By Becky Perlow, CNN
(CNN) – More than 160 years after its founding as a pro-slavery church, the Southern Baptist Convention on Tuesday elected a black pastor for the first time to lead the denomination.
The election of the Rev. Fred Luter Jr. of New Orleans comes 17 years after Southern Baptist leaders apologized for the denomination's onetime support of white supremacist and segregationist policies.
It also cements years of effort by the church to overcome that divisive heritage.
"Just as some have said that in America race is the original sin, that certainly has been the case among the Southern Baptists," said Curtis Freeman, the director of Duke University's Baptist House of Studies. "It's something that the convention has never been quite able to [get] beyond."
Luter, 55, was unopposed in the election, which occurred Tuesday afternoon at the denomination's annual meeting in New Orleans.
He comes to the presidency after serving one term as vice president of the 16 million member organization, the second-largest denomination in the United States – behind only the Catholic Church. He will replace the Rev. Bryant Wright, the senior pastor at Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta, Georgia.
Read the full post on CNN's Belief blog
Editor's note: CNN contributor Amanda Enayati ponders the theme of seeking serenity: the quest for well-being and life balance in stressful times.
By Amanda Enayati, Special to CNN
(CNN) - Google "the aging brain" and you will find a largely sobering landscape of cognitive deterioration.
("Funny," said the dashing older gentleman I tried to interview for this piece. "I don't remember being absent-minded.")
But turn the kaleidoscope of our knowledge about the aging brain and a far more interesting picture emerges.
The prevailing wisdom is that creative endeavors are good for helping to slow the decline of our mental capabilities. But what if, in fact, the aging brain is more capable than its younger counterpart at creativity and innovation?
It's a compelling proposition in our society, where more and more seniors are looking for jobs and going back to work (the number of working seniors has more than doubled since 1990, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics); where ageism is rampant in many areas (particularly hiring); and where innovation is, for the most part, considered a young person's domain.
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By Moni Basu, CNN
(CNN) - The United States has apologized to African-Americans, Japanese, Native Americans and Hawaiians for wrongs in the name of government. Now it has made that rare apology to Chinese-Americans for discriminatory laws adopted 130 years ago.
The House of Representatives passed a resolution Monday expressing regret for the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act, which imposed severe restrictions on Chinese immigration and naturalization and denied Chinese-Americans basic freedoms because of their race.
The apology reverberated across the nation and the Pacific.
"We have made history!!!!" read a news flash on the website of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance. And the story was carried by Xinhua, China's state-run news agency.
The House regret came on a resolution sponsored by Rep. Judy Chu, D-California, who is the first Chinese-American woman elected to Congress.
By Leslie Gilbert Elman, Special to CNN
(CNN) - Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger of the Union Army announced to the assembled crowd at Ashton Villa in Galveston, Texas, "In accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free."
It was June 19, 1865.
Never mind that President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation had been written and read more than two years earlier. Juneteenth, named for the June 19 declaration, started as a celebration of emancipation day in Texas and eventually spread to other states. With celebrations dating back to 1866, Juneteenth now commemorates the end of slavery in the United States.
"America cannot understand its own history unless the African-American experience is embraced as a central factor in shaping who we are and what we have become as Americans," writes Lonnie G. Bunch, founding director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture in Washington.
Set to open in 2015, the museum will be the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African-American life, art and culture.
In honor of Juneteenth, the museum helped CNN.com choose six destinations that will enlighten and educate visitors about a complicated period of American history, the road to emancipation.
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(CNN) –The immigration debate often centers on stemming the flow of people entering the United States illegally and what to do about securing borders to the south. But here's a fact that goes without much attention: Asians have now taken over Latinos as the largest group of new arrivals every year.
In 2010, 36% of new immigrants were Asians compared to 31% for Hispanics, according to a report released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center.
That's a significant change from a decade ago, when 19% of immigrants were Asians and 59% were Hispanics.
"They were already a significant part of the immigration story. It seems like in the last few years they are the most important part of the immigration story," said Karthick Ramakrishnan, a political scientist at the University of California at Riverside, and expert on Asian-American immigration and civic participation.
He said that if the trends continue, Asian-Americans will play greater roles in shaping American society and perhaps, more significantly in an election year, they will have an impact at the polls.
"This is an important moment to see immigration for what it is - that it is far more complicated and diverse than deporting illegal immigrants," Ramakrishnan said, referring to discussion sparked by President Barack Obama's policy shift last week to spare some children of illegal immigrants from deportation.
Far fewer Asian Americans enter the United States illegally than do Hispanics. The Pew survey looked at recent arrivals of people with both legal and unauthorized status, as well as those arriving with work, student or other temporary visas.
What defines you? Maybe it’s the shade of your skin, the place you grew up, the accent in your words, the make up of your family, the gender you were born with, the intimate relationships you chose to have or your generation? As the American identity changes we will be there to report it. In America is a venue for creative and timely sharing of news that explores who we are. Reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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