Why, asked a reporter at a Friday press conference, did none of the African-American "leaders" recently interviewed by her news outlet not come down on Commissioner Henri Brooks for remarks made while challenging the award of a county roofing contract to a firm with no African-American roofers?
"We identify with what she is talking about," said the Rev. Dr. L. LaSimba Gray, the Memphis head of Rainbow PUSH, one of three groups and several ministers who called the conference at Cane Creek Baptist Church.
"During the civil rights movement we didn't all agree with Malcolm X, but we didn't challenge Malcolm X because Malcolm X spoke truth to what we were living with every day. And what Henri Brooks was speaking to is what we live with every day," said Gray.
The attachment handed out at a Friday press conference at Cane Creek Baptist Church had this header: "Direct Quotes of Mr. Andrew Clarksenior Appearance on WHBQ.TV Tuesday night 5/13/14."
The press conference featured representatives of Rainbow PUSH, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the National Action Network and "concerned ministers." It was a forum to issue a twin call for balance and fairness. One target was the awarding of contracts in Shelby County.
The other target was the media, particularly the handling of the story involving Commissioner Henri Brooks, who some want to resign in the wake of remarks she made at the Shelby County Election Commission on Monday. Brooks challenged the award of a roofing contract to a firm that employs 25 roofers who are Hispanic and no African Americans. Her manner of doing so is now a matter of ongoing controversy.
Church's Chicken manager Daniel May seemed pleased with the turnout and what he viewed as the unity that existed among participants in a Memphis reflection of widespread strikes and protests at fast-food restaurants on Thursday.
"It's like this very positive vibe-to know that you're fighting for justice, and you're in that fight together. You have a special camaraderie with that person."
Memphis fast food workers walked off their jobs to campaign for $15 an hour and the right to form a union without retaliation. Organizers say the move part of a "wave of strikes and protests" in 150 cities across the U.S. and 33 additional countries on six continents.
Brown v. Board of Education – the landmark Supreme Court ruling that desegregated public schools – turns 60 this year, and if someone were tasked with identifying the most interesting parts of the case in order to repurpose it for a "Law & Order" special, what would that episode look like?
Who were the major characters? Which one of the nine Supreme Court justices held out on his decision until the last minute, and then eventually changed his mind? What was special about the plaintiff, and why did he make it a credible case?
And since the last five minutes of any legal drama are especially juicy because viewers want to see how the courtroom reacts to the verdict, how did the country respond to the 1954 Supreme Court ruling that made the "separate but equal" doctrine unconstitutional?
That an embattled African National Congress won the latest round of South African elections was not at all surprising. However, this particular election was a curious inflection point in the post-Mandela era, presenting a number of alarming transitions for what was, up until very recently, Africa's most powerful and stable democracy.
In the wistful wake of legend Nelson Mandela's passing, South Africa reveals troubling signs. The country is not really the relative oasis of continental modernity and democratic self-control that it's hyped itself to be since his historic 1994 presidential win. The elections, in which an entrenched ANC machine barely avoided a split government, injected gloomy uncertainty into South Africa's future, and refractured what little sense of reconciliation there was in the postapartheid era. Such unease threatens to push a fragile country deeper into poverty and resets questions on whether or not its black majority will recover and eventually prosper from years of brutal segregation.
The once hopeful post-colonialist story of South Africa is now battered by crime, poverty and HIV/AIDS, forcing an uncomfortable re-examination. Contemporary South Africa isn't playing out like a feel-good Invictus group hug. Rampant corruption—South African ranks 72 out of 177 on Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index—has always been a tell-us-something-we-don't-know fact of life in the nation of 50 million, as has bribery and laughingstock leadership in the form of current President Jacob Zuma.
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