Monday, May 31, 2010
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Monday, May 24, 2010
by Dr. Boyce Watkins, The Institute for Black Public Policy
Nearly three years ago, two black college students and a friend were murdered in a schoolyard in Newark, NJ. Monday, a jury returned guilty verdicts for three of the murders and one attempted murder after deliberating for less than a day.
Rodolfo Godinez, a 26-year old gang member and native of Nicaragua, was convicted of all charges against him, including multiple counts of robbery, weapons possession and conspiracy. He can get up to 30 years to life for each murder count, and the sentences can be given out consecutively.
"This man will never see the light of day," said Robert D. Laurino, the acting Essex County prosecutor.
Sentencing for Godinez is set for July 8. His lawyer, Roy Greenman, said,"Obviously, there will be an appeal on a number of grounds," but he declined to state the grounds on which he'd be filing.
The prosecution did not assert that Godinez was the one who hacked at the victims with a machete or shot each of them execution-style, in the back of the head. He was argued, however, to be the one who summoned the other gang members to the schoolyard on the night when the murders took place. The murders were particularly chilling because all four of the victims were "good kids" with no criminal history and educational plans for the future.
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Sunday, May 23, 2010
Friday, May 21, 2010
Monday, May 17, 2010
I was among the many who were disappointed that President Barack Obama did not nominate an African American woman to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. After all, there are six white men, two women, one Latina and one white, and a nominal African American man on the Court. Why not an African American woman?
The Black Women's Roundtable, led by Melanie Campbell, was so disappointed that they shared their concerns with the President in a letter that spoke both to the contributions African American women have made and the qualifications of a few good women that President Obama should have considered before nominating Ms. Kagan to the nation's highest court.
I won't even speak on what I perceive as some of the shortcomings of the Kagan nomination. The Solicitor General has earned the support of some colleagues that I fully respect, such as Harvard Professor Charles Ogletree. At the same time, we have to pause at the fact that her definition of diversity is ideological diversity, not racial and ethnic diversity, and that she seemed to make Harvard a more welcome place for conservatives, if not for African American faculty.
Saturday, May 15, 2010
If you ever attended a National Council of Negro Women event, you ended up singing "This Little Light of Mine" at the end of the event. It was Dr. Dorothy Irene Height's favorite song, "This little light of mine, I'm going to let it shine". The civil rights pioneer, Fannie Lou Hamer, also loved to sing "This Little Light of Mine", and it is easy to see why. The song encompasses humility and empowerment, the recognition that each light is little, but that in choosing to allow it to shine, to amplify, it can be great. Dr. Maya Angelou wrote, "Fannie Lou Hamer knew that she was one woman and only one woman. However, she knew she was an American and as an American she had a light to shine on the darkness of racism. It was a little light, but she aimed it directly at the gloom of ignorance."
Dr. Dorothy Height and Fannie Lou Hamer embraced their light and shone it at our nation's deficiencies. On Saturday, I asked the 80 women who graduated from Bennett College how they might allow their light to shine. In so many ways, this is the issue that confronts young people, and indeed the issue that confronts us all. What is our passion? How will we transmit it? How will we let our light shine?
In the weeks since Dr. Dorothy Height's death I have been thinking of the many ways she let her light shine. She shone light on issues of equal pay, workplace inequities, global issues of gender inequity, health disparities, and other issues. And by her very presence she tackled racism, sexism, classism, and ageism, refusing to be marginalized because she was nearly one hundred years old. She didn't elbow her way to the table, but in her dignity she insisted on space. By just coming to work every day, well after the retirement age of 65, she shone her light on the capabilities of older Americans. She didn't just shine her light, she was incandescent.