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Colin Powell Still Sees ‘Dark Vein’ of Intolerance in GOP (ABC News)

Speaking on the day following the 50-year anniversary of “Bloody Sunday” in Selma, Alabama, the first African-American Secretary of State Colin Powell said he still sees a “dark vein” of intolerance in the Republican Party, echoing comments that he made in 2013.

“I still see it. I still see it in the Republican Party and I still see it in other parts of our country. You don’t have to be a Republican to be touched by this dark vein,” Powell told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos Sunday on “This Week.”

“We’ve come a long way, but there’s a long way to go. And we have to change the hearts and minds of Americans. And I see progress, especially in the younger generation,” Powell added.

Fifty Years After ‘Bloody Sunday,’ Obama Calls Selma a Place Where Meaning of America Was DefinedSelma Marches, Bloody Sunday Mark 50th AnniversaryThousands Gather for 50th Anniversary of ‘Bloody Sunday’President Obama, along with former President George W. Bush, was in Selma Saturday to mark the anniversary of the seminal moment in the civil rights movement. They were joined by Rep. John Lewis, D-Georgia, who was brutally beaten during the march out of Selma that day in 1965.

“What that bloody Sunday event did for the nation was to hold up a mirror in front of all Americans and said, ‘Look, this is what’s going on in this country. This cannot CONTINUE,'” Powell said.

Powell also echoed one of the theme’s of Obama’s speech in Selma, noting that while progress has been made on race relations, the “march is not yet over.”

“We’ve made enormous progress. If we hadn’t made progress, [President Obama] wouldn’t have been standing there, Eric Holder wouldn’t have been with him and I wouldn’t be here right now,” Powell said.

“But we still now have hurdles that we have to get over,” Powell added, noting the battle in some states over voter identification laws.

The former secretary of state also weighed in on the Justice Department report released this week that found systemic discrimination against African-Americans by the police department in Ferguson, Missouri.

Powell said he was “shocked” by the report, but was not taken completely off guard.

“I was shocked but not that surprised, frankly, George. I know these things have existed in other parts of our country. This shouldn’t have been that great a surprise to any of us. But it’s not throughout the country,” Powell said.

During the interview on “This Week,” Powell declined to comment directly on the controversy that has engulfed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton following revelations she used a private email ACCOUNT while she headed the State Department.

“I can’t speak to Mrs. Clinton and what she should do now. That would be inappropriate,” said Powell, who helped modernize the State Department through new COMPUTERS and early use of e-mail during his time as secretary of state.

“In order to change the culture, to change the brainware, as I call it, I started using it in order to get everybody to use it, so we could be a 21st century institution and not a 19th century,” Powell said of his own e-mail practices. “But I retained none of those e-mails and we are working with the State Department to see if there’s anything else they want to discuss with me about those e-mails.”

Its strange how respect for the president of the united states has changed over the last eight years. The question is this a permanent change or will it go back to business as usual after president Obama leaves office.     
obama angry frustrated

(Elizabeth Cromwell/Wikimedia Commons (CC)) A Justice Department report  investigating racial discrimination in Ferguson, Missouri  includes evidence that a city worker there sent  a racist email about President Obama.

Eric Tucker of the Associated Press reports the email, sent in 2008 from a municipal account, speculated that Obama wouldn’t stay president for long because “what black man holds a steady job for four years.”

NPR found the email was one of two correspondences between  police and local court employees included in the report.

In August 2014, a Ferguson police officer shot and killed an unarmed black man named Michael Brown, spurring protests across the country.

The Justice Department’s investigation into the situation, set to drop Wednesday, is going to be brutal. The department will reportedly charge that  police in the city disproportionately used excessive force against blacks and stopped black drivers more often than other races.

As a result, the government could sue the Ferguson Police Department on civil rights charges.

Railroad Workers

Posted: February 28, 2015 in History
ADVANCE FOR USE SUNDAY, FEB. 8 - In this photo taken Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015, frm left, Rev. Clinton Scott, 93, of Roanoke,John Mease., 71, of Salem,  Paul Washington, 83, of Roanoke, and Phillip Randolph, 53, of Roanoke, 53, look at portraits of fellow railroad workers on display in the "From Cotton to Silk, African American Railroad Workers of the Norfolk & Western and Norfolk Southern Railways' exhibit at the Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke, Va. All worked for the railroad. (AP Photo/The Roanoke Times, Heather Rousseau)  LOCAL TELEVISION OUT; SALEM TIMES REGISTER OUT; FINCASTLE HERALD OUT;  CHRISTIANBURG NEWS MESSENGER OUT; RADFORD NEWS JOURNAL OUT; ROANOKE STAR SENTINEL OUT
ADVANCE FOR USE SUNDAY, FEB. 8 – In this photo taken Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015, frm left, Rev. Clinton Scott, 93, of Roanoke,John Mease., 71, of Salem, Paul Washington, 83, of Roanoke, and Phillip Randolph, 53, of Roanoke, 53, look at portraits of fellow railroad workers on display in the “From Cotton to Silk, African American Railroad Workers of the Norfolk & Western and Norfolk Southern Railways’ exhibit at the Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke, Va. All worked for the railroad. (AP Photo/The Roanoke Times, Heather Rousseau) LOCAL TELEVISION OUT; SALEM TIMES REGISTER OUT; FINCASTLE HERALD OUT; CHRISTIANBURG NEWS MESSENGER OUT; RADFORD NEWS JOURNAL OUT; ROANOKE STAR SENTINEL OUT

Wow now their questioning the presidents love  for America whats next

WASHINGTON (AP) — Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a leading Republican contender for the White House in 2016, said Saturday he doesn’t know whether President Barack Obama loves his country.

“You should ask the president what he thinks about America,” Walker told The Associated Press while in Washington for a weekend meeting of the National Governors Association. “I’ve never asked him so I don’t know.”

Earlier in the week, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani said during a dinner speech, with Walker in attendance, “I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America.”

Democrats have assailed Giuliani for questioning Obama’s love of country and urged the potential field of Republican presidential candidates to rebuke Giuliani for his comments.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, another possible 2016 candidate, said he didn’t think it helps to question the president’s patriotism or motives. Giuliani, Pence said, is “a great American” who is “understandably frustrated with a president who lectures us on the Crusades, but seems incapable of calling radical Islamic violence by name.”

Walker, who has been amassing donors and headlines since a well-received speech last month in Iowa, has been a visible presence at the annual governors’ meeting, participating in events and making himself available to reporters.

He said that if he does choose to run, he’ll likely skip the step of forming a formal exploratory committee and instead transition straight from the political organization he launched to begin raising money to “an outright presidential campaign.”

Walker didn’t say when he’d make a decision but that “any reasonable candidate, whether it be my consideration or anybody else, has to be in by midyear.” He said his state’s budget was generally settled by the end of June.

“If I choose to be a candidate, you’re not going to hear me say ill will about any of the other candidates,” Walker said. “I’m going to talk about what I’m for. I think Americans are sick and tired of politicians that talk about what they’re against and who they’re against.”

___

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert joked about why he was tapped to be vice chairman of the governors group: “I am the only governor that’s not running for president.”

While the gathering is officially intended as an opportunity for members of both parties to discuss policy and good government, much of the talk in the hallways has centered on the presidential contest and the long list of governors considering runs.

Conspicuously out of sight Saturday was New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. While busy with meetings behind closed doors, he skipped the group’s public events.

Chicago’s Little League championship team stripped of title

AP – Sports
Chicago's Little League championship team stripped of title

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FILE – In this Aug. 27, 2014 file photo, members of the Jackie Robinson West All Stars Little League …
CHICAGO (AP) — Little League International has stripped Jackie Robinson West of the national title that the Chicago team won last summer after an INVESTIGATIONrevealed it had falsified boundaries to field ineligible players.
 In a stunning Wednesday announcement that came months after the all-black team, whose ages ranged from 11 to 13 years, captured the attention of the country and the hearts of its hometown, the baseball organization said it also found that after the league had changed the boundaries, some team officials went to surrounding leagues to convince them to go along with what they’d done.

”This is a heartbreaking decision,” Stephen D. Keener, the Little League International president and CEO, said in a statement.

”As painful as it is, we feel it is a necessary decision to maintain the integrity of the Little League PROGRAM. No team can be allowed to attempt to strengthen its team by putting players on their roster that live outside their boundaries.”

The team has been suspended from Little League tournament privileges until new leadership is found. The team’s manager, Darold Butler, is also suspended, and an administrator from the district that includes Jackie Robinson West has been removed from his position, according to the statement.

The march of the team riveted the city, all the way to its loss in the world championship game to South Korea, and when it was over, thousands of people lined Chicago’s streets to catch a glimpse of the boys as they were paraded by bus from their South Side baseball field to a downtown park. There were countless heartwarming stories about the team, including an effort by major league players to contribute MONEY so the parents in the blue collar community could attend the World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, and another about Cubs players huddled around a television watching the team during a rain delay at Wrigley Field. The team was treated to a trip to the major league World Series and to the White House to meet President Barack Obama and the first lady, Michelle Obama.

In October, the organization launched an INVESTIGATION when a coach from a nearby suburb alleged that Jackie Robinson West had violated rules by poaching top suburban players. The story, which was first reported by DNAinfo.com, appeared to end in December when the national organization said it had uncovered no violations. But the organization said it would reopen the INVESTIGATION if new information surfaced. About that same time, the organization learned of questions about boundary maps involving multiple leagues, and the investigation resumed.

”Little League International … learned that Jackie Robinson West Little League knowingly expanded its boundaries to include territory that belonged to other leagues in the district without the APPROVALfrom the other leagues or the Little League International Charter Committee” and used the ”falsified boundary map for their 2014 tournament,” the organization said.

League officials did not immediately return calls for comment. Throughout the investigation, the team has maintained that no cheating occurred.

This is the third time in the 68-year history of the Little League World Series that Little League International had vacated WINS after an investigation had revealed wrongdoing. In 1992, a team from the Philippines was disqualified and in 2001 a team from the Bronx was disqualified.

AG Eric Holder announces his resignation

Posted: September 26, 2014 in History

The nation's first African-American Attorney General, Eric Holder steps down.

Earlier this year Attorney General Eric Holder, Jr. had intimated his intended departure as the head of the Department of Justice and on Thursday afternoon he made it official.

Holder, 63, the nation’s first African American Attorney General said, “I will leave the Department of Justice but I will never leave the work…I have loved the Department of Justice ever since I was a young boy and watched Robert Kennedy who during the civil rights movement who showed that the department can and must always be force for that which is right.”

For five and half years—and one of the longest-serving members of President Obama’s cabinet—Holder, in an interview, said he would leave the Justice Department as soon as his successor is confirmed. That process could take him through the rest of the year and possibly into 2015.

His resignation comes as no surprise to the president; they had discussed this eventuality several times and it was apparently finalized in a meeting over the Labor Day Weekend at the White House.

President Obama said that since he took office the overall crime rate and incarceration rate have gone down, facts he attributed to Holder. “This is the first time they have declined together in over 40 years,” he added.

Why Holder chose to announce his departure at this time is left to conjecture, though it has been rumored that he wanted to leave now lest it be more difficult later.

His tenure in office from the recent tragedy in Ferguson to the earlier controversy on his decision to try the accused in the 9/11 bombing within a stone’s throw of the World Trade Center (a decision he reversed) has not been a smooth and easy one.

But he has been resourceful and adamant in upholding most of the heated issues that have crossed his desk.

“There has no greater ally in the fight for justice, civil rights, equal rights, and voting rights than Attorney General Holder,” Myrlie Evers, Chairman of the Medgar and Myrlie Evers Institute, said in an email. “As a fierce consequential leader of the right to the vote, the Attorney General has worked tirelessly to ensure that every American has the right, the ability and the opportunity to cast their vote and let their voice be heard.”

She said that Holder “never shied away from the issues that greatly affected us all.”

The Rev. Al Sharpton of the National Action Network said that Holder’s resignation was one met with pride and disappointment by the civil rights community. “We are proud that he has been the best Attorney General on civil rights in U.S. history and disappointed because he leaves at a critical time when we need his continued diligence most. “

Sharpton who has been unwavering immersed in two highly publicized cases of police misconduct said “We are engaged in immediate conversations with the White House on deliberations over a successor whom we hope will continue in the general direction of Attorney General Holder. His accomplishments in working to protect Americans from terrorism…challenging unfair sentencing, directing U.S. attorneys on fair prosecution, and being the only Attorney General to visit the site of a civil rights complaint in Ferguson must be noted in American history.”

It will be noted that he will be the fourth longest-tenured Attorney General in the nation’s history. They will also recall that he was not afraid to voice his concerns about the country as a whole on the issue of racial tensions, declaring “we are a nation of cowards.”

He was often the whipping boy for attacks aimed at Obama, particularly from adversaries on the right. But none of this dissuaded him from stepping into the breach of highly charged issues such as same sex marriage, marijuana, and immigration reform. Nor did he run and hide during the Fast and Furious, gun-trafficking fiasco and withstood the GOP’s attempt to hold him contempt for refusing to hand over documents about the incident.

“I hope that I have done honor to the faith you have placed in me, Mr. President, and to the legacy of all of those who have served before me,” Holder said toward the close of his brief remarks. According to some sources close to the office, Solicitor General Don Verrilli is among the leading candidates to succeed Holder, but there is also talk about Gov. Deval Patrick and Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. All of whom are greatly respected by Obama and members of the Justice Department.

As for Holder’s next move a few insiders think he will return to the law firm of Covington & Burling, where he once served representing a number of corporate clients.

Wherever he lands, folks in the civil rights community have expressed how much they will miss but “we wish him Godspeed” said Evers.

The secret history of the jazz greats who were freemasons

Jazz and freemasonry are unlikely bedfellows, but in the 1950s, the secret society became a support network for musicians and the world’s largest fraternity for black men, among them Duke Ellington and Sun Ra

Duke Ellington, bandleader, composer and freemason
Duke Ellington, American bandleader, composer and freemason. Photograph: Underwood & Underwood/Corbis

When the City of London festival found out about a long dormant masonic temple that had been uncovered next to Liverpool Street station, it seemed obvious that this wonderfully opulent hall should be used as a one-off music venue. The only question was – what music should it host?

“The obvious choice would have been to host a Mozart recital, because everyone knows that Mozart was a freemason,” says Paul Gudgin, former director of the Edinburgh Fringe and now director of the City of London Festival. “But it just so happened that I was reading a biography of Duke Ellington which mentioned, in passing, his membership of a masonic lodge. I found it astonishing that such an anti-establishment figure turned out to be at the heart of an establishment organisation. And I thought it would be a perfect place to pay tribute.”

secret masonic hall, liverpool street, london
The recently rediscovered masonic hall next to Liverpool Street, London.

This month, the City of London Festival will host two Duke Ellington tributes in this elaborate, neo-classical masonic temple, now in the basement of the Hyatt group’s Andaz hotel. Saxophonist Tommy Smith plays on 4 July, and pianist Julian Joseph on 11 July.

“It’s something of a badge of honour to hear that Ellington was a mason,” says Joseph. “Not only was he part of a musical elite, but he had managed to enter this secretive and powerful organisation, one that only the privileged few had access to.”

Start digging into the history of freemasonry and you discover that Ellington was just one of many renowned African-American musicians to be inducted into its mysterious world. He was joined by the likes of Nat King Cole, WC Handy, Dizzy Gillespie, Count Basie, Lionel Hampton and Paul Robeson.

“Throughout history, freemasonry has attracted musicians,” says Martin Cherry, librarian at the Museum of Freemasonry in London. “Mozart is the obvious example, but in 18th-century London, a lodge was established called the Lodge of the Nine Muses, which attracted a number of European musicians and artists, including JC Bach. For musicians and artists who were new to a city, the lodge would have been an opportunity to meet fellow artists and network with people with whom they may be able to find work.”

The same applied two centuries later, across the Atlantic. “Musicians often led an itinerant lifestyle,” says Cherry. “Belonging to an organisation that had lodges all over a country could help ease the slog of life on the road, particularly in such a vast country as the US.

“Freemasonry was also charitable towards its members when they fell on hard times, looking after them when they were sick or paying for their funeral. Mozart’s funeral, famously, was paid for by his lodge, and there’s evidence that freemasons paid for the funeral of the blues musicianMississippi Fred McDowell – there are images of his open coffin which show him wearing his masonic regalia.”

Many white jazz musicians and bandleaders were freemasons, including Glenn Miller, Paul Whiteman, George Gershwin and Irving Berlin, as were many country & western stars. But, like so much in American life, freemasonry was segregated, with American masonic lodges split along colour lines.

Black freemasons: the sons of Prince Hall

Black freemasonry dates from before the American war of independence, when a freed black abolitionist and leather worker by the name of Prince Hall (1735-1807) was refused admittance to the St John’s masonic lodge in Boston, Massachusetts. Undaunted by the rebuff, Hall and 14 other free black men were initiated into freemasonry in 1775 by a British military lodge based in Boston.

In 1784, after the British had left America, the grand lodge of England issued Hall with a charter to set up an African lodge in Boston. It proved so popular that Prince Hall was granted the status of provincial grand master, allowing him to set up two further African masonic lodges in Philadelphia and Rhode Island.

Over the next two centuries, Prince Hall freemasonry snowballed across the United States, becoming the world’s largest fraternity for black men. By the middle of the 20th century there were lavish Prince Hall masonic temples around the country – from Los Angeles to Washington DC, from Seattle to Madison, Wisconsin.

“One of the attractions of Prince Hall freemasonry to African-Americans is that it is an organisation started by African-Americans in the 18thcentury for African-Americans,” says Cherry. “It has a history. And, like all freemasonry in America, it became very popular in the early 20th century, which was a time when Americans tended to join things.”

By 1900, Prince Hall masonry had become a forum for politicised African-Americans, with Booker T Washington (1856-1915) and W.E.B. Du Bois(1868-1963) serving as active members. Throughout the 20th century, many key figures in the civil rights movement were attracted to freemasonry. The father of Martin Luther King Jr – Martin Luther King Sr (1900-84) – was a member of the 23rd lodge in Atlanta, Georgia. Medgar Evers, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) activist who was assassinated in 1963, was a 32nd-degree freemason in Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction. Alex Haley (1921-92), the writer of Roots and biographer of Malcolm X, was a 33rd-degree mason in the same order. Thurgood Marshall (1908-93), the first black member of the US supreme court, was supported by his Prince Hall lodge in Louisiana. The comedian Richard Pryor (1940-2005) joined a lodge in Peoria, Illinois, while actor and activist Ossie Davis (1917-2005), Paul Robeson (1898-1976) and the boxer Sugar Ray Robinson (1921-89) were all active Prince Hall masons.

“Like all freemasonry, Prince Hall freemasonry does tend to have a middle-class appeal,” says Cherry. “The many Prince Hall visitors to the Masonic Library and Museum in London are often doctors, lawyers or skilled artisans, and a lot of them have a military background. Some join because their family were members; some think it’s a good way of networking. Some like the comradeship and the social aspects; others like the ritual and the regalia.”

As well as being a networking institution, freemasonry might also have had a philosophical appeal to many politicised African-Americans. The mysterious tenets of freemasonry include gnostic texts, references to ancient Egypt and alternative interpretations of the Bible. Prince Hall lodges thus became a forum where pre-Christian knowledge could mix freely with black liberation theories and remnants of African religions.

Egyptology: the Sun Ra connection

Freemason and Egyptology fanatic Sun Ra plays cards with the overseer in the 1974 film Space is the
Mason and Egyptology fanatic Sun Ra plays cards with the overseer in the 1974 film, Space is the Place

When the Afro-Guyanese historian George GM James (a Prince Hall mason and professor at the University of Arkansas) wrote his influential 1954 book Stolen Legacy: Greek Philosophy Is Stolen Egyptian Philosophy, he made explicit the connections between freemasonry and Egyptology. For James, Egypt was “the cradle of the mysteries and of the masonic brotherhood”, while the Greek philosopher Socrates was merely a “master mason” and “a brother initiate of the Egyptian Mysteries”.

The most obvious musical manifestation of this is Sun Ra. Born Herman Sonny Blount in 1913, Sun Ra seems to have hidden in plain sight as a freemason throughout his career. He performed regularly at a masonic temple in his home town of Birmingham, Alabama, and – according to his biographer John Szwed – was a regular at Birmingham’s masonic library, one of the few places in the city where African-Americans had unlimited access to books. Indeed, Sun Ra’s trademark stage garb is based on masonic cloaks and aprons (his ceremonial robes in the 1974 film Space Is the Place were borrowed from a Prince Hall lodge in Oakland, California), while – as the writer Kodwo Eshun suggests – his obsession with Egyptology shares much with freemasonry.

Sun Ra in the film Space is the Place.
Sun Ra in the film Space is the Place

“Although Sun Ra had links to the masons,” says Cherry, “there’s no evidence that he was ever a member of a particular Prince Hall lodge.” Cherry thinks it likely that Sun Ra was a member of a fraternal order called the Knights of Pythias, another secretive organisation who meet in lodges, and who also claim Louis Armstrong as a former member. Likewise, Dizzy Gillespie is not listed as being a Prince Hall lodge member, but his autobiography talks about his fascination with freemasonry and his application to join a masonic lodge.

It appears that Prince Hall freemasonry’s popularity is past its peak, with the average age of members increasing rapidly and fewer young African-Americans joining. There are, however, numerous stories suggesting that the likes of Jay-Z, Nas and Kanye West are freemasons. Martin Cherry thinks we should take these stories with a pinch of salt.

“The internet is full of rumours about hip-hop artists who are freemasons,” says Cherry. “My favourite is that Lil’ Kim is a member of the Eastern Star, an order for the wives of freemasons. Most of these rumours are on anti-masonic sites or anti rap music sites that are trying to make connections between freemasonry, hip-hop and the occult.

“I’m sure that if any high-profile hip-hop artists had become freemasons, the lodge that initiated them would have made something of it,” he says. “Like when basketball star Shaquille O’Neal was made a mason at sight by the grand master of the Prince Hall grand lodge in Massachusetts.”

Shaq joins a noble lineage – not just George Washington and Oscar Wilde, or Mozart and Buzz Aldrin, but a list of African-American royalty that includes Sugar Ray Robinson and Don King, Paul Robeson and Duke Ellington.