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MPB Episode | 1964: The Fight for a Right [VIDEO]

1964: The Fight for a Right

Air date 08/21/14

Voting is a Constitutional right. But in 1964, Black Mississippians had to fight – often at great personal cost – to fully gain this fundamental right.

By the mid twentieth century, Mississippi’s African Americans had suffered from nearly 75 years of Jim Crow discrimination. In order to break open the closed society and improve their lives, they needed to be able to vote. In the summer of 1964, hundreds of young white volunteers converged in Mississippi for a 10-week voter registration campaign. The results of their efforts still reverberate.

MPB’s Freedom Summer series and documentary are part of a partnership with the Mississippi Humanities Council (MHC). The program is financially assisted by the National Endowment for the Humanities through the MHC.



Source: MPB

Guantanamo Makeover
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HB 585: New Rules, New Crimes and New Punishments

In 2014,  Mississippi legislators created and Governor Phil Bryant  signed  into  law a new bill   designed  to  reduce  the state’s  prison population and  decrease  the  prison  system’s  strain of the budget. 

While the  law does reduce  some criminal penalties, it also increases penalties for certain other crimes. Read our brochure for details.


HB 585 Summary

• Violent offenders now required to serve 50% of sentence. Non-violent offenders must serve at least 25 %.

• The new law creates  a set of crimes which are violent and can never be considered nonviolent no matter the circumstances (with an exception for statutory rape).

• Sentencing judges can classify any crime with a maximum sentence of five or more years as a violent crime if the defendant used physical force, or made a credible attempt or threat of physical force against another person.




Click HERE to View Brochure in PDF format

Click HERE to View HB585 As Sent to the Governor

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QUIZ: Are You Smart Enough to Get Into Private Kindergarten?

2014/07/07 – A sample question from educational services company ERB’s Admission Assessment for Beginning Learners (AABL). Take the test for yourself below.

Some of the city’s most elite private schools will soon require 4-year-olds to take a new, harder admissions test given on an iPad and designed to assess math and literacy skills.

The educational services company ERB‘s Admission Assessment for Beginning Learners (AABL) will be given for the first time in October and is a significant departure from the previous, IQ-like test most New York City private schools required for the past 45 years.

While the new test is much cheaper for families — it’s $65, rather than $568 for the old test, because the new test is taken by iPad rather than by a trained examiner — experts believe many parents will shell out even more on classes and books to prepare their toddlers for it.

“These are subjects that were not previously tested,” said Emily Glickman, president of Abacus Guide Educational Consulting, who advises parents on private school admissions.

“The AABL is supposed to identify a child’s ability and achievement,” Glickman said. “That achievement part — how much you learned — is totally new. You usually think of an achievement test as something you take in high school. It’s not something you think of for preschoolers.”

So far, only Horace Mann and Riverdale Country School have announced plans to use the new exam, but experts believe more may follow.

In the past, most private schools used the ERB’s IQ test for kindergarten admission. But this year the Independent Schools Admissions Association of Greater New York (ISAAGNY) told schools they were no longer required to use that test and instead could use a different one, make admissions tests optional or ignore them entirely.

The coalition cited concerns that 4-year-olds were over-preparing for the old IQ exam.

Some consultants, though, were perplexed by the shift to the new, more difficult AABL test.

“The AABL is really requiring more from preschoolers. That is in line with what we’re seeing in public schools,” Glickman said, referring to changes in the Department of Education’s gifted and talented admissions test. “We all know that some of the brightest people are late bloomers, yet more and more schools are rewarding the early achievers.”

To prepare kids for the AABL, parents should work with their youngsters on basic early literacy and math skills, said Karen Quinn, best-selling author of “Testing for Kindergarten” and co-founder of online test prep service

“We’re looking at things like knowing letters, numbers and shapes, knowing letter sounds, recognizing rhymes, counting, adding, subtracting and more,” she said.

The ERB’s IQ test was more subjective, especially on the verbal section, in which the examiner could award partial credit, said Bige Doruk, founder of test prep company Bright Kids NYC.

“For example, if the question stated ‘What is a mouse?’ and the kid answered ‘animal,’ he or she would get 1 point. If the kid said ‘a gray animal that is small, has a tail and likes to eat cheese,’ the kid would get the full 2 points,” Doruk explained.

If a child just said “animal,” the tester would reply, “Tell me more,” giving the child another chance to earn the full 2 points, Doruk said.

In addition to a numerical grade, the old test also included a written narrative from the examiner describing the child’s behavior during the test, such as whether the toddler seemed to be focused or easy to work with.

It’s unlikely that the AABL will include a report on the child, because the child will take the test independently on an iPad, Doruk said.

“It favors those with more reading skills and who’ve gone to more academic preschools,” said Doruk, whose company began offering one-on-one tutoring, ranging from $140 to $200 a session, for the AABL about a month ago.

Horace Mann and Riverdale declined to comment on their choice to use the new test, but Horace Mann explained its rationale on its website.

“While the score report is only one element of a child’s application,” the school said, “it is the only piece of the application that is consistent and objective for our applicants, who come from many schools and many different backgrounds and include children who do not come to us from formalized preschool settings.”

In the past, many parents would sign their kids up to take the test in the spring and summer before applying to schools. Registration for the AABL, however, doesn’t open until Sept. 15, and testing starts Oct. 15, according to the exam’s website.

Some consultants raised concerns about the use of an iPad test, saying toddlers shouldn’t spend so much time in front of a screen. But Doruk said her company has been using iPads in tutoring sessions for the past two years.

“Kids know how to use the iPad. They like the iPad. It’s more engaging to them. It looks like a game,” Doruk said. “But they still have to answer the questions correctly.”

Take the test by clicking on the link below, go to the bottom of the article, click the “Get Started!” button:

Read more:

Source: DNA info New York

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Derrick Johnson on C-Span 2014

See other clips and related video, CLICK HERE

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Remembering Medgar Evers

2014/07/02 – Is it a coincidence that two historic African American men were born on the same day? Today is the 106th birthday of Thurgood Marshall who not only was the first African American Supreme Court Justice, but helped in the ruling of Brown v. Board of Education that made segregation illegal. And it is also the birthday of Medgar Evers who would have turned 89.  An African American Civil Rights Activist, he helped overturn segregation at University of Mississippi.




View Digital Issue

Digital Issue Source: NAACP Crisis magazine

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Why We Need a Second Freedom Summer in 2014

2014/05/08 – “The school is an agent of social change. Students must know their own history.”

Those were the first two of five goals laid out by the founders of the Freedom Schools, a core program of the Mississippi Freedom Summer of 1964. During that sweltering southern season – temperatures averaged in the high 80s from June through September – civil rights workers promoted political participation through voter registration and community education.

At great personal risk to themselves and their families, organizers opened thirty makeshift schools across the state, taught by volunteers and attended by students of all ages. The lesson plan? Learn your history, and transform your anger into action.

As students of the civil rights era, we need to heed this example and learn our own history. This week marks the 50th anniversary of the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which is being commemorated with three days of events at the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin, Texas. But the celebratory nature of this week must not leave the impression that victory was inevitable, or that the days of voter suppression and institutional racism are only in the rear view mirror. If anything, the visceral reminder of our history should inspire a Freedom Summer for 2014.

The 1964 Freedom Summer was a response to decades of voter suppression and political disenfranchisement. Southern states had spent the better part of a century honing the dark art of racial exclusion through poll taxes, literacy tests and other Jim Crow tactics. By 1962, only 6.7% of eligible blacks in Mississippi were registered to vote.

The movement was massively successful in drawing attention to civil rights abuses. The organizers’ message of education and empowerment struck a nerve with Americans of all backgrounds, supercharging the larger civil rights movement and leading to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 the following year.

Fifty years later, the Voting Rights Act is in limbo, with key portions struck down by the Supreme Court. Inevitably, voter suppression has once again reared its ugly head. Since 2011, a number of state have introduced laws to make voting more difficult, with the burden usually falling on poor people and communities of color. This year alone, Wisconsin and Ohio have passed laws to cut early voting, while North Carolina has gone forward with a suppressive voter ID law. Some of these laws are set to take effect for the 2014 midterm elections – now seven months away.

The question remains: Will the civil rights organizers of today respond with a sustained push for voter registration to overwhelm the tide of voter suppression?

Midterm elections historically have a low turnout. Progressives cannot count on the same level of excitement as in 2012, when President Obama was on the ticket and voter suppression outrages were fresh in voters’ minds. In this off-year, there is a greater danger that organized money on the right can overpower organized people on the left.

That is why I am so grateful for the upcoming Freedom 50 movement. From June 25-29, veterans of the original Freedom Summer movement will lead events around the country to once again educate and inspire their communities about civil rights. They will focus on the same issues they focused on back in 1964 – voting rights, education, workers’ rights and access to health care.

As Derrick Johnson, one of the organizers and President of the Mississippi NAACP, told me, “We want to have a direct impact on policy and also pursue the political goal of increasing the number of African Americans who are registered and engaged.”

School is back in session.

Freedom Summer organizers risked their lives and transformed our nation for the better. Today, we need to summon the courage to ensure their efforts are not being rolled back. History has taught us that we can be powerful agents of social change when we organize, agitate, and – most importantly – vote. The summer of 2014 will be an important test for the cause of freedom.

Benjamin Todd Jealous is the former president and CEO of the NAACP.

Originally posted on 4/9/14 on MSNBC
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Our Negras are Happy: Fables, Facts, Race and Climate Change

2014/05/08 – Our Negras are happy here in Mississippi. It’s the outside agitators causing the problems,” so claimed Mississippi Governor Ross Barnett in response to the Freedom Riders’ activities during the summer of 1963. In the following year, Paul B. Johnson, Mississippi’s new governor repeated the sentiment: “Our Negras are content, happy with the present situation, but outside agitators are manipulating them”.  In this 50th anniversary year of  Freedom Summer, as we celebrate and honor the sacrifices of those who lived for, fought for, and in many cases, died for the rights we have taken for granted, once again our collective wellbeing is threatened. This time the threat is veiled from view by a much more pernicious and insidious system of misinformation, disinformation, political, and sometimes even religious speak than we faced in the 1960’s. In 1963 and ‘64, the speech of the keepers of the status quo required very little dissection to uncover the truth about “our happy Negras”. Though carefully chosen to obscure the actual conditions, these words failed to disguise the unequal burden which Black people, people of color generally, and poor people bore in the US in the 1960s. In many ways, from an environmental-climate change perspective, the globalized world of 2014 has become a virtual throwback to the Mississippi of 64’.

Today, people of color and poor people in the U.S. and globally bear unequal environmental burdens that threaten our very existence. Parallel to their 1964 counterparts, contemporary naysayers promulgate a rehearsed pre-scripted refrain: “The verdict is not yet clear, there is no scientific evidence that supports the notion of manmade climate change”.   Simultaneously, and from many stations within the communities of people of color and poor people, we hear the preternatural chant: “The environment is not our issue, it’s theirs,” or perhaps: What do I care about polar bears?” As both the climate deniers and those who claim no responsibility for or awareness of the challenges of climate change continue down the same path, the possibly cataclysmic problems are worsening faster than any of the previous scientific models predicted.  Focusing solely on socio-economic deficiencies that plague our communities and continuing to believe that solving the problems of climate change can take a back seat, or be left to others or to future generations is a pathway to human and environmental disaster.

The exigent socio-economic and  dire environmental realities we face do not leave us with an “either or”

option for action.  When we look at the facts, “both and” appears to be our best choice.

On March 31st, 2014, The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report compiled by over 3,000 top climate scientists and government officials from around the world. The findings were startling. Climate change is happening 60 years ahead of the schedule of even the most aggressive scientific models!  Sea level rise plus changes in rain and weather patterns are causing more frequent and more severe storms and floods. These factors combine to threaten the most vulnerable populations, who are disproportionately poor and people of color. The impacts include droughts, disrupted agricultural cycles, famine, and massive loss of human life, population dislocations, climate refugees and destruction of property at a heretofore unheard of scale. Though at times we may have a dispassionate and weak connection to scientific models around climate science, the evidence of the impacts on humans is constantly in the headlines. In 2005, as many as 3,500 people lost their lives as a result of Hurricane Katrina. During 2013, super typhoon Haiyan caused more than 8,000 deaths in Indonesia, while more than 10,000 died from monsoon floods in India. There is internecine warfare in the south Sudan caused largely by a massive drought that has created 900,000 climate refugees. As a

result of severe drought in the American west, food prices have increased 6% in the US and 13% globally while the approved 2014 US Farm Bill reduced access to food stamps for 850,000 American households

via an $8.7 Billion cut to the program.  According to the World Bank, both in the US and globally, the poor and the unemployed will be most impacted by the increased price of food.

By some estimates, as many as 4,800 African Americans were lynched across the U.S between 1882 and

1968, the epoch of the civil rights struggle. In contrast, according to German insurance company Munich Re, more than 20,000 people worldwide died from climate disasters in 2013 alone. Massive super-cell E-5 tornados have destroyed large sections of African American  and other poor communities in Alabama, Massachusetts, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Oklahoma and others which would be far too numerous to cite. Between 2012 and 2013, climate-related property losses totaled over $400 billion.

2012’s Hurricane Sandy and the drought in the American West combined accounted for $100 billion in damage. While we were paying with our lives, our food security and our homes, the primary producers of climate changing greenhouse gasses were filling the corporate coffers. In 2012 extractive energy companies (oils, gas, coal) and fossil fuel intensive energy producing businesses like electric utilities— made a combined profit of over $350 billion.  Today, if we believe the UN Report on Climate Change and we believe what we see with our own eyes, the stakes are much higher.

During the early-1960s, the shadowy White Citizens Council structured the strategy, then formulated the talking points for those whose rallying cry was “our Negras are happy”. Today, for those who deny climate change and its impacts, the talking points, misinformation, and strategy of obfuscation is funded by a much larger, more organized conglomerate of those who benefit by maintaining the status quo. According to Greenpeace International, oil industry billionaires David and Charles Koch (the same Koch brothers who have funded the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party) have quietly funneled more than

$67 Million dollars to climate change denial front groups.  These groups include scientists, ministers,

phony think tanks, and invented grass roots organizations with two simple objectives: Deny manmade climate change and protect the Koch brothers’ profits. As we listened with discernment to the message crafted by the White Citizens Councils of the 1960s, we were yet called to action. No amount of disinformation could dissuade us. We knew the cause was ours; the issue was ours and the endangered species was us. Today our call to action is just as clear and no less urgent.

Carlton Brown, the author, is the COO of Full Spectrum of NY, a regenerative real estate development company. He is a graduate of Princeton University School of Architecture, Adjunct Faculty Member at Pratt Institutes Graduate Planning Program, a board member of Global Green USA and frequent public speaker on regenerative development in disproportionately burdened and disinvested communities.

Source: Carlton Brown, Author

United Nations Climate Summit, September 23-24, 2014 New York City

Other Articles In the Series

  1. Relationships of carbon, greenhouse gases, climate change and human activity
  2. Resiliency, Mitigation & Climate Justice
  3. Local, National, and International fronts
  4. Changes: Investment; Divestiture; Public Policy; Resource consumption
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Fully Funding Education for All Children in Mississippi: A ballot Initiative to Make Public Education a State Priority

2014/05/07 – The Mississippi Adequate Education Program Act (MAEP), passed in 1997, was enacted as a school finance equity measure to address the lack of resources to provide an adequate education for all children in public school. If fully funded, it is designed to make public education a priority and give every child an adequate opportunity to learn.  However, legislators have refused to fully fund MAEP in all but two years of the program’s existence resulting in schools being underfunded by over $1.5 billion since 2009.  In fact, MAEP will be underfunded this year by more than $250 million below what the formula requires.

A ballot initiative has been initiated by an advocacy group named “BETTER SCHOOLS, BETTER JOBS” ( to put a constitutional amendment before voters as early as the November 2015 election to fully fund MAEP.  The Better Schools Better Jobs initiative will require the Legislature to use at least 25% of new growth in the state’s annual revenue for MAEP funding.  This will ensure that every public school district receives state support to provide the basics for a good education.  Public education has historically been a low priority for Mississippi policymakers, resulting in our education system consistently ranking at the bottom in student achievement and per-student financial support compared to other states.

Fully funding MAEP means hiring more teachers and retaining quality teachers to address the critical teacher shortage many districts currently face. It would also allow districts to obtain new textbooks, technology, and other needed resources to provide quality instruction.  More importantly, fully funding MAEP would finally make education a priority for Mississippi.  The Mississippi NAACP supports the ballot initiative because it is an investment in our children and our future.

In order for the effort to be successful, over 110,000 signatures must be gathered from registered voters from across the state by October.  Petitions are now available and we need your help gathering signatures.  Please CLICK HERE to volunteer or call the office (769)-524-6818 for more information.

Source: NAACPMS Staff