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Commentary: African American Scientists and Inventors
by Black Kos Editor, Sephius1

Jack Johnson is one of the most interesting inventors ever, not simply because of his invention but more so because of his celebrated and controversial life. Johnson was born on March 31, 1878 in Galveston, Texas under the name John Arthur Johnson and spent much of his teenage life working on boats and along the city's docks. He began boxing in 1897 and quickly became an accomplished and feared fighter. Standing 6' 1" and weighing 192 lbs., Johnson captured the "Colored Heavyweight Championship of the World" on February 3, 1903 in Los Angeles, California and became the World Heavyweight Champion in 1908.


He defeated Tommy Burns for the title and thereby became the first Black man to hold the World Heavyweight Title, a fact that did not endear him to the hearts of white boxing fans.

Johnson was extremely confident about his capabilities, and defeated everyone he faced with ease. He also bucked many of the social "rules" of the day and openly dated White women. This eventually got him into trouble in 1912 when he was arrested for violation of the Mann Act, a law often used to prevent Black men from traveling with white women. He was charged with taking his White girlfriend, Lucille Cameron, across state lines across state lines for "immoral purposes." Although he and Lucille married later in the year, he was convicted of the crime by Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis (who would later become the Commissioner of Major League Baseball) and was sentenced to Federal prison for one year. Before he could be imprisoned, he and Lucille fled to Europe.

Johnson eventually returned to the United States and was sent to Leavenworth Federal Prison in Kansas. While in prison, Johnson found need for a tool which would help tighten of loosening fastening devices. He therefore crafted a tool and eventually patented it on April 18, 1922, calling it a wrench.....Read More


                  News by dopper0189, Black Kos Managing Editor


The fight over affirmative action rolls on. Detroit News: Affirmative action case to have broad impact.
For more than a decade, Elinam Dellor has studied in the University of California system during a divisive debate over affirmative action.

First as an undergraduate at UC Berkeley and now a Ph.D. student at UCLA, Dellor said the state’s 1996 ban on affirmative action in admissions has changed the makeup of California’s two most prestigious public campuses.

“You just don’t see as many students of color,” said Dellor, an African-American. “You can feel it’s different. It just feels like there are voices missing.”

Nearly 20 years after the ban was passed, affirmative action is hotly contested in California, and activists on both sides are watching closely as the U.S. Supreme Court prepares next month to take up a similar ban that Michigan voters passed in 2006.

Besides Michigan, the High Court’s ruling could uphold or strike down similar laws in California and four other states.

More than two dozen amicus briefs from California were filed last month supporting the challenge to Michigan’s ban, including ones submitted by the president and chancellors of the UC system, several California researchers and admissions experts, and public school districts in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley.

At the heart of the issue: Is affirmative action still needed?

After the laws were passed, freshman enrollment fell among African-Americans and Native Americans at both California’s and Michigan’s most prestigious public universities — Michigan State and the University of Michigan. Hispanic enrollment also fell initially in both states, but has since rebounded in California, though it still trails the growth in the Hispanic population.

                  Elinam Dellor, courtesy of the Detroit News

Rubio panders to try and steal Cruz's thunder, by reversing coarse on a qualified judge. New York Times: Rubio Withdraws Support for Gay Black Judge’s Nomination to the Federal Bench.
The nomination of a gay black Miami judge to the federal bench will not move forward after Senator Marco Rubio announced he was withdrawing his support over concerns about the judge’s actions in two criminal cases.

Judge William Thomas was nominated to the Federal District Court in Miami.
Without Mr. Rubio’s approval, Judge William Thomas’s nomination to the Federal District Court for the Southern District of Florida, in Miami, is effectively blocked. Judge Thomas, who serves on the Miami-Dade Circuit, was nominated by President Obama, with Mr. Rubio’s backing, more than 10 months ago.

Senator Bill Nelson, Democrat of Florida, signed off on the nomination on July 24 after a background check raised no red flags. For a confirmation to proceed, nominees must secure the approval of both United States senators in their home state.

Supporters of Judge Thomas, who grew up on welfare in Pennsylvania in a family of 10 children, said Mr. Rubio’s opposition was rooted in politics, not court rulings. Mr. Rubio, a Republican, has seen his allure among conservatives tumble, a result of his aggressive push for immigration reform. In recent weeks, he has scarcely mentioned immigration, keeping his focus mostly on issues with broad conservative appeal like abortion and health care.

Had he been confirmed by the United States Senate, Judge Thomas would have become the first black openly gay man on the federal bench.

“As much as I would like to think that politics has nothing to do with this, it looks as if it does,” said Yolanda Strader, president of Miami’s largest association for black lawyers, who called Judge Thomas one of the hardest working on the bench. “It would be unfair to prevent a well-qualified judicial nominee from proceeding with the nomination process because he is an openly gay black male.”

                                                      Judge William Thomas, Miami Herald

Calling out the "white power" bloc that obstructs the president on every issue. The Root: Obama's Real Problem on Capitol Hill? Race.
They know we can't prove it. We can deduce and infer from their actions, statements and policies. But we can't confirm that congressional Republicans, a bloc of nearly unbroken whiteness, and their media hatchet people are stealthily deploying race -- blackness -- to obstruct President Barack Obama at every turn.

But obstructionists seldom give us concrete, irrefutable proof of gutbucket prejudice. When we think we have them cold, they'll use the I'm-rubber-you're-glue strategy. You're playing the race card, they'll say. In fact, you're the racists for bringing it up. It's the "nyah, nyah, nyah" of savvy -- or at least well-trained -- political machinists. These are men and women who have studied the playbook for Republican race-baiting drafted by party strategist and consigliere Lee Atwater.

"By 1968 you can't say 'nigger' -- that hurts you. Backfires," said Atwater in 1981, quoted years later by New York Times columnist Bob Herbert. "So you say stuff like forced busing, states' rights and all that stuff."

Right-wing pols continually update the Atwater script. During the president's first term and the campaign that preceded it, Barack Obama was cast as a Kenyan, Muslim, socialist, Nazi witch doctor. Tea Partiers, Birthers and Republican backbenchers were the nasty tip of the spear of a full-on assault, but the big boys pitched in, too, usually in ways that kept them from getting hit by shrapnel from the vilest attacks.

Chris Matthews called out congressional Republicans on air, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 2012, for what he deemed thinly veiled racism. Specifically, he cited Oklahoma's Tom Coburn's accusation that "unlawful acts" and "incompetence" by the administration came "perilously close" to "high crimes and misdemeanors" and would warrant the impeachment of the president.

"They never say their problem with Obama is that he is black, but look at the pattern," Matthews said to an incredulous co-anchor. "The pattern is rejection of his legitimacy at the first point, saying he is not really here legally."

President Barack Obama walks in the White House Kitchen Garden on the South Lawn, Aug. 3, 2012.

The battle lines are drawn. The Grio: Former Obama African-American vote director Wade will run for Senate from SC.
Rick Wade, the former Commerce Department official and national African-American vote director for President Barack Obama, will run for the United States Senate against Tim Scott, a source with direct knowledge of Wade’s plans tells theGrio.

Scott, who was appointed to the Senate by South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, is expected to run for a full term next November.

Wade’s entrance sets up an historic race between two black candidates for statewide, federal office in South Carolina, in which neither man is expected to face a primary challenge.

“The [Democratic] field has been cleared” for Wade, the source said.

Wade, who chaired Obama’s successful South Carolina primary in 2008 against Hillary Clinton, was appointed by the president as senior adviser and deputy chief of staff for the U.S. Department of Commerce during Obama’s first term. He now runs a business consulting firm and divides his time between Washington D.C. and his home state.

Rick Wade, Senior Advisor & Deputy Chief of Staff for the Secretary of Commerce receives an appreciation plaque from Recording Artist Usher at the closing ceremony for Usher's Camp New Look at the Alliance Theater at the Woodruff Arts Center on July 24, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for Usher's New Look)


Passages Art Show is aimed partly at commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 150th anniversary of the formal reestablishment of the AME denomination in South Carolina. Charleston City Paper: African-American artists find a home at Emanuel AME Church.
The Emanuel AME Church on Calhoun Street practically has history spilling out of its doorway. Founded in 1818, it's the oldest AME church in South Carolina, and pre-dates every other AME congregation in Charleston by almost 50 years. Denmark Vesey, who in 1822 organized a slave uprising and was later hanged for it, was an Emanuel minister — because of his involvement, the church was burned to the ground. The current building, a striking, white Gothic edifice, was built by African Americans in 1891 and still has its original altar, communion rail, and pews.

It's a work of art in itself, says S.C. state senator and Emanuel's pastor Clementa Pinckney, which is part of why the institution has a strong connection to the local arts community. Emanuel participates in the MOJA Festival and Piccolo Spoleto, and frequently hosts concerts by the Charleston Symphony Orchestra Gospel Choir.

Now the church is breaking into visual arts as well, hosting the Passages Art Show and Sale. "Our church's service has always been one of mind, body, and soul, and out of that comes the need to partner with the arts community," the Rev. Pinckney says. "To have a piece of art dedicated to God be the place of an art exhibit is, I believe, a great honor."

Cookie Washington, a local textile artist and arts activist, is organizing the show.

                                                                    Untitled, courtesy of KTC

Karole Turner Campbell is one of 25 artists featured in Passages


Congratulations to all the award winners. Color Lines: Five People of Color Named 2013 MacArthur ‘Geniuses’.
This morning, the MacArthur Founation named its 2013 class of MacArthur Fellows, commonly referred to as “Genius Grants,” and this year’s class includes five visionary artists and scholars of color. Photographer Carrie Mae Weems, playwright Tarell McCraney, choreographer Kyle Abraham, musician Vijay Iyer, and researcher Angela Duckworth have been named among this year’s winners.

Here’s more about each artist. Biographies and videos are from the MacArthur Foundation.

Kyle Abraham is a choreographer and dancer probing the relationship between identity and personal history through a unique hybrid of traditional and vernacular dance styles that speaks to a new generation of dancers and audiences. With diverse training in music, visual art, and dance—and breathtaking skill as a performer—Abraham’s highly physical dance vocabulary reflects the youthful energy of the hip-hop and urban dance he encountered in his adolescence as well as a strong grounding in modern dance technique.  


From the Emmys to fashion-show runways, black people are still ignored in mainstream America. The Root: Why We Need Separate but Equal.
 I don't hate many things. I'm pretty good at keeping that emotion in check. But here's a short list of things I hate:

1. Bigots
2. Misogynists
3. Terrorists, including American terrorists, here and abroad, and especially the ones who stand on street corners harassing women who pass by
4. The willfully ignorant
I reserve a special place in my mental hell for anyone who ever utters out loud, "Why do black people need [insert whatever separate-but-equal thing, including award shows, TV channels, magazines, history month]? Isn't that reverse racism?"

This usually comes up after I've had some epic-level social media meltdown about the lack of black people at one of the above-mentioned mainstream places. I wrap it all up by saying, "And this is why we need [the NAACP Awards, BET, Essence, February]." One of those willfully ignorant people inevitably sees that last tweet and comes crying about reverse racism and colorblindness and postracism and Obama.

It makes me want to scream, like that one time Janet and Michael Jackson collaborated for the video "Scream" and they, well, just screamed the whole time about how they were so annoyed with people. Yes, that sums it up perfectly.

The far reaches of institutional racism never fail to amaze me. And I guess this is easy to ignore unless you're intentionally trying to find places that don't affirm you, your desirability, your culture, etc. I think about this -- essentially white privilege -- all the time because in some way I'm reminded daily of not having said privilege.

I thought about it again most recently while watching the Monday-morning reaction to Kerry Washington's loss at the Primetime Emmy Awards Sunday night, which I didn't bother to watch because no one I want to win ever does. My favorite show of all time -- The Wire -- ran for five seasons and is widely considered one of the best shows ever made. It never won an Emmy.

                              Kerry Washington (Rodrigo Vaz/Getty Images); generic image (Thinkstock)


Welcome to the Black Kos Community Front Porch!
Pull up a chair and sit down a while and enjoy the autumn air.


Originally posted to Black Kos community on Fri Sep 27, 2013 at 01:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Support the Dream Defenders and Barriers and Bridges.

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