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Jul 28th

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The National Bar Association launches the 2010 Advocacy Competition for high school seniors

The National Bar Association launches the 2010 Advocacy Competition for high school seniorsMetLife to serve as the Platinum Sponsor

MetLife, the nation’s leading provider of life insurance, employee benefits and financial services, will serve as the Platinum Sponsor for the 2010 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drum Major for Justice Advocacy Competition. Students will have an opportunity to compete for scholarships to continue their education.

Sponsored by the National Bar Association and supported by the National Bar Institute, the competition is an annual advocacy program designed to motivate students of color to excel in education. The contest encourages high school seniors to express their views on a pre-selected topic, and judges the students on their ability to communicate orally and in writing. It also provides young people with experience in public speaking.
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Incentives programs help transform consumption and costs

Incentives programs help transform consumption and costsThis Spring Minnesota consumers could apply for a rebate if they purchased an appliance under the Minnesota trade-in and save appliance rebate program. The program was funded with more than $5 million in Federal Stimulus funds and enabled some 25,000 Minnesota households to earn up to $200 for replacing their refrigerator, freezer, dishwasher, or clothes dryer with a qualifying Energy Star model purchased from a Minnesota retailer.

On rebate program launch day, Jeff Haase, who is with the Energy Efficiency Program of the Minnesota Department of Commerce, the Office of Energy Security; Julie Ketchum, Director of Government Affairs at Waste Management, Inc.; and Julie Warner, marketing director at Warner Stellian company joined me and co-host, Nghi Huynh, president of Minnesota Multicultural Media Consortium, to discuss how Minnesota reaches our communities of color on energy matters.
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LDF applauds Supreme Court decision declaring life without parole sentences for children in non-homicide cases unconstitutional

LDF Friend of the Court Brief cited in Court's opinion

Last week, the United States Supreme Court declared that children convicted of non-homicide offenses cannot be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The Court concluded that because adolescents are, by nature, less culpable than adults and because life without parole is an extreme sentence which is rarely imposed on teenagers, it is cruel and unusual punishment to sentence a child who has not killed to life without possibility of parole.  The Court explained that "[a] life without parole sentence improperly denies the juvenile offender a chance to demonstrate growth and maturity. Incapacitation cannot override all other considerations, lest the Eighth Amendment's rule against disproportionate sentences be a nullity."
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Got Privilege?

I told one of my African American neighbors that I was going to the national White Privilege Conference in LaCrosse Wisconsin.   “Oh no,” she said, “This isn’t one of those hate groups that wants all the power?”

“No,”  I said.  “It’s supposed to help white people like me and the people of color who attend figure out how to create a just society where privilege doesn’t come to someone because they have white skin.” 

I wondered about going to this national conference. Would it be overwhelming?  Would it be a bunch of white folks listening to how bad they are, wringing their hands and feeling guilty? Or just talk, talk and talking with no plans for action?

It wasn’t what I or my neighbor worried it might be. 
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Legislative session was best and worst for racial justice and equity

Legislative session was best and worst for racial justice and equityOrganizing Apprentice Project credits more legislators for progressive votes; Pawlenty unallotments mitigate gains

Part three of three in a series from “Conversations with Al McFarlane” Public Policy Broadcasts on KFAI-90.3FM (in Minneapolis) and 106.7FM (in St. Paul) and online at kfai.org

Batala McFarlane: Who are the legislators that we should watch? Who is doing a good job? Who received passing grades? Who isn’t doing a good job?

Jermaine Toney: We actually saw our racial justice honor roll grow. So these are the As and the Bs. In 2008 we named 17 law makers as champions for racial equity. They sponsored and supported pieces of legislation that advance racial equity and opportunity. In 2009 we named 31. So you see the growth there.

Al McFarlane: I want you to name the ones that you gave As to.

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St. Paul Foundation gets Kellogg grant to focus on race and racism

America Healing Initiative will Expand Opportunities for Vulnerable Children

Nearly 1,000 proposals sought $280 million in funding; urgent need for community healing

In an unprecedented effort to address the devastating impact of racial inequities on communities across the country, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation has launched a five-year, $75 million initiative – America Healing – that aims to improve life outcomes for vulnerable children and their families by promoting racial healing and eliminating barriers to opportunities.

In Minnesota, St. Paul Foundation will receive $1.8 million to help Twin Cities organizations strengthen capacity to reduce institutional racism and increase cultural competence by creating dialogue and expanding programs for individuals, communities, non-profit organizations, and public entities.

Children of color are over-represented among the 29 million low-income children and families in this country, particularly among families living in concentrated poverty. According to data from the National Center for Children in Poverty, about 61 percent of African American, 62 percent of Latino, 57 percent of Native American, 58 percent of children with immigrant parents, 30 percent of Asian American children and 26 percent of white children live in low-income families.
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Vikings Stadium proposals bad for Minneapolis taxpayers

Vikings Bill: Just days before the end of session, a bill has been introduced to fund a Vikings Stadium – a shocking move when the state is dealing with a deficit of over $5 billion and cuts to essential services everywhere. The bill proposed taking funding now used to support our Convention Center for a Vikings Stadium. On behalf of the City of Minneapolis, I testified against the bill with these key messages:

First, Minneapolis opposes any proposal that relies on Minneapolis taxpayers as funders. This is a state-wide issue not one to put on the back of a municipality. Second, Minneapolis opposes diversion of the sales tax that now supports the Convention Center for any Vikings stadium proposal. The Convention Center is one of the biggest economic generators in the state, with an economic impact of about $270M annually -- this is about 4 times the impact of any Vikings stadium. Diverting critical support for the Convention Center is bad policy for our region and our state.
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The legendary Lena Horne dead at 92

The legendary Lena Horne dead at 92Statement by the President on the passing of Lena Horne

Michelle and I were deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Lena Horne – one of our nation’s most cherished entertainers. Over the years, she warmed the hearts of countless Americans with her beautiful voice and dramatic performances on screen. From the time her grandmother signed her up for an NAACP membership as a child, she worked tirelessly to further the cause of justice and equality. In 1940, she became the first African American performer to tour with an all white band. And while entertaining soldiers during World War II, she refused to perform for segregated audiences – a principled struggle she continued well after the troops returned home. Michelle and I offer our condolences to all those who knew and loved Lena, and we join all Americans in appreciating the joy she brought to our lives and the progress she forged for our country.


(NNPA) - Legendary singer, actress and dancer Lena Horne died on Sunday night at the New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center at the age of 92. The Brooklyn-born entertainer was the first Black performer to be signed to a long-term contract by a major Hollywood studio and who went on to achieve international fame as a singer. The cause of her death has not been reported.
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Rwandan President in U.S. escapes lawsuit in Oklahoma

Rwandan President in U.S. escapes lawsuit in Oklahoma(GIN) – Lawyers for the widows of two African presidents whose deaths set off a genocidal war, failed in their attempt to serve Rwandan President Paul Kagame with legal papers during his recent U.S. visit.

The Rwandan leader was in Edmond, Oklahoma, attending the graduation last week of 10 Rwandese students at Oklahoma Christian University. He slipped away before legal papers could be served.

A leader of the Rwandan Patriotic Front, Kagame’s group had been in a power struggle with the Hutu-led government of Pres. Juvenal Habyarimana. The shoot-down of a plane carrying Habyarimana and Burundi President Cyprien Ntaryamira in April 1994 by unknown assailants set off a horrific killing spree. Ironically, both were returning from a regional peace meeting in Tanzania.

The $350 million wrongful death lawsuit accuses Kagame of ordering the plane to be shot down. Peter Erlinder of the International Humanitarian Law Institute in St. Paul, Minnesota, is handling the widows’ claims. Kagame's government has denied the accusations.

Grandmothers to hold Pan-African Summit on AIDS

Grandmothers to hold Pan-African Summit on AIDS(GIN) – Hundreds of African grandmothers from 12 African countries are meeting this week in Swaziland to discuss the impact of losing adult children to AIDS.

The inaugural African Grandmothers’ Gathering aims to build a “solidarity movement” across the continent, while seeking support from international donors and aid agencies.

"Grandmothers are at the frontline of the HIV/Aids impact. They have to pick up the pieces and move on,”. said Philile Mlotshwa of Swapol (Swaziland Positive Living), which is organizing the event in partnership with the Canadian-based Stephen Lewis Foundation.

"They are the heroes yet no one has gone to them to say we recognize your efforts." They don't have time to grieve because the children need to be looked after. They are doing this without any income.”

A delegation of 42 Canadian grandmothers from the Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign of the Stephen Lewis Foundation will also attend the summit. The Queen Mother and prime minister of Swaziland will also attend the conference in Manzini, on from May 6 to 8.

Reckless law makes Arizona unfit host for state leaders according to NBCSL and NHCS

Reckless law makes Arizona unfit host for state leaders according to NBCSL and NHCS(BLACK PR WIRE) WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL) and the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators (NHCSL) join in opposition to Arizona’s Senate Bill 1070 (SB 1070), “a law that is ill conceived and sets a dangerous precedent for basic civil liberties,” according to NBCSL President, Rep. Calvin Smyre (GA). “This misguided legislation will likely subject countless people to unwarranted harassment. In a demonstration of our disapproval, we have decided to hold our annual Promoting Healthy Lifestyles Conference, which was to be held in Scottsdale, AZ, elsewhere,”  said Smyre.
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