#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.

FBI, Justice Department, now involved in Missouri murder probe

Unarmed 18-year-old teenager Michael Brown was murdered in Ferguson, Missouri on Saturday, August, sparking uproar and riots.

Unarmed 18-year-old teenager Michael Brown was murdered in Ferguson, Missouri on Saturday, August 9, sparking uproar and riots.

The announcement by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and the US Department of Justice on Monday, August 11 that they will be involved in probing and oversight following the murder of unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, is welcome news.

US Attorney General Eric Holder said the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division will monitor the situation.

US Attorney General Eric Holder said the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division will monitor the situation.

The FBI announced that they will take over the investigation while, US Attorney General said he has instructed the civil rights ‎division to “monitor” the situation. The feedback was provided after peaceful protests devolved into looting and rioting on Sunday, August 10. The police officer who allegedly pumped 10 bullets into Brown’s back has been placed on “paid administrative leave,” according to the St. Louis Police Department but no information was provided about his identity .

St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar addressing the media regarding murder of unarmed teenager Michael Brown.

St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar addressing the media regarding murder of unarmed teenager Michael Brown.

Missouri Police Chief. Jon Balmar said the investigation is “complicated” while stating that he agreed with the FBI’s involvement. ‎Meanwhile, MSNBC reported that she Rev. Al Sharpton would be meeting with Brown’s family and that the local NAACP will convene a community event.

Protestors initially demonstrated peacefully before some resorted to rioting and looting.

Protestors initially demonstrated peacefully before some resorted to rioting and looting.

Brown’s murder represents another addition to the exhaustive list of Black males who are executed in the United States with impunity, often at the hands of the police or overzealous vigilantes such as George Zimmerman’s murder of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin in Florida, a crime foe which Zimmerman escaped punishment; and the recent murder of unarmed father and grandfather Eric Garner in New York, whose life was squeezed from him with an illegal chokehold‎ administered by police officers. EMTs failed to provide help when they arrived at the scene.

 Lesley McSpadden, (l) is consoled by her husband, Louis Head (r ), after her son, Michael Brown was shot and killed by police. Brown's parents join a long line of African-Americans forced to mourn the death of a child at the hands of police.


Lesley McSpadden, (l) is consoled by her husband, Louis Head (r ), after her son, Michael Brown was shot and killed by police. Brown’s parents join a long line of African-Americans forced to mourn the death of a child at the hands of police.

Brown’s death causes simmering anger to explode in the Black community as the war on black males continues unchecked. But looting and rioting is not the answer. Who benefits from such disorganized and unlawful actions? Certainly not the affected families.

With the FBI and Justice Department taking an active role in probing all the details of what happened to Brown, it’s important for peaceful protests to continue, but cooler heads need to prevail because rioting and looting are foolish distractions which will impede, rather than advance the quest for justice.-OnPointPress.net-

Insight, inspiration and fun abound at Circle of Sisters Expo

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Motivational Speaker Iyanla Vanzant elicited the strongest reaction at Circle of Sisters Expo.

By Carmen Glover

The line to enter New York’s Jacob Javits Convention Center for the WBLS-sponsored Circle of Sisters Expo on Saturday, October 19, wrapped into a giant circle as eager attendees peered around, impatient to enter the convention hall. But once the line began to move and people started entering the coveted area, the energy, excitement and anticipation were palpable. The event did not disappoint, from vendors promoting products to celebrities and WBLS personalities mingling with fans, Circle of Sisters was off to a promising start.

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Newark Mayor and Senator-elect Cory Booker discussed his plans.

WBLS News Director Ann Tripp gave insight into current news stories while she waited for the panelists to get settled. Then the parade to the podium began and included Norman Seabrook, president of the Corrections Officers’ Benevolent Association, Inc (COBA), Ken Thompson, Democratic nominee for Brooklyn’s District Attorney office, WBLS Vice President and General Manager Deon Livingston and Newark Mayor/Senator-elect Cory Booker. “

Journalist Ed Gordon interviews Activist Al Sharpton

Journalist Ed Gordon interviews Activist Al Sharpton

Booker was engaging as he shared lessons he learned from his father as well as his plans to “make change” when he goes to Washington as New Jersey’s Senator. “I’m looking forward to going to the Senate to talk about our issues that don’t usually get discussed there,’ he said passionately, while observing that “The power of the people is always greater than the people in power.” He left the stage to sustained applause. Afterward, Reverend Al Sharpton discussed his new book with award-winning journalist Ed Gordon while Gospel singer Yolanda Adams talked about healthy living.

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(l-R) Journalists T.J Holmes and Lenny Green share the stage with Singer Eric Benet to discuss relationships.

Among the topics tackled were “It’s your money: Learn how to spend and save it,” “Now It’s time to own your own home,” “The state of Black America,” “Black Men Revealed,” “Book signing and chat with Rev, Al. Sharpton and the Honorable David N. Dinkins. But the highlights of the day were delivered by Iyanla Vanzant, Steve Harvey, and the panelists for “The State of Black America,” and “Black Men Revealed.”

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Journalists Roland Martin and Keli Goff discuss the State of Black America with Dr Michael Eric Dyson.

The panel on “The State of Black America,” moderated by Gordon, featured Georgetown University Sociology Professor Michael Eric Dyson, TV One’s “Washington Watch” host Roland Martin, Journalist Keli Goff and Seabrook, who seemed out of touch when he bashed the relevance of social media. Dyson stressed the importance of leveraging political clout and community strength to “do for ourselves instead of asking folks to do for us.” Goff appealed to the attendees to support the movie “12 Years a Slave,” describing it as the “most accurate depiction of slavery” that she has ever seen because it “shows the psychological impact of slavery.”

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The audience cheers as Iyanla leaves the stage.

Actor Gbenga Akinnagbe, who has appeared in “The Wire” and “Taking of Pelham 123,” nearly incited a riot with his brazen thoughts about relationships while joining singer Eric Benet, journalist T. J. Holmes and radio personality Lenny Green on the “Black Men Revealed,’ panel, which was moderated in dramatic style by singer/reality star Tamar Braxton. “ A woman has to try to get my attention and she will know I’m interested if I speak to her for more than five minutes on the telephone,” Akinnagbe said boldly.

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Singer/Reality Star Tamar Braxton moderates relationship panel.

When a female from the crowd took him to task he asked her if she were single then said “I’m not surprised,” when she said yes. At that point, pandemonium erupted and women of all ages ran to the front of the room, dying to wring his neck. Braxton rolled her eyes, glared at him and made it clear she had no use for his thoughts. Holmes sat next to him to offer support, while Benet and Green kept silent. When the topic of cheating came up, Benet said he “knew something about that,” but largely kept quiet.

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WBLS VP/Gm Deon Livingston addresses the gathering.

The sponsors of the Circle of Sisters Expo addressed the audience. Norman Seabrook spoke to the crowd about the importance of COBA and the corrections department. Meanwhile, WBLS Vice President and General Manager Deon Livingston thanked the attendees for coming out in such large numbers to support the expo.

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WBLS personality Deja Vu talks to the audience.

But the excitement built to a crescendo as the crowd waited for Vanzant. She came out in style, dancing to Beyonce’s “Love on top,” while the crowd erupted in cheers. Vanzant had the audience eating out of her hands from her opening prayer, to her request that each person holds the hands of the one next to them, to her profound words of wisdom.  She urged the attendees to “Get it clean in 2014,” by cleaning up their minds, hearts, life, spirit, mouths, energy and credit. “Whatever you tell yourself about who and what you are it will happen,’ she said, warning about the power of thoughts to manifest into reality. “Clean up your minds by committing to forgiveness,” she said, “we have to stop expecting people to clean up our lives for us.” She left the stage to deafening applause and shouts.

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Comedian/Talk Show Host Steve Harvey performs a comedy routine before hosting a live edition of Family Feud.

By the time Harvey took the stage to treat the audience to a taste of his comedy routine in preparation for a live version of “Family Feud” the crowd was hyped and passionate. The Circle of Sisters was filled with fun, education and supportive interactions. Vendors, including the Network Journal magazine which had promotions maverick Julia Shaw at the helm of its booth, were creative in attracting patrons, while the panelists and presenters were entertaining. Surprise appearances were made by Cynthia Bailey and her husband, Peter of “The Real Housewives of Atlanta,” while Drea Kelly (ex-wife of singer R. Kelly) elicited gasps of admiration from men and women alike when she strutted by in a form-fitting dress that showcased her remarkable figure.

One area that could be improved is inadequate the number of ladies’ rooms, which created such long lines that some attendees, including this writer, commandeered one of the male bathrooms and posted other females at the door to keep the men out.—OnPointPress.net

 

50 years later, the plague of substandard lifestyle prevails

 

Dr Martin Luther King Jr whose "I Have a Dream" speech and March on Washington were honored by President Barack Obama on the 50th anniversary.

Dr Martin Luther King Jr whose “I Have a Dream” speech and March on Washington were honored by President Barack Obama on the 50th anniversary.

By Carmen Glover

As the sea of faces gazed across the Washington Mall on Saturday, August 24 and Wednesday, August 28 in the two marches held to commemorate the 1963 March on Washington, many eyes were transfixed on the myriad of speakers. Those at the podium eloquently described the urgent issues that need to be addressed in this era:more quality jobs, better educational options, equitable pay, quality housing, affordable health care, elimination of stop and frisk, gun violence, voter suppression and Stand Your Ground laws.

President Barack Obama speaks on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in celebration of Dr King's "I  Have a Dream" speech.

President Barack Obama speaks on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in celebration of Dr King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

“We need jobs,” said the Revered Al Sharpton, whose National Action Network, in conjunction with Martin Luther King III, organized Saturday’s march.  “Yes we will raise the minimum wage because you cannot survive on $7.25,” said NAACP President Benjamin Jealous.

Attorney General Eric Holder addresses the crowd.

Attorney General Eric Holder addresses the crowd.

Attorney General Eric Holder talks with Myrlie Evers-Williams.

Attorney General Eric Holder talks with Myrlie Evers-Williams.

Nine-year-old Asean Johnson, who hails from President Barack Obama’s home state of Chicago, was the youngest speaker on Saturday. Johnson said he was marching for “better schools, peace and no racism in the world.” Fifty years prior, Georgia Congressman John Lewis, at 23, was the youngest speaker and today is the only person alive who spoke at the March of 1963.

Georgia Rep. John Lewis makes a point.

Georgia Rep. John Lewis makes a point.

 

Georgia Rep. John Lewis waves to the crowd.

Georgia Rep. John Lewis waves to the crowd while standing next to the historic bell, a remnant from the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama.

Dr King with a younger John Lewis in 1963.

Dr King with a younger John Lewis in 1963.

“I am not going to stand down and let the Supreme Court take the right to vote away from us,” Lewis stated passionately as he invoked the painful memories that litter the nation’s history of the struggles blacks experienced in their battle to vote. Attorney General Eric Holder elicited the most applause when he said: “The struggle most go on. The quest must, and will, go on until every eligible African- American exercises his or her right to vote.” Adding her voice to the theme of voting rights, Myrlie Evers-Williams was resolute: “We must be sure that nothing is taken away from us,” she said.

Christine King Farris, Dr King's sister, addresses the crowd.

Christine King Farris, Dr King’s sister, addresses the crowd.

Yet despite the various social, economic and judicial issues that continue to plague African-Americans, there have been some significant areas of progress. Many people went to the polls in 2008 and again in 2012 to elect and re-elect President Obama, while still being uncertain that their votes would matter. Obama steadfastly rises above a Congress that has repeatedly articulated being invested wholeheartedly in diminishing his achievements.

Reverend Al Sharpton shares a moment with Martin Luther King III.

Reverend Al Sharpton shares a moment with Martin Luther King III.

Congress has held the country’s jobs bill and economic agenda hostage, prompting the African-American community and supporters of fairness to become even more energized to ensure Obama’s success. Many who marched on Washington, whether 50 years ago or this week, could never before envision a president who is half black and half white. Many at the marches could not envision the inroads that  African-Americans have made by graduating from high school in larger numbers, earning college degrees, embracing political careers and impacting society in the many areas that they have.

Anthony Billups, his sister Mylene Marlin ans his mother Darlene Marlin hold their signs at the march.

Anthony Billups, his sister Mylene Marlin and his mother, Darlene Marlin, hold their signs at the march.

But, like Attorney Holder stated, “the struggle must go on.” In the same way that the younger generation went out in droves to elect the president, so too have they re-energized the civil rights movement. The youth have marched and led protests, such as the actions being taken by the Dream Defenders in Florida as they agitate to end Stand Your Ground laws. Students from all over the county converged on Washington to make their voices heard. Howard University students, in particular, were front and center.

Anthony Billups, a graduate of Northeastern and Arizona State Universities, with undergraduate and master’s degrees in Math, marched on Saturday with his family, who reside in New York’s Staten Island community. “I attended both inaugurations of the current president and I wanted to be a part of this historic march as well,” he said.  Billups’ 12-year-old sister, Mylene Marlin, was excited to participate in the march and proudly displayed her sign which read “I am empowered,” while their mother looked on.

Former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton both addressed the crowd.

Former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton both addressed the crowd.

So when President Obama addressed the crowd on Wednesday, August 28, 2013, people of all colors and backgrounds listened intently. President Obama reflected on the March of 1963 by describing the “courage” that it took and the need for continued “vigilance” to keep the fight going.

“Change does not come from Washington, it comes to Washington,” Obama said, adding: “In the face of impossible odds, people who love their country can change it.” In the same way that young people marched in 1963, President Obama called on the youth today to become active in the effort to ensure that “all people get a fair shot.” Making the connection between disenchanted youth and the damaging impact on society, President Obama said “the shadow of poverty casts a pall over our youth.” He called on the “imagination and hunger of purpose of the young,” as critical ingredients for a revitalized call to action. “We now have a choice: we can continue down the same path of we can have the courage to change,” he said.

Myrllie Evers-Williams speaks to the gathering.

Myrllie Evers-Williams speaks to the gathering.

President Obama celebrated the achievements that have been made in the country since the first March on Washington but he emphasized the areas that still need fixing. “Black unemployment remains twice as high as whites,” he said, and he cited economic equality as “our great unfinished business” from 1963, which makes “upward mobility harder.” A plethora of speakers united to make the commemoration memorable and when Dr King’s family rang the bell at 3:00 PM in honor of his memory, the act was symbolic because the bell came from the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, where in 1963, shortly after the March on Washington, four black girls were killed in a bombing initiated by a white supremacist. Former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter added an important context to the day, especially since on the day of the 1963 March; the president chose to avoid the event.

Media icon Oprah WInfrey shares her thoughts.

Media icon Oprah Winfrey shares her thoughts.

Among the notables in attendance to hear President Obama’s speech and add their thoughts were: Oprah Winfrey, Forest Whitaker, Jamie Foxx, Caroline Kennedy, Ambassador Andrew Young, Christine King Farris who is Dr King’s 85-year-old sister, Dr King’s surviving children and grandchild and many of the speakers from Saturday’s march.

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama wave to the crowd as they leave the event.

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama wave to the crowd as they leave the event.

The legacy of Dr King’s lifelong activism and the brilliance of his oratorical skills will live on but like President Obama stated, change takes courage. It remains to be seen how many will heed that call and demonstrate the courage that is needed to address the substandard lifestyle that prevails in many minority communities today.  –OnPointPress.net