In Mississippi, America’s most revolutionary mayor

In Mississippi, America’s most revolutionary mayor
by Siddhartha Mitter

September 19, 2013 5:00AM ET

Mayor Chokwe Lumumba is ‘applying a philosophy against imperialism to the practice of repairing streets’


Chokwe Lumumba, a former vice president for the Republic of New Afrika, was elected mayor of Jackson, Miss. in June
Chokwe Lumumba, a former vice president of the Republic of New Afrika, was elected mayor of Jackson, Miss. in JuneJoe Ellis/The Clarion-Ledger/AP

JACKSON, Miss. — On July 1, Chokwe Lumumba, an attorney with a long record of black radical activism, took office as mayor of Jackson. His inauguration took place in the gleaming convention center that sprang up four years ago in the state capital’s mostly deserted downtown.

A crowd of 2,500 packed the hall. The city councilors and other dignitaries, most of them African-American — Jackson, a city of 177,000, is 80 percent black — sat on the dais. The local congressman, Bennie Thompson, officiated. The outgoing mayor, Harvey Johnson, the city’s first black mayor, wished his successor well. The Mississippi Mass Choir gave a jubilant performance of “When I Rose This Morning.”

Finally, Lumumba, 66, approached the podium, pulling the microphone up to suit his tall, lean frame. “Well,” he said, “I want to say, God is good, all the time.”
The crowd replied. “God is good, all the time!”
“I want to say hey! And hello!”
The crowd called back, “Hey! Hello!”

Then Lumumba smiled and raised his right hand halfway, just a little above the podium, briefly showing the clenched fist of a Black Power salute.

Subject: Horace Mann building

From: Nova Project PTSA
Date: September 17, 2013 9:55:28 PM PDT
Subject: Horace Mann building

Dear, Students and Families of Nova.

I was asked to write a letter stating our staff’s general position on the ongoing situation with the Horace Mann building. To this point, most of our staff has signed this letter. Our hope is to gather signatures from as many of you who are willing to sign this letter, and then distribute our signed letter to local media/networks, especially The Central District News. I would like to send it out sometime this week, the sooner the better. (I realize that we could gather more signatures if we waited longer or pursued more communication channels, but timeliness is a definite concern in what has been a confusing and now fast-moving process.)

Liza has created a link to a Google form that is super easy to use and should hasten signature collection. Just click the below link and fill in the four boxes (first and last names, school, email), then hit submit. Once we have closed the signing period, we’ll send out the letter with your signatures.

Here’s the link:

No pressure is intended; sign only if you agree with what the letter states. Again, the letter was written in concern for the absence of our Nova staff and community’s collective voice in what has been a several-month’s-long conversation within the Central District and other communities.

Thank you,

Adam Croft
Coordinator & Teacher, Earthology/Ecology/Environmental Justice/Gender Studies
The Nova Project

Indiana Man Handcuffed for Waving While Black


George Madison Jr., moments after he was handcuffed for waving at police (Facebook/Evansville Courier & Press)

On Tuesday afternoon, while riding his bike on South Weinbach Avenue in Evansville, Ind., George Madison Jr., 38, waved to a couple of police officers nearby. From where Madison was, the officers looked familiar to him. After all, as a firefighter with the Evansville Fire Department, Madison is friends and has worked closely with many of Evansville’s finest, including the police chief, Billy Bolin.

But Madison didn’t look familiar to the officers, and as the Evansville Courier & Press reports, Madison said his friendly wave was deemed a threat by the officers.

Read More

Horace Mann issues, solutions, and obstacles

Seattle Schools Community Forum

Debate the issues facing Seattle Public Schools, share your opinions, read the latest news. Organize and work for high quality public schools that educate all students to become passionate, lifelong learners.

Friday, September 06, 2013

Horace Mann issues, solutions, and obstacles

There were two issues discussed at the third meeting of the Horace Mann-African American Community Partnerships Task Force. The two issues are not closely linked. The immediate issue is about the Mann building, but that is actually the smaller issue. The Mann building issue was created to bring urgency to the big issue: the failure to educate African-American children in Seattle Public Schools. There isn’t much of a natural connection between these two, so it is easy and appropriate to regard them separately.

Bad Faith on the Mann Building

There are solutions available for the Mann building issue, but they don’t matter because the District refuses to engage on the question. The District refuses to consider any outcome other than the vacation of the building, eleven months of construction, and then NOVA’s return. It doesn’t matter what other solutions are available because the District always did, does, and will refuse to consider them. They are resolute.

A couple members of the community characterized this as “bad faith”. These folks are, of course, right. It is bad faith for the District to invite these people to discuss possible solutions when the District never had any intention of altering their course. There was nothing that anyone could have said or done in these task force meetings that would have changed the District’s decision. Not only is it bad faith, but it is also consistent with the District’s entire history of community engagement. They invite you to speak, but they don’t listen.

What solutions are possible? NOVA could move to the Lowell building instead of the Mann building and the Mann building could be left as is. Lowell is less than half full right now. Any work needed to make Lowell suitable for use as a high school – the addition of science labs and changes to washroom fixtures – could be done while the elementary school there continues. Since Lowell has been continuously occupied, the full scale effort to bring it up to current code would not be necessary. Lowell is, in many ways, a better location for NOVA than Mann. The cost to renovate Lowell for NOVA would be comparable – if not less – than the cost to renovate Mann.

Here’s a bonus to this solution. Calls for a downtown school will always meet with resistance so long as Lowell is sitting so close to South Lake Union with over 300 empty seats. If the Downtown Seattle Association wants any real chance to create an elementary school for Amazon, they will have to close Lowell. The DSA would have an interest in supporting this solution.

Could this work? Could there be other workable solutions? Who knows? It doesn’t matter because the topic is closed. The District refuses to discuss it. They refuse saying “That’s not what we promised the voters when they approved BEX IV.” This rationale is laughable. The District has a long history of changing BEX projects. They have done it in every levy to date, and they will undoubtedly do it in BEX IV as well. Fixing up an old building for NOVA, whether it is Mann or Lowell, is what the voters approved.

Also – and this is the really funny part – the Mann renovation won’t use BEX IV money. The money for the Mann building renovation is coming from other capital fund sources.

The Task Force is pretty big – over twenty people. But not one of them is a veteran District watcher with the detailed knowledge to refute this thin rationale. Melissa and I knew these facts, but none of the community members of the Task Force did.

There was some talk about whether the Peace Center could use the space in the Mann building after NOVA returns, but that’s neither likely nor particularly desirable.

Instead of considering any possibility that would allow the Peace Center to remain in the Mann building, the District has suggested that they lease other District sites instead. The District suggested Van Asselt and Columbia. The community rejected Van Asselt as too far south, but it is likely to accept Columbia. So, pending a lease agreement, Columbia will be the Peace Center’s new home. The Columbia building was, until recently, leased to the Torah Day School of Seattle. I wonder if the lease terms for the Peace Center will be comparable to the terms offered to the Torah Day School. A big difference could spark charges of discrimination and possible litigation.

So that’s the likely conclusion/solution for the first issue. It ran exactly according to script. Of course it did. The District has played out this scene dozens of times and they know the dialog and the business. The District refused to authentically engage or consider any outcome other than the one that they had pre-determined.

Bad Faith on Academic Achievement

The second, larger, issue also went according to the District’s script. The District is even more experienced with this drama. They offered the community the one thing that they always offer: an Advisory Committee.

The District will form an African-American Student Success Advisory Committee. This will enable them to co-opt the dissent by collecting it all together in one approved place for easy, efficient neglect while preserving the illusion of action. It is a public relations response to an academic problem. The District will apply bureaucracy to drain all of the urgency from this crisis and to systematically lower expectations.

The committee will take three months to assemble, then it will meet for six months, then it will produce recommendations, and then those recommendations will be ignored. The recommendations can be ignored for years as the District offers excuse after excuse (our plans for next year are already made, but we can include those changes in our plans for the following year). Finally, the District will say that it will take years for the reforms to result in improvements in student outcomes. That will buy them another three years. This will enable the District to appease the dissenters, create the illusion of engagement, and keep the peace through stalling tactics while they take no action whatsoever on the academic problem. Their stalling tactics are legendary.

They may make some promises and adopt some resolutions at the headquarters, but they will never apply any enforcement or accountability to them in the schools. All of the commitments will be personal, not institutional, so thanks to the turnover in the District leadership they will never have to fulfill any commitments. Look at their history. This is what they have always done.

The academic problem is the failure to educate African-American students. It is the academic achievement gap. It is the opportunity gap. It is the school to prison pipeline. The District has acknowledged this problem for over ten years. At times they have named it as their top priority and number one goal. But you will notice that the District has never developed a plan to address it. What kind of organization sets a goal as their top priority but never makes a plan to achieve it?

The superintendent was asked – directly – if he acknowledged the problem. He spoke passionately about the problem. Then he was asked -directly – if he has made any plan to address the problem. He admitted that, while he had plans to improve academic achievement for all students in all schools, he had no specific plan to address the under-achievement of African-American students.

So this is how and where it will end. The District has offered the Peace Center the opportunity to lease the Columbia building. They may offer them a preferential rental rate, but they do so at their peril. The District will form an Advisory Committee to address the failure to educate African-American students but, as we all know, the Advisory Committee will have no real impact. In short, the District will roll forward as they always have and do what they have always done.

If we are lucky, really lucky, then the efforts to improve academic outcomes for all students – MTSS, academic assurances, CSIPs, etc. – will result in some improvement for African-American students and this will create the illusion that they have made some progress. In truth, this resolution will allow the District to stall any outbreak of real activism and dissent for at least five or six years. The members of the Task Force got played just as every other community mistreated by the District got played. The District used the same tactics and the same script. I see no reason to believe that the results will be any different this time.

Here’s a solution to the academic problem: the Peace Center can apply for and receive a grant from the City through the Families and Education Levy to establish some demonstration projects to show how to educate African-American students effectively with culturally relevant curricula, culturally competent teaching, and culturally appropriate discipline based on the culture’s social norms.

If they show results, then they can continue to receive the grant funds. Then they can apply for and receive more grant funds to expand. Even if they never work inside Seattle Public Schools and even if the District never adopts their strategies, the Peace Center can have reliable funding to do the work they need to do.

Posted by Charlie Mas at 1:00 PM

Seattle mayor announces new music commission

Posted on June 14, 2010 at 2:52 PM

SEATTLE – The City of Seattle wants to bring music to residents’ ears. On Monday, Mayor Mike McGinn introduced the new music commission.

The group of community and business leaders will guide efforts to support and expand the city’s culture of music.
“Music is such a part of the fabric of our city, and is one of the reasons why it’s so great to live here,” said Mayor McGinn. “I’m pleased that this group of individuals has agreed to serve together and leverage their collective efforts to continue to make sure that Seattle is the City of Music.”

Mayoral Appointments:
Jason Finn – Musician, Presidents of The United States of America
K. Wyking Garrett – Director, Seattle Hip-Hop Summit Youth Council/UmojaFest P.E.A.C.E. Center
Kyle Hopkins – Head of Music Acquisitions, Microsoft X-Box/ On-Air DJ,
Megan Jasper – Executive Vice President, Sub Pop Records
Alex Kochan – Vice President, AEG Live (Showbox Venues)
Marcus Lalario – Entrepreneur / Nightclub Owner
Tom Mara – Executive Director, KEXP 90.3 FM/
David Meinert – Owner, Fuzed Inc./National Trustee: The Recording Academy
Larry Mizell, Jr. – Writer, Musician, On-Air DJ at
Griff Morris – Principal, Content Licensing and Vendor Management, Amazon MP3
Marcus Womack – Product Management, iLike Inc./
Council Appointments:
Kate Becker – Co-Founder, Vera Project/Director of Development, Seattle Theatre Group
Elena Dubinets – Vice President of Artistic Planning, Seattle Symphony
Holly Hinton – Content & Online Product Manager, Starbucks Entertainment
Jason Hughes – Co-owner, Sonic Boom Records/Owner, Sonic Boom Recordings
Ben London – Executive Director, The Recording Academy Pacific Northwest Chapter
DeVon Manier – CEO, Sportn’ Life Records
Mike Meckling – President, SNMA/Co-Owner, Neumo’s and Moe Bar
Jon Stone – Executive Director of Festivals, One Reel
Annette Taborn – Executive Director, Pacific NW Blues in Schools

The politics of a black girl’s dreadlocks at an Oklahoma school

An Oklahoma school’s decision to dismiss a black girl because of her hair props up a racist practice, argues columnist Lynne K. Varner.

By Lynne K. Varner

I feel for the seven-year-old Tulsa, Okla., girl whose recent first day at school turned into her last after administrators deemed her hairstyle unacceptable.
The girl wore short, barely discernible locs, also known as dreadlocks. The school’s dress code forbids dreadlocks, Afros, mohawks and other “faddish styles,” that they fear could distract from a “respectful and serious” learning environment.

Some would defend those rules as no different from bans on micro-minis or navel-grazing shirts. It’s different. It props up a racist practice of schools judging black kids mostly, and also Latinos and Southeast Asians, as unkempt or undisciplined because of the way they style their hair.
It is hard to believe that a half-century after Martin Luther King Jr. dreamed of children judged by the content of their character, some continue to be judged by their hair, and by extension, skin color.

Schools turning themselves inside out to improve and better educate kids of color ought to take long hard looks at their disciplinary policies. Local school districts, followed by state officials and most recently, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office on Civil Rights, are putting schools on notice that they have gone beyond disciplining minorities kids — sometimes they’re picking on them.

It is understandable why many black parents have trouble trusting and in turn investing in their public schools.