NAACP-Educational-Fund

3

How Vanita Gupta became the DOJ’s unsung hero at the height of the Black Lives Matter movement

One of Vanita Gupta’s earliest memories involved what some might consider a hate crime.

Gupta was born in Philadelphia in the mid-1970s to immigrants from India. Before her fifth birthday, Gupta’s parents had temporarily plucked her and an older sister out of the City of Brotherly Love, so their father could take a job in the U.K.

They arrived in England shortly after the election of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who had exploited Britons’ fear of immigrants in her rise to power. England’s racist skinhead movement was surging.

“There were skinheads sitting next to us [at a McDonald’s] and sort of flicking french fries at me and my grandmother and my mom and sister,” Gupta recently said in a sit-down interview with Mic. “They were yelling at us, ‘Go home Pakis! Get out of this country!’” Gupta recalled. “Paki” is a slur against South Asians.

More than 35 years later, Gupta has embarked on a career as a civil rights lawyer in the United States, has overseen racial justice cases at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and has served as head of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. Her time at the DOJ ended after two years, with the inauguration of President Donald Trump in January. Trump’s rise to power has been accompanied by a spike in hatreddirected at immigrants and Muslims, including members of Gupta’s family in suburban Pennsylvania. Things have come full circle for Gupta, and now she’s in a position to be part of the resistance. Read more (6/9/17)

follow @the-movemnt

Grey Villet     Richard and Mildred Loving, Virginia     1965


When my late husband, Richard, and I got married in Washington, DC in 1958, it wasn’t to make a political statement or start a fight. We were in love, and we wanted to be married.

We didn’t get married in Washington because we wanted to marry there. We did it there because the government wouldn’t allow us to marry back home in Virginia where we grew up, where we met, where we fell in love, and where we wanted to be together and build our family. You see, I am a woman of color and Richard was white, and at that time people believed it was okay to keep us from marrying because of their ideas of who should marry whom.

When Richard and I came back to our home in Virginia, happily married, we had no intention of battling over the law. We made a commitment to each other in our love and lives, and now had the legal commitment, called marriage, to match. Isn’t that what marriage is?

Not long after our wedding, we were awakened in the middle of the night in our own bedroom by deputy sheriffs and actually arrested for the “crime” of marrying the wrong kind of person. Our marriage certificate was hanging on the wall above the bed. The state prosecuted Richard and me, and after we were found guilty, the judge declared: ”Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.” He sentenced us to a year in prison, but offered to suspend the sentence if we left our home in Virginia for 25 years exile.

We left, and got a lawyer. Richard and I had to fight, but still were not fighting for a cause. We were fighting for our love.

Though it turned out we had to fight, happily Richard and I didn’t have to fight alone. Thanks to groups like the ACLU and the NAACP Legal Defense & Education Fund, and so many good people around the country willing to speak up, we took our case for the freedom to marry all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. And on June 12, 1967, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that, “The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men,” a “basic civil right.”

My generation was bitterly divided over something that should have been so clear and right. The majority believed that what the judge said, that it was God’s plan to keep people apart, and that government should discriminate against people in love. But I have lived long enough now to see big changes. The older generation’s fears and prejudices have given way, and today’s young people realize that if someone loves someone they have a right to marry.

Surrounded as I am now by wonderful children and grandchildren, not a day goes by that I don’t think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the “wrong kind of person” for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people’s religious beliefs over others. Especially if it denies people’s civil rights.

I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard’s and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That’s what Loving, and loving, are all about.

–Mildred Loving in 2007, on the 40th Anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in the Loving case, overturning laws throughout the United States that banned interracial marriage.

What is the legacy of Jim Crow? On April 15, a trio of leading social-justice activists discuss the laws in conjunction with the exhibition One-Way Ticket: Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series and Other Visions of the Great Movement North. The event features Khalil Gibran Muhammad, Director, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture; Sherrilyn Ifill, President, NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund; and Cornell Brooks, President and CEO, NAACP. 

[Jacob Lawrence. The Migration Series. 1940-41. Panel 22: “Another of the social causes of the migrants’ leaving was that at times they did not feel safe, or it was not the best thing to be found on the streets late at night. They were arrested on the slightest provocation.” Casein tempera on hardboard, 18 x 12″ (45.7 x 30.5 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Mrs. David M. Levy. © 2015 The Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Foundation, Seattle / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Digital image © The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA / Art Resource, NY]

3

Freddie Gray died 2 years ago today — and Baltimore is still seeking police reform

  • It’s been two years since Freddie Gray died from injuries he sustained while in custody of the Baltimore Police Department. 
  • But in the Charm City, “still ain’t shit change,” Black Lives Matter movement activists tweeted Wednesday.
  • Even if little appears to have changed on the police force or in the ways officers treat city residents, there has been some movement. 
  • In April 2015, the state’s attorney’s office charged six officers in connection to the neck and back injuries Gray sustained, which led to his death, during a rough ride in a police van on April 12, 2015, after days of protests and civil unrest in the majority-black city.
  • Although those officers were acquitted in trials or had charges dropped against them, the U.S. Department of Justice investigated police abuse and sued the city into a police reform agreement known as a consent decree. And now, it’s up to city leaders to follow through on those reforms, civil rights leaders said.
  • “To this day, no officers have been held responsible in a court of law for the conduct that led to Mr. Gray’s death, and it’s likely none ever will,” Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, said in a statement released Wednesday.
  •  "The only justice we can hope for now is the meaningful policing reform that the residents of Baltimore so deeply deserve.“ Read more (4/19/17)

follow @the-movemnt

MLK and LBJ had their flaws

Critics say the portrayal of President Lyndon Johnson in the movie Selma, which centers on Martin Luther King Jr. and the marches in Selma, Ala., inaccurately shows Johnson as more of an obstacle to civil rights than an advocate. But those critics get history wrong, says Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund. Johnson certainly pushed for the Voting Rights Act in 1965, but he was also political to his bones and initially prioritized his poverty bill over civil rights legislation. Regardless, Selma is not about lawyers or presidents. It is about the ordinary people of the South who risked their lives and livelihood to demand their rights as citizens.

slate.com
Even in Preschool, Black Students Are Much More Likely to Be Suspended Than White Students

 From the New York Times:

One of the striking statistics to emerge from the data, based on information collected during the 2011-12 academic year, was that even as early as preschool, black students face harsher discipline than other students.

While black children make up 18 percent of preschool enrollment, close to half of all preschool children who are suspended more than once are African-American.

“To see that young African-American students — or babies, as I call them — are being suspended from pre-K programs at such horrendous rates is deeply troubling,” said Leticia Smith-Evans, interim director of education practice at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

(h/t Slate)

Join us for Thursday, March 26, at 7:30 p.m. for our Eighth Annual Forum on Women in Leadership.

You can watch the livestream here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g8ayZYDGWrg

From the early days of the Civil Rights movement, African American women have worked and served in numerous and influential leadership roles. What are their experiences and what changes have taken place in their opportunities, expectations, responsibilities, and obstacles?

A panel discusses their personal journeys and the advice they would offer to young women in the struggle for equality.

Melissa V. Harris-Perry, host on MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry, and author of “Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America” will moderate the panel.  Panelists include Joyce Ladner, sociologist and civil rights activist; Avis Jones De-Weever, Exceptional Leadership Strategist and immediate past executive director of NCNW; Janai Nelson, associate director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund; and Charlene A. Carruthers, national director, Black Youth Project 100.

Presented in partnership with the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture This program is generously supported by the William G. McGowan Charitable Fund, Inc.