Monday, January 31, 2011

An Update on the Kelley Williams-Bolar Case: She Meets with Jackson and Sharpton

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action 

I figured that I would share an update to the case of Kelley Williams-Bolar, the mother of two who was given jail time for sending her kids to a school outside of their home district.  This week, Williams-Bolar met with both Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rev.  Al Sharpton about her case, appearing with me and her attorney on Rev. Jackson's show this past week.  Rev. Sharpton and I are planning a rally for Kelley in Ohio soon, but the rally is not focused on just one person.  Instead, the focal point is on the educational system in its entirety and why there are millions of moms across America being forced to break the law in order to help their children get access to a quality education.

I heard about Kelley's case through one of my Facebook friends.  Her case had been in court for years with no resolution, and not enough people had heard about what this woman was going through.  I wrote about Kelley's case in a few venues and called national media contacts, hoping that this important issue could be brought forth for public discussion.  I am not in the business of doing individual crusades when it comes to the criminal justice system, since I don't have the resources to help with every case that comes across my email inbox.  I get several cases in my email every single day, and while I wish I could help everyone, it's impossible without significant amounts of funding (I still have my day job, so I'm certainly not in this game for the money).  I chose to grab Kelley's case because it has clear national implications about a failed public school system that continues to destroy the futures of our children on a regular basis.  In fact, I dare say that if the only person who is helped in all this is Kelley Williams-Bolar, then we have failed ourselves, our children and our country.

Click to read.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

DJ Henry Shooting: Family Files $120 Lawsuit Against the Police


by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action 

The shooting of Pace University football player DJ Henry has set off a great deal of controversy in the town of Pleasantville, New York, where Henry was shot outside a nightclub. According to police, Henry drove his car toward one of the officers, who claims that he had to fire on the athlete in order to save his own life. Accounts of what happened that night are varying, and DJ's family has filed a $120 million lawsuit against the Pleasantville Police Department over the incident. Attorney Charles Oglegree from Harvard University is representing the family of Brandon Cox, a friend of Henry's who was also shot that night.

The incident began on the night of October 17, when police were called to investigate a disturbance outside a bar in the suburb of Thornwood, which is located right near the Pace University campus.


Click to read.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

National Media Gets Involved in the Kelley Williams-Bolar Case

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action 

Most of us at Black Voices are familiar with the case of Kelley Williams-Bolar, the Ohio mother of two who was sent to jail for sending her children to the "wrong" school district. Williams-Bolar was sentenced to 10 days in jail, three years probation and community service for using her father's address in order to avoid sending her kids to the school she considered to be dangerous and inadequate. At AOL Black Voices, we were one of the first to hit the issue nationally, and fortunately, other media outlets are starting to take notice.

In addition to being sent to jail, Williams-Bolar and her father are being charged with fourth degree grand theft of school services. As a consequence of her conviction, Williams-Bolar can never use the teaching degree that she is working on right now. The judge also made it clear that she was sending Williams-Bolar to jail as an example to be shared with any other parents thinking about doing the same thing.
The case sparked a firestorm of national controversy and conversation about educational inequality and the notion that a mother had to break the law in order to give her daughters access to a quality education. Millions of parents around the nation expressed support for Williams-Bolar, for they too could recall their own parents making the same sacrifices for them. There have been Facebook groups created to support Williams-Bolar and has created a petition on her behalf to have her record expunged. The petition drew nearly 20,000 signatures over a three day period, and is growing by the second.

Click to read.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wilmer Leon Analyzes the State of the Union

by Dr. Wilmer J. Leon

President Barack Obama was under pressure to satisfy many different constituencies in his second State of the Union address last night. Some liberals wanted the president to support government-matching 401(k) contributions in order to promote saving; others wanted him to address gay-rights legislation; still others urged a ban on large gun clips, or deep cuts in the defense budget.

Instead the president chose to set a tone rather than an agenda. Other presidents have been able to unveil sweeping policy initiatives in the annual address. But President Obama is faced with an ideologically driven opposition that has made clear its intention to oppose him at every turn. At the same time, the president is also facing a historic shift in technological and global economic realities that is remaking the world as we have come to know it.

Even though some policy initiatives were proposed, President Obama had another objective. Faced with a Republican majority in the House; a Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), whose stated goal is repealing health care reform and defeating Obama in 2012; and Sen. James DeMint (R-S.C.), who sees the overturn of health care reform as "Obama's Waterloo," President Obama shrewdly took the higher ground: appealing to all sides to work together on behalf of America. The president declared, "Tucson reminded us that no matter who we are or where we come from, each of us is a part of something greater -- something more consequential than party or political preference."

The world in which we live is changing rapidly. Advances in technology have rewritten the rules of engagement within one generation. As the president put it, " … revolutions in technology have transformed the way we live, work and do business. Steel mills that once needed 1,000 workers can now do the same work with 100. Today, just about any company can set up shop, hire workers and sell their products wherever there's an Internet connection."

In the face of this new reality, President Obama is engaged in battles with people like Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who once told the New York Times that he did not know how to use the Internet. It is difficult to move forward while dragging your opposition into the 21st century.

The speech did have its flaws, mostly by omission. The president did not mention any targeted programs to assist the poor in America and the long-term or chronically unemployed. As unpopular as it may be, providing education and job training for the least of us will prove to be a benefit for all of us. He also did not take the opportunity to acknowledge the innocent civilians who died in the Russian airport bombing or to call for greater international cooperation to ensure the rights of the world's oppressed people.

But President Obama was correct to focus on the big challenges. "At stake is whether new jobs and industries take root in this country or somewhere else," he said. "It’s whether the hard work and industry of our people is rewarded. It's whether we sustain the leadership that has made America not just a place on a map, but a light to the world."

In order for America to win the future, it must discard the baggage of the past. The paradigm has changed, and America must adapt. Conservatives must stop being the party of opposition and become the party of alternatives.

At the same time, the Democrats should not be afraid to lead. They must take control of the narrative and clearly articulate to the American people more than ideas about winning the future; they must articulate a plan and explain how the future will be won. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, "Ultimately a genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus." In the coming months, we will see if Obama's focus on tone pays off in a solid agenda that moves the nation forward.

Wilmer J. Leon III is the producer-host of the nationally broadcast call-in talk-radio program Inside the Issues With Leon, as well as a teaching associate in the Department of Political Science at Howard University in Washington, D.C. Follow him at or on Twitter.

Flava Flav and His Fried Chicken and Liquor Franchises

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action 

Last year, at the "Measuring the Movement" forum, hosted by Rev. Al Sharpton and the National Action Network, I had a chance to sit next to Chuck D from Public Enemy. I found Chuck to be as impressive, interesting and intelligent as he is on television. He also didn't give off the mind-numbing, stomach-turning, arrogant celebrity vibe that I see all too much. I was thoroughly impressed.
While I feel that I have some understanding of Chuck D, I simply cannot say the same for Flava Flav. Flava almost seems to come out of a different time, place, and perhaps even another planet, from the rest of us. He would have been great in the 1920s, when black performers could make a fortune by embracing ignorant stereotypes and engaging in ridiculous behavior. Flava seems to relish his role as the cultural clown, reminding all of us of exactly what Dr. Martin Luther King did NOT want our children to become.

Click to read.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Dr Boyce Watkins Spotlight: Juan Gilbert Leads Black Scholars into Computer Science

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action 

While many of us know who the leading black basketball and football players happen to be, we are rarely exposed to the leading Computer Scientists, Mathematicians and Physicists. Most importantly, most of us don't know that there is an entire organization of African American male PhDs called "Brothers of the Academy" who do scholarly work in a multitude of important fields. The media would be quick to feature these men if they were committing crimes, busting rhymes or dunking basketballs, but black males should be more readily celebrated when we are hitting the books, working our butts off and establishing sustainable institutions within the black community.
Ladies and gentleman, meet Professor Juan Gilbert. I've observed Juan as President of Brothers of the Academy for the past several years, and I can say with complete certainty that he is one of the most focused, dedicated, reliable and capable leaders in black America today. Juan not only runs BOTA, but he has also raised millions to fund his own computer science lab at Clemson University and at even before the age of 40, has served as the "academic father" for a large number of black Computer Science PhDs. It is for that reason that Professor Juan Gilbert is today's Dr. Boyce Watkins Spotlight on AOL Black Voices:

Click to read.

Update: Rahm Emanuel Taken Off the Ballot for Chicago Mayor

News update

A state appeals court has ruled that President Obama's former Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, cannot run for mayor in the city of Chicago because he was not a resident of the city for a full year before running. The decision is shocking and significantly changes the mayor's race, where Emanuel had more than a 2-to-1 advantage over his closest competitor, Carol Moseley Braun.
Emanuel's exit from the race will likely be appealed to the Supreme Court, but until then, there are a lot of questions to be answered. According to a recent poll, over 54 percent of Chicago's white residents supported Emanuel, with only 7 percent supporting Braun. Another candidate, Gery Chico, had 25 percent of the support from likely white voters.

Another question in the election will be how Obama and Clinton administration officials will respond to Emanuel's exit. Former President Bill Clinton engaged in an act that some considered to be a betrayal of the black community of Chicago by coming to town to campaign for Emanuel. President Obama has not openly endorsed Emanuel but has stated that he would be an excellent mayor.
It turns out that the drama of the Chicago mayoral race won't ever come to an end. Last month, there was an agreement for Danny Davis to drop out of the race so that Chicago's black community could rally their support behind a consensus black candidate. Mosley Braun, by proving that she could pull together the funding necessary for a serious run, took the lead as the only black candidate.

At this point, it seems abundantly clear that Emanuel was not a resident of Chicago. He rented a house in the city, but lived in Washington DC during the time he spent working for President Obama. The Supreme Court doesn't have to hear his case, but some are hoping that they will make a political decision that reflects the favor that Emanuel has from the current Chicago Mayor, Richard Daley (whose son has taken over Emanuel's position in Washington) and President Obama. But the truth is the truth and we can't let politics override that which is legally and ethically correct. But then again, we are talking about Chicago politics, where the rules are bent all the time.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition and a Scholarship in Action Resident of the Institute for Black Public Policy. To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Condoleeza Rice Asked on CNN: “Why Are You Not Married?”

Piers Morgan Interviews Condoleezza Rice

by Alexis Stodghill, AOL Black Voices

Condoleezza Rice, the first black woman to become a U.S. Secretary of State, was interviewed recently on the newly minted CNN show, 'Piers Morgan Tonight,' to be asked of all things: Why are you not married? That question no successful African American female can escape. The single, black (semi-successful) woman that I am couldn't help but shrink in insecurity as this ubiquitous puzzler was posed even to one of the most prominent black women alive. Why the embarrassment?
Yes, such questions make for great ratings. It's a question Piers Morgan might have asked any single V.I.P. Watching a woman who used to wield massive diplomatic and military power talk of cooking fried chicken was a hoot. But despite the innocence of the utterance, for black women everywhere that question is the articulation of aGreek tragedy-style family curse: An unsolvable source of suffering for black women that just keeps getting passed down. Piers may not have known that, but refering to it even obliquely is enough to make one's heart hurt.


click to read.

Was this really a “Suicide”? The Case of Frederick Jermaine Carter


by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action 


The black community in Greenwood, Mississippi is on edge and angry after the death of Frederick Jermaine Carter. Carter, who was 26 years old, was found hanging from a tree in what authorities have labeled to be a suicide. But the community isn't buying the police's story and claim that he was actually murdered.
The Final Call is reporting on the death of Carter, and even Michael Pimbleton Jr., the mayor of Sunflower, Mississippi has said that there was more going on than meets the eye.
"This is 2010 and we still have Black people hanging from trees? They're saying he hung himself but I have doubt in my mind that he actually did that. That wasn't his character. This wasn't a suicide, this was a homicide," Mayor Pembleton said to The Final Call.
Carter was found on December 3, with his body hanging from an oak tree in North Greenwood, which is a predominantly white section of Leflore County. He actually lived in nearby Sunflower County, and North Greenwood is known as an area that black people are sometimes afraid to visit. Carter was with his stepfather, who said that he wandered off from an area in which they were both working.


Click to read.


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Republican Michael Steele Says His Party “Needs a Few More Brothers”

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action 

Former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele has continued to be outspoken in the name of the Republican Party. On a recent appearance on MSNBC, Steele went out of his way to note that he feels that he's helped to increase diversity within the ranks of the Republicans.
"What I tried to do [as chairman] was to broaden the landscape over which we could play, go into neighborhoods where we needed to be in, but hadn't been in generations, and I think it made a difference," he said. "I'm very happy with what we got done."
Matthews noted that he rarely sees African Americans gathering together at Republican conventions, and Steele responded by saying, "We could have used a few more brothers in the house, there's no doubt about that."
Steele was not reelected as the chairman of the RNC this week, being replaced by Reince Priebus after seven rounds of balloting. Steele believes that his fellow Republicans will work with President Obama if he leaves the door open to do so. "I really believe they will run with him on certain issues," Steele said.

Click to read.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Boyce Watkins - MLK’s Adultery: Does It Change His Legacy?


by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action 

Every year on the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., there are some people who raise questions about Dr. King's sex life. They openly ask if the legendary pastor and civil rights leader ever deceived his wife, and some have even gone as far as referring to him as a "sexual degenerate". Conversations about King's alleged adultery tend to be built on three interesting and ultimately incorrect, assumptions: 1) That Dr. King's legacy is somehow impacted by his infidelity, 2) that he is less likely than other men to cheat on his wife, and 3) that it is somehow sacrilegious to discuss his flaws in public.

First and foremost, the idea that King's memory as a great American patriot is tarnished by his infidelity is both illogical and problematic. A great man is not defined by his weaknesses, but by his strengths. Regardless of what Dr. King may have done during the course of his marriage, those actions are almost completely disconnected from the manner through which he inspired billions with his courage and led people of color to the life we share today. It is our fault, not his, that Dr. King has been placed on a pedestal so high that we've forgotten that he was human.

Nearly every single week, I am asked to comment on the financial implications of a celebrity divorce. In nearly every single case, adultery is cited as one of the reasons for the break-up. Dr. and Mrs. King were, in many ways, just another celebrity couple. With Dr. King hitting the road most days out of the year, he sacrificed time to the world that he much rather would have spent with his wife (I've always felt that neither Dr. King, nor Malcolm X, should have ever gotten married, since it put their wives and children in danger). Mix this with the fact that women were likely throwing themselves at King on a regular basis, and you've got the recipe for scandal.


click to read.

Friday, January 14, 2011

ESPN Panel on the State of the Black Athlete: How Did They Do?

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action 

I was sitting in front of my TV set flipping through one channel after another, and I found something that both intrigued and concerned me: An ESPN special about the image of the black athlete. I was curious to see what they had to say about black athletes, especially males, since that's something I think about nearly every single day of my life.

The panel consisted of Jalen Rose, John Calipari, Randy Shannon, Spike Lee, Robin Roberts and others. I was hopeful that the panelists would not succumb to the temptation of taking the paternalistic viewpoint that black male athletes are somehow destined to be ignorant and need to be told what to do. For example, unlike any other sport, men's basketball and football are the only ones in which there are age limits before the athlete can become a professional. The reasons for these regulations are driven primarily by the argument that the men are too young to go out and support their families by doing what they do for the NCAA without being compensated.


Click to read.

Is College Always a Good Investment?


Click here to listen to Dr. Boyce Watkins discuss whether or not college is a good investment during a recession.

The Role of Hate-Filled Diatribe

by Dr. Wilmer J. Leon III

While conducting a town hall meeting in Tucson, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) was shot in the head Saturday.  She struggles for her life in an Arizona hospital.  Giffords was among 13 people wounded in the melee that killed six, including Arizona's chief federal judge, a 9-year-old girl and an aide for the Democratic lawmaker. The country prays for the recovery of the individuals who were wounded and morns the loss of those who have died.

It has been reported that the attack was carried out by 22 year old Jared Loughner.  His motivations are unclear at this time.  Officials are looking at his MySpace page, YouTube videos, and other web postings looking for a motive.  Some postings indicate Loughner is a very troubled individual.  He posted the following on YouTube, "I know who's listening: Government Officials, and the People…Nearly all the people, who don't know this accurate information of a new currency, aren't aware of mind control and brainwash methods ..."

There is no nexus or direct connection between Loughner’s attack and the inaccurate, hateful, and inflammatory language that is being accepted as responsible political dialogue. One can not deny that anti-government and anti-Obama rhetoric contribute to a dangerous undercurrent in treacherous political waters? 

Let’s be very clear, this is not the first time deranged Americans have lashed out against the social order.  Most recently, in 1995 Timothy McVeigh, Terry Nichols, and Michael Fortier bombed the Murrah building in Oklahoma City killing 168 and wounding 450.  Anti-abortion violence killed Dr. David Gunn in Florida in 1993 and Dr. Barrett Slepian was murdered in his home in New York in 1998.  The difference today is that seemingly responsible politicians and political commentators are contributing to this problem by injecting irresponsible hateful political diatribes into the political discourse?

This is not a First Amendment “free speech” issue.  This is a matter of responsible Americans demanding a higher standard of dialogue and holding individuals accountable for the inflammatory fear mongering diatribes that have become accepted as legitimate political speech.

Former GOP VP nominee and former Alaska Governor, Sarah Palin posted a map on her Facebook page that used gun sights to indicate congressional seats that her PAC was “targeting” for the mid-term elections.  Coincidentally, Palin listed Congresswoman Giffords seat as one of the top “targets” because of her support for health care reform. Palin regularly calls for her supporters to “Reload!” during her speeches.  There’s no evidence that Loughner ever saw this site or heard a Palin speech but we know that sick individuals like Loughner thrive like bacteria in environment of political hatred.

Palin also tweeted her endorsement of an article by Thomas Sowell that compares President Obama to Hitler. She also argued that President Obama's establishment of a BP escrow fund could result in his administration embracing Nazi-like dictatorial powers. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) has made similar Hitler - Obama comparisons.

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) and Mike Huckabee have called President Obama a socialist. To call President Obama a socialist or compare his actions to those of Adolph Hitler is inaccurate, irresponsible, and dangerous.

At the Tea Party “code red” rally against health care reform in Washington, protesters carried signs stating “Warning: If Brown can’t stop it, a Browning can,” referring to Sen. Scott Brown’s (R-MA) health care vote and a Browning firearm. On Saturday, March 20, 2010 as Rep’s. John Lewis (D-GA) and Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) were leaving the Cannon office building they encountered members of the Tea Party protesting the health care reform bill.  As the protesters exchanged words with the Congressmen, some of the protestors called them a “nigger” and spat upon them.  Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) was called a “faggot”. 

Republican leadership has refused to repudiate and disassociate themselves from the dangerous and incendiary comments of their surrogates.  Instead, they seek to improve their political position by riding the wave of anger caused by fear and prejudice. They have been conspicuously silent for too long.  Through their silence they are betraying America.

By allowing threats of violence to become an accepted form of political persuasion violence is becoming part of our political reality; the hate that hate filled dialog produces.
As Dr. King once said, “We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.”

Dr. Wilmer Leon is the Producer/ Host of the nationally broadcast call-in talk radio program “On With Leon,” and a Lecturer in the Department of Political Science at Howard University in Washington, D.C.  Go to or email:

© 2011 InfoWave Communications, LLC.

Dr. Boyce Watkins Spotlight: Meet the Rev. Jesse Jackson

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action 

I've always had a special admiration and appreciate for Rev. Jesse Jackson. While most of us know Rev. Jackson as a public figure and prominent Civil Rights leader, most of us don't know about the difficulties he's endured while fighting for African Americans over the past 40 years. There were days when money was tight and death threats were at his front door, but he continued to push on.

In fact, there was a time when Rev. Jackson was listed as one of the top three human beings on earth most likely to be assassinated. This was right after the murder of Dr. King, so you can imagine the pressure one would face from loved ones to give up the struggle and instead aim for self-preservation. But that wasn't what he did, as he persevered and stood strong for his community. So, love him or hate him, you must admire anyone who is so consistent in his role as a public servant, for I assure you, the job is not easy by any stretch and the sacrifice is tremendous.


Click to read.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Mass Incarceration and the Marriage Market for African American Women

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action 

In a very compelling article, The Economist Magazine stepped away from its standard delivery of international political updates to dig deeply into the experience of the African American woman. In the article, economists analyze dating for black women as a market, where men and women enter the market to search for a suitable mate.
The author starts off with a simple example to help make his point. He says "IMAGINE that the world consists of 20 men and 20 women, all of them heterosexual and in search of a mate. Since the numbers are even, everyone can find a partner. But what happens if you take away one man?"
Then, citing the work of Tim Harford, an economist in England, the author says that because one out of the 20 women faces the possibility of never finding a husband, she tries harder to get a man, perhaps by dressing more seductively or doing things the other women might not do. She may even steal a man from someone else. This then affects what other women do to find and keep their own men, and also the behavior of the men themselves.


Click to read.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Dr. Boyce on NPR: What Obama Needs to do For Black People

Dr. Boyce Watkins is on NPR's "Talk of the Nation" discussing President Obama and what he needs to do for the African American community in the year 2011. ;

Auburn Wins Titles at the Expense of the Black Community

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action

When I saw the final score of last night’s NCAA championship game where Auburn University defeated the University of Oregon, I sent a tweet to my friends that said, “Congratulations.  Your plantation was the strongest tonight.”

As the southerners who love Auburn football celebrate their championship, they may want to take a second to absorb a couple of sobering realities.  First, the school got $21 million just for winning that one game.  Auburn’s coach, Gene Chizik is due for a multi-million dollar bonus and millions will flow into the pockets of administrators, coaches, commentators, and corporate sponsors, almost none of whom are black.


Click to read.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Mark Anthony Neal and Khalil Muhammad

 Black scholars Mark Anthony Neal and Khalil Muhammad talk about black history, black politics and more

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Scott Sisters Case Was Nice, but Broader Reform is Necessary

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action 

I spent some time this week with NAACP officials analyzing the Georgia Prison Strike that occurred last month.  The fallout has been unbelievable, as some of the inmates were reportedly beaten with hammers for choosing to participate in the work stoppage.  One of the inmates allegedly has brain damage and is in a wheelchair as a result of the beatings.  Perhaps that’s what happens when you simply ask for basic human rights, which we’ve denied prison inmates for far too long.

Seeing what happened to these brothers and sisters after this incident was a cold, stern reminder that there is an infinite amount of work that needs to be done to clean up our criminal justice system.  Most of us think that prison has nothing to do with us, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.  One out of every three black boys born this decade is expected to spend time in state prison, federal prison or local jails.  Also, the United States puts more people in prison than any country in the world, and most of us are only God’s grace or one bad situation away from ending up in the big house.  Additionally, there are millions of black folks who’ve seen their fathers, brothers, sisters or cousins negatively impacted and traumatized by this system, even when they were innocent.  The experience of prison is bad enough and only made worse by not being able to get a job for life, losing the right to vote, and not having access to housing or education.

Click to read.

The Shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords Appears to be Linked to Racism



Short note from Dr. Boyce Watkins 

Arizona Sheriff Clarence Dupnik says anger, hatred and bigotry are getting out of hand in this country.  If you read between the lines, you can see that the sheriff is trying to say that racism may have been part of the reason that Giffords was shot.  Perhaps the Republicans will reconsider their rhetoric, since lives are being put in danger by their consistent commitment to capitalizing off the racial hatred of our country.

Some are Blaming Palin for the Shooting of Congresswoman Giffords


By Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action 

When you campaign using rhetoric that mentions weapons, cross-hairs and reloading against your political enemies, some would argue that you risk inciting violence among those who take your words too seriously. That's the criticism being thrust against Sarah Palin and the Right Wing after the recent shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.). Giffords was shot in the face at point blank range, in addition to a child and judge who were killed on the scene. Giffords is in the hospital in critical condition.
Shortly after Giffords' shooting, critics of Sarah Palin pointed out that the Republican had put Giffords on her "target list" of Democrats that she wanted to get rid of during the mid-term elections. She even created a map with cross-hairs on the districts of these politicians, as if they were target practice. Even months before Giffords' shooting, critics said that Palin's rhetoric may cause violence and put the lives of these political leaders in danger.



Click to read.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Boyce Watkins, Marc Lamont Hill Debate on CNN’s Joy Behar Show

Click the video to see Dr. Marc Lamont Hill at Columbia University and Dr. Boyce Watkins discuss Mark Twain and the n-word

Kenyatta Kendrick: Six-Year Old Girl Murdered in a Drive-By Shooting While Sleeping



by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action 

Kenyatta Kendrick was just 6-years old and sleeping in her bed when she died. She was the victim of a drive-by shooting. Two teenagers and a 25-year old were charged and may face the death penalty for their offenses.

The three young men being charged are 18-year-old Aaron McDowell, 17-year-old Bernard Nix, and 25-year-old Stalandus Slaughter. The incident occurred in Eclectic County, just 30 miles from Montgomery. Kenyatta was a first grader at Eclectic Elementary School.

"She was asleep in her bed when she was struck by a bullet in her side," Elmore County Sheriff Bill Franklin told the Associated Press. "Any homicide is bad, but you're dealing with a 6-year-old here."


Click to read.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Inmate Released After Serving 30 Years for Wrongful Conviction


by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action 

Cornelius Dupree was sent to prison in 1979 on charges of rape and robbery. After doing over 30 years in prison, he has finally been set free by the Innocence Project. Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins is also arguing that Dupree "did not commit this crime" and that he should be freed.
If Dupree is freed, he will have served more time in Texas prison than any other innocent person in the history of the state. There are only two others in the country who have served more time and been exonerated, according to the Innocence Project.
"Cornelius Dupree spent the prime of his life behind bars because of mistaken identification that probably would have been avoided if the best practices now used in Dallas had been employed," said Barry Scheck, co-director of the Innocence Project. "Let us never forget that, as in the heartbreaking case of Cornelius Dupree, a staggering 75% of wrongful convictions of people later cleared by DNA evidence resulted from misidentifications."


Click to read.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Duchess Harris: The Black Scholar You Need to Know

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action 

The role of Super Woman in Black America can be readily applied to a woman who can balance the relentless pursuit of academic achievement, professional success, and outstanding motherhood, all at the same time. Miriam Harris (a.k.a. Duchess) is a textbook example of what we all want our daughters to become. She is a mother of three, and has both a PhD and a law degree. The Ivy League educated supermom is not only "about her business," she is deeply committed to the business of using her vast intellect to make the world a better place for both women and people of color. In other words, she's not just a Black PhD, she is actually a "Ph-Do." AOL Black Voices was able to catch up with Professor Harris for the Dr. Boyce Watkins Spotlight:
1) What is your name and what do you do for a living?

My name is Duchess Harris and I am an Associate Professor of American Studies at Macalester College.
2) What is your area of expertise and what made you pursue this particular area of study?


click to read.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Top ten for 2010: America’s Most Intriguing Black Americans


by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action 

No, my list is not official, but I had to lay it out there. Also, it's not in any kind of numerical order, except for the guy who stands at #1. For my friends who are not on the list, I apologize, and I admit that the list is biased. Finally, I am sure most of us can agree that, even if we don't admire some of the people on this list, there's no denying that all of them made a significant impact on black America during the year 2010. So, as we move into the "one-one," let's pay a quick tribute to those who kept our heads turning during the year 2010.

1) Barack Obama: Hail to the Chief. President Obama, whether you love him or hate him, has positioned himself as one of the most significant Americans in the history of our nation. This is going to be an interesting year for Obama, as the economy will likely rebound, improving his chances at reelection. At the same time, the growth in Republican power can be a thorn in his side. Obama must be given credit for the fact that he has remained cool under pressure, and has become as much of a social icon as a leading political figure.


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