Will social, sports activism lead to systemic change?

By kneeling during a celebrated custom in America's favorite sport, Colin Kaepernick has spear-headed a modern message of social activism.

By kneeling during the singing of the National Anthem, a routine custom to tip-off sports games in America, San Francisco 49ers Quarterback Colin Kaepernick has spear-headed a modern method of social activism.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

One month after NFL reporter Steve Wyche brought San Francisco 49ers’ Quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s National Anthem protest to light, the conversation surrounding the motive and method of his actions continue to surge. While some are still debating whether the protest is offensive or not, many have joined the cause to highlight the disparity in the treatment of people of color, particularly unarmed black men, by the police.

After making his intentions clear, Kaepernick's profile increased enough to land him on the cover of October's Time magazine. His popularity has also grown as his soaring jersey sales clearly prove.

After making his intentions clear, Colin Kaepernick’s profile increased enough to land him on the cover of the Time magazine for the first week in October. His popularity has also grown and his g jersey sales continue to soar.

Kaepernick has been clear that the motive for his actions is to create dialogue and bring awareness to the issue of police brutality and misconduct, especially towards people of color. He also stated, “There’s a lot of people who don’t want to have this conversation. You know they’re scared they might lose their job or they might not get endorsements, they might not be treated the same way. And those are things I’m prepared to handle.”

There was no way to predict the reaction to Kaepernick’s stance, yet the amount of support he has received has to be encouraging to people who are tired of seeing people of color die at the hands of the police, who are paid to protect them. When police murder unarmed black and Latino civilians without facing any consequence they send a message that the lives that they take lack value due to their skin color.

Countless others have joined the cause to bring awareness to the unjust treatment of people of color.

Countless others have joined the cause to bring awareness to the unjust treatment of people of color.

Kaepernick has done what many who support the BlackLivesMatter movement have been trying to do for months, simplify the message with a simple, non-violent gesture of protest. His jersey has become a symbol, no longer celebrating the San Francisco 49ers and their rich NFL history, but of a person willing to face adversity to make a stand for the greater good. To date, over 50 NFL players have joined the protest by kneeling or raising a fist during the anthem. Countless athletes across other sports have also made the same gesture and the statement has been made in classrooms as well as political forums.

While the protest receives the headlines, there seems to be positive action resulting from the heightened attention. According to statistics revealed by reporters Ken Klippenstein and Paul Gottinger, “A Gallup poll conducted in July showed confidence in police is at a 22-year low.” The same publication highlights that the rate of police indictments have increased by 5 times over the last 5 plus months.

Tulsa officer Betty Jo Shelby (left) was indicted within a week of the shooting death of Terrence Crutcher (right).

Tulsa officer Betty Jo Shelby (left) was indicted within a week of the shooting death of Terrence Crutcher (right).

The swift indictment of Tulsa police officer Betty Jo Shelby after she killed Terrence Crutcher, an unarmed black man whose vehicle broke down in the middle of the street last week, instead of helping him get his vehicle towed so that he could go home to his family, shows an ebbing tide away from the days of simply taking the police’s word in these tragic events.

As Kaepernick and other social activists continue to shine the light on injustice in this area, it’s possible that sustained activism will result in enough positive change that will, in turn, help to address other major social issues that plague the nation.–OnPointPress.net

“Selma” is a fitting tribute to Dr. King’s legacy and 86th birthday celebrations

Dr king

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivering one of his many inspiring speeches.

On January 19, the third Monday in the month, the life, achievements and civil rights advocacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is celebrated on a holiday named for him. The civil rights icon, who spent his life protesting against injustice, would have turned 86 years old if he had not been killed in the prime of his life.

While the world pauses to honor his legacy with a national day of service, marches and other noble efforts, his three surviving children are embroiled in a vicious court battle to determine if his traveling Bible and Noble Peace Prize should be sold or remain in the family’s possession.

Oprah Winfrey appears in "Selma" which she produced; David Oyelowo stars as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Ava DuVernay, co- writer and director of the film, which has received four award nominations so far.

Oprah Winfrey appears in “Selma” which she produced; David Oyelowo stars as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Ava DuVernay, co- writer and director of the film, which has received four award nominations so far.

A fitting tribute to Dr. King’s enduring civil rights advocacy is embodied in the film “Selma,” which chronicles the challenges experienced by Dr. King and dedicated members of the civil rights movement in the spring of 1965 when they used nonviolent methods, in the face of brutality and murder to obtain he right to vote. Despite profound beatings, being arrested, atrocious indignities, deaths and the horrors experienced on Bloody Sunday, they marched, organized and protested peacefully, until they secured their important constitutional right to vote with the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

“Selma,” the first feature film about Dr. King, was directed by an African-American female and has been honored by the Golden Globes for its original song “Glory” sung by John Legend and rapper Common. However, the film has also attracted controversy as well as snubs by the Academy Awards, which nominated it for Best Original Song and Best Picture while ignoring the director, Ava DuVernay and actors, particularly the lead actor David Oyelowo, who brought the film to life.

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David Oyelowo, (center) and other cast members of the powerful film “Selma” which described the civil rights movement’s diligent quest to obtain voting rights in 1965.

President Barack Obama’s decision to host the cast at the White House for a screening of the critically acclaimed but Oscar snubbed historical drama “Selma” was a wise one. Also, the decision by Winfrey, DuVernay, Oyelowo and the other cast members of the film to stage a march across the same Edmund Pettus Bridge over which the civil rights leaders marched for 54 miles to Montgomery, Alabama and participate in a discussion in Selma on this historic day will go a long way in reigniting discussion and awareness about Dr. King, his legacy and his searing impact on the civil rights landscape.

No less important is Winfrey’s spectacular two-day weekend extravaganza honoring “The Legends who Paved the Way,” which aired on her network, OWN, on Sunday night and featured King’s daughter, Bernice King, who was a baby when he was killed.

One of Dr. King's most famous quotes is typically used as a battle cry against injustice.

One of Dr. King’s most famous quotes is typically used as a battle cry against injustice.

There are striking parallels to King’s leadership, passion and determination in standing strong in the face of ridicule and the emotions of current protestors who fight against the scourge of police brutality in our inner cities, particularly police officers killing unarmed African-American and Latino men with impunity.

But as Winfrey said: “These protestors today can learn a lot from the discipline shown by the participants of the civil rights movement. You have to know what you are protesting for and focus on that issue in order to achieve it.”

In 2010,, President Barack Obama, the nation's first African-American president, honors civil rights icon, Rep. John Lewis (D-GA). Lewis, was beaten on Bloody Sunday and endured harsh treatment during his lengthy involvement in the civil rights movement which he joined as a teenager and at 20, was the youngest speaker at the March on Washington.

In 2010, President Barack Obama, the nation’s first African-American president, honors civil rights icon, Rep. John Lewis (D-GA). Lewis, was beaten on Bloody Sunday and endured harsh treatment during his lengthy involvement in the civil rights movement which he joined as a teenager and at 20, was the youngest speaker at the March on Washington.

Despite inequalities in housing, educational attainment, financial, political and social status, collectively African-Americans have made significant progress by utilizing the opportunities that have been gained through the sacrifices made by Dr. King, Rep. John Lewis, Ambassador Andrew Young, The Rev. Ralph Abernathy, the Rev. Joseph Lowery and countless others during the civil rights movement.

The right to vote exists today due to their foresight, commitment and fortitude. As we celebrate Dr. King’s birthday and legacy, let us also reflect on the benefits we enjoy today because of the sustained efforts of a group of individuals who refused to take no for an answer. Happy Birthday Dr. King. You showed that Black lives mattered then and activists are doing their best to show that Black lives still matter today-OnPointPress.net.

While NYC mourns cops’ murders, anti-police brutality protests must continue

Ramos and LIu

NYPD Police Officers Rafael Ramos and WenjianLiu were murdered at point blank range on Saturday afternoon by longtime criminal gang member Ismaaiyl Brinsley, who traveled from Baltimore to commit the crime.

As they sat in their marked patrol car near the Tompkins Houses in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, on Saturday afternoon, New York City police officers Rafael Ramos, who is Latino and Wenjian Liu, who is Asian, were shot at point-blank range by Ismaaiyl Brinsley, who traveled to New York City after shooting and wounding his girlfriend in Baltimore, where he had led a life of crime. After murdering the officers, Brinsley then committed suicide.

According to posts on his social media page, Brinsley had threatened to kill police officers in revenge for the murders of unarmed African-American males Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York, and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. As the facts emerge, they tell an irrefutable tale: Brinsley, a gang member who embraced a life of crime, acted alone and had no affiliation to any of the families whose loved ones were killed by police officers. While the misguided ambush of the police officers must be loudly condemned in every corner of society, Brinsley’s action should not diminish the worthy cause of the #BlackLivesMatter movement which seeks to bring attention to the scourge of police officers across the nation murdering unarmed African-Americans and Latinos. Ensuring the safety of all innocent lives is the responsibility of a civilized society.

Baltimore gang member Ismaaiyl Brinsley shot and wounded his girlfriend before traveling to New York City on Saturday where he murdered two police officers as they sat in their patrol car.

Baltimore gang member Ismaaiyl Brinsley shot and wounded his girlfriend before traveling to New York City on Saturday where he murdered two police officers as they sat in their patrol car.

At OnPointPress.net, we mourn the brutal and cowardly murders of officers Ramos and Wenjian. At the same time, we will always mourn the deaths of unarmed African-Americans and Latinos at the hands of police officers. In our view, no life is more important that the other, therefore all lives must be valued equally.

In that vein, we mourn the murders of: Amadaou Diallo who was executed by police officers in a hail of 41 bullets in the Bronx; Anthony Baez, who was choked to death in the Bronx by officer Francis Livotti because Baez’ football hit the officer’s patrol car; Patrick Dorismond in Brooklyn, New York;  Sean Bell who was celebrating his bachelor’s party before he was gunned down by a team of police officers in Queens, New York; Eric Garner who had broken up a fight and was merely standing on a corner in Staten Island, New York; Michael Brown, who had broken the law but did not deserve to die for it in Ferguson, Missouri; John Crawford who was shopping at a Walmart in Ohio; Tamir Rice who was playing with a toy gun in a park in Ohio, Trayvon Martin, who was walking home with candies when a thuggish, police-obsessed George Zimmerman objected, Ezell Ford, in Los Angeles, Akai Gurley, who was talking the stairs in Brooklyn, New York due to a malfunctioning elevator, Oscar Grant, who was trying to get home to his daughter in Oakland, California and the many other unarmed African-American and Latino males and females who are routinely brutalized, harassed and murdered by the very police officers who are sworn to protect and serve them.

We mourn all deaths, and we wait with interest for comprehensive, nationwide reforms to be implemented that will strengthen police-community relations, change the tone of police interactions with Blacks and Latinos to demonstrate respect rather than intimidation and racism, and we look forward to the day when Blacks and Latinos can confidently view police officers as agents who are there to protect them, like they protect Whites, and not murder them with impunity, as is often the case. So as we mourn the unfortunate murders of these innocent officers, we urge the anti-police brutality protests to continue spreading the word that “BlackLivesMatter so that the changes that we seek will become a reality–OnPointPress.net.

#BlackLivesMatter movement mobilize national marches vs. police brutality

New Yorkers hosted the "MillionsMarchNYC"

New Yorkers hosted the “MillionsMarchNYC” which had a strong, vocal turnout.

By Carmen Glover

On Saturday, December 13, several thousand protesters gathered at multiple sites across the country, united in one message: Rally against police brutality. The overall aim was to bring awareness to the scourge of police officers murdering unarmed Black men and boys while grand juries refuse to indict the officers for the murders. The protesters chanted and carried signs stating: “I can’t Breathe,” “Black Lives Matter,” “Stop Police Brutality” among others.

The largest march took place in New York City. Dubbed “MillionsMarchNYC” and organized by several young protesters and media mogul Russell Simmons, the “MillionsMarchNYC” started at Washington Square Park before the group marched uptown, shutting down fifth avenue, sixth avenue and Broadway. The protesters were joined by rapper Nas and music executive Kevin Liles as they marched. A 28-year-old Baruch College professor was arrested for assaulting a two police officers as the group splintered and marched across the Brooklyn Bridge.

Justice For All Rally in Washington DC.

Justice For All Rally in Washington DC.

The second largest march took place on the Freedom Plaza in Washington DC. That march was organized by civil rights groups such as the NAACP, National Urban League, the National Action Network and various youth-themed groups, helmed by young activists who have been vocal on the issue of police brutality.

The DC march was called “Justice For All” and “March Against Police Violence” and was attended by the parents and relatives of well-known victims of police brutality including Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon Martin’s mother; Michael Brown Sr. and Leslie McSpadden, parents of Michael Brown; Katiatou Diallo, Amadou Diallo’s mother; John Crawford Sr., father of John Crawford Jr; the partner of Akai Gurley and the mother of his child; Samaria Rice, Tamir’s mother. “March Against Police Violence featured speakers from the affected families.

Protesters stage die-in

Protesters stage die-in

“You kept this alive for all the families. We love you all,” said Brown, as he surveyed the crowd. “My son was just 12 years old, a baby, my baby, the youngest of four,” said Rice. “This is a great moment,” said Gwen Carr, Garner’s mother.

The group then marched towards the congressional building, joined by notables such as director Spike Lee with his daughter, and New York State Junior Senator Kirstin Gillibrand.

Protesters gathered in multiple cities over the weekend to protest against police brutality.

Protesters gathered in multiple cities over the weekend to protest against police brutality.

Smaller marches took place in Ferguson, Missouri where Brown was killed by police officer Darren Wilson, Boston, MA and Oakland, CA where 21-year-old father Oscar Grant was killed on the Bart train by police officers. More marches and acts of civil disobedience are expected as protesters demand action, such as assigning a special prosecutor in any case involving a police officer, even if death of the victim does not occur–OnPointPress.net.