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You are invited to the 2nd Annual African American and African Diaspora Gathering 2015


“Black Lives Matter: Where Do We Go From Here?” 

Hear dynamic presentations and vision for the future; be a listener and connect with our community on the state and interests of African Americans and residents from the African Diaspora in Seattle/King County. 

This gathering will bring us together with invited local policy and decision makers for an opportunity to present 2014 wins and challenges, opportunities and recommendations including: housing, economic development, education, arts, technology and community inclusion.


Mayor Mike McGinn took two significant steps Tuesday in the wake of the city’s settlement with the Department of Justice, announcing a long-delayed reappointment of the civilian director who oversees police internal investigations and hiring a nationally recognized civil-rights attorney who played a key role in spurring widely praised police reforms in Los Angeles.

McGinn nominated Kathryn Olson, who oversees the Police Department’s Office of Professional Accountability (OPA), to the job she has continued to hold without required City Council confirmation after her initial three-year term officially expired more than two years ago.

But McGinn’s biggest move was the naming of Connie Rice to advise him as the city moves forward in addressing the Justice Department’s concerns about the use of excessive force and discriminatory policing.

As a civic leader, she helped bridge divides between Los Angeles police officers and gang members. She also played an instrumental role in guiding the city through a consent decree with the Justice Department that was hailed for changing community perceptions of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD).

“Twenty years after the police beating of Rodney King was caught on videotape, and 10 years after the Justice Department imposed a consent decree to battle pervasive corruption … this has become a department transformed, offering itself up — in a way that not so many years ago would have been unthinkable — as a model police agency for the United States,” The New York Times reported last year.

Rice, who had regularly sued the department, told the newspaper, “We’ve gone from a state of war to becoming partners here.”

In January, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck threw a book-signing party for Rice at the new LAPD headquarters. During her introduction, Beck said he is often asked what he thinks of Rice and how to describe her role in the city.

“I think of her as the conscience of the city of Los Angeles,” said Beck, whose remarks were captured on a video posted on the book’s website. “She is the North of our moral compass. While I don’t always agree with Connie in her methods, I always agree with Connie on where we are going to go with those methods.”

Rice, who served for years in the Los Angeles office of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, is now co-director of a civil-rights organization called the Advancement Project.

Rice, the second cousin of former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, is the author of what McGinn labeled an acclaimed book, “Power Concedes Nothing,” about her work in education, transportation, incarceration and public safety.

Olson, whose first term expired in May 2010, was nominated by McGinn to serve through May 2013, the equivalent of what would have been a regular term. She is eligible for a third term but can serve no more than nine years overall.

“Kathryn is a dedicated and knowledgeable public servant,” McGinn said in a statement in which he credited her for improving the quality and timeliness of OPA investigations. “Our settlement agreement with the Department of Justice clearly lays out required policy changes to be made on a set timeline. Kathryn will help us make those changes on that timeline.”

McGinn drew recent criticism from the current and past chairs of the council’s public-safety committee, Bruce Harrell and Tim Burgess, for letting Olson’s reappointment languish.

Harrell said last week that while the Justice Department complimented the OPA’s work and Olson enjoys the support of police, she has been criticized by community organizations and accountability advocates.

Aaron Pickus, McGinn’s spokesman, said Tuesday the mayor held off on the appointment in deference to the Justice Department’s nine-month investigation of the Police Department, which concluded in December, and the subsequent negotiations that led to a settlement in late July.

Under the agreement, a court-appointed monitor, who has yet to be chosen, will track the reforms.

During a hearing Friday, U.S. District Judge James Robart, who is overseeing the settlement, raised concerns about the status of the OPA position. Robart gave his provisional approval to the agreement, while staking out more say over the selection of the monitor and asking for more frequent reports on the progress of the reforms.

McGinn on Tuesday also announced the hiring of Glenn Harris, who previously worked as Southeast District coordinator at the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods, to work on the staff of the Community Police Commission. The commission is to make recommendations on reforms.


Zimmerman to be charged in shooting death of Trayvon Martin

Florida special prosecutor Angela Corey plans to announce as early as Wednesday afternoon that she is charging neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman in the shooting of Trayvon Martin, according to a law enforcement official close to the investigation.

It was not immediately clear what charge Zimmerman will face.

Source: http://www.washingtonpost.com

Florida’s History of Failed Justice

Trayvon’s death recalls the forgotten killing of an innocent black teen nearly 70 years ago.

Trayvon Martin was shot dead in Sanford, Fla., by a man who told police a story of self-defense that’s keeping him out of jail. Martin’s killing immediately called to mind the sensational 1955 lynching of young Emmett Till purportedly for whistling at a white woman in Mississippi…

Source: http://www.theroot.com

King County Council celebrates University of Washington’s 150th anniversary

King County leaders, including many University of Washington alumni, celebrated the institution’s 150th anniversary Monday.

UW alumni County Executive Dow Constantine and Prosecutor Dan Satterberg joined County Council members to present a special recognition to UW President Michael Young. The elected leaders touted the UW as a top research institution in the United States and reminisced about the university…

Source: http://www.issaquahpress.com

Is the Era of White Privilege Nearing an End in the US?

“Dear White America, Letter to a New Minority” is the latest book by Tim Wise, a specialist on white privilege, and the emergence of white resentment as power becomes shared among all citizens of the United States..

Source: http://www.truth-out.org

Nigerian journalist is UNEP YEJA winner

Ugochi Anyaka, a radio reporter from Nigeria, has won the UNEP Young Environmental Journalist Award (YEJA), beating over 120 entries from reporters across Africa. Anyaka, 29, received her award at a special ceremony held during the 12th Special Session of the UNEP Governing Council / Global Ministerial Environment Forum in Nairobi, Kenya.

Source: http://www.africanews.com

Nigerian journalist is UNEP YEJA winner

Lawyer Lumumba: Miss. sisters will push new gov for pardon

Chokwe Lumumba, the sisters’ lawyer, said during a news conference Thursday in Jackson that the women had hoped for a full pardon before Barbour left office Tuesday. Lumumba said the women have jobs and are in school…

Source: http://www.deseretnews.com

Plaque to honour Malcolm X visit to Smethwick in 1965

Malcolm X visited Smethwick to object to a discriminatory housing campaign against non-whites
Malcolm X has been honoured with a plaque in Smethwick almost 50 years after he visited the West Midlands town during heightened racial tensions…

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk