January 18th, 2012
05:24 PM ET

Cuba Gooding Jr. and David Oyelowo rediscover 'Red Tails' history

Editor's note: David Oyelowo plays Joe "Lightning" Little in the film "Red Tails." He was raised in England and Nigeria and trained at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. He was the first black actor to play a Shakespearean monarch at the Royal Shakespeare Company, and appeared in "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" and "The Help."

By David Oyelowo, Special to CNN

(CNN) - My journey toward the hallowed ground of Moton Field, where the brave Tuskegee Airmen learned to fly, began with me receiving a script called "Red Tails" in the winter of 2008. I had never heard of the Tuskegee Airmen, nor was I aware of their adopted nickname "Red Tails," but the story as told in the script blew me away.

As I always do before auditioning for a role, I went about my research and was amazed and ashamed that I knew nothing of their immense contribution to the war effort in the 1940s. Thankfully I got the role and was then able to exercise my newfound obsession to do these men right by participating in telling their story.

We shot the film in Prague and Croatia in 2009 and did reshoots in 2010 and 2011 to really nail the complex dogfights depicted in the movie. The process of bringing the film to fruition was a mammoth collaborative process that involved a deep commitment from the actors, our director, Anthony Hemingway, the genius of the folks at Industrial Light and Magic, and the comforting overseeing eyes of both Rick McCallum, our producer, and George Lucas, who had been pregnant with the project for more than 20 years.

Cut to this past Monday, just a few days before this nerve-wracking Friday, the day on which the film will be released. I and my fellow actors Nate Parker, Terrence Howard and Elijah Kelley find ourselves at Tuskegee University as we draw to the close of an extensive press tour that has taken us from L.A. to New York and most places in between.


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Opinion: How the GOP could gain the elusive Latino vote
Somos Republicans endorsed Newt Gingrich, but Fernando Espuelas says GOP candidates need to learn more about Latinos.
January 18th, 2012
05:22 PM ET

Opinion: How the GOP could gain the elusive Latino vote

Editor’s note: Fernando Espuelas is the host and managing editor of the national talk show "Fernando Espuelas" on Univision Radio. He is also a political analyst on television, print and online. Espuelas is a Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute.

Watch In America's documentary about the race to capture the Latino Vote on CNN, October 2012.

By Fernando Espuelas, Special to CNN

(CNN) - Republican political lore has it that Latinos are natural GOP voters. Family-oriented and deeply religious in many cases, Latinos would seem to be a natural segment of the electorate to connect with the Republican social conservative ethos that dominates today's GOP.

But voting patterns have shown a different reality – so far, American Latinos have tended, election after election, to prefer Democratic candidates by wide margins. In the last presidential election cycle, for example, Barack Obama captured 67% of the Latino vote to John McCain's 31%. In key swing states such as Florida, Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico, Latinos provided Obama's margin of victory.

It is clear, as we head into November's national election, that it will be very difficult for either the eventual GOP nominee or the president to win the election without a strong showing among this growing group of voters. Candidates are eagerly reaching out to Latino voters in South Carolina and Florida with Spanish-language ads and targeted events.

Yet, when I speak with Republican strategists, smart people with records of success in electing candidates, I am struck by how little they seem to know about American Latinos.


January 18th, 2012
01:16 PM ET

Poll: Should felons be allowed to vote after serving their sentences?

By Alyse Shorland, CNN

(CNN) – At Monday’s Republican debate in South Carolina, candidates sparred over whether people with felony convictions should be allowed to vote.

Former Senator Rick Santorum said he supports felons regaining the right to vote after they’ve completed their sentences, and noted that felony disenfranchisement disproportionately affects black voters.

“This is a huge deal in the African-American community, because we have very high rates of incarceration, particularly with drug crimes,” he said.

Mitt Romney said as governor of Massachusetts, he disagreed: “I think people who committed violent crimes should not be allowed to vote again.”

Voting rights advocates say the argument could come up more often in the near future - with 2.3 million people currently incarcerated, states are rethinking whether the court’s punishment is enough, or if people who’ve committed felonies will continue to pay for their crimes through disenfranchisement.

Twenty-three states have eased felon voting restrictions since 1997, but in 2011, Florida and Iowa tightened them. Maine and Vermont are the only states with no disenfranchisement for people with criminal convictions.

“It’s really the first time in a while we have seen significant opposition against restoring rights,” said Marc Mauer, executive director of the Sentencing Project, a Washington-based organization that works for criminal justice reform and advocates for voting rights.


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Engage: Jerry Yang leaves Yahoo
Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang quit the tech company's board.
January 18th, 2012
11:58 AM ET

Engage: Jerry Yang leaves Yahoo

Engage with news and opinions from around the web about under-reported stories from undercovered communities.

Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang resigns from board - The Wall Street Journal

Missing people of color in primetime on TV One - The Daily Beast 

Seven teens shown beating man in viral video charged with battery, robbery  - Chicago Tribune

Obesity rates high, but stabilizing; increase among black and Mexican-American women - The Los Angeles Times

Ward Connerly, anti-affirmative action advocate, under fire for mismanagement of funds - The New York Times 

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