Chris VanHollen

Marc Morial

Marion Wright Edelman


Van Hollen, Richard Durbin Urge Congress to Support NIST

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) have led a letter urging Congress to fully fund the National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST). NIST is headquartered in Gaithersburg, Maryland and supports research and development across the country.

The Senators write, “NIST research programs work at the frontiers of measurement science to ensure that the U.S. system of weights and measures is firmly grounded in sound scientific and technical principles.”

The Senators pointed to a number of critical programs, including the NIST Scientific and Technical Research Services, the Industrial Technology Services’ Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership, the NIST National Cyber Security Center of Excellence, and their work on forensic science methods.

They closed the letter noting, “As new technologies emerge, NIST remains central to our national defense, homeland security, trade, and innovation. Increasing funding for Scientific and Technical Research Services and maintaining current funding for Industrial Technology Services is a national security imperative, fosters innovation, and strengthens American competitiveness. For these reasons, we urge you to make strong and sustained funding for NIST one of your highest priorities.”

The Senators requested that the NIST Scientific and Technical Research Services receive at least $775 million and that the NIST Industrial Technology Services receive $155 million for FY 2019. Senators Van Hollen and Durbin were joined in signing the letter by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.).

As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Van Hollen actively fights for Maryland interests and works to negotiate the details of each bill. He has teamed up with his colleagues to join and lead a series of letters on particular areas of interest.

The letter can be found here and below.

Dear Chairman Shelby and

Ranking Member Shaheen,

As you begin work on the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Legislation, we write in support of the National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST) and several of its critical missions. We request that the NIST Scientific and Technical Research Services receive at least $775 million and that the NIST Industrial Technology Services receive $155 million for FY 2019.

NIST research programs work at the frontiers of measurement science to ensure that the U.S. system of weights and measures is firmly grounded in sound scientific and technical principles. For example, NIST scientists built the first atomic clock in 1949. Today, atomic clocks help the world keep time to within a billionth of a second. This level of accuracy enables Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers to instantaneously calculate their position. It would be impossible to have a functioning GPS system without innovations from NIST researchers.

Funding for NIST Scientific and Technical Research Services is critical to maintaining partnerships with universities across the country that enable NIST to fulfill its mission, leverage expertise, and train a robust scientific workforce. For example,

• JILA, a joint institute between NIST and the University of Colorado Boulder, explores physics, nanoscience, precision measurement, and quantum information.

• The Joint Quantum Institute brings together scientists from the University of Maryland, NIST, and the Laboratory for Physical Sciences to better understand how to leverage quantum systems for information science and technology.

• New Materials for Logic, Memory, and Interconnects (NEW LIMITS) is a consortium led by Purdue University with the University of Texas at Dallas, Penn State University, University of Michigan, and Stanford University focused on the development of new materials for novel computing and storage technologies, enabling U.S. semiconductor producers to remain on the cutting edge.

In addition, NIST hosts high school and undergraduate students as summer researchers to help inspire and train the next generation of scientists and engineers.

NIST also performs groundbreaking research in forensic science methods through its federal innocence and forensic science programs, which increase the accuracy and fairness of the criminal justice system, provide the strongest possible tools to stakeholders, and lead to greater public safety.

The Industrial Technology Services’ Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) enhances the productivity and performance of U.S. manufacturing by partnering with state and local governments and the private sector to provide expertise and resources to manufacturers to solve problems, increase productivity, and improve their economic competitiveness.

We appreciate the support in FY 2018 for expanding NIST’s National Cyber Security Center of Excellence (NCCoE), which addresses businesses’ most pressing cybersecurity problems with practical, standards-based solutions using commercially available technologies.  We request that this support continue so that NCCoE can continue to enhance cybersecurity and protect national information systems.

As new technologies emerge, NIST remains central to our national defense, homeland security, trade, and innovation. Increasing funding for Scientific and Technical Research Services and maintaining current funding for Industrial Technology Services is a national security imperative, fosters innovation, and strengthens American competitiveness. For these reasons, we urge you to make strong and sustained funding for NIST one of your highest priorities.



State of Black America® Finds African-Americans Drastically Underrepresented in Tech Industries

“It is our hope that this document will pierce the dark veil of neglect that has thus far smothered efforts to right the wrongs of the past and present. It is presented as an alternative to failed public policies. I hope that it will be read closely in the White House and in the Congress and that it may influence decision-makers to open their eyes to the plight of black Americans. I hope it will be read by all of the candidates in both parties, whose campaigns thus far largely exhibit a refusal to grapple with real issues and with the concerns of black citizens. And I hope it will be read closely by the press and the electronic media, whose neglect of black interests and black concerns in 1975 was as pervasive as Washington’s. And I know it will be read by black Americans, in order that they may document their grievances and understand the terrible dilemma they face.”

—Vernon E. Jordan,
State of Black America, 1976


A nationwide assessment of the digital economy has found that Black Americans are overrepresented as tech consumers, but drastically underrepresented as tech employees, according to the 2018 State of Black America®.

The State of Black America, the National Urban League’s seminal annual publication, has become one of the most highly-anticipated benchmarks and sources for thought leadership around racial equality in America across economics, employment, education, health, housing, criminal justice and civic participation.

The report is available on

This year’s report, Save Our Cities: Powering the Digital Revolution, set out to answer the question, “Are the new job, business and educational opportunities created by increased digitization of our world being equally shared?”

African Americans make up less than 5% of the workforce at social media and technology companies, vs. more than 50% for whites. Less than 6% of total Black employment in 2017 was in the tech industry, vs. 8.5% for whites.

Historically, while great industrial breakthroughs have profited our nation, African Americans have often been exploited, rather than elevated by these advancements. Fortunately, the digital revolution is still in its youth—and ripe with potential for Black Americans. While it has positioned itself such that the barriers of entry are few and low, the findings of the National Urban League’s 2018 Digital Inclusion Index are unambiguous: we must separate the signal from the noise.

The Digital Inclusion Index is a brand-new iteration of the report’s traditional Equality Index™—a mathematical representation of the relative social and economic status of Black Americans relative to whites. The 2018 Equality Index remains 72.5%, unchanged from 2017, while the Digital Inclusion Index is slightly higher at 74.1%. An index of 100% would represent full equality.

Inspired by the Three-Fifths Compromise of the 1787 United States Constitutional Convention, the Equality Index is calculated using an array of statistics in five categories: economics, health, education, social justice and civic engagement. The Digital Inclusion Index is calculated based upon digital skills and occupations, digital access and digital policy.

The report includes the commentary and analysis of more than 50 thought leaders in business, government, science and the arts.

Technology is a study in contrasts for Black America. Black families continue to remain less likely than white families to have dedicated internet access at home, yet African Americans are the second-largest multicultural group, after Asian Americans, for mobile device ownership, with 91% owning smartphones. Black millennials are influential, leading users of mobile technology and platforms, and voracious consumers and creators of digital content, but lag behind in tech employment.

The report found some areas of above-average digital equality. Although African Americans were less likely, in general, than whites to receive degrees in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) , one kind of STEM degree actually is more common among African Americans—computer and data science. In 2015–2016, 2.8% of African Americans, vs. 2.6% of whites earned such degrees.

While African Americans with doctoral degrees in science and engineering don’t have the same outcomes as their white counterparts, they are closer to parity than the average worker—almost 93%.

The report also includes a Hispanic-White Equality Index which calculates the same categories as the Black-White Index. This year’s index is 79.3%, a slight gain over the 2017 index of 78.5%. Both the Black-White Index and the Hispanic-White Index reflect slight gains in household income, graduation rates and college enrollment.



Dr. James Cone

“The lynching tree interprets the cross. It keeps the cross out of the hands of those who are dominant. Nobody who is lynching anybody can understand the cross. That’s why it’s so important to place the cross and the lynching tree together, because the cross, or the crucifixion, was analogous to a first-century lynching. In fact, biblical scholars, when they want to describe what was happening to Jesus, many of them say it was a lynching.

“And all I want to suggest is, if American Christians say they want to identify with that cross, they have to see the cross as a lynching. Any time your empathy, your solidarity, is with the little people, you’re with the cross. If you identify with the lynchers, then, no, you can’t understand what’s happening … Power in the powerless is not something that we are accustomed to listening to and understanding. It’s not a part of our historical experience. America always wants to think it’s going to win everything. Well, Black people have a history in which we didn’t win. We did not win. See, our resistance is a resistance against the odds. That’s why we can understand the cross.”

The Rev. Dr. James Cone passed away on April 28, two days after the opening of the Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama created by the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), which remembers victims of lynching and racial terror in America who were at the core of Dr. Cone’s teachings.

James Cone, the founder of Black liberation theology, was an ordained elder in the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church; a distinguished professor of systematic theology at Union Theological Seminary where he taught for nearly 50 years; and a tireless crusader against racial terrorism and other forms of injustice including mass incarceration beginning with what the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) calls America’s Cradle to Prison Pipeline® crisis. He authored a dozen groundbreaking, history making, and movement shaping books. They include Black Theology and Black Power, A Black Theology of Liberation and God of the Oppressed. Inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X, he pulled the academy and theology into the struggles against oppression in the wake of the Civil Rights Movement. As a theologian his central message was that the God of the gospels must be understood as a God of the oppressed who is most concerned with the poorest and most vulnerable members of society—a message with radical implications for American Christianity and all faiths and for our nation and world.

We were blessed with his presence at CDF-Haley Farm’s Samuel DeWitt Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry four years ago. The quote at the beginning of the column is from an interview Dr. Cone gave four years before the release of The Cross and the Lynching Tree, a book he told us he had been writing his entire life and would not finish until he drew his last breath. Every July the Proctor Institute brings together “Great Preachers and Great Teachers” like Dr. Cone with clergy, seminarians, religious educators, community organizers, young adult leaders and a range of faith-based advocates in an intergenerational, interracial, multi-ethnic, ecumenical community pursuing justice for our nation’s children. In 2014 he taught two Theology and Child Advocacy Bible study sessions and shared how his beliefs were shaped:

“I left graduate school during the high water mark of the Civil Rights Movement and the rise of Black Power in the 1960s. I was a theologian obsessed with civil rights and Black Power, since both of these movements helped me to see that God is found in the midst of the oppressed, fighting for dignity, justice, and respect … The heart of the Christian faith is the cross of Jesus, the one who shed his blood as a crucified victim in Jerusalem … No one can understand this Jesus … without seeing Jesus through the experiences of crucified peoples today. No people can understand the transforming power of Jesus except through the solidarity with the poor and the wretched among them,” adding: “God is always found where we least expect to find God, like in a manger in Bethlehem, on the cross in Jerusalem, or hanging from a lynching tree in America.”

The Cross and the Lynching Tree, he said, “is my prayer, my invocation to God, on behalf of Black people, in the hope that the nearly four centuries of Black suffering will be redemptive for our children and grandchildren, revealing to them the beauty in their tragic path, and also empowering them to continue to fight, to resist the violence of White supremacy. It is also my hope that Whites, too, will be redeemed from their blindness, and made to open their eyes to the terror of their deeds, so they will know that we are all of one blood, and what we do to others we do to ourselves.” He continued: “Literally and symbolically, biologically, and spiritually, Blacks and Whites and others are brothers and sisters. We need to start acting like that … Let us hope that we, through God’s grace and our struggle, we will be able to overcome our prejudices and hate that separate us, and thereby empower us to become the one people God created us to be.”

The new lynching memorial and museum created by EJI led by the wonderful Bryan Stevenson remind us of progress made and how far our nation must still go to acknowledge, understand, and end the ugly legacy of the lynching tree in America which has morphed into new forms including police killings and massive gun deaths enabled by the insane proliferation of guns in civilian hands no other nation permits. It is indefensible that there have been 16 times more Black children and teens killed by guns than all the recorded lynchings of Black people from 1877–1950. Let’s hope the horrible truth about our history enables us to hear Dr. Cone’s message and repent. Only then can we become the one nation under God we profess to want to be. Dr. Cone said that must happen before we can be historically, culturally, and spiritually free. He never lost hope or stopped struggling and neither must we.


Marian Wright Edelman is President of the Children’s Defense Fund whose Leave No Child Behind® mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities. For more information go to

Mrs. Edelman’s Child Watch Column also appears each week on The Huffington Post.








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