Tuesday, January 5, 2010

9th Circuit appeals bench would allow felons to vote

Washington’s longtime constitutional ban on voting by felons has been tossed out by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The state is expected to appeal.

The surprise ruling contradicts holdings in three other circuits, with cases out of New York, Massachusetts and Florida, and it may well be up to the U.S. Supreme Court to settle the conflict. If Tuesday’s ruling were the last word on the case, it would allow inmates currently behind bars to vote in Washington. The ruling could also be the basis of litigation in the eight other states in the 9th Circuit – Oregon, California, Idaho, Nevada, Montana, Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, plus Guam.

Secretary of State Sam Reed, Washington’s chief elections officer, said, “We were quite surprised at today’s 2-1 ruling by the 9th Circuit, and we would expect to appeal the decision. We certainly support racial equality and efforts to make our criminal justice system free of bias. But we also support our state constitutional ban on voting by felons who are under Department of Corrections supervision.

“We believe that the loss of voting rights is an appropriate and reasonable sanction for society to demand of felons while they are incarcerated or on community supervision. Most states have this sensible policy. Once inmates satisfy their prison sentence and community supervision, our Legislature has recently provided that they may apply to have their voting rights restored as part of reintegrating back into the community.

“We are hopeful that this longstanding policy will be upheld as this case is appealed further. We look forward to the courts giving some finality to this question, which has been in litigation since 1996.”

The case was originally brought nearly 14 years ago in U.S. District Court in Eastern Washington by Muhammad Shabazz Farrakhan and three other black inmates, and by a Native American and a Latino inmate. The inmates said minorities are disproportionately prosecuted and sentenced to prison, and that their automatic disenfranchisement violates the federal Voting Rights Act.

The Appeals bench concurred with the inmates that the state’s criminal justice system is “infected” with racial discrimination and that the challengers don’t have to prove that that it is intentional or racially motivated discrimination. The court said that “based on uncontroverted facts,” it would rely on academic research that showed Washington’s African Americans were over nine times more likely to be in prison than Caucasians, even though the ratio of black-to-white arrest for violent crimes was less than 4:1. Another study showed that Native Americans were twice as likely to be searched by state troopers than whites, blacks more than 70 percent more likely to be searched and Latinos more than 50 percent more likely. Other studies were cited.

The challengers didn’t assert that the felon disenfranchisement law was enacted with intent to discriminate, but said that when the law is applied in the context of the criminal justice system, it is more likely for minorities to lose their voting rights. That’s illegal, they contended.

The court held that the Voting Rights Act, adopted by Congress in 1965 for the purpose of eliminating racial discrimination in voting, does not permit disenfranchising voters who are behind bars when the criminal justice system is skewed toward greater incarceration of minorities. The judges also said it is irrelevant that the state Legislature last year approved a new law that takes away a felon’s voting rights only while in the direct custody of the Department of Corrections. Previously, voting rights were restored only after restitution and other costs were repaid, a matter of years for some ex-cons.

Three other circuits, the First, Second and Eleventh, have reached the opposite conclusion about felon voting. The decision in the First, out of Massachusetts, was in 2009; the 2nd Circuit decision, in a New York case, was in 2006; and the 11th Circuit, out of Florida, was in 2005.

In a strongly worded dissent, Judge M. Margaret McKeown said her colleagues have “charted territory that none of our sister circuits have dared to explore.” At the least, the court should have remanded the case for further fact-finding on some of the key points, she wrote.
State Elections Director Nick Handy said the conflicting opinions makes it likely that the U.S. Supreme Court will be asked to take the Farrakhan case on appeal.

The 9th Circuit opinion was written by Judge A. Wallace Tashima and signed by himself and Stephen Reinhardt.
Deputy Solicitor General Jeff Even of the Attorney General’s office said attorneys will review the lengthy opinion and consider the next steps. The state could ask the full 9th Circuit, rather than a three-judge panel, to consider the case. That would involve a hearing before 11 judges. Another option would be to ask the Supreme Court to hear the case, he confirmed.

The case has had a very long shelf life. It was originally filed in Spokane in 1996. The District Court upheld the state’s disenfranchisement law. That was appealed to the 9th Circuit, which reversed and sent it back to the district court for further consideration. The court’s subsequent ruling, along in favor of the state, was appealed a second time to the 9th Circuit. Last year, the state Legislature, at Reed’s request, amended the law to allow restoration of voting rights after an ex-convict completes his or her prison sentence and community supervision. Previously, an ex-convict also would have to satisfy all outstanding financial obligations, including court costs and restitution, before applying for restoration of voting rights.

News Release Issued: January 05, 2010 Washington Secretary of State Legislative Building PO Box 40220, Olympia WA 98504-0220 (360) 902-4151

Monday, January 4, 2010

Poor Face Greater Health Burden than Smokers or the Obese

The average low-income person loses 8.2 years of perfect health, the average high school dropout loses 5.1 years, and the obese lose 4.2 years, according to researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. Tobacco control has long been one of the most important public health policies, and rightly so; the average smoker loses 6.6 years of perfect health to their habit. But the nation’s huge high school dropout rate and poverty rates are typically not seen as health problems.

This new study published in the December 2009 issue of the American Journal of Public Health, shows that poverty and dropout rates are at least as important a health problem as smoking in the United States. These researchers define “low-income” as household earnings below 200% of the Federal Poverty Line, or roughly the bottom third of the U.S. population.

Peter Muennig, MD

“While public health policy needs to continue its focus on risky health behaviors and obesity, it should redouble its efforts on non-medical factors, such as high school graduation and poverty reduction programs,”

— Peter Muennig, MD, assistant professor of health policy and management
On average, poverty showed the greatest impact on health. Smoking was second, followed by being a high school dropout, non-Hispanic Black, obese, a binge drinker, and uninsured. The findings are based on data from various national datasets that are designed to measure both health and life expectancy. Healthy life lost combines both health and life expectancy into a single number, sometimes known as quality-adjusted life years.

“While public health policy needs to continue its focus on risky health behaviors and obesity, it should redouble its efforts on non-medical factors, such as high school graduation and poverty reduction programs,” according to Peter Muennig, MD, assistant professor of health policy and management at the Mailman School of Public Health and principal investigator of the study. Specific policies that have proven successful in the past include reduced class size in grades K-3 and earned income tax credit programs, according to Dr. Muennig.
To analyze the medical and non-medical policies that might affect population health, the researchers examined such policy goals as smoking prevention, increased access to medical care, poverty reduction, and early childhood education to provide policymakers with a sense of how different policy priorities might influence population health.

Building on prior research, the researchers examined health disparities resulting from an individual’s membership in a socially identifiable and disadvantaged group compared with membership in a non-disadvantaged counterpart. Although public health policy has always been directed at individual social and behavioral risks, until now there had been little systematic investigation of their relative contribution to U.S. population health. The researchers were not able to capture all population health risks. For instance, they did not include an analysis of transportation policy, which can affect health through reduced accidents, reduced pollution, and increased exercise.

“The smaller impact of schooling in our analyses probably had a lot to do with the fact that we are only measuring the health of people in the general population. We miss those in prisons and chronic care facilities, most of whom lack a high school diploma. If we captured these individuals, the numbers would be higher.

“As with other burden of disease studies, the policies we identify will not eliminate the risk factor in the population; our estimates can only serve as guideposts for policymakers,” says Dr. Muennig.
About the Mailman School of Public Health

The only accredited school of public health in New York City and among the first in the nation, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health pursues an agenda of research, education, and service to address the critical and complex public health issues affecting millions of people locally and globally. The Mailman School is the recipient of some of the largest government and private grants in Columbia University’s history. Its more than 1000 graduate students pursue master’s and doctoral degrees, and the School’s 300 multi-disciplinary faculty members work in more than 100 countries around the world, addressing such issues as infectious and chronic diseases, health promotion and disease prevention, environmental health, maternal and child health, health over the life course, health policy, and public health preparedness. www.mailman.columbia.edu

Contact Us: Stephanie Berger 212-305-4372. Email: sb2247@columbia.edu

NKU to host MLK Commemoration Week Jan. 11-18

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. - The Northern Kentucky University Office of African American Student Affairs will present NKU's inaugural Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration Week from Jan. 11-18. The theme of this week of action, celebration, reflection and remembrance will be "Justice Beyond the Dream."

The week's activities will include:

Monday, January 11
4 p.m. MLK Commemoration Week Kickoff/Unity Reception
Guest Speaker: Al DeJarnett, retired Procter & Gamble executive and Cincinnatus vice chairman Student Union 102 (Multipurpose Room) Sponsored by the Office of African American Student Affairs and the Black Faculty and Staff Association

6:30 p.m. Behind Every Good Man Is a Great Woman: An in-depth look at the women of the modern day Civil Rights Movement Student Union 107 B and C Sponsored by Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and Black Women's Organization

Tuesday, January 12 6 p.m. Viewing of Martin Luther King, Jr.: The Man & The Dream
Otto Budig Theater Sponsored by Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.

Candle Light Vigil for Justice (immediately after program) Sponsored by Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.

Wednesday, January 13 Noon to 2 p.m. Public Reading of Dr. King's writings and speeches Student Union 2nd Floor Lobby Sponsored by the NKU Honors Program

5 p.m. WWMLKD? (What Would MLK Do?) Student Union 108 Sponsored by Black United Students and E.N.V.I.

7 p.m. Memories of MLK Student Union 109 Sponsored by Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc.

Thursday, January 14 5 p.m. "I HAVE A DREAM" Student Union 102 (Multipurpose Room) Sponsored by W.A.T.E.R.

7 p.m. Scholarly Series Student Union 102 (Multipurpose Room) Sponsored by Black Men's Organization

Friday, January 15 12:15-1:30 p.m. MLK Commemoration Program featuring Minnijean Brown-Trickey of the Little Rock Nine Student Union 107A/ Sponsored by Office of African American Student Affairs, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Department of History and Geography, Black Studies, Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice, Campus Recreation, Latino Student Affairs, College of Education and Human Services, Department of Communications, Honors

1:45 p.m. MLK Unity March Sponsored by Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.

Saturday, January 16 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Social Justice Student Leadership Conference
Student Union 104 Sponsored by the Office of African American Student Affairs and the Northern Kentucky University NAACP

Monday, January 18 Noon to 5 p.m. NKU MLK Day of Service (various projects throughout the region)

5-6 p.m. NKU MLK Day of Service celebration Keynote Speaker: Dr. Robert Wallace, Professor, NKU Department of English Student Union 107A Sponsored by the Office of African American Student Affairs and the Office of Student Life

For more information, contact the NKU Office of African American Student Affairs at (859) 572-5214 or griffinm3@nku.edu. These events are free and open to the public.

### NKU ### News from NKU ... Monday - Jan. 4, 2010 For immediate release...

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Indiana Man to Spend 42 Months in Prison for Cross Burning

WASHINGTON—Bruce Mikulyuk, 50, of Mishawaka, Ind., was sentenced today to 42 months in prison for interfering with the housing rights of a white woman and an African-American man by burning a cross in their yard and later returning with a knife and threatening the man if he did not leave. Mikulyuk pleaded guilty to the offense in October.

According to the plea agreement filed with the court, Mikulyuk used racial slurs and threatened the male victim on Sept. 27, 2007. Later that evening, Mikulyuk built a cross, took it to the victims’ home, and set it on fire several feet from the home while the victims and two young children were in the home. Mikulyuk later returned to the home with a hunting-style knife and again threatened the male victim. Mikulyuk admitted that he burned the cross and threatened the victims in order to intimidate them and interfere with their housing rights because of race.

This is the fourth Indiana man in two months to be sentenced to prison time for burning a cross. Richard LaShure, Richard Logue and Aaron Latham, of Muncie, Ind., were sentenced on Nov. 5, 2009, after pleading guilty to charges of interference with housing rights and conspiracy against rights for burning a cross in the yard of an African-American family in July 2008.

“The burning cross is an unmistakable symbol of hatred with a painful history, and it has no place in this country. Unfortunately, such incidents are all too common,” said Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Prosecuting hate crimes is a top priority for the Civil Rights Division.”

This case was investigated by Special Agent Art Grist from the Merrillville Field Office of the FBI and prosecuted by Betsy Biffl from the Civil Rights Division.

Department of Justice Press Release, For Immediate Release, December 22, 2009. U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Public Affairs (202) 514-2007/TDD (202) 514-1888. FBI.gov is an official site of the U.S. Federal Government, U.S. Department of Justice.

Friday, January 1, 2010

CAMPELLSVILLE UNIVERSITY TO HOST McMICKLE, U OF L BLACK DIAMOND CHOIR AT MLK SERVICE JAN. 20; DAVID COZART SPEAKS AT MORNING SERVICE

CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. – Campbellsville University will celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day with two programs Wednesday, Jan. 20.

David Cozart, a CU graduate who is administrator of development at Urban League of Lexington-Fayette County, will speak at CU’s chapel program at 10 a.m. Jan. 20 in the Ransdell Chapel at 401 N. Hoskins Ave., Campellsville.

Dr. Marvin McMickle, pastor of Antioch Baptist Church in Cleveland, Ohio, and professor of homiletics at Ashland Theological Seminary, will be the featured speaker at CU’s Martin Luther King Memorial Service Jan. 20 at 7 p.m. in the Ransdell Chapel.

Dr. Marvin McMickle

Dr. Marvin McMickle
The University of Louisville’s Black Diamond Choir will provide special music for the evening event.

Greater Campbellsville United and Campbellsville University are sponsoring the evening service.

ohn Chowning, vice president for church and external relations and executive assistant to the president at CU, who serves as chair of Greater Campbellsville University,
said, “Campbellsville University students, faculty and staff and the larger community are encouraged to attend this service as we recall the legacy, affirm the dream and commit to fulfill the vision of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“Dr. Marvin McMickle is an ideal speaker to remind us of the need to continue the work of Dr. King in all facets of our society. The music of the Black Diamond Choir is a great addition to the evening program.”

He also said Cozart’s address will be beneficial to both the community and to CU students, faculty and staff. Students will receive chapel credit for both events.

McMickle was a visiting professor at Yale University Divinity School in winter 2009. He is the author of 11 books including “Where Have All the Prophets Gone? Reclaiming Prophetic Preaching in America.”

He is contributing editor for “The Living Pulpit” and is a featured writer for the “National Baptist Voice,” the quarterly journal of the National Baptist Convention, USA Inc.

His sermons and essays regularly appear in “Preaching” magazine and in “The African American Pulpit.”

McMickle has been serving the church of Jesus Christ as a pastor, professor and widely published author for more than 30 years. He is a 1970 graduate of Aurora University in Illinois with a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy. He earned a master of divinity degree from Union Theological Seminary in New York City in 1973 and did two additional years of graduate study at Columbia University in New York.

McMickle earned a doctor of ministry degree from Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, New Jersey in 1983. He was awarded the Ph.D. degree from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio in 1998. He was also awarded the honorary degree of doctor of divinity by Aurora University in 1990.

He was ordained to the Christian ministry in 1973 at Abyssinian Baptist Church of New York City where he served as an assistant minister and later as the associate pastor from 1972 to 1976. He served as the pastor of St. Paul Baptist Church of Montclair, New Jersey, was president of the president of the New Jersey Council of Churches and as a member of the Montclair Board of Education.

He also served two terms as president of the Montclair Branch of the NAACP. McMickle also has served on the adjunct faculty at Princeton Theological Seminary, New Brunswick Theological Seminary and New York Theological Seminary.

He has served as senior pastor of Antioch Baptist Church in Cleveland since 1987.

During that time he led the church in establishing a ministry for people infected with or affected by HIV/AIDS. This ministry was the first of its kind in the entire country.

He has served as a faculty member at Ashland Theological Seminary since 1996.

McMickle has been married to Peggy Lorraine Noble since 1975, and they have one son, Aaron, who is a middle school teacher in New York City.

The University of Louisville’s Black Diamond Choir is the premier gospel choir at U of L.

Organized in 1969, the student gospel group has been singing and sharing the “Good News” locally and in various locations within Kentucky, Indiana, Tennessee, Ohio and Georgia.

In 2008, the choir placed second in the Louisville Urban League College Choir Explosion and was also received People’s Choice Award.

Among their other performances have been the National Black Gospel College Choir Festival, National Baptist Student Union Retreat, African Heritage Weekend on the Belvedere, “Dickens on Main Street” Christmas event, Theatre Workshop of Louisville’s productions of the “Amen Corner,” Kentucky Higher Education Council of College Presidents, the Governor’s Conference on Post-Secondary Education, the Louisville Defender’s 60th Annual Minority Consumer Expo, opening ceremonies of U of L’s Papa John’s Cardinal Football Stadium and the Black History Celebration Banquet, 422nd Air Base Squadron RAF Croughton Air Force Base in London, England.

The 100-member choir continues to represent the University of Louisville at least twice a month in the community at various churches and civic organizations. Not only does the choir minister with its music, but the choir also sponsors and annual “Feed the Families for Thanksgiving” community service project. This initiate is an outreach project serving the needy in the community.

Cozart is a 1993 graduate of CU. He studied family studies at the University of Kentucky.

He served as community involvement manager at LexLinc and at LexLinc/Lexington Local Commission for four years and six years, respectively.

He specializes in community organizations and forming collaborations between human service agencies and increasing the capacity for grassroots organizations to deliver services at the neighborhood level.

He belongs to the Lexington Urban League Young Professionals and is a licensed minister with First Baptist Church in Bracktown.

Cozart received the 2007 Leadership Lexington Distinguished Leader Award, the 2007 Person of Promise Award, the 2006 Rising Star Award from the Lexington Young Professionals Associations and the 2005 Community Service Award from the Lexington Urban League Young Professionals.

For more information about the evening event, contact Chowning at jechowning@campbellsville.edu or at 270-789-5520, and contact Ed Pavy, director of campus ministries, at ecpavy@campbellsville.edu or at 270-789-5227 for the chapel service.

Campbellsville University is a private, comprehensive institution located in South Central Kentucky. Founded in 1906, Campbellsville University is affiliated with the Kentucky Baptist Convention and has an enrollment of 3,006 students who represent 97 Kentucky counties, 30 states and 37 foreign nations. Listed in U.S.News & World Report’s 2010 “America’s Best Colleges,” CU is ranked 23rd in “Best Baccalaureate Colleges” in the South, tied for fifth in “most international students” and fourth in “up-and-coming” schools in baccalaureate colleges in the South. CU has been ranked 17 consecutive years with U.S.News & World Report. The university has also been named to America’s Best Christian Colleges® and to G.I. Jobs magazine as a Military Friendly School. Campbellsville University is located 82 miles southwest of Lexington, Ky., and 80 miles southeast of Louisville, Ky. Dr. Michael V. Carter is in his 11th year as president.

Dec. 31, 2009 For Immediate Release By Joan C. McKinney, news and publications coordinator.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

US Labor Department settles discrimination findings against Los Angeles Coca-Cola bottling company

Agency review determined employer failed to hire African-American applicants

SAN FRANCISCO — The U.S. Department of Labor has agreed to settle findings of hiring discrimination at the BCI Coca-Cola Bottling Co. plant located in Los Angeles, Calif.

The agreement settles allegations by the Labor Department's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) that BCI Coca-Cola engaged in hiring discrimination against African-American applicants for entry-level merchandiser positions between Jan.1 and Dec. 31, 2006.

OFCCP investigators found that the facility's selection process disproportionately rejected African-American applicants. Under the terms of the agreement, BCI Coca-Cola agrees to pay a total of $49,376 in back pay and interest, to be shared among 26 former applicants. BCI Coca-Cola Bottling also will hire seven of the previously rejected African-American applicants as merchandisers. Merchandisers work with retail outlets to maintain displays and stock inventory in order to maximize product sales.

"This settlement demonstrates the Labor Department's determination to prevent workplace discrimination by federal contractors," said William D. Smitherman, director of OFCCP's Pacific regional office in San Francisco. "With Coca-Cola's cooperation during the review, we were able to achieve a common goal of compliance."

BCI Coca-Cola also agrees to immediately cease any discriminatory practices and undertake extensive self-monitoring measures to ensure that all hiring practices fully comply with the law.

BCI Coca-Cola has federal contracts to sell beverages and food products to the Defense Commissary Agency.

OFCCP, an agency of the U.S. Department of Labor, enforces Executive Order 11246 and other laws that prohibit employment discrimination by federal contractors. The agency monitors federal contractors to ensure that they provide equal employment opportunity without regard to race, gender, color, religion, national origin, disability or veteran status. More information is available on the agency's Web at www.dol.gov/ofccp/.

OFCCP News Release: [12/21/2009] Contact Name: Deanne Amaden Phone Number: (415) 625-2630 Release Number: 09-1422-SAN

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Leading author will keynote UMSL’s MLK celebration

Jabari Asim, an influential African-American literary and social critic and prolific author, will be the keynote speaker at the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday celebration at the University of Missouri-St. Louis at 10 a.m. Jan. 18 in the Anheuser-Busch Performance Hall at the Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center.

The program includes a dramatic performance, “Zooman and the Sign,” depicting a community’s response to violence directed by Adeniyi “Niyi” Coker, E. Des Lee Endowed Professor of African & African American Studies. In addition, the Dickson Quartet, talented sibling musicians from Oregon, will perform.

Asim, scholar-in-residence at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, is the author of the 2009 book, “What Obama Means, For Our Culture, Our Politics, Our Future.”

Jabari AsimAsim’s 2007 critically acclaimed and controversial book, “The N Word: Who Can Say it, Who Shouldn’t And Why,” generated speaking engagements on college campuses all over the country. He appeared on numerous television and radio shows including “The Today Show,” “The Colbert Report,” “Hannity and Colmes,” “The Tavis Smiley Show” “The Diane Rehm Show,” and more.
He is an accomplished poet, playwright and fiction writer with his first novel, “Nappy Days,” and three children’s books due out in 2010.

Asim’s distinguished journalism career includes 11 years at the Washington Post as deputy editor of the book review section and as a syndicated columnist writing on political and social issues. He also spent four years at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in the 1990s as a copy editor, book editor and then arts editor. He currently serves as editor-in-chief of the NAACP’s The Crisis magazine.

He is a former vice president of the National Book Critics Circle and his reviews and cultural criticism have been published in The New York Times, the International Herald Tribune, the Phoenix Gazette, Los Angeles Times Book Review, Salon.com, the Detroit News, The Village Voice, Hungry Mind Review, XXL, Code, Emerge, Essence, Africana.com and BlackElectorate.com.

The Touhill Performing Arts Center is located on UMSL’s north campus. For more information visit www.umsl.edu/services/oeo/news_events/ or call 314-516-5695.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, Contact: Maureen Zegel 314-516-5493 University of Missouri-St. Louis Media Services 414 Woods Hall One University Blvd. St. Louis, MO 63121-4499

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

IU community shocked, saddened by professor's death

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University is saddened by the loss of a professor.

Don Belton was an assistant professor in the IU Bloomington Department of English, and he was a member of the Creative Writing Program faculty.

"Assistant Professor Don Belton was an important African-American writer specializing in fiction and nonfiction who began teaching at IU Bloomington in fall 2008," said Provost Karen Hanson. "He was a generous and talented professor who had much potential. We were shocked and saddened by his death."

Jonathan Elmer, chair of the IU Department of English in the College of Arts and Sciences, said Belton was a well-liked and talented faculty member who was respected by faculty, staff and students.

Don Belton

Don Belton
"Don Belton's friends, colleagues and students in the English Department are shocked and terribly saddened by the news of his death," Elmer said. "His great talents as a writer, his extraordinary generosity to his students, and his warmth of personality were gifts to us all. We will miss him terribly."

Prior to his work at IU Bloomington, he taught at Shippensburg University in Shippensburg, Pa. Belton was the author of the novel Almost Midnight, and was editor of Speak My Name, an anthology exploring the gulf between real and represented black masculinity.
His writings appeared in literary reviews, literature anthologies, cultural journals and popular magazines and newspapers. He had been a fellow at the Bread Loaf Writers Conference at Middlebury College, Macdowell and Yadoo artists colonies, the Rockefeller Center in Italy, and the Center for Media Studies at Brown University.

He has taught literature, fiction and world cinema at the University of Michigan, Macalester College and the University of Pennsylvania. He lectured on James Baldwin at the first African American Writers in Europe Conference at the Sorbonne; on black literature and black popular culture in the Ivory Coast of West Africa; and on Robert Mapplethorpe at the University of Sao Paulo, School of Communications and Arts, Brazil.

His writing and teaching interests include writers in community and exile, and writing about home.

Media Contacts: Susan Williams Office of University Communications sulwilli@indiana.edu 812-272-0667. Nicole Roales Office of University Communications. nroales@indiana.edu 812-325-6102

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Online Rice Library Image Collection features photos from the 1800s to present day

The University of Southern Indiana's University Archives and Special Collections has made its extensive image collection available online at www.usi.edu/library/Rice_Library_Image_Collections. The Rice Library Image Collection includes photographs from Evansville, New Harmony and the Tri-state area from the late 1800s to the present day.

The database features photographs from the African-American community in Evansville, more than 1,000 images of the 1937 flood, photographs of parades and fairs from the early 20th century, and a series of architectural photographs of the historic district in downtown Evansville from 1978 to 1979.

Shaving Parlor African-American Community

An image of the William H. Glover Shaving Parlor (1920) from USI's Evansville African-American Community image collection.
Also included are images from the Southern Indiana Gas & Electric Company of residential homes, businesses, employees, and other locations from the 1920s to the 1950s.

The project will be expanded to include University photographs, celebrities who visited the area, historic structures that no longer survive, and intentional communities from around the United States.
Visit University Archives and Special Collections for more information about the collections.

Contact for more information: Wendy Knipe Bredhold, Media Relations Specialist, News & Information Services, 812/461-5259 email

Friday, December 25, 2009

Project will examine Former Slaves’ Writings during Emancipation Era

Christopher Hager Awarded National Endowment for the Humanities Grant.

HARTFORD, Conn. – Only about 10 percent of the slaves during the Civil War era in the United States were literate, primarily because most Southern states had stringent anti-literacy laws. That has led to the mistaken notion that slaves and former slaves rarely wrote anything of value, and that there is little to be learned from what they did write.

Christopher Hager, an assistant professor of English, believes differently. Through his preliminary research, Hager, whose graduate work at Northwestern University concentrated on 19th century American literature in relation to slavery and the Civil War, says there is much to be learned from the diaries, journals, letters and other forms of writing that “marginally literate former slaves” penned during the years of emancipation.

Christopher Hager

Christopher Hager
As such, Hager, who has taught at Trinity since 2007, is working on the manuscript of a book to be called, “A Colored Man’s Constitution: Emancipation and the Act of Writing.” Hager’s efforts will be facilitated by a $50,400 stipend from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) for the 2010-2011 academic year, when he will be on sabbatical.

The funding for Hager’s research was announced Thursday, Dec. 17 by the NEH. It is one of 319 humanities projects that will share $20 million in grant awards, and one of 11 in Connecticut to be selected.
Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the NEH supports learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities. “The grants announced today highlight the broad spectrum of humanities projects funded by the Endowment,” said NEH Chairman Jim Leach. “From small awards which enable institutions to better preserve and conserve their collections, to larger matching offers that assist organizations with capital improvements, NEH funding supports humanities scholarship and a variety of projects.”

Hager’s award is significant because the amount of the award is among the highest, reinforcing the notion that there is great interest in what Hager calls “this largely neglected moment in the history of African-American writing.”

“If we want to understand the transition from slavery to freedom, we have to understand what people thought, not only what they wrote but how they used their new skill,” he said.

In his proposal to the NEH, Hager points out that since the 1970s, scholars have dismissed the earlier presumption that it was impossible to understand slavery and emancipation from the perspective of slaves and former slaves because most of them could not write and left no reliable records.

“The emancipation of American slaves was not only a social and political revolution but also a singular moment in the history of written expression,” Hager said. “Untold thousands of African Americans who had been deprived of literacy gained unprecedented access to education at the same time they achieved their freedom.”

In fact, many of the documents that Hager will examine were written by black men who had enlisted in the Union Army. That’s where many received their first formal education.

Hager, who teaches upper-level courses in American literature, 1865-1945, at Trinity, said he has already uncovered materials that are surprising for the revelations they contain. For example, a man named John Washington wrote a memoir in 1873, but also wrote while still a slave, clearly demonstrating his literary ambition. Washington learned to read secretly, in part by reading Harpers Magazine.

Then there was a potter who wrote lines of poetry in the clay pots that he crafted before they were fired in kilns.

Hager said some of the materials he will be examining have been archived in universities and libraries, but others have been uncovered through “strokes of good fortune.” In some cases, descendents of the former slaves discovered the documents in attics and other locations.

In terms of completing his book, Hager has already gathered and transcribed most of his primary texts. They were written during or soon after the Civil War, and they range from a one-paragraph letter to a 100-page memoir.

“Upon publication,” Hager said in his proposal, “the book promises to interest scholars in the fields of African American Studies, 19th-century American literature, and the history of slavery and emancipation.”

Office of Communications 300 Summit Street Hartford, CT 06106, Phone: (860) 297-2140 Fax: (860) 297-2312 communications-office@trincoll.edu

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Defining 'Whose Black Politics' Focus of New Book VIDEO PODCAST

The era of post-Civil Rights era Black politics didn't start with Barack Obama, and they won't end with the 44th president. That's the message of "Whose Black Politics? Cases in Post-Racial Black Leadership," a new compilation of groundbreaking scholarship from Emory University political scientist Andra Gillespie.

In the book, just published by Routledge Press, contributors explore the contemporary cohort of black political leaders who came of age after the Civil Rights era who have been defined through the election of President Obama. While race may tie them together, the case studies from scholars around the country reveal philosophical and practical differences in how they view the world - and the importance of their own racial identity.



Listen to Gillespie talk about black political leaders (mp3)
"If there was a motto for the book it would be: Black politics is bigger than Barack Obama. It's important to acknowledge the trailblazing of the early cohort of African American politicians and give voice to the diversity that persists in African American politics, even amongst this new wave of black politicians," Gillespie says.

To explore these issues, "Whose Black Politics" presents for the first time a series of in-depth analyses of 10 leading young black politicians, including, among others, Newark, N.J.'s Cory Booker,
Civil Rights legacy Jesse Jackson, Jr., Massachusetts Gov. Duval Patrick, Tennessee's Harold Ford, and a look at the rise and fall of former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

Gillespie establishes a road map for defining new leaders in African American politics based on black leaders' crossover appeal, their political ambition and connections to the black establishment. The collection also explores what's missing with an examination of the underrepresentation of young black women in this new generation of politicians.

Gillespie defines the post-racial cohort as those born after 1960, give or take five years, who didn't experience the Civil Rights movement first-hand nor the codified racism of Jim Crow laws. They also benefitted from the gains of the Civil Rights movement with opportunities for education and integration not experienced by previous generations of African Americans.

"Their attitudes toward race are going to be very, very different. It's not going to be shaped through the crucible of struggle and through the crucible of protest," Gillespie says. "They are however, sympathetic to the struggle and history of their people and that could actually have an impact on how they approach politics, and what policies they espouse and how they reach out to other people and create the partnerships to address the problems in African American communities."

At the same time, "they are more likely to embrace deracialized campaign and governance strategies," she says. "Members of this new cohort have often publicly clashed with their elders, either in campaigns or over points of policy. And because this generation did not experience codified racism, critics question whether these leaders will even serve the interests of African Americans once in office." ###

Contact: Beverly Clark: 404.712.8780

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Auguste among top African-Americans in technology

Bioengineer named to the Tenth Annual 50 Most Important African-Americans in Technology list

San Fransisco, California and Cambridge, Mass. - December 9, 2009 - Debra Auguste, Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), has been named to the Tenth Annual 50 Most Important African-Americans in Technology list.

"The honorees are each an example of the critically important role of African-American innovators, educators, policymakers and executives to shape the future of the global economy,” said John William Templeton, president/executive editor of San Francisco-based eAccess Corp., which has produced the list since 1999. “During a transformational national administration, they represent the role models to propel new generations into the careers of the future.”

Debra Auguste, Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS)

Debra Auguste, Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS)
Debra Auguste received her S.B. in Chemical Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1999 and her Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Princeton University in 2005. Before joining Harvard, she was a postdoctoral Associate at Massachusetts Institute of Technology for 2004-2006.

The focus of the Auguste lab is to develop novel biomaterials for drug delivery and tissue engineering. She is interested in directing the behavior and differentiation of cells, in most cases human embryonic stem cells, by controlling their three-dimensional cellular microenvironment.
The design criteria requires the synthesis of new, biomimetic materials in coordination with regulating the rate of molecule release, immune response, targeting, and degradation. These systems are investigated for potential use in cell-based therapies.

Auguste and her other Honorees will gather for a 10th anniversary symposium in San Francisco on Jan. 15, 2010 to design an innovation and equity agenda for the nation.

Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences 29 Oxford Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Grandparents as Primary Caregivers and Their Effects on the Reading Achievement of Their Elementary-Age African-American Grandchildren

UMSL doctoral candidate compares grandparents to parents. Vanessa Garry has been an educator for more than 30 years. And in that time she has learned that reading is the foundation of academic achievement and can determine a student’s success. So when Garry, vice president of education for Confluence Academy in St. Louis, began her thesis project for her doctorate in education at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, she decided to look at reading.

But not just reading per se, but the differences in the reading performance of African-American children raised by their biological parents versus those raised by their grandparents.

Her paper, "Grandparents as Primary Caregivers and Their Effects on the Reading Achievement of Their Elementary-Age African-American Grandchildren," was only a small sampling, but concluded that students raised by their grandparents outperformed those raised by their parents.

Vanessa Garry

Vanessa Garry
"This was just a small study," said Garry, of Chesterfield, Mo. "But it shows that parental involvement does impact a student’s achievement.

Grandparents who served as their grandchild’s primary caregiver participated and became involved more in the student’s academically life, therefore improving the child’s overall performance."
For her study, she collected data from three area charter schools, evaluating six types of parental involvement, including workshops, communications between school and home, parent conferences, assistance with homework, other meetings and tutoring classes for students.

Overall, grandchildren of grandparents who are primary caregivers out-performed their peers on the communication arts portion of the Missouri Assessment Program test. The conclusions drawn from the research indicate that weekly communication between school and home, teacher and parent meetings, and assistance with homework are three types of parental involvement that positively affected reading achievement.

Garry said she’d like the opportunity to expand the study, using more participants from various other areas and districts.

She is scheduled to receive her doctoral degree in education during the 10 a.m. commencement ceremony Saturday (Dec. 19) in the Mark Twain Athletic & Fitness Center on the North Campus at UMSL. -END-

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Jennifer Hatton 314-516-6794

University of Missouri-St. Louis Media Services 414 Woods Hall One University Blvd. St. Louis, MO 63121-4499

Friday, December 18, 2009

DePaul King Day Events To Include Dramatic Re-enactment Of Key Speech

DePaul University will honor the living legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., with a series of events on Jan. 18, including a theatrical re-enactment of King giving one of his key speeches.

Austin Talley, an alumnus of The Theatre School of DePaul, will portray King delivering his 1967 speech “A Time to Break Silence” which includes an interpretation of the biblical parable “The Jericho Road.” The speech also infuses elements of the teachings of St. Vincent de Paul and of the black protest tradition of activist and writer James Weldon Johnson. The re-enactment is staged during an African-American church service, complete with musical selections performed by DePaul’s Gospel Choir.

Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

DePaul University Annually Hosts Public Events Examining the Legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
The performance will cap a 7:30 a.m. prayer breakfast, which also will include an address by distinguished educator Lawrence Edward Carter Sr., dean of the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel and professor of religion at Morehouse College. The breakfast will be held in the DePaul Student Center, 2250 N. Sheffield Ave., Room 120, Chicago. The event is sponsored by DePaul’s Cultural Center and The Theatre School.
From noon until 2 p.m., the commemoration will continue in the atrium of the Student Center with the screening of the documentary “Citizen King,” an in-depth look at King’s life and legacy featuring interviews with many of those who worked with him.

At DePaul’s Loop Campus, the College of Law will host a luncheon lecture and discussion titled “Defining the Dream: Health Care as a Civil Right, Human Right or Market Commodity?” The program begins at 10:30 a.m. with a welcoming reception and cultural performance. At 10:50 a.m., Dorothy Roberts, the Kirkland & Ellis Professor at Northwestern University Law School and a professor in Northwestern’s African-American studies and sociology departments, will deliver a keynote address. Roberts is the author of numerous books and articles examining the interplay of gender, race and class in legal bioethics issues. The luncheon will begin at 11:45 a.m. followed by a panel discussion at 12:45 p.m. featuring professors Freeman Farrow of DePaul, Kimani Paul-Emile of Fordham University and Ruqaiijah Yearby of the University of Buffalo. The event will take place in the DePaul Center, 1 E. Jackson Blvd., Room 8005, Chicago.

On Jan. 21, a panel discussion, “Increasing Innovation and Productivity by Building a Diverse Workforce,” will tackle how to build and retain a diverse workforce in the 21st century among other topics. A panel from higher education, industry and the community will address these issues from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. in the DePaul Center’s 8th floor conference center. This event is a collaborative initiative between the Diversity and Social Justice Committee of the School for New Learning. For more information, contact Shannon Stone-Winding at caea@depaul.edu or Ext. 312-362-6508.

All DePaul events celebrating King Day are free and open to the public. Breakfast reservations are required by Jan. 12. Call (773) 325-7759 or e-mail culturalcenter@depaul.edu to reserve a space. Luncheon reservations are required by Jan. 14 should be directed to lawevents@depaul.edu or (312) 362-6229.

Media Contact: John Holden holden2@depaul.edu (312) 362-7165 December 18, 2009

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christopher Hager Awarded National Endowment of Humanities Grant

Project will examine Former Slaves’ Writings during Emancipation Era

HARTFORD, Conn. – Only about 10 percent of the slaves during the Civil War era in the United States were literate, primarily because most Southern states had stringent anti-literacy laws. That has led to the mistaken notion that slaves and former slaves rarely wrote anything of value, and that there is little to be learned from what they did write.

Christopher Hager, an assistant professor of English, believes differently. Through his preliminary research, Hager, whose graduate work at Northwestern University concentrated on 19th century American literature in relation to slavery and the Civil War, says there is much to be learned from the diaries, journals, letters and other forms of writing that “marginally literate former slaves” penned during the years of emancipation.

Seated black soldier with pistol and jacket

Seated black soldier with pistol and jacket. Photo from Public Domain Clip Art
As such, Hager, who has taught at Trinity since 2007, is working on the manuscript of a book to be called, “A Colored Man’s Constitution: Emancipation and the Act of Writing.” Hager’s efforts will be facilitated by a $50,400 stipend from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) for the 2010-2011 academic year, when he will be on sabbatical.

The funding for Hager’s research was announced Thursday, Dec. 17 by the NEH. It is one of 319 humanities projects that will share $20 million in grant awards, and one of 11 in Connecticut to be selected.
Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the NEH supports learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities. “The grants announced today highlight the broad spectrum of humanities projects funded by the Endowment,” said NEH Chairman Jim Leach. “From small awards which enable institutions to better preserve and conserve their collections, to larger matching offers that assist organizations with capital improvements, NEH funding supports humanities scholarship and a variety of projects.”

Hager’s award is significant because the amount of the award is among the highest, reinforcing the notion that there is great interest in what Hager calls “this largely neglected moment in the history of African-American writing.”

“If we want to understand the transition from slavery to freedom, we have to understand what people thought, not only what they wrote but how they used their new skill,” he said.

In his proposal to the NEH, Hager points out that since the 1970s, scholars have dismissed the earlier presumption that it was impossible to understand slavery and emancipation from the perspective of slaves and former slaves because most of them could not write and left no reliable records.

“The emancipation of American slaves was not only a social and political revolution but also a singular moment in the history of written expression,” Hager said. “Untold thousands of African Americans who had been deprived of literacy gained unprecedented access to education at the same time they achieved their freedom.”

In fact, many of the documents that Hager will examine were written by black men who had enlisted in the Union Army. That’s where many received their first formal education.

Hager, who teaches upper-level courses in American literature, 1865-1945, at Trinity, said he has already uncovered materials that are surprising for the revelations they contain. For example, a man named John Washington wrote a memoir in 1873, but also wrote while still a slave, clearly demonstrating his literary ambition. Washington learned to read secretly, in part by reading Harpers Magazine.

Then there was a potter who wrote lines of poetry in the clay pots that he crafted before they were fired in kilns.

Hager said some of the materials he will be examining have been archived in universities and libraries, but others have been uncovered through “strokes of good fortune.” In some cases, descendents of the former slaves discovered the documents in attics and other locations.

In terms of completing his book, Hager has already gathered and transcribed most of his primary texts. They were written during or soon after the Civil War, and they range from a one-paragraph letter to a 100-page memoir.

“Upon publication,” Hager said in his proposal, “the book promises to interest scholars in the fields of African American Studies, 19th-century American literature, and the history of slavery and emancipation.”

Office of Communications, 300 Summit Street, Hartford, CT 06106. Phone: (860) 297-2140. Fax: (860) 297-2312 communications-office@trincoll.edu

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

2010 Marion Thompson Wright Lecture Series Will Mark 30th Anniversary of NJ’s Largest Black History Month Conference

Save The Date: Pulitzer Prize-Winner Annette Gordon Reed Will Speak at Rutgers on Feb. 20

NEWARK, NJ – On Friday, February 19 and Saturday, February 20, 2010, the Marion Thompson Wright Lecture Series celebrates 30 years of bringing African American history and scholarship to public light during Black History Month.

Laboring in the Vineyard: Scholarship and Citizenship, a special two-day event in memory of John Hope Franklin and Giles R. Wright, II, will present previous Wright Lecturers from the past 30 years assembled to speak to the 2010 theme. Speakers include: David Blight, John Bracey, Spencer Crew, Eric Foner, Bob Herbert, James Oliver Horton, Wilson Jeremiah Moses, Nell Irvin Painter, Sterling Stuckey, Bettye Collier Thomas, Joe William Trotter, Jr., Cheryl Wall, and Deborah Gray White. They will look at how their work as a scholar has mattered in their lives as citizen, teacher, activist, and mentor. Rutgers Professor Annette Gordon Reed, a noted Jeffersonian scholar and the 2009 Pulitzer Prize recipient for her book The Hemingses of Monticello, will give the Wright Lecture on Saturday, February 20th.

The 2010 lecture program will take place both days in The Paul Robeson Campus Center at Rutgers University-Newark. It is free and open to the public.

Aspiration (1936) by Aaron Douglas

Aspiration (1936) by Aaron Douglas
The lecture series was co-founded in 1981 by Dr. Price and Giles R. Wright, from the New Jersey Historical Commission. Over the past 28 years, the conference has drawn thousands of people to the Rutgers-Newark campus in observance of Black History Month, and has attracted some of the nation’s foremost scholars and humanists who are experts in the field of African and African American history and culture.
One of the oldest and most prestigious events of its kind, the MTW lecture series offers a forum for scholars and non-academicians to share their thoughts and exchange ideas and sustains wide public interest in history, the humanities and life-long learning.

The annual conference was named for East Orange native Dr. Marion Thompson Wright, a pioneer in African American historiography and race relations in New Jersey, who served for many years on the faculty of Howard University. An honors graduate of Newark’s Barringer High School and Columbia University’s Teachers College Class of 1938, she was the first professionally trained woman historian in the United States.

The program, an important Rutgers University resource for public scholarship and civic discourse in greater Newark, is sponsored by the Institute; the Federated Department of History, Rutgers-Newark and the New Jersey Institute of Technology; and the New Jersey Historical Commission/Department of State, and it receives funding support from the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, and the Rutgers Committee to Advance Our Common Purposes.

The 2010 conference is being mounted with major funding support from the Prudential Foundation.

For additional information about the program, visit the Institute’s website at: http://ethnicity.rutgers.edu, or contact Marisa Pierson, Institute on Ethnicity, Culture, and the Modern Experience, 973.353.3896, mpierson@newark.rutgers.edu

Robeson Campus Center is wheelchair-accessible, as is the Rutgers-Newark campus. Rutgers‑Newark can be reached by New Jersey Transit buses and trains, the PATH train and Amtrak from New York City, and by Newark City Subway. Metered parking is available on University Avenue and at Rutgers‑Newark's public parking garage, at 200 University Ave. Printable campus maps and driving directions are available online at: www.newark.rutgers.edu/maps/

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

CARDIN ANNOUNCES $150,000 IN FUNDING FOR HAGERSTOWN'S DOLEMAN BLACK HERITAGE MUSEUM

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD) announced today that the omnibus appropriations measure that has passed Congress includes $150,000 for the Doleman Black Heritage Museum in Hagerstown.

“This funding will help preserve history and make it possible for Marylanders and Americans to visit this outstanding collection of memorabilia detailing the rich African-American culture and history of Maryland,” said Senator Cardin.

The collection was started by Marguerite and Charles Doleman, Sr. who began collecting items of interest to the Washington County community as a hobby.

U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD)The collection is well known for featuring such items as clothing, household goods, photographs, documents and paintings used by Washington County African-American residents in the 19th and 20th Century. The Senator toured the collection in April.

Contact: Sue Walitsky: 202-224-4524 Monday, December 14, 2009

Monday, December 14, 2009

Congresswoman Kilpatrick Issues Statement on the Death of Ms. Erma Henderson

Detroit, MI – “I am deeply saddened by the death of Ms. Erma Henderson. She was my leader, confidante, and role model. She was a dedicated community leader and a trailblazer. She showed women around the world we could fly as high as we dared to dream.

“Early in my career, Council President Erma Henderson and I, along with Teola Hunter, led a group of women to the U.N. Conference on Women to Nairobi, Kenya. It was a trip I will never forget.

“During her life, Ms. Henderson celebrated many firsts. She was the first African American female elected to the Detroit City Council.

Erma Henderson: Michigan Women's Hall of Fame

Erma Henderson: Michigan Women's Hall of Fame
She was the first African American female to serve as President of the Council, a position she held for 12 years. Ms. Henderson was also the first female to serve as a trustee of Wayne County Community College.

“Ms. Henderson was the epitome of what it means to be a public servant. She was a voice for the voiceless and the defender of the defenseless.
Her passion for helping people was always evident. A staunch advocate for Detroiters and women, she possessed the wisdom, vision, and leadership needed to create positive change. Today and always, we embrace her spirit, her service, and her strength. She will live forever in our hearts and minds.

“I extend my deepest condolences to her family and friends. Please know that my thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time.”

Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick - Congresswoman Representing Michigan's 13th District:

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Study Shows Menthol Cigarettes Are More Addictive for African American and Hispanic Smokers

NEW BRUNSWICK - African American and Hispanic adults who smoke menthol cigarettes may be less likely to quit smoking than those who smoke regular cigarettes, a new study by researchers at the UMDNJ-School of Public Health has found. The report, published in the December issue of Preventive Medicine, is believed to be the first to use national statistics to examine the association between menthol cigarettes and attempts at smoking cessation among adults.

The researchers analyzed data from the 2005 National Health Interview Survey and identified 7,815 current and former cigarette smokers who had reported at least one attempt to quit smoking. Just 43.7 percent of African American adults and 48.1 percent of Hispanic adults who smoked menthol cigarettes were able to quit smoking. African Americans and Hispanics who smoked non-menthol cigarettes had quit rates that were similar to those of white adults (62.1 percent and 61.2 percent, respectively).

menthol cigarettes Overall, the researchers noted that non-whites tend to smoke fewer cigarettes per day and are about three times more likely than whites to smoke menthol cigarettes.
“Historically, tobacco companies have targeted minority populations when marketing menthol cigarettes,” said Cristine Delnevo, PhD, director of the Center for Tobacco Surveillance and Evaluation Research at the UMDNJ-School of Public Health and one of the authors of the study. “Although whites and non-whites have similar smoking prevalence rates, the fact that non-whites are more likely to smoke menthols, and those who smoke menthols are less likely to quit, could explain why minority populations continue to suffer disproportionately from tobacco-caused disease and death.”

Daniel Gundersen, lead author and a doctoral student at the UMDNJ-School of Public Health, added, “With the substantial number of smokers smoking menthol cigarettes, particularly among minorities, this is serious cause for concern.”

The researchers noted that the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which became law earlier this year, banned the use of flavorings in cigarettes, but specifically exempted menthol, citing the need for further research into the impact of menthol cigarettes on youth and minorities.

Media interested in arranging an interview with the authors should contact Jerry Carey at 856-566-6171 or at 973-972-3000.

The UMDNJ-School of Public Health is the nation’s first collaborative school of public health and is sponsored by the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in cooperation with Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, and New Jersey Institute of Technology.

UMDNJ is the nation's largest free-standing public health sciences university with more than 5,900 students attending the state's three medical schools, its only dental school, a graduate school of biomedical sciences, a school of health related professions, a school of nursing and its only school of public health, on five campuses. Annually, there are more than two million patient visits to UMDNJ facilities and faculty at campuses in Newark, New Brunswick/ Piscataway, Scotch Plains, Camden and Stratford. UMDNJ operates University Hospital, a Level I Trauma Center in Newark, and University Behavioral HealthCare, a statewide mental health and addiction services network.

Press Release, Date: 12-02-09, Name: Jerry Carey, Phone: 856-566-6171, Email: careyge@umdnj.edu

Thursday, December 10, 2009

NIH Launches Program to Develop Innovative Approaches to Combat Obesity

The National Institutes of Health is launching a $37 million program that will use findings from basic research on human behavior to develop more effective interventions to reduce obesity. The program, Translating Basic Behavioral and Social Science Discoveries into Interventions to Reduce Obesity, will fund interdisciplinary teams of researchers at seven research sites. Investigators will conduct experimental research, formative research to increase understanding of populations being studied, small studies known as proof of concept trials, and pilot and feasibility studies to identify promising new avenues for encouraging behaviors that prevent or treat obesity.

The program is led by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), in partnership with the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), and the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR).

"Obesity is a significant public health challenge raising an individual’s risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, stroke, certain cancers, osteoarthritis, and other conditions," said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. "These grants are intended to develop new and innovative ways to tackle this important problem. This approach differs from previous large clinical trials of behavioral interventions to reduce obesity by placing new emphasis on applying findings from basic behavioral and social sciences to improve behavioral strategies."

The program’s studies focus on diverse populations at high risk of being overweight or obese, including Latino and African-American adults, African-American adolescents, low-income populations, pregnant women, and women in the menopausal transition. The interventions being developed include creative new approaches to promote awareness of specific eating behaviors, decrease the desire for high-calorie foods, reduce stress-related eating, increase motivation to adhere to weight loss strategies, engage an individual’s social networks and communities to encourage physical activity, and improve sleep patterns. Brain scans will also be used to understand brain mechanisms in obesity that might guide the development of new interventions.

The research projects, principal investigators, study sites, and the NIH sponsors include:

• SCALE: Small Changes and Lasting Effects, Mary E. Charlson, M.D., Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York City, sponsored by the NHLBI.
This project will develop and refine a mindful eating intervention aimed at producing small, sustainable changes in eating behavior in overweight or obese African-American and Latino adults with a goal of achieving at least a 7 percent weight reduction in each participant.

• Translating Habituation Research to Interventions for Pediatric Obesity, Leonard H. Epstein, Ph.D., State University of New York at Buffalo, sponsored by the NIDDK.
This project will translate basic research on the reduced response to food after repeated exposure over time to identify and test strategies for reducing the intake of high-calorie foods while increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables that children consume.

• Interventionist Procedures for Adherence to Weight Loss Recommendations in Black Adolescents, Sylvie Naar-King, Ph.D. and Kai-Lin Catherine Jen, Ph.D., Wayne State University, Detroit, Mich., sponsored by the NHLBI, co-funded by the NICHD.
This project will develop and refine a home and community-based intervention using findings from basic behavioral research on human motivation to improve adherence to weight loss strategies in African-American adolescents.

• Developing an Intervention to Prevent Visceral Fat in Premenopausal Women, Lynda H. Powell, M.Ed., Ph.D., Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, sponsored by the NHLBI.
This project will develop a multi-level intervention targeting the individual, her social network, and the community to increase physical activity and reduce chronic stress and depression in order to reduce unhealthy patterns of weight gain in women in the menopausal transition. This project focuses on reducing visceral fat because this is the type of fat most strongly correlated with health risks.

• Increasing Sleep Duration: A Novel Approach to Weight Control, Rena R. Wing, Ph.D., Miriam Hospital, Providence, R.I., sponsored by the NCI.
This project will translate basic research on sleep duration into a unique method to reduce obesity and obesity-related conditions in young and middle-aged overweight or obese adults.

• Novel Interventions to Reduce Stress-induced Non-homeostatic Eating, Elissa S. Epel, Ph.D., Barbara A. Laraia, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.D. and, Nancy E. Adler, Ph.D., University of California, San Francisco, sponsored by the NHLBI.
This project will develop intervention strategies to reduce stress-induced eating in lower-income pregnant women, focusing on the reward and stress response systems that may influence eating behaviors and lead to unhealthy weight gain during pregnancy.

· Habitual and Neurocognitive Processes in Adolescent Obesity Prevention, Kim Daniel Reynolds, Ph.D., Claremont Graduate University, Calif., sponsored by the NHLBI, co-funded by the NICHD.
This project will develop intervention strategies to improve nutrition behaviors in adolescents based on basic behavioral research on the formation of habits, self-regulation of eating behaviors, and the influence of neurocognitive processes on dietary behavior.

A Resource and Coordination Unit (RCU), led by David Cella, Ph.D. of Northwestern University, Chicago, and funded by the NIH's OBSSR, will facilitate collaboration across the studies. As part of this program, the RCU will also organize an OBSSR-funded conference in 2010 addressing methods in behavioral intervention development.

To arrange an interview with an NHLBI spokesperson, please contact the NHLBI Communications Office at (301) 496-4236 or nhlbi_news@nhlbi.nih.gov. To interview an NIDDK spokesperson, contact the NIDDK Office of Communications and Public Liaison at 301-496-3583 or at niddkmedia@mail.nih.gov. To interview an NCI spokesperson, contact the NCI Office of Media Relations at 301-496-6641 or ncipressofficers@mail.nih.gov. To interview an NICHD spokesperson, contact the NICHD Public Information and Communications Branch at 301-496-5133. To interview an OBSSR spokesperson, contact the OBSSR at 301-594-4574 or annb@nih.gov.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) plans, conducts, and supports research related to the causes, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of heart, blood vessel, lung, and blood diseases; and sleep disorders. The Institute also administers national health education campaigns on women and heart disease, healthy weight for children, and other topics. NHLBI press releases and other materials are available online at www.nhlbi.nih.gov.

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) conducts and supports basic and clinical research and research training on some of the most common, severe and disabling conditions affecting Americans. The Institute's research interests include diabetes and other endocrine and metabolic diseases; digestive diseases, nutrition, and obesity; and kidney, urologic and hematologic diseases. For more information, visit www.niddk.nih.gov.

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) leads the National Cancer Program and the NIH effort to dramatically reduce the burden of cancer and improve the lives of cancer patients and their families, through research into prevention and cancer biology, the development of new interventions, and the training and mentoring of new researchers. For more information about cancer, please visit the NCI Web site at www.cancer.gov or call NCI's Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237).

The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) sponsors research on development, before and after birth; maternal, child, and family health; reproductive biology and population issues; and medical rehabilitation. For more information, visit the Institute’s Web site at www.nichd.nih.gov/.

The Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) opened officially on July 1, 1995. The U.S. Congress established the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) in the Office of the Director, NIH, in recognition of the key role that behavioral and social factors often play in illness and health. The OBSSR mission is to stimulate behavioral and social sciences research throughout NIH and to integrate these areas of research more fully into others of the NIH health research enterprise, thereby improving our understanding, treatment, and prevention of disease. For more information, please visit obssr.od.nih.gov.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

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FOR RELEASE December 10, 2009 9:00 AM

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Higher Risk of Miscarriage Found Among African-Americans, Nonsmokers Living Near Busy Roads

SACRAMENTO - Pregnant women who are African-American or nonsmokers are more likely to have miscarriages if they live near heavy traffic, according to a new state study.

Researchers examining health-care data on nearly 5,000 pregnant women in California found that African-Americans were about three times more likely to miscarry if they lived within a half-block of a freeway or busy boulevard than if they resided near lighter traffic. Among nonsmokers, living near busy roads increased their odds of miscarriage about 50 percent.

“This study adds weight to the growing body of evidence that constant, heavy exposure to traffic exhaust significantly increases the risk of reproductive harm,” said Dr. Joan Denton, director of the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), which led the research. OEHHA is part of the California Environmental Protection Agency.

Several studies have shown links between exposure to air pollution or traffic and low birth weight, premature birth and birth defects. The OEHHA research is the first published study of the effect of residential traffic exposure on the risk of miscarriage, according to Dr. Shelley Green, who led the study.

The paper was published in the scientific journal Environmental Health Perspectives. Dr. Green specializes in the health effects of air pollution. Co-authors of the paper included researchers from OEHHA, the California Department of Public Health and the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry.

Dr. Green analyzed data from telephone interviews that Kaiser Permanente conducted in 1990-1991 when pregnant women called to schedule their first prenatal appointment at clinics in the East Bay and in the counties of Santa Clara and San Bernardino. The survey of residential, medical and pregnancy history was limited to volunteers who were no more than 12 weeks pregnant.

About 9 percent of the almost 5,000 women in the OEHHA study had miscarried, which is within the normal range. Researchers examined the miscarriages in relation to traffic exhaust, using residential proximity to busy roads as a proxy for exposure to vehicle pollution. The roads carried average traffic of at least 15,200 vehicles per day.

Pregnant women who lived within 50 meters or 55 yards of busy roads showed a higher rate of miscarriage compared with women who lived further away from roads with heavy traffic. The scientists found statistically significant associations between miscarriage and proximity to traffic for African-Americans and those who did not smoke while pregnant.
While the association with high traffic was more evident for the nonsmokers, their neighbors who smoked had a 10 percent higher risk of miscarriage.

”Because smokers already are exposed through their tobacco smoke to many of the same chemicals found in vehicle exhaust, the effect of traffic may be masked by the smoking effect,” Dr. Green said.

She said further studies with larger sample sizes are needed to confirm the findings and shed light on the biological causes of the effect.

Follow this link to download the press release as a pdf file.

The study can be downloaded at ehp.niehs.nih.gov/docs/2009/0900943/abstract.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: SAM DELSON (916) 324-0955 (office) (916) 764-0955 (mobile)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The appointment of William H. Smith as House Librarian December 09, 1881

On this date, William Henry Smith—a prominent African-American Washingtonian—was appointed Librarian of the House. Smith was a District of Columbia native, born in August 1833, and he lived in the city his entire life. House records show him on Clerk of the House Edward McPherson’s payroll as a library messenger as early as 1864, at the time that Whitelaw Reid (future editor of the New York Tribune and U.S. vice presidential candidate) served as House Librarian.

According to an article published decades later in the Chicago Tribune, Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts helped Smith to secure the messenger’s job. He remained in that post until McPherson (who had left and returned as Clerk) elevated him to House Librarian in the 47th Congress (1881–1883). The appointment proved controversial for McPherson and the Republican majority because Smith became one of the highest-ranking African Americans in the federal government at a time when the hard-won rights of many freedmen in the South were being rolled back.

The appointment of William H. Smith as House Librarian

In this late 1891 Clerk Report, William H. Smith is listed as "Librarian." Annual Report of James Kerr, Clerk of the House of Representatives, Receipts and Disbursements of the House of Representatives From December 8, 1891, to June 30, 1892, 52nd Congress, 2nd sess., Misc. Doc. 7.
Despite some opposition from southern Representatives, the New York Times reported, “the generally expressed opinion that Smith was the ablest man possible to place in charge of the library, and his popularity as a capable and attentive official, carried the day and he kept the place.” Members of both parties regarded him as a reference “authority” with a “memory of speeches, and points made by different public men in debate, [that] was remarkable.”

In the following Congress, when Democrats regained control of the chamber, Smith was demoted to Assistant Librarian serving under William Butler (brother of Senator Matthew C. Butler of South Carolina, a former Confederate general).

When Republicans were returned to the majority in the 1888 elections and McPherson was reinstalled as Clerk, Smith was again elevated to Librarian. He retired from the House at the conclusion of the 51st Congress (1889–1891).
Smith and his wife, Annie, raised five children and led active civic lives. Smith served for years on the District’s school board, joining with Frederick Douglass to oppose the establishment of segregated schools. Smith also was a founding member of St. Augustine’s, the city’s oldest black Catholic Church. In 1892, he was named custodian of the library and art gallery of the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago.

Office of the Clerk - U.S. Capitol, Room H154, Washington, DC 20515-6601
(202) 225-7000 | info.clerkweb@mail.house.gov

Friday, December 4, 2009

Researchers find increased dairy intake reduces risk of uterine fibroids in black women

(Boston)- Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) researchers at the Slone Epidemiology Center found that black women with high intake of dairy products have a reduced incidence of uterine leiomyomata (fibroids). This report, based on the Black Women's Health Study, appears in the current issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Uterine fibroids are benign tumors of the uterus and are two to three times more common among black women than white women. They are the primary indication for hysterectomy in the U.S. and account for $2.2 billion annually in health care costs.

National surveys show that black women consume fewer servings of dairy than white women and have lower intake of calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. The causes of fibroids are poorly understood, but sex steroid hormones and growth factors are thought to play a role. The Slone researchers studied dairy products because of the possibility that they have antioxidant effects and may modify endogenous sex hormones.

Lauren A. Wise

Lauren A. Wise, Associate Professor, Epidemiology, Epidemiology, Harvard University, ScD. Harvard University, ScM. Office: Slone Epidemiology Center, Phone: (617) 734-6006. lwise@bu.edu
The study was based on data from the Black Women's Health Study. The 59,000 study participants, enrolled in 1995, completed biennial questionnaires on which they reported whether they were diagnosed with fibroids. Their diet was assessed at two points in time using a modified version of the National Cancer Institute's Block short-form food frequency questionnaire (FFQ).

Based on 5,871 incident cases of fibroids diagnosed after 10 years of follow-up, the study found that high dairy intake was inversely associated with fibroid risk after controlling for other risk factors.
Fibroid incidence was reduced by 30% among women who had 4 or more dairy servings a day, relative to women who had less than 1 serving a day. Intakes of calcium, phosphorus, and calcium-to-phosphorus ratio (an indicator of calcium bioavailability) were also inversely associated with fibroid risk. Because dairy intake is lower among blacks than whites, such differences in intake may contribute to the racial discrepancy in rates of fibroids.

"Although the exact mechanisms are unclear, a protective effect of dairy consumption on uterine fibroids risk is plausible, as calcium, a major component of dairy foods, may reduce cell proliferation," said lead author Lauren A. Wise, ScD, an associate professor of epidemiology at Boston University School of Public Health and a senior epidemiologist at the Slone Epidemiology Center at BUSM. "This is the first report showing an inverse association between dairy intake and fibroid risk. If confirmed, a modifiable risk factor for fibroids, a major source of gynecologic morbidity, will have been identified," added Wise. ###

This study was funded by the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Contact: Allison Rubin allison.rubin@bmc.org 617-638-8490 Boston University Medical Center

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

New FDIC Study Shows One in Four U.S. Households Currently Unbanked or Underbanked

Low-income and Minority Households Disproportionately Represented

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) today released the findings of its FDIC National Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked Households, breaking new ground in gaining understanding of which Americans remain outside the banking system. The survey, conducted on behalf of the FDIC by the U.S. Bureau of the Census, was a supplement to the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey during January 2009. The study, which is the most comprehensive survey to date of the unbanked and underbanked, reveals that more than one quarter (25.6 percent) of all households in the United States are unbanked or underbanked and that those households are disproportionately low-income and/or minority.

In addition to collecting accurate estimates of the number of unbanked and underbanked households in the U.S., the survey was designed to provide insights into their demographic characteristics and reasons why the households are unbanked and/or underbanked. The survey represents the first time that this data has been collected to produce estimates at the national, regional, state and large metropolitan statistical area (MSA) levels. Results of the study broken down regionally, by state and by MSA are now available online at a new Web site the FDIC has developed, www.economicinclusion.gov.

"Access to an account at a federally insured institution provides households with an important first step toward achieving financial security – the opportunity to conduct basic financial transactions, save for emergency and long-term security needs, and access credit on affordable terms," stated Sheila Bair, Chairman of the FDIC. "By better understanding the households that make up this group – who they are and their reasons for being unbanked or underbanked, we will be better positioned to help them take that first step."

"This survey will provide the information base for future efforts to address the financial services needs of unbanked and underbanked households in the United States," said FDIC Vice Chairman Martin J. Gruenberg. "It breaks new ground in the effort to expand access to basic financial services."

Of the households surveyed, 7.7 percent were unbanked, which translates nationally to 9 million households - approximately 17 million adults. An additional 17.9 percent – or 21 million households nationally (approximately 43 million adults) - were found to be underbanked. Households were identified as unbanked if they answered "no" to the question, "Do you or does anyone in your household currently have a checking or savings account?" Underbanked households were defined as those that have a checking or savings account but rely on alternative financial services. Specifically, underbanked households have used nonbank money orders, nonbank check-cashing services, payday loans, rent-to-own agreements, or pawn shops at least once or twice a year or refund anticipation loans at least once in the past five years.

Key findings of the study include:

* The proportion of U.S. households that are unbanked varies considerably across racial and ethnic groups with certain racial and ethnic groups being more likely to be unbanked than the population as a whole. Minorities more likely to be unbanked include blacks (21.7 percent of black households), Hispanics (19.3 percent), and American Indian/Alaskans (15.6 percent). Racial groups less likely to be unbanked are Asians (3.5 percent) and whites (3.3 percent).

* Certain racial and ethnic minorities are more likely to be underbanked than the population as a whole. Minorities more likely to be underbanked include blacks (an estimated 31.6 percent), American Indian/Alaskans (28.9 percent), and Hispanics (24.0 percent). Asians and whites are less likely to be underbanked (7.2 percent and 14.9 percent, respectively).

* Households with income under $30,000 account for at least 71 percent of unbanked households. As income increases, the share of households that are unbanked declines considerably. Nationally, nearly 20 percent of lower-income U.S. households - almost 7 million households earning below $30,000 per year - do not currently have a bank account. In contrast, only 4.2 percent of households with annual income between $30,000 and $50,000 and less than 1 percent of households with yearly income of $75,000 or higher are unbanked.

* Households with an annual income between $30,000 and $50,000 are almost as likely as lower-income households to be underbanked.

This survey complements an earlier FDIC Survey on Banks' Efforts to Serve the Unbanked and Underbanked, published in February 2009, which found that most banks are aware that there are opportunities to serve unbanked and underbanked individuals in their areas, but that more can be done.

For more information, go to www.economicinclusion.gov. # # #

Congress created the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation in 1933 to restore public confidence in the nation's banking system. The FDIC insures deposits at the nation's 8,099 banks and savings associations and it promotes the safety and soundness of these institutions by identifying, monitoring and addressing risks to which they are exposed. The FDIC receives no federal tax dollars – insured financial institutions fund its operations.

FDIC press releases and other information are available on the Internet at www.fdic.gov, by subscription electronically (go to www.fdic.gov/about/subscriptions/) and may also be obtained through the FDIC's Public Information Center (877-275-3342 or 703-562-2200). PR-216-2009

Last Updated 12/2/2009 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, December 2, 2009 Media Contact: Andrew Gray (202-898-7192) AnGray@fdic.gov