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Native American activist Russell Means dies
Russell Means, who led a 1973 uprising at Wounded Knee in South Dakota, died Monday.
October 22nd, 2012
02:30 PM ET

Native American activist Russell Means dies

By Mallory Simon, CNN

(CNN) - Native American activist Russell Means died early Monday from throat cancer, an Oglala Lakota Sioux nation representative said.

Means led a 71-day uprising on the sacred grounds of Wounded Knee in South Dakota in 1973.

"Means has devoted his life to eliminating racism of any kind, and in so doing he leaves a historical imprint as the most revolutionary Indian leader of the late twentieth century," his website said. "An inspirational visionary, Russell Means remains one of the most magnetic voices in America today.

"Whether leading a protest, fighting for constitutional rights, starring in a motion picture, or performing his “rap-ajo” music, the message he delivers is consistent with the philosophy he lives by."

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Filed under: History • Native Americans • Obituaries
Amish leader,15 followers convicted of hate crimes in beard attacks
Sam Mullet, leader of the breakaway Amish sect in eastern Ohio, denies allegations he's running a cult.
October 3rd, 2012
05:15 PM ET

Amish leader,15 followers convicted of hate crimes in beard attacks

By Jason Hanna and Mallory Simon, CNN

(CNN) - Sixteen members of a breakaway Amish community in rural eastern Ohio, including its leader, were convicted of federal hate crimes Thursday for the forcible cutting of Amish men's beards and Amish women's hair.

Sam Mullet Sr. and the 15 followers were found guilty of conspiracy to violate federal hate-crime law in connection with what authorities said were the religiously motivated attacks on several fellow Amish people last year.

The verdicts were read in U.S. District Court in Cleveland following several days of jury deliberation and a trial that began in late August, a U.S. attorney's office said.

Prosecutors said the 15 followers, at Mullet's instruction, shaved the beards and cut the hair of Amish people who had left his group over various religious disagreements. Five attacks happened in four eastern Ohio counties between September and November 2011, authorities said.

To the Amish, a beard is a significant symbol of faith and manhood, and the way Amish women wear their hair also is a symbol of faith, authorities said.

The assaults violated the Matthew Shepard-James Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which "prohibits any person from willfully causing bodily injury to any person, or attempting to do so by use of a dangerous weapon, because of the actual or perceived religion of that person," according to the office of the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.

FULL STORY
Augusta National Golf Club admits first female members
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was announced as one of the first two women given membership at Augusta.
August 20th, 2012
12:08 PM ET

Augusta National Golf Club admits first female members

By Mallory Simon, CNN

(CNN) –Augusta National Golf Club has admitted its first female members, the private club announced Monday.

The decision to admit former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and business executive Darla Moore of Lake City, South Carolina, ends a longstanding policy excluding women as members of the exclusive Georgia club, which hosts the Masters.

"This is a joyous occasion as we enthusiastically welcome Secretary Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore as members of Augusta National Golf Club," Billy Payne, chairman of Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters Tournament, said in a statement. "We are fortunate to consider many qualified candidates for membership at Augusta National. Consideration with regard to any candidate is deliberate, held in strict confidence and always takes place over an extended period of time. The process for Condoleezza and Darla was no different."

Rice served under President George W. Bush as the first female national security adviser and the first African-American woman to hold the post of secretary of state. She also served on President George H.W. Bush's National Security Council staff and was a special assistant to the director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1986. Moore is the vice president of Rainwater Inc., the investment firm founded by her husband, Richard Rainwater. Fortunate magazine once named her among the top 50 women in business, and the University of South Carolina's business school is named in her honor.

Payne noted the significance of admitting the first women to the club. Augusta's membership, which includes titans of industry and finance, has been male-only since its opening in 1932.

Read the full story on CNN's This Just In Blog

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Filed under: History • How we look • Sports • Who we are • Women
Questionable ads fuel controversy
June 20th, 2012
01:31 PM ET

Adidas 'shackle' controversy: Artistic interpretation or insensitive product?

By Mallory Simon, CNN

Sometimes a shoe is just a shoe. And art is just a creation. But the choices artists or brands make can have an unintended subtext. And these decisions sometimes create a firestorm of public outrage, especially when certain images conjure up painful stereotypes from the past. 

Adidas cancels 'shackle' shoes after outcry

When a photo of an Adidas sneaker, dubbed the JS Roundhouse Mids, was posted on the company's Facebook page with the line, "Got a sneaker game so hot you lock your kicks to your ankles?" sneaker enthusiasts reacted strongly.

"Wow obviously there was no one of color in the room when the marketing/product team ok'd this," said a commenter, identifying herself as MsRodwell on nicekicks.com.

For some, the photo of a sneaker with affixed rubber shackles immediately brought up thoughts of chain gangs. For others, it was the painful reminder of slavery. FULL POST

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Filed under: History • Pop culture • What we think
From first black president to 'first gay president'?
The covers of Newsweek and The New Yorker take note of President Barack Obama's support of same-sex marriage.
May 14th, 2012
04:30 PM ET

From first black president to 'first gay president'?

By Mallory Simon, CNN

(CNN) – As if becoming the first black president wasn't momentous enough, Barack Obama has just been handed a new title: "First gay president."

A Newsweek magazine cover bestowed that distinction on Obama this week with a picture of the president and a rainbow halo. If you view that as a naked attempt to grab your attention, capitalize on the moment and have you pick up a newsmagazine, you might be right.

But that illustration along with a New Yorker cover showing the columns of the White House lit up in rainbow colors certainly shows how the president’s public support of same-sex marriage has pushed the issue back into the spotlight.

The magazines’ choices also speak to the broad cultural impact of Obama's announcement and pose questions about whether this moment may become a lasting part of his legacy.

That's not to say the president's announcement is necessarily a watershed moment. It earned him kudos and criticism despite the fact that he left the legal standing of same-sex marriage in the hands of the states and made no policy changes.

The issue also is far from resolved in the African-American community, and some conservatives say Obama's announcement comes at a political cost.

CNN.com's John Blake writes that some suggest the black church may punish Obama for announcing his support for same-sex marriage.

As millions went to church this weekend after the president's announcement, clergy across the country offered their opinions, with the words of black pastors a key base of support for Obama in 2008 carrying special weight in a presidential election year. But black pastors were hardly monolithic in addressing Obama's remarks.

Read the full story on CNN's This Just In blog

Trayvon Martin's death leaves town divided, struggling with stigma
Beyond Sanford's historic downtown is a town where nearly everyone has a different viewpoint on the Trayvon Martin case.
March 29th, 2012
02:16 PM ET

Trayvon Martin's death leaves town divided, struggling with stigma

Editor's note: The killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin has sparked a national dialogue on race; now CNN wants to hear from you. At 8 p.m. ET Thursday at CNN studios in New York, Soledad O'Brien is hosting a town hall meeting called "Beyond Trayvon: Race and Justice in America." The special will air at 8 p.m. ET Friday on CNN.

Join the conversation in a live blog of the broadcast starting at 8 p.m. ET Friday on CNN's In America blog.

By Mallory Simon, CNN

Sanford, Florida (CNN) – Nearly everyone in Sanford agrees on one thing: The death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin is a tragedy.
But his death has taken on a whole new meaning here, where media outlets from around the world have descended, to figure out just what happened more than a month ago when neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman shot and killed Martin.

This once-quiet and quaint town is now the center of a controversy that has put residents in the position of examining just what the racial undertones of the case say about their hometown. And it makes them wonder whether they will forever be known as the a place where an unarmed black kid heading home from the store with Skittles and tea was killed by a Hispanic man claiming self-defense.

For some, the case has become a rallying cry, a chance to air what they believe are years of grievances and cases of injustice between the police, the courts and the black community. For others, it has forced them to defend their town as a place that is not an inherently racist, a place where a young black man cannot be killed without consequence.

Read the full story