We’ve Got A Hugger: Sonia Sotomayor

We've Got A Hugger: Sonia Sotomayor

The picture above was taken last Wednesday in Chicago, it shows Justice Sonia Sotomayor hugging a 7-year-old girl at a book signing event. Tabbie Major wanted to know what books the justice loved when she was a young girl and submitted her written question with hopes of an answer.

When the moderator read Major’s question, Justice Sotomayor found the girl and wrapped her arms around her before providing the answer.

“I read as many Nancy Drew books as I could for the longest time,” Sotomayor told the second-grader. “I hope you find someone like Nancy Drew to read.”

The hugs weren’t just a Chicago thing. They’re happening across the country where the justice stops on her tour promoting her new book “My Beloved World.”

A U.S. Supreme Court Justice publicly hugging people they just met is unusual, and perhaps unprecedented. Some Google Image Searches yielded photos of other justices hugging the president or their partners at public events, but that was it.

The New York Times recently pointed out Sotomayor’s openness on her book tour stops: “To say that Justice Sotomayor is less cloistered than most of her predecessors and colleagues may be an understatement.” 

Her openess may stem from her mission to be a positive role model, specially for young people.

At a recent appearance in Los Angeles, Sotomayor made a group of school age children her priority. The justice only had an hour before she had to catch a plane back to the east coast and asked the audience to please understand that she wanted to meet the young people.

“The number one priority of my justiceship is to, I hope, inspire kids because you see after I’m gone I will live through your memory of me,” Sotomayor told the sold out audience at the Saban Theater, an auditorium with more than 1,200 seats.

The students she was referring to were seated in the highest balcony and they came from different community groups and schools, including the Sonia Sotomayor Learning Academies.

“So please be respectful adults up there and let the kids come down,” Sotomayor told the audience.

And there were more hugs to be had.

Duke Frat Throws ‘International Relations’ Party But Really It’s a ‘Racist Rager’

Duke Frat Throws 'International Relations' Party But Really It's a 'Racist Rager'

Members of the Kappa Sigma fraternity on the Duke University campus initially wanted throw an “Asia Prime” party but they didn’t because schools administrators urged them to cancel the party. Instead what they did was change the name of the party to an “international relations” event and went ahead with their original plans.

The original party invitation invited guests complete with misspellings. “We look forward to having Mi, Yu, You, and Yo Friends (click for link) over for some Sake,” the email read. Embedded in the email was also an image of the Kim Jong Il character in the film “Team America: World Police.”

The original invite was reported to the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life,according to a flyer posted around the school. Then members of the Kappa Sigma fraternity sent the following update the next day:

The Brothers of Kappa Sigma regret to inform you that our forebrothers’ secrets of the far east have not survived the move back onto campus. Without them, Asia Prime cannot go on and must be cancelled.

Instead, Kappa Sigma presents: International Relations. A celebration of all cultures and the diversity of Duke.

The Duke Chronicle reports Vice President for Student Affairs Larry Moneta said he met with Kappa Sigma leadership on Tuesday morning, expressing his disappointment that the party occurred despite encouragement from the University administration to cancel it.

Members of the fraternity have apologized but a group of students say that’s not enough and have staged their own protest:

The Duke Chronicle reports:

At 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, several students, including seniors Ashley Tsai, Tong Xiang and Ting-Ting Zhou posted fliers across campus protesting a Kappa Sigma party that took place Feb. 1. The fliers included emails containing racially insensitive language sent out to party invitees and photographs from Facebook of costumed students at the party with their faces obscured. The actions precipitated criticism both of the party and of the fliering, and resulted in an official apology from Kappa Sigma.

Katherine Zhang, co-president of the Asian Students Association, told the school newspaper “the goal of the protest stretches beyond the Kappa Sigma party and racism against Asian students.”

“The problem is to assume that the skin in which America has determined that I am makes me not fully human,” Xiang told the Duke Chronicle. “It is a skin that I cannot take off, a skin that they can put on as a costume and make it a fun night. It is completely trival to [them] but [they] don’t have to live in our world.”

Trayvon Martin Would Have Turned 18 Today

Trayvon Martin Would Have Turned 18 Today

Supporters mark Trayvon Martin’s 18th birthday in Sanford , Fla on Tuesday, February 5, 2013. The Orlando Sentinel captured video of supporters celebrating his birthday.

Despite Longest Lines in the Nation, Florida State Sec. Calls Elections ‘Fair’

Despite Longest Lines in the Nation, Florida State Sec. Calls Elections 'Fair'

Yesterday, Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner released his long-awaited report on how the state’s elections system can be improved. He spent a month on a fact-finding mission, talking with county elections supervisors and other concerned constituents to produce this list of recommendations on “increased accessibility & efficiency in Florida elections.” But the only thing Detzner seemed to learn from the supervisors was how to throw them under the bus. The state secretary focuses mostly on the problem of long lines — Florida voters waited an average of 45 minutes, the longest time of any state — and he goes out of his way to blame this on the county election officials.

There’s a lot to unpack about long lines, but before doing that, let me list all of the problems Detzner’s report does NOT address:

  • There is no mention of felony disenfranchisement at all, despite the work of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition advocating for automatic voting rights restoration and Gov. Rick Scott’s dialing back of progress made on this issue by his predecessor Gov. Charlie Crist. Detzner fails to even mention the problem of confusing and trapping the formerly incarcerated with conflicting information about their voter eligibility.

  • No acknowledgement of the “souls to the polls” campaign, where community organizers mobilize black churches to increase voter turnout in mostly marginalized communities. The report backhandedly refers to early voting on the Sunday before Election Day as a “regionally popular voting” day that most elections supervisors would rather do without. But there’s no mention of race and how it helps black voters despite a federal judge citing those reasons for why Florida could not ban it.

  • Nothing on purging. Florida spent the better part of last year fighting for the right to purge eligible voters from rolls, falsely labeling thousands of them as “non-citizens.” This fight is still playing out in federal courts, but there’s no mention of this in the report.

  • There’s nothing on the problem of voters being challenged, unbeknownst to them, by groups like True the Vote, also leading to confusion and eligible voters denied their rights.

  • While the report talks about how to improve voter registration file processing and management, it says nothing about the law it passed that severely limits the time third-party voter registration organizations, like the NAACP, have to collect and turn over files to the county. There is existing litigation to reverse this as well, (it was temporarily blocked last year) but Detzner didn’t bother mentioning it.

  • Despite the call from advocates around the state for a more modernized voter registration system, the report says little about it. The best it can offer is guidelines on how elections supervisors can better manage registration records.

There is plenty of blame in this report on county supervisors of elections, though there were plenty of problems that were clearly of the state’s making. For example, Detzner’s report says that:

supervisors of elections have a responsibility to make the proper preparations for an election and their county commissions have the responsibility to provide the appropriate support to meet these needs. … However, some counties failed to prepare effectively and it reflected poorly on the entire state.

Election supervisors probably could have better prepared if they weren’t sent on witch-hunts by the state to purge voters. Meanwhile, whose to blame for the disproportional burden placed on black and Latino voters for long-line waits. Or the 201,000 Floridians who were discouraged away from voting due to the election mishaps.

It should also be noted that while Florida was far from the only state with these problems, they were emblematic of the finding by Massachusetts Institute of Technology that black and Latino voters waited twice as long to vote than whites across the nation.

Detzner wrote in the report: “I can confidently say Florida conducted a fair election in 2012.” Given his weak analysis, it’s apparent that there must be some blindspots at the state-level, particularly where race is concerned.

Read more about what’s next for the voting rights movement in Florida and beyond here.

Super Bowl Champ Brendon Ayanbadejo Talks LGBT Equality With Don Lemon

Just a day after his teams won the Super Bowl, Baltimore Ravens’ Brendon Ayanbadejo visited CNN to talk about LGBT equality.

“I don’t consider it gay rights. I just call it rights. Everyone deserves to be treated equally,” Ayanbadejo told CNN’s Don Lemon.

Transcript of Ayanbadejo’s comments:

Everyone’s been talking to gay people their whole lives whether we know it or not. We really believe that you’re born gay. I’ve had plenty of conversations with people that are gay and they say they are born gay, no different than me being born this beautiful almond coconut color that I am. People are born gay. So why treat them any differently? It’s time that we treat everybody fairly. And not only are we trying to dictate who people should love. We’re also trying to dictate who people should be. If a woman wants to wear a man’s clothes or if a man wants to wear a woman’s clothes or you feel like you’re a woman on the inside and you’re really a man. Who cares? Let’s just treat everybody equally. Let’s move on. Let’s evolve as a culture, as a people.

L.A. DA: Chris Brown Likely Faked His Community Service Hours

L.A. DA: Chris Brown Likely Faked His Community Service Hours

Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey says Chris Brown has given no “credible, competent or verifiable” evidence that he has completed any of his court-ordered community labor

LA Times reports: > Prosecutors noted “significant discrepancies” and are asking that a judge order Brown to fulfill his obligation in Los Angeles County in connection to terms of his 2009 sentence for assaulting his girlfriend, singer Rihanna.

In a 19-page motion filed by Deputy Dist. Atty. Mary Murray, the judge was asked to decline to accept Brown’s community service due to “at best sloppy documentation and at worst fraudulent reporting.”

Read the motion below:

Latino Farmers Breaking Barriers in Midwest

Latino Farmers Breaking Barriers in Midwest

Last Friday, PRI’s radio show “The World” ran a story about Latino farmers in the Midwest that are breaking through cultural and language barriers to operate their own farms. Reporter Anna Boiko-Weyrauch reports on a new US government project that is also supporting their efforts.

Here’s an excerpt from PRI’s “The World” story on immigrant farmers in the Midwest:

Latino farm owners are not new in places like California and Texas. But not so in Missouri, where immigrant-led farms represent just a tiny slice of farms overall. The operations are mostly small, with many immigrant farmers still working a second job to get by.

But a pilot project launched in January, and funded by the US Department of Agriculture, aims to support aspiring immigrant farmers in Nebraska and Missouri.

“You’re seeing an aging population and a lot of the younger folks in the labor market who are interested in farming tend to be folks from Latin America,” says Stephen Jeanetta, an assistant professor of rural sociology at the University of Missouri Extension and one of the project’s organizers.

The project consists of Saturday workshops at a southern Missouri library, with trainers coaching farmers on making business plans, networking and applying for loans. Hopes are that some farmers will become leaders and pass along what they learn.

The 2007 Census of Agriculture counted a total of 82,462 Hispanic operators on 66,671 farms and ranches across the United States. The number of Hispanic operators grew 14 percent from 2002, significantly outpacing the 7 percent increase in U.S. farm operators overall. A total of 55,570 U.S. farms had a principal operator of Spanish, Hispanic or Latino origin in 2007, up 10 percent from 2002.

Rep. Conyers at Immigration Hearing: Don’t Say ‘Illegal Immigrant’

Rep. Conyers at Immigration Hearing: Don't Say 'Illegal Immigrant'

Representative John Conyers, a Michigan Democrat, asked those present at this morning’s House Judiciary Committee on immigration reform to refrain from using the term “illegal immigrant.”

“I hope no one uses the term ‘illegal immigrants’ here today,” Conyers said. “The people in this country are not illegal. They are out of status. They are new Americans that are immigrants, and I think that we can forge a path to citizenship that will be able to pass muster.”

Conyers is the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee.

What Other Conversations Should We Be Having Alongside Gun Control Talks?

What Other Conversations Should We Be Having Alongside Gun Control Talks?’s editorial director Kai Wright was a guest on the Melissa Harris-Perry show on Sunday for a discussion on gun control.

Harris-Perry mentioned that in 2012 there were more deaths as a result of gun violence in Chicago than in Afghanistan.

“But there were also other things that went on in Chicago that we need to talk about,” said Wright, before going on to say the economy and access to jobs should be considered in the gun debate also.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Responds to Critics of his ‘Girls’ Review

 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Responds to Critics of his 'Girls' Review

Last week Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wrote a review of HBO’s “Girls.” His review was critical of the show’s whiteness, how self-involved the characters are and said ultimately they’re not that funny.

This time around he’s written a piece to respond to those that were surprised that a former basketball player could actually deconstruct and analyze pop culture.

Here’s an excerpt from his piece titled “Coming Out of the Locker Room Ghetto:”

There was much reaction. Some questioned why a man my age would watch a show about girls in their twenties, as if they’d just discovered me hanging around a school playground with a shopping bag full of candy in one hand a fluffy puppy in the other. Of course, these critics are right. When I read Moby Dick I first had to convince the bookseller that I was a former whaler named Queequeg. When I read the poetry of Sylvia Plath, I had to pretend I was a depressed white woman with daddy issues. Don’t worry, I used a fake ID.

Why did I review Girls? As I said in the review, we should all be intently listening to voices of the next generation, hearing what they have to say and, when they are struggling to say it, help them to articulate better. That’s the advantage of growing older in this youth-centric society — maybe the only advantage.

The overwhelming reaction to my review was complimentary which, because it was my first foray into pop culture reviewing, made me feel both appreciative and humbled. But even among some of the positive response was an underlying head-scratching theme: isn’t it amazing that a former jock can have opinions on pop culture and articulate it with words and references to books and movies? Some mentioned my height, as if I was so tall that the air up here could not support intellectual development. It was as if, after climbing the Empire State Building and swatting bi-planes all afternoon, I suddenly decided to write a fashion article critiquing Ann Darrow’s dress (“The tattered jungle look is so five minutes ago.”).

What do people expect when an ex-jock discusses pop culture? “Hmmm. Magic light box have good shows. Me like some. Others make me puke Gatorade. Me give it three jock straps.”

Maybe this will help: I have a degree from UCLA. I’m an amateur historian who has written books about World War II, the Harlem Renaissance, and African-American inventors. I read a lot of fiction as well as non-fiction. I watch TV and movies. I have acted in both. I have been a political activist and an advocate for children’s education. How should an aging, black jock like myself know anything about pop culture? Man, I am a living part of pop culture and have been for nearly 50 years. Beyond that, I think pop culture expresses our needs, fears, hopes and whole zeitgeist better than some of the more esoteric and obscure forms of art.

‘Heckuva’ Job Brownie’ Mocks Super Bowl Blackout

'Heckuva' Job Brownie' Mocks Super Bowl Blackout

During Sunday’s Super Bowl, the moment that generated the biggest peak of Twitter conversations happened during the blackout. The power outage sparked 231,500 tweets per minute.

Among those tweeting during the power outage was Michael D. Brown, the former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) who was in office when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans.

“Someone just told me there was fighting going on in the NOLA Superdome,” Brown tweeted, adding the hashtag “#shocked.”

An estimated 15,000 to 20,000 New Orleans residents took refuge in the Superdome and were stuck there with no power or running water for days. At the time, The New York Times reported there were at least two rapes and several deaths including some that were result of violence:

It is a fact that many died at the convention center and Superdome (7 and 10 respectively, according to the most recent reports from the coroner), but according to a Sept. 15 report in The Chicago Tribune, it was mostly from neglect rather than overt violence. According to the Tribune article, which quoted Capt. Jeffery Winn, the head of the city’s SWAT team, one person at the convention center died from multiple stab wounds and one National Guardsman was shot in the leg.

Yahoo News’ Dylan Stableford points out Brown’s comments drew criticism but Brown stood by his tweet:

“Come see the water line marks on the street signs by my church and see how funny Katrina/Dome tweets are,” Twitter user Duris Holmes wrote.

“I saw them,” Brown replied. “Blanco Nagin refused to look”—a reference to former Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco and former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin.

“Screen shots on iPad,” he later tweeted. “Great for capturing vitriol that’s later deleted from Twitter feed.”

Brown added: “Blocking is quite useful, too.”

The Untold Story of Restaurant Work in the U.S. [Infographic]

The Untold Story of Restaurant Work in the U.S. [Infographic]

Did you know the minimum wage for tipped workers has been frozen at $2.13 for the last 21 years? And that 2/3 of workers earthing that subminimum wage are women.

The Welcome Table has illustrated a beautiful infographic with the shocking facts.  

More from

There are 20 million workers throughout the U.S. food system, who harvest, process, ship, sell, cook, and serve the food we eat every day. Over half of them - 10 million -work in restaurants, in literally the lowest-paying jobs in America. 90% of these workers don’t have paid sick days, and with a minimum wage for workers who earn tips stuck at $2.13 for the last twenty-one years, most of these workers can’t afford to take the day off when they have the flu or worse. That means that two-thirds of these workers report that they’re forced to cook, prepare, and serve our meals while they’re sick. These startling statistics are the result of corporate lobbying groups’ influence on Congress. So even if we’re choosing healthier menu items when we eat out, our health and well-being is impacted by the fact that the people who touch our food are impoverished and sick.

Increasingly, Americans are choosing to dine at restaurants that offer organic, fair-trade, and free-range ingredients for reasons of both health and ethics. But not many people think about the workers who helped bring that food to the table.

Saru Jayaraman, the co-founder of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United and the Director of the Food Labor Research Center has written a book titled “Behind the Kitchen Door” that looks at workers’ rights in the restaurant industry.

Learn about Jayaraman’s new book and check out the infographic at

[For those of you at work: Music plays automatically once site loads.]

Black Astronaut Who Died in Challenger Mission Was Never About The Norms

Black Astronaut Who Died in Challenger Mission Was Never About The Norms

On January 28, 1986, NASA Challenger mission STS-51-L ended in tragedy when the shuttle exploded 73 seconds after takeoff.

All seven astronauts aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia died, including Kalpana Chawla the first Indian American astronaut and first Indian woman in space.

Also on board was physicist Ronald E. McNair, who was the second African American to enter space. But before he became an astronaut he was a young boy in Lake City, South Carolina ‘who was never about the norms.’

McNair’s brother, Carl McNair shared a charming story about him with StoryCorps. Take a look at the illustrated interview at the top of the page.


First Latina to Send Hello Kitty (Almost) Into Space

First Latina to Send Hello Kitty (Almost) Into Space

Lauren Rojas is a 7th grader in Antioch, Calif., and her class assignment was to test the effects of altitute on air pressure and temperature.

The balloon reached 93,625 feet above the Earth at its peak, the NY Daily News reports. When it fell back to the ground, it landed nearly 47 miles away from its launch point.

But What About Beyoncé’s Band?

But What About Beyoncé's Band?

Whether you’re a fan or not you have to admit Beyonce’s Knowles performance at the Super Bowl was full of explosive energy. Her 13-minute performance included a 120 dancers, a 10-piece all female band and several back up singers.

Then there’s the Super Dome staff, stage, lighting and costume designers, the choreographer, the hair and make up folks, the list goes on.

It’s no surprise Beyoncé is getting all the attention but since no one else is talking about the musicians that made that performance happen it’s a great opportunity to highlight the band.

Beyoncé says she started the 10-piece all female band called “The Sugar Mamas” so young girls could have more role models.

“When I was younger I wish I had more females who played instruments to look up to. I played piano for like a second but then I stopped,” Beyoncé said in a statement. “I just wanted to do something which would inspire other young females to get involved in music so I put together an all-woman band.”

Meet some of the band members that make up Beyonce’s band “The Sugars Mamas.”

BiBi McGill: Musical Director, Guitar (pictured above)

Beyonce’s band was tucked away from the cameras during the performance but there was one band member who made it to the center of the stage, guitarist BiBi McGill.

McGill has been playing the guitar since she was 12 years old. She has a degree in Music Scoring and Arranging from the University of Colorado and has gone to play for artists like Pink, Paulina Rubio and the Latin pop group La Ley.

As the musical director, she says her job is to “tell everyone what time they have to be there, being responsible to give the cue for the stage to rise, being responsible if Beyoncé wants to change something in the middle of the show, talking in my mic to everyone who has in-ears [earpieces] and making it look seamless.”

Beyonce’s back up singers call themselves “The Mamas.” 

Meet Crystal “Crissy” Collins, Montina Cooper and Tiffany Moníque rehearsing just days before their big performance on Sunday.


Kat Rodriguez - Saxophone 

Kat Rodriguez is a saxophonist, singer, songwriter, arranger, and composer with an accomplished resume. She joined Beyonce’s team in 2006.


Get Ready to Rumble: House Names Tomorrow’s Immigration Panel Speakers

Get Ready to Rumble: House Names Tomorrow's Immigration Panel Speakers

The push to reform the country’s immigration laws, launched last week by a group of Senators, will continue full steam ahead tomorrow at a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee, which handles immigration laws. Eyes are fixed on House Republicans to gauge their temperature on immigration, and this morning the Committee released a roster of speakers who will set the tone.

Tomorrow’s hearing will have two panels of witnesses, one on the “current legal immigration system and ways to improve it,” and another on “the extent to which our immigration laws have been enforced.”

Both panels include a mix of voices—the full list is posted below—but the enforcement panel is likely to include significant saber rattling.

Julie Myers Wood will start the panel. She was the head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement during part of the Bush administration and an advocate for “targeted” immigration enforcement and deportation policies. She’s likely to strike a moderate tone. Similarly, Muzaffar Chishti of the Migration Policy Institute who coauthored a recent report documenting that the Obama administration invested more in immigration enforcement than any other president, will probably argue that current enforcement levels are enough.

Then the panel will turn sharply to the right. Chris Crane, the president of the ICE employees union, is expected to say that Obama administration officials have undermined immigration enforcement and prevented ICE agents from doing their job. He’s likely to attack Obama for his administrative actions to halt the deportation of people who have not been convicted of a crimes.

Last on the list, the Committee will hear from Jessica Vaughan of the Center for Immigration Studies, one of the country’s leading immigration restriction organizations. Vaughan and her fellow CIS staffers regularly call for more immigration enforcement and tighter bars on legal paths to immigrate.

From the Committee:

Tomorrow’s hearing will have two witness panels. The first witness panel will examine our current legal immigration system and ways to improve it. Witnesses for the first panel include:

Vivek Wadhwa, Director of Research, Pratt School of Engineering, Duke University, Fellow, Stanford Law School, and Vice President of Innovation and Research, Singularity University; Michael Teitelbaum, Senior Advisor, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and Wertheim Fellow, Harvard Law School; Dr. Puneet S. Arora; and The Honorable Julian Castro, Mayor, San Antonio, Texas.

The second panel will discuss the extent to which our immigration laws have been enforced. Witnesses on the second panel include.

Julie Myers Wood, President, Guidepost Solutions LLC; Chris Crane, President, National Immigration and Customs Enforcement Council 118, American Federation of Government Employees; Jessica Vaughan, Director of Policy Studies, Center for Immigration Studies; and Muzaffar Chishti, Director of the Migration Policy Institute’s Office at New York University Law School Office.

Here’s What the Super Bowl Farmer Ad Left Out

Here's What the Super Bowl Farmer Ad Left Out

Chrysler’s photography-led commercial featuring their RAM trucks is a memorable tribute to farm operators. The two-minute commercial that aired during the Super Bowl was centered around Paul Harvey’s 1978 “So God Made A Farmer” speech and featured more than a dozen faces of people working in agriculture.

But the commercial leaves some groups of farmers out.

There is growing ethnic and racial diversity among farm operators nationwide, and the percentage of women operators is up, according to the latest Census of Agriculture published in 2007.

Of the 2.2 million farms in the United States, 1.83 million have a white male principal operator. But the growth in the number of non-white operators has outpaced the overall industry growth.

Take a look at the numbers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture:

  • The 2007 Census counted a total of 79,703 American Indian or Alaska Native operators on 61,472 farms and ranches across the United States.

  • The 2007 Census counted a total of 20,417 Asian operators on 15,360 farms and ranches across the United States. The count of Asian operators grew 40 percent from 2002, significantly outpacing the 7 percent increast in U.S. operators overall.

  • A total of 55,570 U.S. farms had a principal operator of Spanish, Hispanic or Latino origin in 2007, up 10 percent from 2002.

  • The 2007 Census counted a total of 41,024 black operators on 32,938 farms and ranches across the United States. The number of black operators grew 9 percent from 2002, outpacing the 7 percent increase in U.S. farm operators overall.

  • Of the 3.3 million U.S. farm operators counted in 2007 Census, 30.2 percent — or more than 1 million — were women.

“God Made a Farmer. Then USDA decimated black ones,” tweeted Melissa Harris-Perry shortly after the commercial aired, referencing the ad’s narration and USDA’s problematic history.

In 2011, a federal judge approved a $1.25 billion settlement in a lawsuit filed against the USDA by thousands of black farmers. The group of farmers said that they experienced widespread racial bias from the department when they were denied loans and other programs throughout the 1980’s and ’90s.

Most recently, in September 2012, USDA Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced that women and Latino farmers who feel the agency denied them loans because of their race or gender between 1981 to 2000 can file claims alleging discrimination

The ad titled “Farmer” was created in partnership with The Richards Group of Dallas, Texas.

Rosa Parks Featured on USPS Forever Stamp

Rosa Parks Featured on USPS Forever Stamp

Today the USPS is released a commemorative forever stamp in honor of legendary civil rights activist Rosa Parks.

The stamp is the second in a series of three civil rights stamps celebrating freedom, courage and equality and being issued this year. Last month, the USPS issued a stamp honoring the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and, later this year, will recognize the 50th anniversary the March on Washington.

The Rosa Parks Forever Stamp will go on sale nationwide Feb. 4, which would have been Parks’ 100th birthday, at local Post Offices, online at or by phone at 800-STAMP24 (800-782-6724).

Flash Mob Brings Us Closer to Cancer Free

Flash Mob Brings Us Closer to Cancer Free

Earlier this week I wrote about some questionable Super Bowl commercials scheduled to air this Sunday. Now I’m writing about what commercials I would like to see in between the big game.

On November 20, 2012, a group of cancer survivors, doctors and caregivers from Smilow Cancer Hospital, along with the Fairfield Children’s Choir and a troupe of stage performers, came together at Union Station in New Haven.

They were there to celebrate personal triumph. And to celebrate life.

(Update: 2/3/2012 2:35p—The Fairfield Citizen reports the commercial will be “broadcast before kickoff and later during the football game between the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens.” 

We reached out to the Smilow Canter Hospital at Yale-New Haven (YNHH) and there are currently no plans to broadcast this video on TV. YNHH is a 1,541-bed teaching hospital for the Yale School of Medicine.

This article is part of a series of stories that celebrate love We welcome your ideas for posts. Send suggestions to, and be sure to put Celebrate Love in the subject line. You can send links to videos, graphics, photos, quotes, whatever. Or just chime in to the comments below and we’ll find you. Be sure to let us know you’ve got the rights to share any media you send.

To see other Love posts visit our Celebrate Love page.

Jobs Report Still Bleak for Black Workers Under 30

Jobs Report Still Bleak for Black Workers Under 30

The U.S. economy added 157,000 jobs in January, according to a Labor Department report released Friday. Retail trade, construction, health care, and wholesale trade added jobs over the month, according to the report.

The Labor Department breaks down the numbers by worker groups:

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (7.3 percent), adult women (7.3 percent), teenagers (23.4 percent), whites (7.0 percent), blacks (13.8 percent), and Latinos (9.7 percent) showed little or no change in January. The jobless rate for Asians was 6.5 percent (not seasonally adjusted), little changed from a year earlier.

Generation Opportunity, a non-partisan organization advocating for Millennials ages 18-29, breaks down January jobs numbers for millennials. The data is non-seasonally adjusted (NSA) and is specific to 18-29 year olds:

The youth unemployment rate for 18-29 year olds specifically for January 2013 was 13.1 percent (NSA).

The youth unemployment rate for 18-29 year old African-Americans for January 2013 was 22.1 percent (NSA); the youth unemployment rate for 18-29 year old Hispanics for January 2013 was 13.0 percent (NSA); and the youth unemployment rate for 18-29 year old women for January 2013 was 11.6 percent (NSA).

The declining labor participation rate has created an additional 1.7 million young adults that are not counted as “unemployed” by the U.S. Department of Labor because they are not in the labor force, meaning that those young people have given up looking for work due to the lack of jobs.

If the labor force participation rate were factored into the 18-29 youth unemployment calculation, the actual 18-29-unemployment rate would rise to 16.2 percent (NSA).

“President Obama says America should be ‘investing in the generation that will build its future,’ yet four years of his government-driven economic policies have left us with record youth unemployment and an economy that is literally shrinking. My generation is suffering disproportionately,” said Terence Grado, Director of National and State Policy at Generation Opportunity, in a statement. “Instead of staying the course and doubling down on failure, we need a new strategy that encourages the private sector to grow, invest, and provide real opportunities for the millions of young people who have great skills, are ready to contribute, and have waited long enough.”

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