- Created on 18 October 2012
- Created on 17 October 2012
The NAACP is celebrating a Supreme Court decision today that will allow early voting in Ohio. Without even needing to deliberate, the United States Supreme Court turned back the law that restricted early voting in the state.
The win in Ohio may have been the biggest yet, as the state has recently been highlighted by both Republican candidate Mitt Romney and President Obama as a must win. Many suspect that Ohio Republicans were targeting the weekend before Nov. 6 because many elderly African American and minority churches use that Sunday to vote. Large groups take busses straight from church to the polling place to cast their ballots.
“The high court’s decision again demonstrates the tide is turning in the fight to protect voting rights across the United States,” stated NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous. “Early voting is a critical tool for so many hard working Americans that don’t have the luxury of taking off work or standing in long lines on Election Day. We will continue to fight until all attempts to suppress voter participation are turned back.”
The Obama campaign and Democrats in Ohio had challenged the law, which allowed only voters in the military and their families to cast ballots in person three days before the election. They argued successfully that the law would burden tens of thousands of Ohio voters who had been able to vote during the same time period in previous elections.
In 2008 approximately 105,000 voters in Ohio took advantage of the early vote in the three days prior to the election.
NAACP officials in Ohio called the ruling confirmation that voting was a “right and not a privilege.”
“Restrictions on access to the ballot box are an affront to our democracy,” NAACP Ohio State Conference President Sybil Edwards McNabb said. “The Supreme Court decision reaffirms the federal court's ruling, deciding that voters should be able to to cast their votes in person without risking their jobs, income, or family responsibilities. The NAACP and our allies will continue to stand in one voice against voter suppression.”
In the past few months, laws restricting access to the ballot have been successfully fought in Florida, Wisconsin, Texas, South Carolina, and Pennsylvania while gubernatorial vetoes have limited similar legislation in Michigan and Virginia.
Last December, the NAACP released the report “Defending Democracy” which detailed the various attacks on voting rights, including cuts to early voting across the country.
- Created on 16 October 2012
Special to the Daily World
Ambassador Andrew Young shared the approaches the City of Atlanta took to promote African-American visual arts with a standing room only crowd at a forum held recently at at Morehouse College.
"Leadership in Visual Art and Culture," was held at the African American Hall of Fame in the Martin Luther King Jr. Chapel. Speakers included: Ambassador Andrew Young; Morehouse Alumni Dr. Calvin McLarin, art collector and Barry Gaither, National Center for Afro-American Artists in Boston; Radcliffe Bailey, visual artist; Museum ; Aaronetta Pierce, arts advocate and consultant. The panel was moderated by Jerry Thomas, art consultant and collector.
In a lively and often humorous exchange, the Leadership Forum explored the cultural importance of the visual arts. The Forum speakers urged African Americans to play a greater role as art collectors, as audiences for museum shows, as advocates and as academicians.
Young spoke of the National Black Arts Festival, the 1% for the arts, the art collection at the Atlanta Airport as some of the ways the city has promoted the visual arts. Radcliffe Bailey spoke of the significance of being honored with a show in his own hometown.
Panelists represented a diverse spectrum of leadership roles involving the visual arts.
The program was organized by the Andrew J. Young Foundation in partnership with the Andrew Young Center for Global Leadership and the Leadership Studies Program at Morehouse College.
- Created on 16 October 2012
Special to the Daily World
The transformation of the Atlanta's East Lake Neighborhood from blight to bliss is a model that brought national leaders here recently to learn how they can duplicate the outcomes in their cities.
More than 200 business, civic, education, housing, finance and other experts from 26 cities came to explore "Building Healthy Communities: One Neighborhood at a Time," at the Third Annual Purpose Built Communities Network Member Conference.
"Purpose Built Communities is part of a growing national movement that provides solutions to overcoming poverty—solutions that work," said former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, who now serves as chair and chief executive officer the Atlanta-based not-for-profit that provides consulting, coaching and technical assistance at no cost. "Ours is a neighborhood-based solution. It is built around a very specific framework, one that has proven effective first right here in Atlanta, and now in our expanding network. We have eight Network Members replicating this framework. And we are in exploratory talks with about 20 additional cities," Franklin said.
The conference kicked off with a tour of East Lake, featuring the Charles R. Drew Charter School and connecting East Lake Family YMCA, including the new East Lake Early Learning Academy. Atlanta's formerly poverty-and-crime-ridden East Lake Meadows housing project has morphed into a thriving, mixed-income community with one of the city's best schools.
The change was sparked in 1993, when Atlanta real estate developer Tom Cousins, a key architect of Atlanta's sophisticated skyline, was moved to action when he learned that the public housing community of 1,400 had a crime rate 18 times the national average, with 90 percent of residents victimized by felony crime each year. Driving through the community, he was struck by the fact that, "these kids that are born here have nothing to do with why they're there. They got a bad deal." Moved by the desire to make a difference, he reasoned that, "If that place could be fixed, any place could be fixed."
Cousins—who admits he wasn't certain that the project would succeed—gathered local leaders and created the not-for-profit East Lake Foundation to guide the process. Residents were engaged in all phases of the change, voting for changes and holding leadership roles in the planning process. Families had numerous options, and residents' rights were established in binding agreements.
It took many years, but today a community that had 1,400 extremely low-income residents, more than half on welfare, now boasts 2,100 mixed-income residents, most of who are employed. Crime is down 73 percent—50 percent lower than the city overall—and violent crime reduced 90 percent. Middle-class and low-income residents are flocking to live in East Lake. And revitalization in the surrounding areas, including Kirkwood and Oakhurst, has spurred $144 million in new residential investment, $31 million in new commercial investment, and a 3.8x increase in home values relative to the city of Atlanta.
"They tore down hell, and they built heaven. Now we are living in paradise," said Eva Davis, head of the East Lake Resident's Association, who passed away in June. While Cousins called her "the toughest" negotiator for residents during the transformation and Davis initially viewed him with suspicion, she became a trusted ally and partner to Cousins and his wife, Ann.
As word of East Lake's revitalization spread, leaders from around the country asked Cousins and the East Lake Foundation to guide them in transforming neighborhoods in their cities. Cousins partnered with former hedge fund manager Julian H. Robertson, Jr., and financier Warren Buffett to form Purpose Built Communities in 2009. The annual Purpose Built conference brings current and potential network members together with experts in related fields to share information and best practices, and support each other's efforts. Franklin came on as chair and CEO because she had been involved in the revitalization of East Lake and believed it could work on a national level.
The annual Purpose Built conference brings current and potential network members together with experts in related fields to share information and best practices, and support each other's efforts. The organization has partnered with other non-profits to lead comprehensive community revitalization initiatives in a growing number of cities.
"Purpose Built works where it is invited, and where the criteria for success are present," said Carol R. Naughton, senior vice president at Purpose Built Communities.
To ensure success, Purpose Built provides expert consulting services and support to network members. Their staff expertise includes mixed-income housing, education reform and community redevelopment. With network members in New Orleans, Indianapolis, Birmingham, Spartanburg, Omaha and Rome and Clarkston, Georgia, the Purpose Built model is growing from coast to coast.
- Created on 16 October 2012
By MARK SHERMAN
Nine years after the Supreme Court said colleges and universities can use race in their quest for diverse student bodies, the justices have put this divisive social issue back on their agenda in the middle of a presidential election campaign.
Nine years is a blink of the eye on a court where justices can look back two centuries for legal precedents. But with an ascendant conservative majority, the high court in arguments this week will weigh whether to limit or even rule out taking race into account in college admissions.
The justices will be looking at the University of Texas program that is used to help fill the last quarter or so of its incoming freshman classes. Race is one of many factors considered by admissions officers. The rest of the roughly 7,100 freshman spots automatically go to Texans who graduated in the top 8 percent of their high school classes.
A white Texan, Abigail Fisher, sued the university after she was denied a spot in 2008.
The simplest explanation for why affirmative action is back on the court's calendar so soon after its 2003 decision in Grutter v. Bollinger is that the author of that opinion, Sandra Day O'Connor, has retired. Her successor, Justice Samuel Alito, has been highly skeptical of any use of racial preference.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, a dissenter in the 2003 decision, probably holds the deciding vote, and he, too, has never voted in favor of racial preference.
As a result, said Supreme Court lawyer Thomas Goldstein, ''No matter what the court does, it is quite likely that the UT program is going to be in big trouble.''
The challenge to the Texas plan has gained traction in part because the university has produced significant diversity by automatically offering about three-quarters of its spots to graduates in the top 10 percent of their Texas high schools, under a 1990s state law signed by then-Gov. George W. Bush. The admissions program has been changed so that now only the top 8 percent gain automatic admission.
More than eight in ten African-American and Latino students who enrolled at the flagship campus in Austin last year were automatically admitted, according to university statistics. Even among the rest, both sides acknowledge that the use of race is modest.
In all, black and Hispanic students made up more than a quarter of the incoming freshmen class. White students constituted less than half the entering class when students with Asian backgrounds and other minorites were added in.
The Obama administration, 57 of the Fortune 100 companies and large numbers of public and private colleges that could be affected by the outcome are backing the Texas program. Among the benefits of affirmative action, the administration argues, is that it creates a pipeline for a diverse officer corps that it called ''essential to the military's operational readiness.'' In 2003, the court cited the importance of a similar message from military leaders.
But lawyers for Fisher, of Sugar Land, Texas, said the race-blind method under which the university automatically admits most of its students has been successful. They say Fisher, who has since graduated from Louisiana State University, was excluded because of her race, and they point to a handful of African-American and Latino students who were admitted with lower scores than hers.
''If any state action should respect racial equality, it is university admission,'' Fisher's lawyers said in their written submission to the court.
The university says that a fuller picture of the process shows that white students with lower scores also were admitted, while many more minority students with higher scores than Fisher also were not offered admission.
The case also raises several contentious side issues, including whether affirmative-action programs hurt the very people they are supposed to be helping. A new book by law professor Richard Sander and journalist Stuart Taylor argues that ''large preferences often place students in environments where they can neither learn nor compete effectively, even though these same students would thrive had they gone to less competitive but still quite good schools.''
Their book, ''Mismatch,'' says these students are set up to fail, getting lower grades and dropping out more often than white students with similar backgrounds.