Thousands of People Marched for Immigration Reform This Weekend

Thousands of People Marched for Immigration Reform This Weekend

This past weekend thousands of people in cities across the country marched for immigration reform. The actions were part of a “National Day of Immigrant Dignity and Respect” and organizers estimated that 50,000 people turned out nationwide. In total, rallies took place at more than 150 sites in 40 cities in an effort to pressure Congress to act on an immigration reform bill before the end of the year. Here’s a look at the action that took place in three cities.

Los Angeles:





Photo credit: John Moore/ Getty Images.

New York:





Photo credit: Kena Betancur/ Getty Images.

New Haven, CT:




Photo credit: Spencer Platt/ Getty Images.

Watch Fannie Lou Hamer’s Testimony at the 1964 Democratic National Covention

Watch Fannie Lou Hamer's Testimony at the 1964 Democratic National Covention

Sunday was Fannie Lou Hamer’s birthday, so it’s worth taking a look back at the impact that the famed Civil Rights activist had on American history. Here’s video of Hamer’s testimony at the Democratic National Convention on August 22, 1964 in Atlantic City.

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Immigration Marches Planned in 150 Cities for Saturday

Immigration Marches Planned in 150 Cities for Saturday

As the Obama administration remains on track to deport its two millionth immigrant, people are once again taking to the streets this Saturday in hope of a comprehensive immigration reform bill. House Democrats unveiled a bill this week. Representative Luis Gutierrez has since made clear that the bill could pass the House with bipartisan support. Getting as far as a vote is unlikely, however, during the government shutdown.

People in more than 100 cities around the country are preparing for marches to demand Congress move forward on a bill. Dubbed the March for Immigrant Dignity and Respect, the event is largely organized by unions and mainstream immigrant rights organizations. Activists and advocates at Saturday’s events hope to give the House one last push for immigration reform. Another march is planned for October 8 in Washington, DC

Ex-Marine Calls on People of Color to Back Same-Sex Marriage

Ex-Marine Calls on People of Color to Back Same-Sex Marriage

In 2006 Marquell Smith was discharged from the military due to Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT), and his experiences inspired him to work toward repealing the policy that prevented LGBTQ people in the military to serve openly.  DADT was repealed in 2010, and since then Smith has turned his attention to getting people of color to back same-sex marriage.  

This week, Smith launched the Inclusive Community Project, a political action comittee that aims to get people of color to support LGBT causes. He’s beginning his nationwide campaign in his home state of Illinois, where a judge recently ruled to allow two lawsuits challenging the state’s ban on gay marriage to move forward. 

At a fundraiser on Thursday, he said that he was struck by the lack of diversity among people advocating for same-sex marriage in Illinois, and decided to do something about it. 

“I was getting a feeling that there weren’t a lot of people standing up who looked like me. The whole idea behind this is to get citizens to really stand up and get people of color to get behind [same-sex] marriage.”

Smith also said he believes there’s broad support in the black community for same-sex marriage, and he’s making it his mission to mobilize them behind this and other causes that affect LGBTQ people. 

Watch Smith share his story for the It Gets Better Project.  

(h/t Chicago Sun-Times)

Herman Wallace Dies Three Days After Being Released From Solitary

Herman Wallace Dies Three Days After Being Released From Solitary

After an unprecedented release from solitary confinement on Tuesday, Herman Wallace died today at age 71. Wallace had spent more than 40 years in solitary, and was taken into hospice to be treated for terminal liver cancer immediately after his release.

As Colorlines reported earlier this week, Federal Judge Brian A. Jackson gave the order to have Wallace immediately released because women were excluded from his grand jury. Despite the judge’s ruling, on Thursday he was re-indicted by a West Feliciana Parish grand jury who insisted he was not innocent. 

In 1972 Wallace, along with fellow Black Panther Party members Robert Hillary King and Albert Woodfox, was put in solitary confinement after being convicted of fatally stabbing a prison guard at Louisiana’s Angola Prison. They came to be known as the Angola 3, and they maintained their innocence in the guard’s death. They insisted that they had been targeted for establishing a prison chapter of the Black Panther Party in 1971. Wallace was initially imprisoned on robbery charges.

On Tuesday night Wallace was met by supporters and loved ones, including Robert King—who had been the only member of the Angola 3 to be release from prison—and artist Jackie Sumell, with whom he worked on an art project where he imagined his dream house. He would have turned 72 on October 13. 

The Awful Reality Faced By Teens Who Are Locked Away in Solitary Confinement

The Awful Reality Faced By Teens Who Are Locked Away in Solitary Confinement

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) just released a new video to draw attention to the problem of juvenile prisoners being held in solitary confinement. The video comes amid a multi-year campaign waged by the organization to end the practice of placing youth offenders, many of whom are charged with adult crimes and housed in adult facilities, in solitary confinement for up to 22-24 hours each day

The video, like the problem itself, is hard to watch, but difficult to ignore, according to the group.

It’s a problem that’s especially prevalent for youth of color who are in the country’s jails and prisons. Though overall youth incarceration has decreased in recent years, youth of color are still more likely to end up behind bars than their white counterparts. According to the group, African-American youth in New Jersey are more than 4.5 times more likely to be incarcerated in a state youth prison. And in South Dakota, Native American youth make up more than 40 percent of the state’s incarcerated youth, but just 13 percent of the overall population.

Lauryn Hill Marks Release From Prison With New Track ‘Consumerism’

Lauryn Hill Marks Release From Prison With New Track 'Consumerism'

Lauryn Hill is scheduled to be released from federal prison today after serving a three-month sentence for tax evasion. The former Fugees singer has marked the occasion with the release of a new track called “Consumerism.” The track is a seething indictment of all of the world’s -‘isms, about which Hill wrote:

“Consumerism is part of some material I was trying to finish before I had to come in. We did our best to eek out a mix via verbal and emailed direction, thanks to the crew of surrogate ears on the other side. Letters From Exile is material written from a certain space, in a certain place. I felt the need to discuss the underlying socio-political, cultural paradigm as I saw it. I haven’t been able to watch the news too much recently, so I’m not hip on everything going on. But inspiration of this sort is a kind of news in and of itself, and often times contains an urgency that precedes what happens. I couldn’t imagine it not being relevant. Messages like these I imagine find their audience, or their audience finds them, like water seeking it’s level.”

- Ms. Lauryn Hill

(h/t Okayplayer)

TAGS: Lauryn Hill

Prominent San Francisco Artist René Yañez Faces Eviction After 30 Years in the Mission

Prominent San Francisco Artist René Yañez Faces Eviction After 30 Years in the Mission

Another day, another sad story of a San Francisco family facing eviction.

Last week, Julianne Hing wrote about an elderly Chinese couple who won a hard-fought delay in their effort to stay in their Chinatown home.

Now, San Francisco’s Mission Local brings us the story of longtime artist René Yañez, who’s facing eviction after nearly three decades in his home in the city’s Mission district. Yañez’s wife, Yolanda, and son, Rio, are also included in the eviction notice.

“René and Yolanda helped paint the neighborhood into what it is today,” Sarah Guerra, the operations manager at the Brava Theater and one of the many artists in the neighborhood who are organizing support efforts, told Mission Local.

Rio Yañez, 33, added: “There’s a lot going on that I am trying to reconcile with. Both of my parents have made a pretty large cultural investment with the city, but there’s not a lot of protection at this point.”

“Rent control is what afforded my parents with the opportunity to live in this city and make art. Being an artist means they have no savings, no retirement, no health care. They live check to check. For their dedication to art, that’s where they are. With elderly people like them, with limited income, this essentially makes them homeless.”

No One’s On the Job for the Jobs Report

No One's On the Job for the Jobs Report

Yet another twist of irony brought forward by the government shutdown is the fact that the nation’s September jobs report, issued by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, won’t be revealed tomorrow because there’s no one on the job to do so. As Jared Bernstein, Senior Fellow at the Center of Budget and Policy Priorities writes in The New York Times, the absence of the critical spreadsheet is “one of the more mocking symbols of the government shutdown.’” With double-digit unemployment in black and Latino communities, as well as for those under the age of 25, the monthly Employment Situation Report—as the data stream is formally known—is critical to assessing the economic health of communities of color and youth.  

It’s hard to overstate the importance of the jobs report. It is one of the most important pieces of economic information in the world. The jobs number is arguably the best indicator for determining the health of the economy overall. It’s what the Federal Reserve—the nation’s central bank—uses to decide how much money to pump into the economy and what Wall Street uses to figure out what to invest in and when. But due to the shutdown, it will remain stuck on the desktops those of who administer it.

Earlier today Senator Mary Landrieu, who chairs the Senate’s Small Business Committee, announced that the nearly $100 billion a year in federal government small businesses contracts are at risk. This includes the $15 billion that flows directly to black and Latino firms annually. “This is a tea party shutdown,” Landrieu emphasized. 

That’s why President Obama visited the Latino-owned M. Luis Construction business in Maryland this afternoon. “The longer [the shutdown] goes on the worse it will be,” the president warned the crowd

The daily flow of information is backing him up. 

Univ. of Wisconsin to Hmong-American Studies Classes

Univ. of Wisconsin to Hmong-American Studies Classes

Correction: An earlier version of this post stated that UW-Madison was the first university to offer Hmong-American studies. While a young field of study, other universities have established programs. Thanks to multiple commenters for chiming in.


Come fall 2014, students at University of Wisconsin-Madison will be able to enroll in the university’s first Hmong-American studies courses taught by Professor Yang Sao Xiong, who was hired for the school’s the first tenure-track post in that subject. It’s all kinds of history in the making.

While the college has offered courses on Hmong language and culture in the past, Xiong will teach and research the Hmong-American experience. It’s an important distinction. “Hmong-Americans are at a stage where they want to focus on critical issues affecting them — poverty, health, race, and politics — just like many other social movements,” Xiong told Wisconsin’s Capital Times. The courses will live in the university’s Asian-American Studies Program and the School of Social Work, and were established after years of fractious community relations and organized advocacy from the local Hmong community. Fittingly, Xiong’s first course offering will focus on Hmong social movements in the U.S. from the 1980s to today, the Capital Times reports.

The U.S. Hmong population blossomed in the wake of the Vietnam War as people fled their native Laos. During the war many Hmong were recruited by the CIA to fight for the U.S., and eventually emigrated as refugees. Today Hmong communities are concentrated on the West Coast and in the upper Midwest—around 45,000 live in Wisconsin alone. 

Michelle Rodriguez: Latest Celebrity of Color to Come Out of the Closet

Michelle Rodriguez: Latest Celebrity of Color to Come Out of the Closet

Michelle Rodriguez came out as bisexual this week and the world collectively shrugged its shoulders and said, “Duh.” In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, the 35-year-old Latina actress said:

“I don’t talk about what I do with my vagina, and they’re all intrigued. I’ve never walked the carpet with anyone, so they wonder: What does she do with her vagina? Plus, I play a butchy girl all the time, so they assume I’m a [lesbian]…. Eh, they’re not too far off.” Elaborating, “I’ve gone both ways. I do as I please. I am too … curious to sit here and not try when I can. Men are intriguing. So are chicks.”

Rodrguez’s sexuality has long been the subject of Hollywood rumors, but her admission has been the subject of lots of discussion this week. The folks over at Autostraddle reiterate why one of the industry’s worst kept secrets is still a big deal:

As I’ve said over and over again lately, the rate at which celebrities have been coming out over the past two years is unprecedented and honestly quite thrilling, and M-Rod’s revelation is the cherry on top of the sundae that might actually be an endless sundae bar, if you get my drift. She’s also the latest in a long line of women of color to come out over the past year, like Raven Symone, Brittney Griner, Jasmine Jordan and Charice, bucking the flawed stereotype (often offered as an excuse for whitewashed lesbian media) that women of color just aren’t out.

Is change finally coming to Hollywood?

Watch Angel Haze’s ‘Echelon (It’s My Way)’ And Hop on the Bandwagon

Watch Angel Haze's 'Echelon (It's My Way)' And Hop on the Bandwagon

Angel Haze is out with a new video. The rapper, who isn’t shy about discussing her bisexuality and androgynous style, is still working on her debut album “Dirty Gold,” which doesn’t have a release date yet.

Labor Department Operating at Just 20 Percent During Shutdown

Labor Department Operating at Just 20 Percent During Shutdown

This morning, the Department of Labor issued the following message:

“Due to the lapse in funding, the Employment Situation release which provides data on employment during the month of September, compiled by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, will not be issued as scheduled on Friday, October 4, 2013. An alternative release date has not been scheduled.”

The reason for this is probably that the Bureau of Labor Statistics is working with only three staffers, down from its normal 2,409 employees, according to the department’s memo on the government shutdown.

Of the total 16,304 people who would normally be working right now at Labor, only 2,954 are currently in effect—less than 20 percent of its full capacity. The Office of Workers Compensation seems to be the only program under Labor working with a significant staff—1,328 out of the usual 1,606—with most of them collecting salary from sources other than congressional appropriations. The rest of Labor’s programs are largely depleted of staff right now. 

Here’s why this is a problem:OO

Last week, an Administrative Law Judge, an officer of the Labor Department, found Bank of America liable for intentionally discriminating against hiring hundreds of black workers, ordering the company to pay $2.2 million dollars to settle a case that had been open for decades. Good thing that was settled when it did—there are no judges working right now out of the 122 usually on the bench. Not one of the 726 staffers is currently working in the Office of Federal Contract Compliance, the body that audited Bank of America and found the racial employment discrimination.  

Since 2008, that office has reviewed over 19,000 companies that operate with federal contracts, and won more than $45 million in financial remedies for 84,000 workers who were affected by discrimination. Those reviews are now on pause, thanks to the shutdown. 

Unemployment insurance will continue to be administered, and if the shutdown lasts longer than seven days Labor employees will become eligible for unemployment benefits themselves. While the unemployment numbers won’t be made available this week as scheduled, figures on weekly unemployment insurance claims will. Labor in fact reported today that new claims increased to 308,000 last week, up 1,000 from the previous week. 

And the Job Corps program, which offers GED, diploma and workforce training to young men and women of low-income backgrounds—and also those who’ve had trouble with the law—will continue to run. Of the 55,031 students enrolled in Job Corps in 2011, 51 percent were African American and 16.4 percent were Latino. The program runs from a separate pot of money, and so its staff and contractors are set at least through November. But there have been problems with Job Corps funding as the Inspector General recently found.

With unemployment among black and Latino youth so high—not to mention with African Americans in general—it’s important that the Labor Department operates at full capacity to help get people paid.  

Big Freedia’s ‘Queen of Bounce’ Debuts on Fuse TV

Big Freedia's 'Queen of Bounce' Debuts on Fuse TV

Just in case you missed Big Freedia setting the world record for twerking, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to see the Queen of Bounce in action. Big Freedia’s new reality TV show debuted Wednesday night on Fuse TV:

The show’s first two episodes reportedly trace the history of bounce music and Freedia’s place in it, along with featuring fellow New Orleans-based artists Sissy Nobby and Ward Buck.

Over at the Times-Picayune, Allison Fensterstock writes about the show: 

It’s pretty wacky. (Reality shows are supposed to be wacky.) What the show really seems to present, though it’s likely too early to tell, is the world of a gracious, mellow and hardworking performer surrounded by a little bit of crazy, but also - more so - a solid community of friends, family and fans. Will that provide enough drama to sustain a reality show? For the New Orleanians and others who’ve been rooting for Big Freedia since the star began to rise, we can hope.

The show airs on Wednesdays at 11/10c.

Native Tribes Already Feeling the Effects of Government Shutdown

Native Tribes Already Feeling the Effects of Government Shutdown

As Colorlines previously reported, the government shutdown—now in its third day—disproportionately affects communities of color. And one particularly under-resourced community is already feeling the effects. 

According to an article by the Associated Press, the Crow Tribe in Montana has been seriously affected by the shutdown. Of the 13,000 members of the tribe, 300 have been furloughed, which is about half of its employees. Transportation systems have also been suspended as a result, as has home health care for seniors. And like many other communities nationwide, there are concerns about federally funded nutritional and educational programs that these communities rely on. 

Some tribes are able to weather the shutdown by drawing from their reserves, but these temporary cuts remain worrisome since other federal cuts were approved earlier this year. 

(h/t Associated Press

Cleveland’s Loss in MLB Playoff Game Made Worse By Fans’ Redface

Cleveland's Loss in MLB Playoff Game Made Worse By Fans' Redface

The Washington Redskins certainly aren’t the only team in American professional sports with a racist name problem. The Cleveland Indians lost to the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League wild-card game Wednesday night. Some fans, quite predictably, showed up sporting ‘redface.’


FOX Sports has a pretty good rundown of people’s reactions on Twitter.

Join Issa Rae’s Black Twitter Party

Join Issa Rae's Black Twitter Party

Awkward Black Girl Issa Rae is back with a satirical look at the world of black twitter.

Because You Know You Can’t Wait for Tonight’s Premier of ‘Scandal’

Because You Know You Can't Wait for Tonight's Premier of 'Scandal'

From the good folks over at Shadow & Act, Here are three sneak peeks at the third season of “Scandal,” which premiers tonight on ABC.

Colorlines’ #ShutdownChat with Imara Jones

Colorlines' #ShutdownChat with Imara Jones

This morning, Colorlines hosted a chat with our steadily growing Twitter community about the federal government shutdown and its potential longterm implications. We invited columnist Imara Jones to expound on his continued coverage of the shutdown and invited our followers to pose questions and tweet comments about everything from their predictions on how long the furloughs will last to the Tea Party’s strong belief that, by taking away much needed employment and social services, it has the country’s best interest at heart. 

Here’s a Storify feed of our Twitter chat. Read what’s already been said and continue the discussion, using the hashtag #shutdownchat.


House Democrats Introduce New Immigration Bill Amid Government Shutdown

House Democrats Introduce New Immigration Bill Amid Government Shutdown

On day two of the U.S. government shutdown—which is costing American taxpayers about $200 million daily, not to mention the disproportionate effects it has on communities of color and how it’s paralyzed the EPA and other agencies—House Democrats have announced a new immigration reform bill that some say is almost identical to the one already introduced.

Headed by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the bill was introduced at a press conference today by Reps. Joe Garcia (D-Fla.), Jared Polis (D-Colo.), Judy Chu (D-Calif.), Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.) and Steven Horsford (D-Nev.). Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) is expected to sign on as well.

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said the government shutdown may not affect the bill’s chances. “[The bill] has strong support from the American public. It has a probability of moving forward,” he said during the press conference.

Despite Rep. Hoyer’s optimism, it seems unlikely any immigration bill could move forward considering current budget disputes in Congress and with such few legislative days left in the calendar.

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