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Biden lands 2020 endorsement from Atlanta Mayor Bottoms

ATLANTA VOICE — The mayor of Atlanta is endorsing Democrat Joe Biden for president in 2020, providing crucial support from a high-profile black female political leader.

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By Errin Haines Whack

The mayor of Atlanta is endorsing Democrat Joe Biden for president in 2020, providing crucial support from a high-profile black female political leader.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms spoke to The Associated Press ahead of her scheduled Friday announcement. Bottoms says her decision came down to Biden’s experience and her belief the former vice president is the candidate best positioned to beat President Donald Trump.

“For me, it was most important that we have a president who doesn’t have to walk in the door and figure out where the light switch is, that we have somebody who can lead on Day One,” said Bottoms, who attended Thursday night’s debate as a guest of Biden’s wife, Jill.

The endorsement comes the morning after a powerful exchange between Biden and California Sen. Kamala Harris, the only black woman in the campaign. Harris sharply criticized Biden for his comments about working with segregationists and his past opposition to busing.

Bottoms, 49, dismissed concerns about Biden’s remarks earlier this month, when he told supporters that the Senate “got things done” with “civility” when segregationists roamed the halls of Congress. Some critics saw his statement and subsequent responses as racially offensive and tone-deaf from someone seeking to lead the modern Democratic Party.

“The larger context was that you have to work across the aisle with people you don’t like, people you don’t agree with,” Bottoms said. “I do it each and every day as mayor of Atlanta in a red state.”

Bottoms added that Biden’s work on civil rights issues and his progressive resume demonstrate his commitment and that the remarks were blown out of proportion.

“My position is, if his explanation was good enough for John Lewis, then it’s good enough for me,” Bottoms added, referring to the Georgia congressman and civil rights icon who was among Biden’s defenders after the controversy.

Bottoms is the latest in a string of black elected officials to back Biden. Louisiana Rep. Cedric Richmond, the former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, is Biden’s campaign co-chairman. Biden also leads the 2020 field in CBC endorsements, though other members of the caucus are also backing candidates including Harris and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, the other black candidate in the diverse field.

Booker and Harris campaigned for Bottoms during her hard-fought 2017 mayoral bid. In the end, while Bottoms said she respected both candidates, she felt that Biden wins the electability argument and that it is important the Democratic Party begin to coalesce around a candidate early.

“In 2016, we had a candidate who went limping into the general election,” Bottoms said. “That would be catastrophic for Democrats to do that going into 2020.”

This article originally appeared in the Atlanta Voice

Atlanta Voice

Georgia’s welfare rolls drop sharply in recent years

ATLANTA VOICE — State records show the number of Georgia families receiving welfare benefits has dropped by more than two-thirds in the past 14 years. The numbers have decreased as Georgia has applied constant pressure to drive down the rolls, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

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Georgia State Capitol (Photo by: Wikipedia)

By The Atlanta Voice

State records show the number of Georgia families receiving welfare benefits has dropped by more than two-thirds in the past 14 years.

The numbers have decreased as Georgia has applied constant pressure to drive down the rolls, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

The number of households receiving aid from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program has consistently dropped. It even happened during the Great Recession.

State officials say the decreasing rolls are a sign that the program is working.

The trend in Georgia mirrors what has happened across the U.S., the newspaper reported.

After Congress made broad changes to the welfare program in 1996, the number of households receiving benefits has consistently dropped across nationwide. The changes in the 1990s gave states more control over how to run welfare. That resulted in fewer U.S. households receiving benefits.

In Georgia, the Legislature has consistently focused on getting people to work as opposed to providing cash aid, said Fred Brooks, a professor at Georgia State University’s Andrew Young School of Policy Studies.

In June 2018, the average welfare recipient received $260 a month, according to Georgia’s Division of Family and Children Services. The amounts, set by the Legislature, haven’t increased with the rate of inflation in recent years, said Jon Anderson, the head of DFCS’ Office of Family Independence.

Georgia lawmakers for years have supported initiatives to limit the number of people receiving public assistance, including attempts to pass legislation that would have required drug testing for Georgians who receive food stamps.

This article originally appeared in the Atlanta Voice

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Atlanta Voice

Citations jump in 1st year of Georgia cellphone driving law

ATLANTA VOICE — Citations for distracted driving have jumped in the past year since Georgia made it illegal to drive while holding a cellphone. A state law that took effect July 1, 2018, prohibits drivers from holding a cellphone while they’re behind the wheel. They can only make calls using hands-free devices with their phones. Numbers compiled by the Georgia State Patrol show thousands failed to make the change.

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(Photo By: Ameesha Felton/Marine Corps)

By The Atlanta Voice

Citations for distracted driving have jumped in the past year since Georgia made it illegal to drive while holding a cellphone.

A state law that took effect July 1, 2018, prohibits drivers from holding a cellphone while they’re behind the wheel. They can only make calls using hands-free devices with their phones. Numbers compiled by the Georgia State Patrol show thousands failed to make the change.

A report by the State Patrol shows that state police wrote nearly 25,000 tickets for distracted driving in the law’s first year, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. That’s an average of 68 tickets per day, and the numbers don’t include tickets issued by local police departments.

“There are so many violations that we see, it’s hard to tell if it’s actually taking a toll yet,” Sgt. Henry Batts, a Georgia state trooper based in Albany, told WALB-TV. “We are getting people to comply with the law. It’s just going to take more tickets, I guess.”

Violating the hands-free law in Georgia is punishable by fines of $50 to $150 — depending on whether it’s a first or subsequent offense — as well as one to three points assessed against the driver’s license.

Tickets written by state police for distracted driving more than doubled within the law’s first six months. The State Patrol said fewer than 4,000 citations were written in the first half of 2018, the final months before the law took effect. That jumped to more than 8,000 distracted driving tickets during the last six months of 2018.

State Patrol officials say police didn’t really step up enforcement of the law until after Oct. 1. And the agency’s numbers show citations have continued to increase in 2019, with more than 16,000 tickets written since Jan. 1.

Thousands more tickets are being written by local police. For example, the Atlanta Police Department said its officers issued more than 17,000 distracted driving tickets in the past year.

Traffic fatalities and collision insurance claims have declined in Georgia since the cellphone law took effect, the Atlanta newspaper reported, and some safety experts say that indicates the law is working.

This article originally appeared in the Atlanta Voice

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#NNPA BlackPress

Ebony, Jet fire remainder of staff, may close its doors for good

THE ATLANTA VOICE — Timeless editions of Ebony featured some of the biggest stars in Black America, including issues covered by Diana Ross, Sidney Poitier, as well as President & first lady Barack & Michelle Obama.

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(Photo: Ebony Magazine)

By Miana Massey, Chevrolet DTU Fellow | The Atlanta Voice

It’s official, Ebony Magazine—along with its sister publication Jet Magazine—has potentially closed its doors for good.

Former employees of the company took to Twitter last week using the hashtag #EbonyOwes to air out their frustrations with the company, as it has fired all of its employees with little to no notice.

According to USA Today, members of Ebony magazine’s digital team say they’ve been fired and haven’t received their final paychecks in the latest controversy to hit the struggling publication that has chronicled black life in America for decades.

Michael Gibson, co-chairman and founder of Austin, Texas-based Clear View Group, which owns Ebony, declined to comment to USA TODAY on the digital team’s dismissal, citing a “policy of not commenting on any employment practices or issues.”

The Chicago Tribune previously reported how Ebony was being pressed by the National Writers Union to pay more than $200,000 it alleged the magazine owed to freelance writers who contributed stories back in 2017. The drama sparked the hashtag #EbonyOwes on Twitter.

According to a report on Ebony.com, the magazine’s previous owner, Johnson Publishing Co., filed for bankruptcy liquidation in April, which Ebony said would not affect its operations.

“EBONY Media Operations, LLC brands, which include EBONY magazine, EBONY.com, digital magazine JET and jetmag.com and its related businesses, have viably operated independently of Johnson Publishing Company dba/ Fashion Fair Cosmetics (JPC) since Black-owned Ebony Media Operations, LLC (EMO) purchased the media assets of JPC in 2016. Black-owned investment firm CVG Group LLC assisted in the formation of EMO,” a statement read. “EMO is unaffected by the Chapter 7 bankruptcy announcement regarding the dissolution of JPC. EMO is not able to comment further and is not familiar with the facts or events of the JPC business.”

The first issue of the iconic magazine hit stands 74 years ago and took the industry by storm. Founded by John H. Johnson in November 1945, the black-owned publication has striven always to address African-American issues, personalities and interests in a positive and self-affirming manner.

Timeless editions of Ebony featured some of the biggest stars in Black America, including issues covered by Diana Ross, Sidney Poitier, as well as President & first lady Barack & Michelle Obama.

Despite the possibility that the world may lose this national treasure, fans of Ebony Magazine and its lasting impact believe it will remain a staple of the black community and an ultimate expression of black excellence.

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Atlanta Voice

Supreme Court Shoots Down Trump’s Census Citizenship Question

ATLANTA VOICE — The U.S. Supreme Court’s sharp rebuke of the Trump Administration’s rationale for wanting the citizenship question in the 2020 census means the question is an artifact of the past, according to Southern Methodist University Professor Lolita Buckner Inniss.

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Photo by: Pixabay | Pexels.com

By Stacey M. Brown

The U.S. Supreme Court’s sharp rebuke of the Trump Administration’s rationale for wanting the citizenship question in the 2020 census means the question is an artifact of the past, according to Southern Methodist University Professor Lolita Buckner Inniss.

“Though ultimately the Trump administration may prevail in having the citizenship question added, the Trump administration has to adequately explain how eliciting the citizenship question data will help them better enforce the Voting Rights Act,” said Inniss, who joined many others in celebrating the decision by the high court to strike down Trump’s request to add the question of citizenship on the 2020 Census.

In writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts noted that the explanation for preferred federal policy must “not only be reasoned and genuine but also legible to both courts and interested public.”

The ruling marks a historic win for democracy, said Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA).

“In blocking Trump’s ability to add a citizenship question, the court has ensured that voting rights for people of color are protected, and that all communities – regardless of race, ethnicity, geographic location, religious views, political affiliation, and country of origin – are fairly represented,” Waters said.

House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC), said the future of the nation’s democracy was at the forefront of the ruling.

“The ruling in favor of partisan gerrymandering underscores the necessity of citizen participation in the electoral process. Stacking the deck for partisan gain is not ideal for democracy or the principle of one person, one vote,” Clyburn said in a statement. “Most Americans believe in fairness and due process, but not enough are able to participate in the electoral process.  This must change going forward or we will soon experience some backward lurches,” he said.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said the decision clearly is a rebuke of Trump.

“When even the conservative court determines that the Trump administration’s argument is odious and dishonest, you know the administration’s motivation behind adding the citizenship question in the first place was an abhorrent one,” Schumer said in an email.
“The lower court must, for the sake of our democracy and fair representation for all communities, ensure the misguided citizenship question remains out of the census,” he said.

“Today, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling that prevents the government from asking U.S. residents on the 2020 census whether they are citizens,” Melanie Campbell, the president and CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation (NCBCP) and Convener of the Black Women’s Roundtable (BWR) said in a statement.

“For Civil Rights and Immigration Rights organizations, this is a major victory in an effort to ensure that all minorities in the nation are properly counted and represented in the 2020 Decennial Census,” Campbell said.

Trump has pledged to delay the 2020 Census and he said his administration still plans to include a question that inquiries about a person’s citizenship status.

“I have asked the lawyers if they can delay the Census, no matter how long, until the United States Supreme Court is given additional information from which it can make a final and decisive decision on this very critical matter,” Trump told Fox News.

However, NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson said justice must now be done and everyone must be counted. Johnson said the strength of America’s democracy depends on it.

“The court today rejected the Trump administration’s fraudulent justification for adding the citizenship question,” Johnson said.

“The highest court in the land – in an opinion authored by a Chief Justice appointed by a Republican President – has effectively ruled that the head of one federal government agency, the Department of Commerce, lied to the nation, aided and abetted by the head of another federal agency, the Department of Justice,” he said.

This article originally appeared in the Atlanta Voice. 

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Atlanta Voice

Spelman College receives Walmart Foundation reaccreditation grant

ATLANTA VOICE — Spelman College, a UNCF member institution, has received a $20,000 Reaffirmation Readiness Review grant from the Walmart Foundation to help greatly enhance its educational quality and effectiveness.

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(Photo: Courtesy of Spelman College)

By The Atlanta Voice

Spelman College, a UNCF member institution, has received a $20,000 Reaffirmation Readiness Review grant from the Walmart Foundation to help greatly enhance its educational quality and effectiveness.

The mini-grant supports Spelman meeting its accreditation criteria per the standards set by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, the regional body for the accreditation of degree-granting higher education institutions in southern states.

“We are honored to be awarded this grant,” stated Spelman President Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D. “With UNCF and the Walmart Foundation’s support, not only does Spelman College continue to demonstrate excellence in educational standards, but it also allows us to enhance our visibility, improve on our institutional infrastructure and student-centered initiatives, and preserve our rich historic legacy of developing leaders.”

Spelman received one of five mini-grants from the Walmart Foundation, which to date has awarded more than $6 million to support the sustainability of historically Black colleges and universities.

In 2018, the foundation granted $500,000 in support of HBCUs via the UNCF’s Institute for Capacity Building for consultative and technical assistance services.

Two other UNCF-member schools will each receive a $10,000 grant to prepare for the SACSCOC fifth-year interim report. In addition, four institutions received high priority technical assistance offering subject matter expert consultants to improve institutional capacity.

Spelman has developed many partnerships to promote academic and leadership development for its 2,100 students, including collaborations with the MIT Media Lab, Harvard Business School Extension and Princeton University’s Lewis-Sigler Institute.

“At UNCF, we are grateful for the impact and support of the Walmart Foundation and the benefit this grant will bring to Spelman College and its students,” said Dr. Michael L. Lomax, President and CEO of UNCF. “Together, UNCF and the Walmart Foundation will ensure our institutions create transformative educational experiences and remain on the cutting-edge of innovation.”

This article originally appeared in the Atlanta Voice.

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#NNPA BlackPress

The Atlanta Voice welcomes three students through Chevrolet journalism fellowship

NNPA NEWSWIRE — The three students—Tyla Barnes from Hampton University, Miana Massey from Howard University and Emani Nichols from Morehouse College—will take part in an immersive program under Publisher Janis L. Ware and Editor-In-Chief Marshall A. Latimore that will provide the students with opportunities to file real stories as well as work alongside professional journalists and editors from The Atlanta Voice.

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(Photo: Trarell Torrence)

Three HBCU students from across the country will join The Atlanta Voice newsroom this summer as a part of the 2019 Discover the Unexpected Journalism Fellowship, a program hosted by Chevrolet and the National Newspaper Publishers Association.

The three students—Tyla Barnes from Hampton University, Miana Massey from Howard University and Emani Nichols from Morehouse College—will take part in an immersive program under Publisher Janis L. Ware and Editor-In-Chief Marshall A. Latimore that will provide the students with opportunities to file real stories as well as work alongside professional journalists and editors from The Atlanta Voice.

Participating in Discover the Unexpected (DTU) program for the fourth year is an honor and a pleasure,” Ware said. “This year the DTU program has expanded its reach to all Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).”

(Photo: Trarell Torrence)

(Photo: Trarell Torrence)

“The application and selection process are extremely competitive and extensive. Team Ingenious is proving to be creative, motivated and self-directed. During these times where editors and state representatives are fighting for a bill to save local journalism (H.R.2054, Journalism Competition and Preservation Act), having the opportunity to train and motivate young journalist is a great way to give back to our youth.”

The fellows’ journey began last week in Atlanta, where they participated in two days of journalism training with Chevrolet and NNPA leadership before they hit the road to begin their reporting assignments. The DTU Fellowship lasts through Aug. 1. In addition to The Atlanta Voice, the DTU fellows will also work the Chicago Crusader, Houston Forward Times and The Washington Informer.
Chevrolet will award each DTU Fellow a $10,000 scholarship and a $5,000 stipend. The students will form two teams of three people, and each team will have access to an all-new 2019 Chevrolet Blazer during their reporting assignments.

“The NNPA is excited to partner with Chevrolet for another year in support of young journalists to amplify community voices across our country,” said NNPA President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr. “Having these young journalists in our newsrooms working side by side with our editors and writers is inspiring and we are committed to including young storytellers’ voices in our reporting.”

The annual DTU program has awarded more than $400,000 in scholarships and stipends since 2016. The program started with a select number of schools and, based on the overwhelming response, the online submission process was opened to all HBCU students in their sophomore through senior years with an interest in journalism, communications, mass media or visual arts.

(Photo: Trarell Torrence)

(Photo: Trarell Torrence)

Each year, Chevrolet and the NPPA selects six students from America’s HBCUs to travel the country to discover and share positive, inspirational and relevant stories from African American communities during their eight-week summer internship. The other 2019 DTU Journalism Fellows include Tedarius Abrams (Bethune-Cookman University), Elae Hill (North Carolina A&T University), and Sharon Joy Washington (Florida A&M University). The six students were selected from more than 150 other applicants.

“Our partnership with the NNPA continues to provide a unique platform to connect with young and remarkable storytellers,” said Paul Edwards, U.S. vice president of Chevrolet Marketing. “From the inaugural launch at Howard University to the inclusion of all the HBCUs, it’s Chevrolet’s pleasure to partner with members of the African American community, ensuring a legacy is established for generations to come. We’re thrilled to meet this year’s group of fellows and immerse them in all things Chevrolet.”

Disc jockey and music producer DJ Envy, a co-host of the syndicated radio show “The Breakfast Club,” will be the program’s national spokesperson. Musician and author Fonzworth Bentley will serve as the fellows’ Road Trip Advisor. Both are HBCU alums — DJ Envy graduated from Virginia’s Hampton University and Bentley is a Morehouse College graduate.

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