Tag Archives: United States

He Had a Dream – Celebratin​g Martin Luther King Jr. Day ::Black History

mLKjrDr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s leadership of the American Civil Rights Movement achieved more genuine progress toward racial equality in America than the previous 350 years had produced. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest leaders in world history. Our country is celebrating his birthday on January 21. Check out these classroom resources, activities, and lesson plans to learn more about him:


Do YOU have a climate-fr​iendly garden? a repost

Today the Backyard, Tomorrow the Nation

Most home gardeners already see evidence of global warming in their own backyards and these droughts, floods, pests, and weeds can challenge even the greenest thumb. But you can do more than merely adapt to these new conditions: you can make choices in your garden that don’t add to the problem.

As the summer gardening season swings into full gear, we’ll be bringing you expert advice – from Master Gardeners and our very own scientists – so that you can be a climate-friendly gardener in your own backyard, and encourage the same on our nation’s farms.

In Your Garden

Norma Jean Wade, a Master Gardener from Livonia, MI, offers this tip on how to be a climate-friendly gardener.

gardeners guide “Synthetic chemical pesticides require a lot of energy to manufacture, producing a significant amount of carbon dioxide in the process. To reduce your use of synthetic pesticides, consider planting native plants. Native plants are low maintenance because they are adapted to local soils and climate, and are more resistant to native plant viruses, insects, and bacteria. Incorporating native plants is a key strategy for establishing a climate-friendly garden.”

See page 4 of The Climate-Friendly Gardener (pdf) for more tips on how to limit chemicals in your garden, or contact your local Cooperative Extension Office for gardening information specific to your region.

On the Farm…

Farmers can also adopt climate-friendly practices, such as lowering their use of chemical pesticides, on our nation’s farms. Farmers employing sustainable farming techniques, including organic systems, have demonstrated that it is possible to produce abundant quantities of nutritious food while avoiding the use of these synthetic pesticides which are dangerous for our health and our environment.

The Farm Bill—voted on every five years in Congress—largely determines what food farmers will grow and what practices they will employ. Programs designed to help farmers successfully transition to sustainable agriculture practices that reduce their reliance on synthetic pesticides are on the chopping block, despite the already low levels of funding for these programs compared with support for outdated, chemical-dependent conventional agriculture systems.

Write to your member of Congress and demand farm policies that help farmers lower their use of synthetic chemical pesticides.

Take Action Today!    www.ucsusa.org

Jenn Yates
National Field Organizer
UCS Food and Environment Program

Norma Jean Wade, a Master Gardener from Livonia, MI, offers this tip on how to be a climate-friendly gardener.

Gun Violence Prevention 101 – 2013 still relevant in 2019 reposted

By ThinkProgress War Room 2013

The President’s Sensible Gun Violence Prevention Proposal

The president and vice president today announced a sweeping agenda to stem the epidemic of gun violence that exists in our country. You can find the full text of the plan HERE, but ThinkProgress’ Annie-Rose Strasser breaks down everything you need to know about the president’s plan:

1. Making background checks universal. Obama wants every single gun owner to go through a proper background check, so it can be determined whether they have a criminal history or diagnosed mental illness. He wants Congress to close the gun show loophole that allows people at gun shows, and private buyers of used weapons, to avoid getting checked. He will also, through executive action, urge private sellers to conduct background checks, even if they aren’t mandatory.

2. Improving state reporting of criminals and the mentally ill. While all states are required to report to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) people who should not have access to guns, some states are sluggish about putting the data into the system. Obama will put more money into the hands of the states so that they can improve their reporting systems, and issue stronger guidelines to let states know when they should report people. Obama will also, through Presidential Memorandum, work to make sure agencies are regularly entering data into NICS.

3. Banning assault weapons. This is likely the most difficult battle Obama will undertake. He wants to reinstate the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban, which outlaws military-grade weapons, like the AR-15 used by Newtown gunman Adam Lanza and by Aurora Theater gunman James Holmes. Obama wants Congress to pass the ban, and close some of the loopholes identified in its 1994 iteration.

4. Capping magazine clip capacity at 10 bullets. A military-grade weapon is dangerous, but so are its accessories: Obama proposes banning all extended magazine clips that hold over 10 bullets. Huge magazine clips allow a gunman to fire off hundreds of rounds without having to stop, even once, to reload. The high-capacity magazine ban was also part of the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban.

5. Purging armor-piercing bullets. The sale of armor piercing ammunition has been banned for quite some time, but is still legal to posess such bullets. Obama is calling on Congress to outlaw ownership and transfer of these bullets, instead of just the sale. Those who oppose any gun laws try to spin a ban on armor piercing bullets as a ban on deer hunting ammunition, but such ammo has the ability to penetrate bullet-proof vests, and is more colloquially known as “cop killer bullets.”

6. Funding police officers. Obama wants Congress to reverse its course of austerity for public employees by approving $4 billion to fund police enforcement around the country.

7. Strengthening gun tracking. In order to track weapons that are used for crimes, Obama will issue a memorandum mandating that all agencies trace back firearms. This means that any agency in the country must trace guns used in crimes back to their original owners, as a way to help collect data on where criminal weapons are coming from. Obama will also ask Congress to allow law enforcement to do background checks on guns seized during investigations.

8. Supporting research on gun violence. Obama hopes to be able to gather more information on gun violence and misuse of firearms, and use that data to inform the work of law enforcement. He also wants to restart research, which has been long blocked by the National Rifle Association, on how video games, the media, and violence affect violent gun crimes. The Centers for Disease Control will immediately begin these efforts, but Obama also is calling on Congress to add $10 million to the pot of funding for such research.

9. Encouraging mental health providers to get involved. In order to make sure that those with homicidal thoughts are unable to access the weapons with which to kill, Obama seeks to encourage mental health professionals to alert authorities to such people. He will clarify that doing so is not in violation of patient privacy laws. He also wants to dispel the idea that Obamacare prevents doctors from talking to patients about guns.

10. Promoting safe gun ownership. The administration will start a “responsible gun ownership” campaign to encourage gun owners to lock up their firearms. He will also work with the Consumer Product Safety Commission to make sure safes and gun locks on the market are effective. He’s also calling on the justice department to help him come up with new gun safety technology.

11. Funding school counseling. Obama is calling on Congress to fund the positions of 1,000 news school counselors. The funding will come both through the already-existent COPS Hiring Grant, and through a new Comprehensive School Safety program that Congress will need to sign off on. The latter would put #150 million into funding for new counselors and social workers in schools.

12. Encouraging safe, anti-bullying school environments. Over 8,000 schools could receive new funding — $50 million — under Obama’s plan to encourage safer school environments. Obama wants to help at-risk students by creating a “school climate survey” that will collect data on what services students need, and to remedy any problems by putting professionals into schools. The administration will also issue guidelines on school discipline policies.

13. Recognizing the mental health needs of low-income Americans. Medicaid recipients already qualify for some mental health services, but Obama would like to expand that service so that low-income Americans have the same access to professional help as those who have money to pay for it on their own. Obama will issue a directive to heads of state health programs, enforcing “mental health parity” — the idea that mental health should be treated as a priority as important as physical health.

In the coming days and weeks, the president, vice president, and cabinet will take their case outside of the Beltway in order to truly engage the American people in the vital debate.

BOTTOM LINE: Now is the time for Congress to pass common-sense legislation that protects our families from needless gun violence. We are not talking about radical measures but common-sense solutions supported by a majority of the American people, as well as NRA members and gun owners.

Things that happened in 2013 and still cannot be explained ~ insane!

Meet the Republicans who want to impeach Obama over gun safety regulations.

NRA releases “repugnant and cowardly” ad invoking the president’s children.

Rick Perry’s solution to gun violence: pray.

Whole Foods CEO: Obamacare is like “fascism.”

Conservatives and GOP elected officials call for GOP to back off debt limit hostage-taking.

Terrorists linked to Al-Qaeda take Americans hostage in Algeria.

States shower millions in tax breaks on gunmakers

A Powerful Life: Joe Louis …Lonnie G. Bunch at The NMAAHC in Memory

Lonnie Bunch, museum director, historian, lecturer, and author, is proud to present A Page from Our American Story, a regular on-line series for Museum supporters. It will showcase individuals and events in the African American experience, placing these stories in the context of a larger story — our American story.
A Page From Our American StoryDuring what is often described as boxing’s “Golden Age” — approximately 1930 to 1955 — Joe Louis, the “Brown Bomber,” would become its undisputed king.Not only would Louis dominate his sport during this period, he transcended the color barrier and was cheered by Americans of allraces.Joe Louis Barrow — the grandson of a slave and the great grandson of a slave owner — was born in poverty on May 13, 1914. The Barrow home in Lafayette, Alabama was next to a cotton field. Growing up, Louis and his seven siblings often slept three and four to a bed.The lack of jobs and the violence waged against African Americans by a revived Ku Klux Klan in the South led Louis’ mother, Lily,to take her family and join thousands of blacks in the Great Migration north.Portrait of Joe Louis, Greenwood Lake, N.Y.
September 15, 1941. 
Carl Van Vechten (1880 – 1964).They settled in Detroit, and Joe began learning the craft of cabinet making and taking violin lessons. He was about 11-years-old when a friend introduced him to boxing. As a teenager, Louis gained a reputation as a top-flight amateur fighter. He dropped “Barrow” from his name, hoping to keep his boxing a secret from his mother. But winning 50 of 54 amateur fights – 43 by knockouts — brought headlines on newspaper sports pages in Detroit and around the Midwest. It was impossible to hide his remarkable power, speed, and innate tactical mind — skills that helped Louis become one of the greatest boxers in history.He soon gained the attention of John Roxborough, head of the illegal gambling rackets in the black communities of Detroit. What Roxborough offered Louis was unique to the sport of boxing at the time. Roxborough had watched countless white managers burn out African American fighters before their prime. He promised Louis the best training and opportunities.

Roxborough quickly brought in boxing promoter Julian Black and respected trainer Jack Blackburn to groom Louis for greatness.

Roxborough was true to his word, guiding Louis with care and, in the process, attaining record prize purses — not just for a black boxer, but for boxers of any color. Roxborough was also a keen marketer. The image white America had of African American boxers had been shaped by Jack Johnson. Johnson, though a powerful champion, was viewed as militant and a womanizer, among other things. With “the shadow of Johnson” stalking Louis, Roxborough created a list of “commandments” that Louis would have to follow. These “commandments” included:

  • Never be photographed with a white woman.
  • Never gloat over a fallen opponent.
  • Never engage in fixed fights.
  • Live clean and fight clean.

The public relations strategy worked. Louis’ talent did the rest. As Louis wrote in his autobiography: “Mr. Roxborough was talking about Black Power before it became popular.”

Joe Louis looks for an opening during boxing match
with Max Schmeling. June 20, 1936.
World-Telegram staff photo


His first professional bouts of note were victories against Italian giant Primo Carnera, and American Max Baer, both former champions.

The bout with Carnera foreshadowed how Louis’ life and career would become politicized. Carnera was touted by Benito Mussolini as the symbol of his new, fascist Italy. Louis battered Carnera, winning by knockout in the sixth round.

Louis won 27 professional fights in a row — 23 by knockouts — and was on track to fight “Cinderella Man” James Braddock for the title. However, Louis’ surprising loss to German Max Schmeling on June 19, 1936 temporarily delayed a title shot. Schmeling, who was not a Nazi, was hailed by Adolf Hitler as an example of the superiority of the Aryan race.

Eventually, Louis got his title fight against Braddock, knocking him out on June 22, 1937 and winning the heavyweight crown. After the fight, Malcolm X said, “Every Negro boy who could walk wanted to be the next Brown Bomber.”

Now it was time for Schmeling again. By the late 1930s, Hitler had started his attempt to conquer Europe, and the Louis-Schmeling rematch took on even more meaning. It was reported that Hitler called Schmeling just before the fight and ordered him to win for the sake of Nazi Germany. Louis, despite America’s racial divide, was seen as freedom and democracy’s defender. Franklin Roosevelt invited Louis to the White House. There, more than two years before the United States entered the war, Roosevelt felt Louis’ bicep and said, “Joe, we need muscles like these to defeat Germany.”

It wasn’t a fight between two men; it was a battle of ideologies.

On June 22, 1938 — exactly one year after becoming world champion — Louis dispatched Schmeling two minutes into Round One. Instantly Louis became more than just a champion. At a time when boxing was at its zenith and the heavyweight champion was considered the greatest athlete in the world, Louis achieved even more. He became a hero to Americans of every race and background.

Louis would hold the crown for 12 years — longer than any fighter past or present has held a title in any weight class. At his prime, Louis enlisted in the Army in 1942, where he rose to the rank of sergeant. He fought hundreds of exhibition matches to entertain the troops and raise money for the Armed Services. Louis even donated money to military relief funds.

After the war, Louis won four more fights — two against Jersey Joe Walcott — and retired. He had defended his title 25 times, another record, and only three of those bouts went the distance.

World Heavyweight champ
Joseph Louis Barrow (aka Joe Louis)
sews on the stripes of a technical
sergeant — to which he has been promoted.
April 10, 1945.  US Office of War Information.

Almost two years later, Louis had to change his plans. Louis’ lifestyle — his generosity to friends and family was well known — coupled with his boxing schedule had left little time for keeping track of the accounting, including filing his taxes. Ignoring all that Louis had done for his country during the war, the IRS demanded more than $1 million in back taxes. He stepped back into the ring well past his prime and was pummeled by the current champion, Ezzard Charles. Then, in 1951, Louis was knocked out by Rocky Marciano.

Louis retired from the ring again, but he still needed money to pay the IRS. He took odd jobs, including a stint as a professional wrestler. His last job was as the official greeter at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas.

After his boxing career was over, Louis would become good friends with Schmeling. Sports writers respected Louis as much for his kind, generous nature as they did for his boxing brilliance. When he died on April 12, 1981, President Ronald Reagan said Louis was “more than a sports legend — his career was an indictment of racial bigotry and a source of pride and inspiration for people around the world.” Honoring the family’s request, Reagan waived the requirements and Sgt. Joe Louis was buried in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.

At the height of his popularity, people said Louis was “a credit to his race.” In response, Boxing Hall of Fame sports writer Jimmy Cannon wrote: “Yes, Joe Louis is a credit to his race — the human race.”

Lonnie Bunch, Director


February: Heritage Month


February is African American History Month

The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in paying tribute to the generations of African Americans who struggled with adversity to achieve full citizenship in American society.

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