.
June 6th, 2013
02:13 PM ET

Judge in hot water: Allegedly said minorities are prone to violence

By Ben Brumfield and Marlei Martinez, CNN

(CNN) - Civil rights groups filed a complaint this week against a federal judge in Houston after she allegedly said during a lecture that some minorities are prone to violence.

Judge Edith Jones, who serves on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and was a Bush-era Supreme Court frontrunner, allegedly made the comment while speaking on the death penalty to The Federalist Society at the University of Pennsylvania in February.

The Federalist Society describes itself on its website as "a group of conservatives and libertarians interested in the current state of legal order."

In her remarks, Jones also is alleged to have said race plays no role in the administration of the death penalty, but certain ethnic groups commit certain types of crimes more often than others.

Civil rights groups, including the J.L. Turner Legal Association, say Jones' comments reveal a strong ethnic bias. They are pushing for an investigation that could lead to her removal from the bench.

The J.L. Turner Legal Association is an African-American bar association in Dallas. Its president, Mandy Price, told CNN that some attendees were shocked at what they heard and later complained.

"The reaction in the room when she made these remarks was one of shock, surprise, and offense," according to one account that the legal association collected from some of the attendees.

The Federalist Society itself, however, called the allegations "frivolous accusations."

FULL STORY
March 26th, 2013
06:00 AM ET

The voting rights martyr who divided America

Editor's note: The following is an edited excerpt from John Blake's 2004 book "Children of the Movement" about Viola Liuzzo, a Detroit housewife who was killed while working for voting rights in Selma, Alabama. In the accompanying video clip, Harry Belafonte and Tony Bennett discuss their participation in the civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965, and their memories of Viola Liuzzo. This story is being republished on the anniversary of her death, and contains objectionable language.

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) – On March 26, 1965, Penny Liuzzo was watching the "Donna Reed Show" at her home in Detroit when a wave of nausea suddenly swept over her. In an instant, she knew what had happened.

"Oh my God," she thought as she stood up and walked out of the room. "My mom's dead."

When Penny's mother, Viola Liuzzo, had called home a week earlier to tell her family she was going to Selma, Alabama, Penny had been engulfed by a sense of dread. She tried to talk her mother out of going.

"I'm never going to see you again, Mom. I know it. I just feel it. Please let me go in your place. I'll go."

FULL POST

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Filed under: Black in America • History • How we live • Social justice • Where we live
The voting rights martyr who divided America
Viola Liuzzo's murder made her a scapegoat. It also sparked passage of the Voting Rights Act, which may soon be overturned.
February 28th, 2013
12:36 PM ET

The voting rights martyr who divided America

Editor's note: The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments this week over a challenge to the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The following is an edited excerpt from John Blake's 2004 book "Children of the Movement" about Viola Liuzzo, a Detroit housewife who was killed while working for voting rights in Selma, Alabama. This story contains objectionable language.

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) - On March 26, 1965, Penny Liuzzo was watching the "Donna Reed Show" at her home in Detroit when a wave of nausea suddenly swept over her. In an instant, she knew what had happened.

"Oh my God," she thought as she stood up and walked out of the room. "My mom's dead."

When Penny's mother, Viola Liuzzo, had called home a week earlier to tell her family she was going to Selma, Alabama, Penny had been engulfed by a sense of dread. She tried to talk her mother out of going.

"I'm never going to see you again, Mom. I know it. I just feel it. Please let me go in your place. I'll go."

Liuzzo laughed off her daughter's fears. Viola had been determined to help marchers in Selma after watching newsreel footage of civil rights marchers being beaten there. She had cried after the newscast ended. "I'm tired of sitting here watching people get beat up," she told her family before driving off to Selma.

The call came at midnight. After experiencing her bout of nausea, Penny had gone to bed but could not sleep. She heard her father answer the phone. "Penny, your mother's dead! Your mother's dead," he wailed.

Then something happened that Penny still cannot explain 40 years later. Her 6-year-old sister, Sally, walked into the bedroom and said, "No, Mama's not dead. I just saw her walking in the hall."

The murder of Viola Liuzzo was one of the most shocking moments in the civil rights movement. On a winding, isolated road outside Selma, Liuzzo was ambushed and shot to death by a car full of Ku Klux Klansmen.

FULL STORY
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February 25th, 2013
07:39 AM ET

5 things you may have missed about the George Zimmerman saga

By Michael Pearson and Greg Botelho, CNN

(CNN) - February 26, 2012.

That was the day two strangers - Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager walking back with Skittles and an iced tea he'd picked up at 7-Eleven, and George Zimmerman, a white Hispanic neighborhood watch volunteer in Sanford, Florida - met for the first and only time.

It's been nearly a year since Zimmerman shot Martin to death. The incident generated huge outrage across the country for months and led to a wide-ranging conversation about the state of U.S. race relations.

Zimmerman acknowledged shooting Martin but said it was in self-defense. Attorneys for Martin's family have accused Zimmerman of racially profiling Martin and shooting him "in cold blood."

Attention to the case has died down substantially in recent months, and you may have been focused on other things. Here are a few things you might not know about the case, which is scheduled for a June 10 trial.

FULL STORY
Exhibit reveals things you might not know about civil rights after MLK
Police arrest protesters at a 1969 hospital workers strike in Charleston, South Carolina.
February 21st, 2013
06:00 AM ET

Exhibit reveals things you might not know about civil rights after MLK

By Moni Basu, CNN

(CNN) – If you look at online histories and timelines of the fabled Southern Christian Leadership Conference, there's not much information listed after the 1968 assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Up until then, you'll find detailed accounts of civil rights actions. Afterward, you'll see the line of succession to the organization's presidency but not a lot in the way of how it carried on fulfilling its mission of social justice.

That's why, perhaps, an exhibit that opens Friday at Atlanta's Emory University proves eye-opening.

It features material from the 918 boxes of photographs, correspondence, memos, reports, fliers and videos that Emory University's Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library  acquired, at an undisclosed price, from the SCLC archives. FULL POST

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Filed under: Black in America • History • Social justice • Who we are
Legacy of Rosa Parks
February 4th, 2013
11:56 AM ET

Opinion: On Rosa Parks' 100th birthday, let's remember her courage

Editor's note: Danielle McGuire is the author of "At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape and Resistance - A New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power." She is an assistant professor of history at Wayne State University and a distinguished lecturer for the Organization of American Historians. She lives with her husband and two children in metro Detroit.

By Danielle McGuire, Special to CNN

(CNN) - In the wake of Barack Obama’s second inauguration, it is easy to forget about the daily indignities and terror African-Americans have endured; easy to forget that simply surviving segregation required ordinary people to engage in extraordinary acts of courage every single day.

Like so many African-Americans who came of age during the era of Jim Crow laws, Rosa Parks’ courage was not limited to one day or one act. Parks cultivated courage throughout her life. She called on it during the darkest days of the Depression when African-Americans were targeted for lynching and rape; deployed it throughout the civil rights era when white vigilantes burned crosses and bombed churches to thwart struggles for justice; and armed herself with it to battle inequality and lack of opportunity on the dusty backroads of Alabama and the broad boulevards of Detroit.

Monday, on the 100th anniversary of Rosa Parks’ birth, let us remember how brave she was to continuously defy the segregated system that denied her humanity.

Opinion: It’s time to free Rosa Parks from the bus

FULL POST

Obama embraces key social justice movements in inaugural address
President Barack Obama mentioned gay rights with other civil rights milestones in his inaugural speech Monday.
January 21st, 2013
03:12 PM ET

Obama embraces key social justice movements in inaugural address

By Moni Basu, CNN

(CNN) – Seneca Falls. Selma. Stonewall.

Three places that have come to embody social justice movements in America.

Three places that rolled off the tongue of President Barack Obama as he addressed the nation Monday after his ceremonial oath of office. And with their mention, Obama made a monumental statement.

"We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths that all of us are created equal is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth."

Obama equated watershed moments of women's rights and African-American rights to gay rights. No other president has even mentioned gay rights in an inaugural speech, let alone mentioned it alongside other movements that forged a more equal America.

Seneca Falls, New York, was where the first women's rights convention was held in in 1848, giving rise to what Elizabeth Cady Stanton called the "greatest rebellion the world has ever seen." It led to political rights for women, including the right to vote.

In Selma, Alabama, state troopers fired on civil rights marchers in 1965 leading to the Selma to Montgomery march that was considered a pinnacle of that movement and solidified support for passage of the Voting Rights Act.

And Stonewall was a gay bar in New York' s Greenwich Village where in 1969, patrons stood up to harassment in a police raid. The incident became the signature moment of the gay rights movement.

“We were honored that the president included Stonewall among the historic events in American history that have made our union stronger," said Chad Griffin, president of Human Rights Campaign, a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization.

"Its inclusion is testament to the valiant contributions of LGBT Americans past and present who seek nothing more than to be treated equally by the country they love," Griffin said.

Last May, Obama became the first president to endorse same-sex marriage.

Monday, he went on to say: "Our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts. Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well."

That line drew some of  the loudest cheers of the day.

Appropriate then, perhaps, that what followed the president's speech was a poem written and recited by Cuban-American poet Richard Blanco, who happens to be gay.

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January 21st, 2013
09:52 AM ET

Big steps made, many to go, Rep. Clyburn says

Democrat Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina reflects with CNN's Soledad O'Brien on the changes in America over the last 50 years and what he hopes for the second term of the United States' first black president.

Opinion: It's time for anti-slavery action, Mr. President
The author say President Obama, in front of Lincoln's Memorial, can act against modern-day slavery.
January 11th, 2013
08:29 AM ET

Opinion: It's time for anti-slavery action, Mr. President

Editor's note: David Abramowitz is Vice President, Policy & Government Relations for Humanity United and Director of the Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST), a coalition of U.S.-based human rights organizations working to end modern slavery and human trafficking in the United States and around the world. ATEST recently issued “The Path to Freedom,” a road map for the second-term Obama Administration to follow as it works to fulfill its commitment to eliminate modern slavery.

By David Abramowitz, Special for CNN

(CNN) - It’s been 150 years since President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamationdeclared in the midst of the U.S. Civil War that all slaves “shall be free.”

Today, the word “slavery” still conjures up horrifying images and stomach-churning thoughts about the most disgraceful days in U.S. history.

This shamefully evil chapter still cannot be fully explained, because no facts can possibly answer how humanity allowed it to happen, and why we didn’t stop it sooner.

Similar questions haunt the United States and countries around the world today – how has slavery evolved into a multi-billion dollar illicit global industry, overshadowed only by drugs?

Perhaps we turned a blind eye because modern slavery looks so different than it did in 1863, when it was largely in the open.

Modern-day slavery manifests itself in many new and nuanced forms, often described in the 21st century as forced labor or human trafficking. Or perhaps we turned a blind eye because we can’t conceive how slavery can persist in 2013.

Human trafficking is viewed worldwide as morally reprehensible, and slavery is illegal in every country.

As a result, modern slavery is underground and masked so well that we may not recognize it in our own communities. For example, construction workers, housekeepers, farm workers and too many others in low-paying industries are brought to the United States by labor brokers who promised a job, but enslaved them instead.

FULL STORY
India rape protests
January 2nd, 2013
01:00 PM ET

Opinion: End culture of rape in 2013

Editor's note: Lauren Wolfe is an award-winning journalist and the director of Women Under Siege, a Women's Media Center initiative on sexualized violence in conflict. She is the former senior editor of the Committee to Protect Journalists, and blogs at laurenmwolfe.com. Follow her on Twitter, @Wolfe321.

By Lauren Wolfe, Special to CNN

(CNN) - On December 16, a young medical student in one of India's major cities was gang-raped, her body destroyed by the bodies of the men who allegedly assaulted her and also by the rusting metal bar doctors say they used to penetrate her. The bar removed part of her intestines. The rest were removed in a hospital far from home where she struggled for her life for just a few days.

It has taken an attack that lies nearly outside of comprehension to prompt demonstrations, but the outcry has begun.

Over the weekend, women rose up in Nepal, protesting outside the prime minister's house against gender-based violence.

What are your experiences of being a woman in India? Send us your stories

Egyptian women have faced ceaseless sexualized violence since the start of that country's revolution, but are now protesting to stop the ever-present sexual harassment and assault.

According to Eve Ensler, the head of V-Day and One Billion Rising, a movement calling for women to rise up on February 14, 2013, and demand an end to violence, women in Somalia are planning what may be their first-ever major demonstrations against rape and violence.

This groundswell - what Ensler calls "a catalytic moment" - is the perfect chance for us to consider how we think about subjugation, rape, and degradation of women globally.

Read Lauren Wolfe's full column
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