#BrooklynGirlCode #NationalNews🇺🇸: #Amendment4 Giving Convicted Felons The Right to Vote Has Been Passed!

Florida Rights Restoration Coalition President Desmond Meade. Photo courtesy of Florida Rights Restoration Coalition Instagram page @FLRightsRestore

This past Election Day 2018, History was made in the state of Florida. Amendment 4 which will restore the voting rights of convicted felons was passed. Although this amendment had no major impact on this past Tuesday’s election, this will be huge for the state of Florida and the U.S. for future elections including the upcoming Presidential Election in 2020.

In the United States, more than six million convicted felons have lost their voting rights due to their criminal records. Of this six million, over 1.5 million reside right in the state of Florida. Amendment 4 which will go into effect on January 8, 2019 was a long hard fight fought mostly by a 51 year old man by the name of Desmond Meade who is the President of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition.

Meade who was born in St. Croix and relocated to Miami, Florida at the young age of five with his family experienced a bit of trouble during his childhood. This trouble would eventually lead him to being convicted of felony cocaine possession amongst other things. After serving his time and being released in 2004, Meade chose to do better in life and decided to go back to school and successfully obtained his law degree from Florida International University. However, because of his past felonies, Meade was not allowed to sit for the bar exam. This is when Meade began his hard fight to get the voting rights of convicted felons restored.

Desmond Meade photographed by Natalie Keyssar for The New York Times Magazine

In 2011 Meade became the head of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition. In a quote given to the NY Times for a feature story published on September 26th, 2018 by Emily Bazelon titled Will Florida Ex-Felons finally Regain The Right To Vote?, Meade stated:

This amazing work that we’re doing, it’s shiny and bright now, and there’s a lot of people that want to attach to it. But there was a time when it wasn’t that shiny. There was a time when I was knocking on doors and nobody wanted to answer.” 

Well this last Tuesday, November 6th, all of Meade’s hard work paid off when Amendment 4 was passed! Thank goodness Meade made a decision several years ago after being released from prison to do something more positive with his life. Now millions of reformed criminals will have the right to vote because of Meade’s decision! Thank you Desmond Meade for your courage and bravery and congratulations on this huge victory! -xoxo #BrooklynGirlCode 🖤

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Photo of the Provost Guard of the 107th Colored Infantry, Fort Corcoran, Washington D.C., 1863 courtesy of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

#HappyMemorialDay 🇺🇸 from #BrooklynGirlCode! 🖤

Photo of the Provost Guard of the 107th Colored Infantry, Fort Corcoran, Washington D.C., 1863 courtesy of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture
Photo of the Provost Guard of the 107th Colored Infantry, Fort Corcoran, Washington D.C., 1863 courtesy of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Another Memorial Day is upon us! And with all the events going on in the world, it’s hard to take a moment to relax and reflect on what Memorial Day really means to us as American citizens. For some, it’s (paid) time off of work and a well deserved break. For others, it’s all about the family gatherings and cookouts and celebrating another season of summer. All of these traditions are well accepted. However, many might not know that the origin of Memorial Day actually started in Charleston, S.C. (a place where most of my family is from) in the 1800’s and the holiday began to commemorate 200+ Union soldiers that died due to the result of poor conditions at the Confederate Prison Camps in Charleston during the Civil War. The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture posted a great photo on Instagram of a group of African-American soldiers from the war to educate readers on the origin of Memorial Day. NMAAHC stated in their caption:

“Today is the day that our nation takes pause to celebrate the service and sacrifice of our military heroes that gave their lives to secure our freedoms. The earliest commemoration of what would later become Memorial Day, was organized in a former Confederate Prison Camp in Charleston, S.C. on May 1, 1865. The celebration was established by over 1,000 newly freed African Americans, in addition to U.S. Colored Troops regiments and a small group of white Charlestonians. This group came together to honor the 257 Union soldiers that died as a result of the poor conditions of the Confederate Prison Camp during the war. They removed the soldiers from a mass grave that the Confederates made and created proper burial grounds for Union soldiers. Together they sang hymns, set flowers, and gave readings in honor of the soldiers’ sacrifice. #MemorialDay #MilitaryAppreciationMonth #APeoplesJourney #ANationsStory”

Author Sewell Chan also wrote a great piece for the New York Times titled The Unofficial History of Memorial Day. In the article, Chan gets more in depth about the holiday. A great article to check out when you get a free moment from stuffing your face with cheeseburgers. Salute to all of the soldiers who lost their lives fighting to keep us free so that we can all have the opportunity to celebrate these holidays in peace! -xoxo #BrooklynGirlCode ❤

The Unofficial History of Memorial Day via The New York Times

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#HappyBirthday #JamesBaldwin !

Today is a real American Icon’s birthday! American essayist, playwright and novelist James Baldwin who was born in 1924 in Harlem, New York City would’ve turned ninety-three years old today. For writers everywhere, Baldwin was a saint. However, during his sixty-three years on this earth, he was a friend to many. In honor of the icon’s birthday, #BrooklynGirlCode has collected some of Baldwin’s best photos with his friends via the internet! No need to write a huge paragraph about how great James Baldwin was. All I’ll say is… if you’re over thirty years old and have never read a piece of Baldwin’s literature (i.e. The Devil Finds Work; The Fire Next Time, Remember This House, etc.!!) then you’re just missing out on life my friend! Check out some of Baldwin’s coolest photos with his friends below and Happy Born Day again to a great one!

James Baldwin and Brother David Baldwin
James Baldwin and his Brother David Baldwin in the 80’s. Photo courtesy of the bostonreview.net.
James Baldwin and Lorraine Hansberry
James Baldwin getting down with famed Playwright Lorraine Hansberry. Photo courtesy of kentakepage.com.
James Baldwin holding an abandoned young boy in Durham, North Carolina. Photo courtesy of Steve Schapiro.
James Baldwin holding an abandoned young boy in Durham, North Carolina circa 1957. Photo courtesy of Steve Schapiro.
James Baldwin with good friend Medgar Evers reading the news. Photo Courtesy of Steve Schapiro via the New York Times.
James Baldwin with good friend Medgar Evers reading the news. Photo Courtesy of Steve Schapiro via The New York Times.
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James Baldwin sharing a moment with Maya Angelou. Photo courtesy of Maya Angelou’s Wikipedia page.
Nina Simone and James Baldwin bumpinh heads! Photo courtesy of blogs.baruch.cuny.edu.
Nina Simone and James Baldwin bumping heads! Photo courtesy of blogs.baruch.cuny.edu.
Medgar Evers at home with James Baldwin and his two sons.
Medgar Evers at home with James Baldwin and his two sons. Photo courtesy of scoopnest.com.
James Baldwin with his younger Paula in 1953
James Baldwin with his younger sister Paula in 1953. Photo courtesy of pinterest.com.
James Baldwin and Lena Horne embracing during a meeting in New York in 1963.
James Baldwin and Lena Horne embracing during a meeting in New York in 1963. Photo courtesy of abagond.wordpress.com.
James Baldwin talking with friends in Chicago, Illinois 1984. Photo taken by Michelle Agins and courtesy of MFON.
James Baldwin talking with friends in Chicago, Illinois 1984. Photo taken by Michelle Agins and courtesy of MFON.
James Baldwin pictured with friends Odetta, Ralph Ellison, Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee. Photo courtesy of pinterest.com.
James Baldwin pictured with friends, singer Odetta Holmes, American novelist Ralph Ellison and actors Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee. Photo courtesy of peakblackness.tumblr.com.
President Obama on the White House lawn watching Olympian Fencer Tim Morehouse and U.S. National Team Fencer Daria Schneider fence. Photo courtesy of AP

#TheAudacityOfHope: Obama’s Best White House Photos

The votes are all in and it’s official! Our beloved President Barack Obama is on his way out of the White House and Donald Trump is on his way in! *Takes 5 minute break to digest what I just typed.* Still, with that being said, nothing can take away from the two great terms that President Barack Obama gave us as the 44th President of the United States of America. He was a President of many firsts. Including the first to visit the island of Cuba since President Calvin Coolidge in 1928. President Obama also became the first president to visit a federal prison in 2015, the first time for any sitting president in the history of the United States. So, in honor of Obama exiting, I’ve compiled a list of some of his best photos taken by Chief Official White House photographer Pete Souza over the last eight years via his awesome and eloquent Instagram account. So, no tears today, please! Because life will most definitely go on! Just sit back and check out the awesome photos below and remember all the good times that we had while Obama was here!

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Only right that President Obama and former President Abraham Lincoln meet face-to-face.
President Obama on the White House lawn watching Olympian Fencer Tim Morehouse and U.S. National Team Fencer Daria Schneider fence. Photo courtesy of AP
President Obama on The White House lawn watching Olympian Fencer Tim Morehouse and U.S. National Team Fencer Daria Schneider fence. Photo courtesy of Associated Press.

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President Obama became the first sitting president in the history of the United States to visit inmates at a federal prison in 2015. Photo via okwassap.com.

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Because we all need a beer break sometimes, right?
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And a coconut water break, too!

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2016 Olympic Fencer and my friend, Ibtihaj Muhammad with President Barack Obama at the White House.
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Syrian Refugee Olympian, Yusra Mardini poses with Barack Obama photo via NBC Sports.

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Temple Univerity, North Philly, Mass Gentrification, Temple University Police

The Side Effects of #MassGentrification in #NorthPhilly and #AnyTown, U.S.A.

This past Friday on October 21st, 2016 at approximately 8:30pm EST about 150 teens gathered on Temple University‘s North Philadelphia campus in front of the Pearl Theatre. The teens allegedly gathered after being called together via a social media post. Once the kids who were said to be between the ages of 14-17 years old congregated, they began attacking Temple University students, parents, police officers and even punched one officer’s horse in the head twice. In what seemed to be a well-organized revolt against Temple University Police. By the time the attack was over, there were only about four arrests made.

Why did the kids of this North Philadelphia neighborhood decide to come together and go on this crazy rampage? The only thing I could think of is mass gentrification. I myself am a graduate of Temple University (School of Journalism, Public Relations and Advertising ’04) and prior to graduating, the extreme renovation of Temple University’s North Philly campus was in its early stages.

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A crowd of kids gathered on Temple University’s North Philly campus on 10.21.16 and went on a violent rampage. Image via The Washington Post.

Now when I return to Temple’s campus once or twice a year to help out my college Fencing coach and Temple University icon, Dr. Nikki Franke with some of her various competitions (which I myself once competed in), I can see the plan that the university had to take over the entire North Philly area finally coming into fruition. It’s obvious. But, what about the the families who have lived for decades on these blocks and in these buildings that Temple has been taking over at such a rapid pace? What about the people being pushed out of their homes so Temple can build new buildings and facilities and hire other employees who more than likely aren’t even from the neighborhood and have no connection to the neighborhood whatsoever? You’re going to have a lot of angry folks and this time around it was the kids of North Philly saying “Look, we’ve had enough!” Mass gentrification is taking place all over America right now and the truth of the matter is we’re going to see more of these type of events happening due to a whole bunch of people (kids included) being fed up.

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Photo via @az_duz_it‘s Instagram and The Washington Post

When I was a student at Temple University, I tutored at a program organized by the university called “Temple Tutors.” Temple University students currently enrolled at the school would go to the various schools in the area and tutor students during and after school hours. I was pretty disgusted everyday I walked into the schools I was tutoring at when I saw how decrepit the school supplies that the students had to use were. Some of the school text books were hanging from the bind, literally. So, this made me think that maybe there are positive effects of mass gentrification, as well? When better schools are being built with better resources this is a good thing. However, there has to be some type of common ground between the people responsible for the renovating and the people who live in the neighborhoods being renovated or else these types of events will continue to take place.

I hope all the families, police officers, students, etc. who were affected by this unexpected revolt are doing well. Sometimes events like this have to occur to make things better. Either way, I will always represent my alma mater to the fullest. “][“U baby!!!

Victim Terence Crutcher with a family member

#TerenceCrutcher

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Shooting victim Terence Crutcher (l) pictured with his father (r). Photo courtesy of Facebook.

On Friday, September 16th, 2016, another innocent unarmed African-American male was killed by gunfire at the hands of another White police officer. This time the location was Tulsa, Oklahoma and the victim was 40 year-old Terence Crutcher. The officer responsible for his death was Officer Betty Shelby who somehow believed that Crutcher had a firearm on him at the time she shot even though the police video clearly shows that Crutcher had both his arms raised. So, what will the outcome of this situation be? Will it be just like all the other murders (i.e. Trayvon Martin, Laquan McDonald, Eric Garner, Michael Brown) that we speak about for several days then stop speaking about right up until the next shooting occurs?

The issue that has to be addressed here is police training! These police officers are being trained improperly or they are not being given enough training prior to being released out into the field to protect and serve! As a result of this, whether it be systemic racism or just poor training, Black men are losing their lives to police officers at an alarmingly high rate in America.

Why are these officers so quick to shoot? Why are they pulling the trigger with no just cause and killing these Black men with no remorse? My idea is that somewhere down the line these officers were either taught to shoot first or specifically taught who to shoot at. Either way, there is something happening or not happening during the police training that has to be addressed in order for this epidemic to end. I feel that police training should be way more extensive, especially since these men and women are dealing with the lives of innocent people. This is not a sport. This is real life. These are innocent people with families and responsibilities who are being gunned down senselessly.

Terence Crutcher was a man who did not deserve to lose his life. Now he will join the countless other Black men who lost their lives at the hands of police officers. God bless Terence Crutcher and his family during this difficult time. Stop the shooting and address proper police training ASAP!

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Officer Betty Shelby (R) shot and killed unarmed Terrence Crutcher (L) on September 16th, 2016 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.