By Terry Frieden, CNN
Washington (CNN) - Federal civil rights lawyers filed suit Wednesday against Meridian, Mississippi, and other defendants for operating what the government calls a school-to-prison pipeline in which students are denied basic constitutional rights, sent to court and incarcerated for minor school infractions.
The lawsuit says children who talk back to teachers, violate dress codes and commit other minor infractions are handcuffed and sent to a youth court where they are denied their rights.
Also among the defendants were Lauderdale County, judges of the county's Youth Court and the State of Mississippi Division of Youth Services.
About 6,000 mostly African-American students attend grades kindergarten through 12 in a dozen schools in the Lauderdale County School District.
About 86% of the district's students are African-American, but all of those referred to the court for violations were minorities, the government suit said.
The federal action came more than two months after the Justice Department warned local and state officials that they had 60 days to cooperate or face a federal lawsuit.
Read the full story
This is the first in an occasional series on issues of race, identity and politics ahead of Election Day, including a look at a white Southern Democrat fighting for survival, a civil rights icon registering voters and how parallels to the past haunt the age of Obama.
By Todd Leopold, CNN
(CNN) – The images – on TV, YouTube, our social networks – have become so familiar that we take them for granted.
We're treated to scenes of Barack Obama with a group of middle Americans at a cozy restaurant table, then with an African-American woman in an office. Or we see clips from a rally, the president surrounded by faces of all ages and hues.
It's much the same with Mitt Romney: A quartet of white male engineers pore over plans, then an African-American woman talks with a colleague. We see shots of factory workers, then a burst of flags as the candidate heads for the stage. Or we get farms, children and a colorful audience at a speech.
More than 60 years into the Television Age, campaign messages have become a formula: Uplifting ads are full of inspirational music, flapping flags and stolid candidate portrayals; negative ones feature ominous melodies, dramatic black-and-white images and gloomy narrators. FULL POST
By Steve Kastenbaum, CNN
(CNN) – Rochelle Ballantyne plays chess the same way she walks through the streets of New York, determined to reach her goal without letting any obstacles slow her down.
The 17-year-old student from Brooklyn is just a few wins away from becoming the first female African-American to attain the ranking of chess master.
"I've never been the first anything so having that title next to my name is going to... it's going to feel amazing."
She crushes her opponents in a sport dominated by men.
Ballantyne grew up in a single-parent home in the working class neighborhood of East Flatbush. She first learned to play chess from her grandmother, who didn't want Rochelle's background to limit or prevent her from reaching her fullest potential. Ballantyne did not disappoint.
"When I push myself, then nothing can stop me."
Listen to the story on CNN Radio's Soundwaves blog
Editor's note: LZ Granderson, who writes a weekly column for CNN.com, was named journalist of the year by the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association and is a 2011 Online Journalism Award finalist for commentary. He is a senior writer and columnist for ESPN the Magazine and ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter: @locs_n_laughs.
By LZ Granderson, CNN Contributor
(CNN) - I would call Sarah Palin's use of "shuck and jive" in a Facebook post criticizing President Barack Obama another one of those dog whistle messages to racists, but it's far too obvious to be covert. The woman who claimed to be an LL Cool J fan in her first book knew exactly what she was doing.
Why she did it is anyone's guess.
Maybe she's still mad Bristol didn't win "Dancing With the Stars," maybe she thought Donald Trump was hogging the dunce cap, or maybe she's so completely tone-deaf she thought she was helping the country.
Mitt Romney may very well become the next president. But the polls suggest if he does, he will have little minority support. In a country that is growing browner by the decade, Republicans relying solely on white people to win elections is not a sustainable strategy.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 may have been signed by a Democratic president, but Republicans were the ones who provided the push in Congress necessary to get it to his desk. Remember in those days, Democrats didn't turn a blind eye to racism; they were oftentimes the racists, especially in the South, whose Democratic lawmakers led a 57-day filibustertrying to stop the passage of the Civil Rights Act.
Read LZ Granderson's full column
By Rose Arce, CNN
(CNN) – The voting population of Latinos has exploded to the point where Latinos will not only be a decisive force in the presidential election, but will likely affect the outcome of political contests from school boards and statehouses to Congress, according a new report by the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials.
"Latino voter enthusiasm is up," said Arturo Vargas, executive director of NALEO. A recent poll by ImpreMedia-Latino Decisions confirms that analysis, counting three quarters of Latino voters as actively engaged in the election with 14% of all Latinos saying they are actively working on getting out the vote.
The number of registered Latinos has increased by 26% in the last four years to 12.2 million or 8.7% of all voters. A new potential Latino voter turns 18 every 30 seconds. Already, one of four U.S. citizens under the age of 18 is Latino, including 48% of the youth population of Texas, Vargas said, but low voter registration among young people and new voter ID laws could dampen turnout.
Clarissa Martinez, who works on civic engagement for the National Council of La Raza, cautioned that Latino voting power is held back by a lack of registration. "Once Latinos register they vote in nearly as high a numbers as anyone," she said. But a third of the entire community is not yet 18, another 23% are ineligible because their immigration status and just 14 million of the 24 million eligible Latino voters have actually registered, she said.
Read the full story on CNN's Political Ticker blog
Editor's note: Ruben Navarrette Jr. is a CNN contributor and a nationally syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group. Follow him on Twitter: @rubennavarrette
San Diego (CNN) - The breathtakingly incompetent way that Disney handled the introduction of what was thought to be the Magic Kingdom's first Hispanic princess has me wondering: What kind of Mickey Mouse operation is this?
Given that Hispanics spending power is worth $1.2 trillion, it's not surprising the media and entertainment behemoth wants a slice of it. But Disney's attempt has turned into a case study of how not to market a product to any group, let alone Hispanics.
Talk about magic. Apparently, Disney has the power to take Hispanics and "de-Hispanicize" them. You start off chocolate, or cafe con leche. Then, suddenly, abracadabra, you're vanilla!
The first casualty is Princess Sofia.
Read Navarette's full column
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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