neglect by adults, parental incarceration, and more every day.  Each year, CDF takes time to honor some of these inspiring high school students through our Beat the Odds scholarship program. We provide them with scholarships up to $10,000, a laptop computer, and, most importantly, recognition of what they’re doing: beating the odds.

New generation of leaders return to D.C.

New generation of leaders return to D.C.As recently reported in the Wall Street Journal, while centrist Democrats bore the brunt of the mid-term election losses, members of the Black and Hispanic caucuses won 56 of 60 re-election bids. The more than 40 returning African American members of Congress and at least five new ones are coming to Washington fired up and determined to beat back the coming attacks on the progressive agenda the country voted for in 2008.

As a result of the elections, seven new African Americans will be sworn-in as new House members on January 5. These include two Tea Party endorsed Black Republicans -- Tim Scott, of South Carolina, and Allen West, of Florida, -- and the first Black woman ever to represent the state of Alabama , Terri Sewell. 


Empowering Black America’s parents

As we enter the final days of 2010, one of the outstanding issues of the past 12 months is the inadequate education that the majority of African American children and young adults are receiving throughout the United States.  All parents, and in particular, African American parents, want the best for their children.  Thus, the empowerment of parents around the issues of improving the education of young people in the African American community should remain one of the highest priorities.

They say that information is power.   Black parents need accurate and timely information about the various options and rights that they have concerning all the educational systems, programs, and institutions available.  Having a greater knowledge of how to access better and more effective educational opportunities is critical to parental empowerment.

Eating local, healthier in Minneapolis

Eating local, healthier in MinneapolisCommunity meeting on new urban agriculture land use plan and progress toward Homegrown Minneapolis goals A Homegrown Minneapolis community meeting 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 9 at the Urban Research and Outreach Center, 2001 Plymouth Ave. N., Minneapolis will give folks a chance to learn about how Minneapolis is making progress in helping residents eat and grow more healthy and local food. Over the last two years, these initiatives have been a part of “Homegrown Minneapolis,” which is a City-community vision that unites efforts to get more healthy, local food grown, processed, distributed and eaten in Minneapolis.

At the meeting City staff will also unveil the draft of the City’s new Urban Agriculture Policy Plan and kick off the plan’s public comment period. The plan will guide City land use and zoning to support local food-related activities. Homegrown Minneapolis successes so far include ordinances changed to allow indoor farmer’s markets; require grocers to sell fresh, whole foods; and permit beekeeping in the city. A Minneapolis Department of Health and Family Support State Health Improvement (SHIP) obesity prevention grant also helped expand the use of food stamps (EBT) to two farmers market locations to make fresh produce more easily available.

Stimulating African American Economic Development: Lessons from GM 

President Barack Obama reached another significant milestone on the long difficult road toward economic recovery when General Motors (GM) recently launched one of the largest initial public offerings (IPO) in American history.  I believe that the proper stimulus investment in the African American business community will also bring a much-needed economic recovery.

To the astounded pseudo-economists and near-sighted politicians who vociferously criticized President Obama for using federal stimulus funds to reorganize and stabilize GM, the fact is the stimulus worked.  The investment of taxpayers’ dollars worked to save GM jobs and to catalyze a financial rebirth of GM.  Now as a result, in Detroit and in other cities where GM and the automotive industry is based, there is an increase in the opportunity to regain some of the jobs and businesses that went under when GM went down.  The nation’s biggest automaker in very heavy trading closed its first day on its return to Wall Street at $34.19-a share price.  Billions of dollars were raised.  President Obama stated, “We are finally beginning to see some of the tough decisions that we make in the midst of crisis pay off.”

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