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ABWW Signal Boost: Tennessee’s Pregnancy Criminalization Law Will Hit Black Women the Hardest

I have been following Imani Gandy’s tireless work for reproductive rights for a few years. She is passionate, knowledgeable & incredibly funny as the co-host of the This Week in Blackness podcast. Read more of her work of her work  at  RH| Reality Check, The Grio.com, AlterNet,

In Tennessee, pregnant Black women have much to fear as a bill that would subject them to disproportionately higher rates of incarceration and detention sits on Gov. Bill Haslam’s desk, awaiting his signature. The bill, SB 1391, would impose criminal penalties on mothers of newborns who have been exposed to addictive illegal or prescription drugs in utero. While the bill appears race-neutral, prosecutors and judges will wield the law against Black women more so than white women, based on a long tradition of deeply embedded racial stereotypes about Black motherhood. Should Gov. Haslam ignore the growing outcry against SB 1391 from pro-choice and anti-choice advocates alike, the law would likely lead to Black women being thrown in jail for up to 15 years for aggravated assault should they choose to carry a pregnancy to term while struggling with an addiction to illegal narcotics

Read More at Tennessee’s Pregnancy Criminalization Law Will Hit Black Women the Hardest.

ABWW Heroine of the Day: Gertrude Elzora Durden Rush

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Gertrude Elzora Durden Rush (1880 – 1962) became the first African American woman to practice law in the State of Iowa after passing the state bar in 1918. After being denied membership in the American Bar Association because of her race, she and four others founded the Negro Bar Association in 1925. It later became known as the National Bar Association and currently has over 35,000 members. Durden Rush served in numerous leadership roles in the Des Moines area, was a founding member of the Iowa NAACP and founded the Charity League and Protection Home. The League established a home where working women could lease inexpensive rooms. She also secured the appointment of a black probation officer to the juvenile court and a black caseworker to Associated Charities in Des Moines. More on this amazing on Wikipedia.

The British Slavery Bailout

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Since I have ancestry from Jamaica and Grenada, was born in England  and lived in Canada and America, I have a tendency to think of the black experience as global. The English are known for their obsessive record keeping and lately they have been using these resources to examine the scope of the empires involvement in the institution of chattel slavery. A database will be available this Wednesday that details how much British slave owners were paid to compensate them for their loss of property. Slaves did not get a farthing and were compelled into indentured slavery scheme that was one step up from slavery. The documents indicate that at least 1/5 one-fifth of wealthy Victorian Britons derived all or part of their fortunes from the slave economy.

Current descendants of slave compensation include Prime Minister, David Cameron, former minister Douglas Hogg, authors Graham Greene and George Orwell, poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and the new chairman of the Arts Council, Peter Bazalgette. Other prominent names which feature in the records include scions of one of the nation’s oldest banking families, the Barings, and the second Earl of Harewood, Henry Lascelles, an ancestor of the Queen’s cousin. Some families used the money to invest in the railways and other aspects of the industrial revolution; others bought or maintained their country houses, and some used the money for philanthropy. George Orwell’s great-grandfather, Charles Blair, received £4,442, equal to £3m today, for the 218 slaves he owned.

I for one cannot wait to see, how much my ancestors were worth. My mother”s maiden name is Dawkins. Her father’s family was owned by the family that produced world famous atheist and pompous ass, Richard Dawkins. In it’s hayday the Dawkins’ owned over 1,000 slaves. Dawkins’ MP ancestor James Dawkins voted against Wilberforce’s proposal to abolish the slave trade, helping to defeat it by just four votes. George Hay Dawkins Pennant was another defiant slavery supporter. In 1831, two years before the act abolishing slave ownership in the Empire, he signed a circular which insisted: “the speedy annihilation of slavery would be attended with the devastation of the West India Colonies … with inevitable distress and misery to the black population.'” What an arrogant sod!

“Cousin” Richard claims he doesn’t benefit from slavery since he only has “400 acre country estate which barely makes a profit.” I can’t wait for more arrogant excuses from those who still benefit from the ill gotten gains of slavery and indentured servitude. You may ask why do I call this man “cousin.” The Consolidated Slave Act 1792 rewarded slave owners and overseers who increased their slave stock. The easiest way to do this was to was to supply your own seed. Rape and concubinage was rampant in the Caribbean, the diary of Thomas Thistlewood’s sexual escapades detail the sexual brutality that black female slaves lived under. How does one amass such a large amount of slave without doing your duty for King and Country? The database will be available at the  Legacies of British Slave-ownership website on 27 February 2013.

 

Rapists, Beware: Detroit Prosecutor IDs 21 Attackers in ‘Rape Kit’ Probe

Rapists, Beware: Detroit Prosecutor IDs 21 Attackers in ‘Rape Kit’ Probe - The Daily Beast

Kym Worthy has identified 21 serial rapists so far in a sweeping investigation that could have national implications. Abigail Pesta reports on the crusade to eliminate the rape-kit backlog.

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Twenty-one serial rapists have been identified in a massive investigation led by Detroit prosecutor Kym Worthy—and her manhunt has only just begun.

Worthy is leading a charge to investigate more than 11,000 police “rape kits”—which contain swabs of semen, saliva, and other evidence of rape—so the rapists can be brought to justice. The thousands of rape kits had piled up in a dusty police warehouse in Detroit for years, ignored, until one of Worthy’s colleagues stumbled upon them in 2009. Since then, an outraged Worthy has been fighting to get the kits logged, tested for DNA, and then entered into the national DNA database.

via Rapists, Beware: Detroit Prosecutor IDs 21 Attackers in ‘Rape Kit’ Probe – The Daily Beast.

After Two Court Orders, Louisiana May Finally Get Its First Black Chief Justice

A federal district judge rejected this weekend a racially charged challenge to a Louisiana Supreme Court justice’s seniority that has threatened Justice Bernette Johnson’s path to becoming the court’s first black chief justice.

Johnson, who was appointed to the court as part of a settlement over civil rights violations under the Voting Rights Act, has been serving on the court longer than any other judge, and was prepared under the state’s seniority system to take on the court’s top spot when Chief Justice Catherine Kimball retires. An eighth seat was initially added to the court to address racial disparities. Even today, Johnson is the only black Supreme Court justice in a state in which nearly one third of residents are black. But because the state Constitution capped the number of justices at seven, Johnson was appointed to the appellate court, though she served as a member of the high court for her entire tenure.

via After Two Court Orders, Louisiana May Finally Get Its First Black Chief Justice | ThinkProgress.

ABWW Heroine of the Day: Sadie T. M. Alexander

Sadie Tanner Mosell Alexander was a lawyer and civil rights advocate for 50 years who achieved a number of academic and professional firsts as a black woman. On June 15, 1921, she became the second black woman in the United States to receive a Ph.D.; the first, Georgiana Simpson, got the degree a day earlier at the University of Chicago. Mrs. Alexander was also the first black woman in the nation to get a Ph.D. in economics and the first to receive a doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania.

In 1927, she became the first black woman to graduate from the University of Pennsylvania’s Law School; her father had been the first black man to graduate from the school. And she became the first black woman to pass the Pennsylvania bar. In 1928 Mossell Alexander was the first African-American woman appointed as Assistant City Solicitor for the City of Philadelphia, serving to 1930; she was reappointed from 1934 to 1938. She was also active in numerous professional and civic organizations. From 1943-1947 she was the first woman to serve as secretary of the National Bar Association.

Before receiving her doctorate in economics, Mrs. Alexander had been the first national president of the black women’s sorority, Delta Sigma Theta.Mrs. Alexander practiced law with her husband, Raymond Pace Alexander, a Harvard Law School graduate, until he became a judge in the Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia. In the 1940’s, she was assistant city solicitor in Philadelphia. Two decades later she headed the city’s Commission on Human Rights. Mossell Alexander worked in her husband’s law firm from 1927 until 1959, when he was appointed to the Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia. She practiced law on her own until 1976, when she joined the firm of Atkinson, Myers, and Archie as a general counsel. She retired in 1982. She passed away in 1989.
An elementary school in West Philadelphia, the Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander University of Pennsylvania Partnership School (“Penn Alexander”), is named after her. The public school was developed in partnership with the University, which supports the school financially and academically. The Raymond Pace and Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Professorship at the University of Pennsylvania is named in her honor.

Read About More Black Female Trailblazers in American Law .

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