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Marc Morial, President and CEO, National Urban League
Mark Morial
Marion Wright Edelman
Marion Wright Edelman

National Newspaper Association Applauds Progress on Fallen Journalists Memorial

National Newspaper Association President Matt Adelman, publisher of the Douglas (Wyoming) Budget, on Jan. 16 recognized the work of the House Natural Resources Committee for approving the first stages of work for a Fallen Journalists Memorial.

The Committee completed its review of a bill authorizing the use of federal lands for the memorial. The legislation, HR 3465, will head to the House of Representatives floor for a vote at the call of Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The memorial would be designed to call attention to journalists who lost their lives during or because of the pursuit of the news.  It will reach back into history to the sacrifices of World War II journalist Ernie Pyle and those who went before him and forward to more modern casualties.

The idea for a memorial grew from the anniversary of the deaths of five employees of the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland, who were gunned down by a disgruntled reader in 2018.

The memorial is intended to be funded privately. But for it to be placed in the District of Columbia and its environs, authorization by Congress is required. A companion bill in the Senate, S 1969, awaits action by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, chaired by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska.

“This memorial is necessary and timely,” Adelman said. “We live in an era when the value of news gathering itself is somewhat under fire. Domestically, we knit the nation together. Abroad, American armed forces deployments require journalists to work alongside to tell the stories of our military missions. We need to remind ourselves and future generations that recording these first drafts of history sometimes requires journalists to give their all.”

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Marc Morial, President and CEO National Urban Legue

To Be Equal: MLK’s Legacy Even More Relevant as Hate Crimes Continue to Rise

“The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate.”
—Martin Luther King, Jr.

A report that hate crimes surged in America’s five largest cities last year has broken just as we prepare to honor the nation’s best-known victim of a hate crime.

The Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, found that hate crimes were at their highest level since September 11, 2001, in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, with the Jewish community being the most frequent target in all five of the cities.

“These data reflect several trends, including an escalating tribalism, where various prejudices like anti-Semitism, xenophobia and homophobia, among others, are widely shared across a diverse grouping of people,” Brian Levin, the report’s lead author, said. “Next, local demographic changes in densely populated cities means more people are coming into contact with each other right at a time when fearful stereotypes are increasingly become the kindling for violent behavior.”

In the wake of the shooting and stabbing attacks on Orthodox Jews in New York and New Jersey, far-right trolls hoping to exacerbate racial tensions have been posing online as Jews to post racist screeds against African Americans.

Online sleuths who traced the racist plot back to the website 4chan—a site that author Elad Nehorai called “a radical breeding ground”—found slur-ridden comments like “You are throwing high-quality octane fuel” on the “fire” of Jewish-Black relations, “Let’s see some riots,” and “If you break the Black-Jewish alliance, it’s all over for the Jews.”

It’s instructive to note that the goal of white nationalists is to drive a wedge between marginalized groups. And vital that we actively and forcefully resist these efforts.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” Dr. King wrote in Letter from a Birmingham Jail. “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

The National Urban League, as one of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation Racial Equity Anchor Institutions, is proud to celebrate the fifth annual National Day of Racial Healing on Tuesday, the day after Martin Luther King, Jr., Day. The day is a call to action to mobilize communities, organizations, and individuals across the United States in support of truth, racial healing and transformation.? More than 70 events around the nation are scheduled, and you can follow the conversation on social media using the hashtag #HowWeHeal.

As one of the Anchor Institutions, we stand side-by-side with racial justice and organizations representing Latinos, Asian-Americans, Native Americans and other ethnic and religious communities—tied together, as Dr. King said, in a single garment of destiny.

As disheartened as we may be by the rising level of hate crimes, and as disgusted as we may be to read the words of online trolls, we must guard against meeting hate with hate. Friedrich Nietzsche wrote, “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster.”

The monster of racism feeds on hatred. The only way to kill it is to starve it.

—January 16, 2020

 

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Marian Wright Edelman

ChildWatch: Failing at Greatness

In January 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. took a rare sabbatical to write what would become his last book:  Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? In the final chapter he raised this question: “Not too many years ago, Dr. Kirtley Mather, a Harvard geologist, wrote a book entitled Enough and to Spare. He set forth the basic theme that famine is wholly unnecessary in the modern world. Today, therefore, the question on the agenda must read: Why should there be hunger and privation in any land, in any city, at any table, when man has the resources and the scientific know-how to provide all mankind with the basic necessities of life?”

Dr. King’s answer: “There is no deficit in human resources; the deficit is in human will . . . The well-off and the secure have too often become indifferent and oblivious to the poverty and deprivation in their midst. The poor in our countries have been shut out of our minds, and driven from the mainstream of our societies, because we have allowed them to become invisible. Ultimately a great nation is a compassionate nation. No individual or nation can be great if it does not have a concern for ‘the least of these.’”

The Trump Administration has made a lot of promises about being “great,” but again and again has shown a basic contempt and lack of compassion for the poorest and most vulnerable both outside our borders and in our own nation. In one of its latest failures to show concern for “the least of these,” the administration finalized a new rule in December to weaken the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by imposing time limits and work requirements. Instead of using some of our vast resources to finally eradicate hunger in America in 2020, the USDA estimates nearly 700,000 people will lose benefits and be at risk of going even hungrier. The deficit in human will is on full display.

Under the new rule more able-bodied adults without dependents will be required to work or participate in work activities for 20 hours a week in order to receive SNAP benefits for more than three months in a three-year period. States’ ability to waive time limits in areas where there are many unemployed adults and too few jobs has been reduced. As CDF’s policy team has explained, research suggests that rather than promoting increased employment, time limits actually harm health and productivity. Data also show the overwhelming majority of SNAP participants who struggle to meet the 20 hours of work per week requirement aren’t falling short because they’re not interested in working but because of the volatility in the low-wage labor market, caregiving duties, or personal health issues. Punishing them by making it harder for them to put food on the table is not going to help.

Although current law doesn’t impose these time limits on children or adults with children, the rule’s devastating impact will still harm children because children living in poverty often depend on pooled resources (including SNAP benefits) from extended family members who don’t claim them as dependents. Right now, SNAP helps feed 19.9 million children in our nation—more than 1 in 4. With less food to go around, everyone will suffer.

In CDF’s formal comments to the USDA when the rule was first proposed, we said: “Given the critical role SNAP plays for children and families in communities across the country, we have serious concerns about any policies that would restrict access to SNAP for those who are hungry… SNAP has a proven track record of reducing food insecurity, lifting people out of poverty and generating economic activity. We must continue to improve upon access to this critical safety net program, not make it more difficult to assist those it is intended to benefit.”

This rule is just one of several recent inhumane attempts by the Trump Administration to take food away from hungry families—and we must continue to strongly resist and speak out against every new threat. We cannot afford to become overwhelmed or exhausted. As our nation pauses for the holiday celebrating Dr. King’s birthday, our current national path seems to reject Dr. King’s definition of greatness at every turn. But as Dr. King reminded us in Where Do We Go From Here?, in words of tremendous encouragement and hope for this moment:

“In any social revolution there are times when the tail winds of triumph and fulfillment favor us, and other times when strong head winds of disappointment and setbacks beat against us relentlessly. We must not permit adverse winds to overwhelm us as we journey across life’s mighty Atlantic; we must be sustained by our engines of courage in spite of the winds. This refusal to be stopped, this ‘courage to be,’ this determination to go on ‘in spite of’ is the hallmark of any great movement.…Today’s despair is a poor chisel to carve out tomorrow’s justice.”

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