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February 16th, 2009
05:39 PM ET

African-Americans could see stimulus

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Editor's Note: Tune in to see Pamela Gentry tonight on AC360 at 10 P.M. ET

Pamela Gentry
BET.com

When President Obama signs the $787 billion stimulus package into law Tuesday, Black Americans could see the impact in their communities — sooner rather than later. But it’s not a magic bullet; some things take more time.

Last week Black lawmakers made a point to express their pleasure with the spirit of the final bill even with some minor cuts to favored programs. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) said, the package remains “the largest economic stimulant in history.”

And the dollars in it will be welcome back home. “We lined up the initial package with the needs of the people we represent then we measured it along with what we were able to give them. The people we represent can feel comfortable with this package. What we wanted in this package is what made it.”

Read more...

February 9th, 2009
02:25 PM ET

Month robs blacks of part in U.S. history

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Cynthia Tucker
Ajc.com

When Carter G. Woodson launched Negro History Week in 1926, white mobs still lynched black citizens with impunity, black students attended inferior segregated schools and black patrons were not allowed to stay at major hotels in Montgomery or Memphis. There were no black players in the major leagues, no black Cabinet secretaries and no black generals or admirals in the armed forces.

Woodson, who was born to former slaves but went on to earn a Harvard doctorate, believed that America ought to recognize the significant contributions that its black citizens had made to the nation’s cultural and civic life — contributions that were ignored in (or, in some cases, expunged from) the historical record. So he chose the week in which both Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln were born to commemorate the substantial achievements of black Americans against heartbreaking odds.

Read more...


Filed under: Black in America • Race in America
February 9th, 2009
12:01 PM ET

Was Lincoln a racist?

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Henry Louis Gates Jr.
Theroot.com

I first encountered Abraham Lincoln in Piedmont, W.Va. When I was growing up, his picture was in nearly every black home I can recall, the only white man, other than Jesus himself, to grace black family walls. Lincoln was a hero to us.

One rainy Sunday afternoon in 1960, when I was 10 years old, I picked up a copy of our latest Reader’s Digest Condensed Books, and, thumbing through, stumbled upon Jim Bishop’s The Day Lincoln Was Shot, which had been published in 1955 and immediately became a runaway bestseller. It is an hour-by-hour chronicle of the last day of Lincoln’s life. I couldn’t help crying by the end.

Read more...


Filed under: Black in America
December 19th, 2008
05:14 PM ET

Did SNL go too far with Paterson sketch?

The Barbershop
Tell Me More, NPR

It's another Friday in the Barbershop with Jimi Izrael, Nick Charles, Arsalan Iftikhar and Ruben Navarrette. Up for discussion this week: a closer look at President Bush's close call with a pair of flying shoes and a recent comedy sketch on NBC's "Saturday Night Live" that failed to hit New York Governor David Paterson's funny bone.  LISTEN HERE

And see what AC had to say on the subject earlier this week.

So did they go too far?


Filed under: Barack Obama • Black in America
August 9th, 2008
10:28 PM ET

Black In America... Let's start talking

Program Note: In the next installment of CNN's Black in America series, Soledad O'Brien examines the successes, struggles and complex issues faced by black men, women and families, 40 years after the death of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Watch encore presentation Saturday & Sunday, 8 p.m. ET


We devote several days on the blog to smart insight and commentary related to the special.

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Soledad O'Brien
CNN Anchor and Special Correspondent

I'm on the phone with a confused reporter, and I'm confused too. She keeps asking me why I "count myself as black... And why does Barack Obama?" My answer (for Sen. Obama, at least) is "have you seen him?" But she won't let it go. "Is your father annoyed that you deny him?" My dad is white. I interject. "Let's conference him in," I say. "Listen, he married a black woman, he has six black children. He'd be the first person to tell you I'm black."

The questions, to me, reveal more about the asker. This (white) reporter surely doesn't know a lot of black people, or she wouldn't be struggling so hard. She'd know black people come in all hues.

Our documentary, Black in America airs on Wednesday and Thursday and now all anyone wants to talk to me about is race. A clear sign, if you ask me, that this is a discussion that's been long in coming.

The TSA screener at Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson airport asks me if the documentary is "worth letting his sons stay up to see?" I tell him definitely yes.

It's an indication that the story of black people in this country needs to be told – a wide range of stories – some of successful blacks, stories of some who are struggling. We interview corporate execs and recovering addicts, parents who've proudly sent all six kids to college and single moms who are struggling. We have lots of stories that make up who we are – and guess what, we're more than rappers and ballers and Secretaries of State (though we are that too).

Which brings me back to the reporter. Finally I tell her "this is clearly more about you than about me. Why is it so hard for you to see me, and Barack Obama as black?" I'm trying to remember that talking about race is a difficult conversation and it sometimes means starting at the very beginning. Let's start talking.


Filed under: Black in America • Soledad O'Brien • T1
August 9th, 2008
08:24 PM ET

T.D. Jakes: How do you respond to “I don’t want to get blacker, Daddy!”

Program Note: In the next installment of CNN's Black in America series, Soledad O'Brien examines the successes, struggles and complex issues faced by black men, women and families, 40 years after the death of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Watch encore presentation Saturday & Sunday, 8 p.m. ET


We devote several days on the blog to smart insight and commentary related to the special.

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Bishop T.D. Jakes
Senior Pastor, The Potter’s House

I am delighted to see a continued rational discussion about race relations in this country. I know many find it painful and some would rather not discuss it at all. But like a good marriage, sometimes communication is the only way to create unification. Therefore, I applaud CNN for having the foresight to lead a discussion that hopefully will produce more love and a shared concern for people you see every day but might not know what they see when they live in the same world and breathe the same air that you do.

Often I pen words as a pastor, sometimes as an entrepreneur, and occasionally as a citizen with an opinion. But today, I have been asked to share a story as a father, and a person of color, who knows firsthand the challenges of raising children of color. I love this country and I am very proud to be an American. In spite of its many challenges and disappointments, I fervently believe that the benefits of living in the United States ultimately outweigh the liabilities.. But in the interest of sharing a “what is it like to be you” story, I will add this one to the discussion. To be sure, we are not all monolithic. Many, many, blacks have raised their children surrounded by masses of blacks and have faced a different challenge than mine.

I have twin boys who are almost 30 years old now. But when they were very young, I was sitting with both of them in the predominantly white environment of my home in West Virginia talking about things fathers discuss with their sons. I shared with one of my sons, that when I was his age my skin tone was very much like his, very light. In a matter of fact way, I mentioned that as I got older, my skin darkened and changed to become much more like his brother’s skin, which was darker.

FULL POST


Filed under: Bishop TD Jakes • Black in America
August 9th, 2008
07:10 PM ET

No, I don't play for the 49ers

Program Note: In the next installment of CNN's Black in America series, Soledad O'Brien examines the successes, struggles and complex issues faced by black men, women and families, 40 years after the death of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Watch encore presentation Saturday & Sunday, 8 p.m. ET


We devote several days on the blog to smart insight and commentary related to the special.

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T. J. Holmes
CNN Anchor

I'm 5' 11" and 165 lbs. I don't know many people who would look at me and think I played professional football. But, would you believe, a man thought it was more plausible for me to be a professional football player than a college graduate with a successful career.

I haven't come in contact with a lot of blatant racism in my life. Yes, I've been called the N-word. To be honest, it never really upset me because as soon as that word comes out of someone's mouth, I'm pretty sure that I've won the argument. That person has just confirmed how ignorant they are.

I don't necessarily consider most people racist. I have, however, seen a lot of racial bias. What I mean by that is people don't hate me because of the color of my skin, but they simply don't see me as an equal. FULL POST


Filed under: Black in America • T.J. Holmes
August 9th, 2008
06:40 PM ET

Being Black in America

Program Note: In the next installment of CNN's Black in America series, Soledad O'Brien examines the successes, struggles and complex issues faced by black men, women and families, 40 years after the death of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


We devote several days on the blog to smart insight and commentary related to the special.

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Martin Luther King, III

There is an important conversation taking place across the nation regarding being Black in America. It may be characterized by three questions Blacks seem to be asking: From where have we come? Where are we now? And, where do we go from here? CNN’s “Black in America“ documentary is a fresh and compelling entry, focusing more on the second question than on the others. One very noticeable thing about the documentary is that it joins a new cast of characters, from academicians to journalists, entertainers to everyday citizens, who are not the faces and voices traditionally associated with the subject.

This crew, colorful and articulate, is empowered by 24/7 cable news and the unfettered reach of the Internet. They are a new generation of thinkers and doers, impatient with the status quo, who feel “the fierce urgency of now.” They are telling of a tectonic change in the plates that undergird our long-held understandings of being Black in America. And, they are challenged by the opportunities most ardently symbolized in the remarkable story unfolding in this year’s presidential election.

But, not so new is the “now-not yet” tension one feels observing being Black in America today. During the Civil Rights Movement of the mid-twentieth century, my father wrote eloquently of a similar anxiety in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”. Then the tension was between African Americans’ “now”, who wanted speedy redress to segregation, and many whites’ “not yet”, particularly, among the clergy, who protested the Movement’s demands for immediate remedies as untimely. FULL POST

August 9th, 2008
04:02 PM ET

Anchor opens up about his race

Program Note: In CNN’s Black in America, Soledad O’Brien examines the successes, struggles and complex issues faced by black men, women and families, 40 years after the death of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. We continue the discussion on the blog with insight and commentary related to the investigation.
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We reached out to CNN's Don Lemon to be part of our 'Black In America' blog coverage, asking for a telling experience, or a moment in his life that could shed light on what it means to be black in America.

What we received was a very personal blog entry. You can read it here. The reaction from the online community was incredible. The reaction from his own family proved equally strong. Don Lemon shares why he wrote the blog, what being 'Black in America' means to him, and what the blog meant to his family.

Here he talks about race in his family… how his great grandmother worked for a white man… and that man raped her:

FULL POST


Filed under: Black in America • Don Lemon
August 9th, 2008
03:46 PM ET

I am neither black nor white. I'm both

Program Note: In the next installment of CNN's Black in America series, Soledad O'Brien examines the successes, struggles and complex issues faced by black men, women and families, 40 years after the death of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Watch encore presentation Saturday & Sunday, 8 p.m. ET


We devote several days on the blog to smart insight and commentary related to the special.

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Editor’s Note: Lynn Whitfield is an Emmy Award winning actress famous for her role as Josephine Baker in 'The Josephine Baker Story.' Her other films include 'A Thin Line Between Love and Hate,' 'Gone Fishin’' and 'Eve’s Bayou.' Below is a response from her and her daughter after watching Black In America's 'The Black Woman and Family.'

Lynn Whitfield
Actress

My daughter Grace and I watched the premier of CNN’s groundbreaking "Black in America." I thought we would have lively discussions around many of the themes concerning black women in this country. However, when she saw the segments on interracial marriage and the children of those relationships, she had a visceral response.

I saw an activist being born.

Grace seemed ready to adapt James Brown’s black anthem to her cause: "Say it loud, I'm blended and proud!" I saw my daughter stand up for the equality of blended people like herself in all her olive-complexioned, big curly afro-like glory. She went immediately to the computer with dignity, passion and everything but a fist in the air and wrote the statement you are about to read:

Watch the 'Black In America' story Lynn Whitfield and Grace Gibson are reacting to
Watch the 'Black In America' story Lynn Whitfield and Grace Gibson are reacting to

Mixed in America
Grace Gibson (16-year-old daughter of Lynn Whitfield)

Although I found this segment of “Black in America” to be highly informative for the general public, I was disappointed that the interviews in the section on what it is like to be biracial in America seemed to focus only on the more negative aspects. With the eyes of the world now on Barack Obama, I had hoped for a more balanced discussion on what a positive symbol a mixed race person can project.

FULL POST


Filed under: Black in America • Lynn Whitfield
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