Patricia S. Due, leader of nation's first jail-in, dies at 72
Patricia Stephens Due, with her husband John D. Due Jr., is pictured at the University of Florida last year.
February 7th, 2012
09:45 PM ET

Patricia S. Due, leader of nation's first jail-in, dies at 72

By Alicia W. Stewart, CNN

(CNN) - The stories we tell often leave room for only one hero.

In America, our civil rights hero is Martin Luther King.

But even he recognized the sacrifice of heroines like Patricia Stephens Due.

"Going to jail for a righteous cause is a badge of honor and a symbol of dignity. I assure you that your valiant witness is one of the glowing epics of our time and you are bringing all of America [to] the threshold of the world's bright tomorrows,"  King said in a telegram to Due and fellow students.

Patricia Stephens Due stayed in jail for 49 days, refusing to pay bail after she was arrested for sitting at a Woolworth lunch counter in Tallahassee, Florida.

“We are all so very happy to do this so that we can help our city, state and nation. We strongly believe that Martin Luther King was right when he said, ‘We’ve got to fill the jails to win our equal right’,” she wrote in a letter to the Congress of Racial Equality’s James Robinson.

She, her sister, six other Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University students and one high school student were jailed after participating in the peaceful sit-ins, a defining symbol of America’s civil rights movement.

Due, a 20-year-old student then, led the first jail-in, and received global attention from leaders like King.

Today, Patricia Stephens Due died after a two-year battle with thyroid cancer, and more than 50 years of activism.


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Filed under: Black in America • History • Who we are
Opinion: Beyonce belongs in the classroom
February 7th, 2012
01:15 PM ET

Opinion: Beyonce belongs in the classroom

Editor's Note: James Braxton Peterson is the Director of Africana Studies and an associate professor of English at Lehigh University. He is also the founder of Hip Hop Scholars, LLC, an association of Hip Hop generational scholars dedicated to researching and developing the cultural and educational potential of Hip Hop, urban and youth cultures. You can follow him on Twitter @DrJamesPeterson.

By James Braxton Peterson, Special to CNN

(CNN) - I don’t think that anyone would consider me a fan of Beyonce’s music. Any of my students will tell you that generally speaking, R&B is not my musical genre of choice.

That said, I feel compelled to speak to some of the unspoken issues regarding university courses revolving around prominent pop cultural figures. There has been a bevy of media coverage on this kind of course, most recently directed towards Kevin Allred’s “Politicizing Beyonce ...” course in Rutgers University’s Women and Gender Studies department. Coverage of Allred’s course seems to be garnering more overall positive support than some previously taught courses like Michael Eric Dyson’s Jay-Z class at Georgetown University, but I still think that many folk outside of the academy, particularly those who dismiss this kind of coursework, do not fully appreciate the war zone the academy has become.

We are at war. We are fighting for the right to reach students, especially students frustrated with the homogeneity of the educational curriculum, especially students whose lived experiences are not reflected in the curriculum as it is currently constructed. We are fighting for innovation in the Humanities but also in the social and so-called "hard" sciences.

Too many college classrooms are like mausoleums. For all of our smart technology and tentative embrace of the digital age, too many courses are not willing to integrate currency into the classroom space. And that is part of what this war is about. Allred’s course speaks to young people, especially young people of color, women, and the LGBT community, in ways that too many other courses simply will not and some others simply cannot.


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Filed under: Black in America • Education • Pop culture • What we think • Women
Appeals court strikes down California same-sex marriage ban
Buttons opposing California's Proposition 8 are displayed during a rally last year in San Francisco.
February 7th, 2012
01:10 PM ET

Appeals court strikes down California same-sex marriage ban

By the CNN Wire Staff

San Francisco (CNN) - California's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage violates the U.S. Constitution, a federal appeals court in San Francisco ruled Tuesday.

The decision by a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is expected to be appealed, to either the full court or to the U.S. Supreme Court. But supporters of same-sex marriages cheered the decision when it was announced outside the courthouse Tuesday morning.

The 2-1 decision found the ban - known as Proposition 8 - "served no purpose, and had no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationship and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples." That violates the 14th Amendment's guarantee of equal protection under the law, the decision states.

Read the full story

Engage: Super Bowl political ad stirs controversy
Peter Hoekstra, a Senate candidate from Michigan, ran an ad that has been called "insensitive."
February 7th, 2012
12:07 PM ET

Engage: Super Bowl political ad stirs controversy

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

Republican commissioner: Political ad that aired in Michigan during Super Bowl 'demeaning' to Chinese-Americans - Talking Points Memo

Disney and Univision in talks to begin English cable -news channel  - The New York Times

Brown student re-discovers Malcolm X recording - National Public Radio

Opinion: What can be learned from 2008, 2010 elections about immigration and Latino Voters - The Huffington Post

Teresa Deloach-Reed named fire-chief of Oakland: first black woman to head major-city department - Mercury News

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February 7th, 2012
09:44 AM ET

Senate candidate defends Super Bowl ad depicting Asian woman

By Lisa Sylvester, CNN Correspondent

(CNN) - In the political world, it was the most talked-about ad from Sunday night's Super Bowl telecast. Pete Hoekstra, running for Senate in Michigan against incumbent Debbie Stabenow, hit the Democrat for her record on spending. But some are criticizing the spot for being blatantly racist.

The 30-second ad features a young Asian woman riding a bike through rice paddies speaking in unaccented but broken English:

"Thank you, Michigan Senator Debbie Spenditnow," the woman said. "Debbie spend so much American money. You borrow more and more from us. Your economy get very weak. Ours get very good. We take your jobs. Thank you, Debbie Spenditnow."

The ad debuted during the Super Bowl in Michigan television markets, and is accompanied with a website that includes Chinese characters and titles like the "Great Wall of Debt."

The ad is being lambasted by critics who call its depiction of the Asian woman racist.

Read the full post on CNN's Political Ticker blog