Early black lawyer, wife endured bigotry

Posted in Articles, History, Law, Media Archive on 2016-07-22 18:23Z by Steven

Early black lawyer, wife endured bigotry

Minneapolis Star-Tribune

Curt Brown

Nellie and William Francis were doing so well in 1924 they decided to move four miles southwest in St. Paul — leaving their Rondo neighborhood for a house in the Groveland Park area near the Mississippi River.

The 1920 census listed the couple, married for 27 years, as “Mu” for mulatto. Skin color hadn’t deterred William Francis from becoming “prominent in religious, political, social and fraternal circles,” according to the Twin City Star newspaper.

He was a railroad lawyer and she was a suffragette and civic activist. But when they moved into their house at 2092 Sargent Av., just east of Cretin Avenue, their race would render them “direct victims of virulent racial hatred,” according to former law school dean Douglas Heidenreich’s 2000 article in William Mitchell magazine.

Nellie Griswold was born in 1874 in Nashville, but moved north in time to graduate from St. Paul Central High School in the 1890s and become president of the Minnesota State Federation of Colored Women in the early 20th Century.

As leader of the Everywoman Suffrage Club, she helped women earn the right to vote in 1920. The next year, she was credited with writing the state anti-lynching bill that allowed survivors to collect $7,500 in damages, nearly $100,000 in today’s dollars. The legislation — spawned by the 1920 lynching of three black circus workers in Duluth — also punished neglectful police who allowed lynchings under their watch. They could be fired for malfeasance.

In 1893, Nellie married William Francis — an Indiana native five years her senior. At 19, he had moved to Minnesota, where he graduated in 1904 from St. Paul College of Law (now Mitchell Hamline School of Law)…

Read the entire article here.

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Mayor de Blasio says his ‘exemplary’ son Dante follows the law, but fears police brutality: ‘Black Lives Matter as an idea is so important’

Posted in Articles, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2016-07-16 15:17Z by Steven

Mayor de Blasio says his ‘exemplary’ son Dante follows the law, but fears police brutality: ‘Black Lives Matter as an idea is so important’

The New York Daily News

Jennifer Fermino, City Hall Bureau Chief

Mayor de Blasio said he finds it “intolerable” when protesters lodge “vile” insults at cops, but also defended the Black Lives Matter movement as “necessary.” (KEN MURRAY/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

Dante de Blasio is an “exemplary” teen who never gets in trouble – but even he is scared of being a victim of police violence, Mayor de Blasio said on Friday.

The mayor, speaking about race matters on the Brian Lehrer show on WNYC, spoke openly about his son after an African-American Queens grandmother called in to complain that she was afraid “racist” cops would hurt her teenaged grandsons.

His comments immediately touched a nerve with the Police Benevolent Association, who blasted him for not vigoriously defending the NYPD against the woman’s charges…

Read the entire article here.

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A Citizen of Fine Spirit

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Law, Media Archive, United States on 2016-07-12 23:55Z by Steven

A Citizen of Fine Spirit

William Mitchell Magazine
Volume 18, Issue 2, Fall 2000
pages 2-6

Douglas R. Heidenreich, Emeritus Professor of Law
Mitchell Hamline School of Law, Saint Paul, Minnesota

Minnesota Historical Society

William T. Francis was (1869-1929), by most measures, the most successful of the early African American alumni of William Mitchell College of Law’s predecessor law schools. Francis was a skilled lawyer, an adroit politician, a popular orator, a vigorous crusader for human and civil rights, and a respected U.S. diplomat.

Read the entire article here.

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United States Health Care Reform: Progress to Date and Next Steps

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2016-07-12 23:00Z by Steven

United States Health Care Reform: Progress to Date and Next Steps

The Journal of the American Medical Association
Published online 2016-07-11
DOI: 10.1001/jama.2016.9797

Barack Obama, JD
President of the United States, Washington, DC

Importance The Affordable Care Act is the most important health care legislation enacted in the United States since the creation of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965. The law implemented comprehensive reforms designed to improve the accessibility, affordability, and quality of health care.

Objectives To review the factors influencing the decision to pursue health reform, summarize evidence on the effects of the law to date, recommend actions that could improve the health care system, and identify general lessons for public policy from the Affordable Care Act.

Evidence Analysis of publicly available data, data obtained from government agencies, and published research findings. The period examined extends from 1963 to early 2016.

Findings The Affordable Care Act has made significant progress toward solving long-standing challenges facing the US health care system related to access, affordability, and quality of care. Since the Affordable Care Act became law, the uninsured rate has declined by 43%, from 16.0% in 2010 to 9.1% in 2015, primarily because of the law’s reforms. Research has documented accompanying improvements in access to care (for example, an estimated reduction in the share of nonelderly adults unable to afford care of 5.5 percentage points), financial security (for example, an estimated reduction in debts sent to collection of $600-$1000 per person gaining Medicaid coverage), and health (for example, an estimated reduction in the share of nonelderly adults reporting fair or poor health of 3.4 percentage points). The law has also begun the process of transforming health care payment systems, with an estimated 30% of traditional Medicare payments now flowing through alternative payment models like bundled payments or accountable care organizations. These and related reforms have contributed to a sustained period of slow growth in per-enrollee health care spending and improvements in health care quality. Despite this progress, major opportunities to improve the health care system remain.

Conclusions and Relevance Policy makers should build on progress made by the Affordable Care Act by continuing to implement the Health Insurance Marketplaces and delivery system reform, increasing federal financial assistance for Marketplace enrollees, introducing a public plan option in areas lacking individual market competition, and taking actions to reduce prescription drug costs. Although partisanship and special interest opposition remain, experience with the Affordable Care Act demonstrates that positive change is achievable on some of the nation’s most complex challenges.

Read the entire article here.

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Remapping Race on the Human Genome: Commercial Exploits in a Racialized America

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Forthcoming Media, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Law, Monographs, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2016-07-08 02:28Z by Steven

Remapping Race on the Human Genome: Commercial Exploits in a Racialized America

January 2017
310 pages
6.125 x 9.25
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4408-3063-1
eBook ISBN: 978-1-4408-3064-8

Judith Ann Warner, Professor of Sociology
Texas A&M International University, Laredo, Texas

Do the commercial applications of the human genome in ancestry tracing, medicine, and forensics serve to further racialize and stereotype groups?

This book explores the ethical debates at the intersection of race, ethnicity, national origin, and DNA analysis, enabling readers to gain a better understanding of the human genome project and its impact on the biological sciences, medicine, and criminal justice.

Genome and genealogical research has become a subject of interest outside of science, as evidenced by the popularity of the genealogy research website Ancestry.com that helps individuals discover their genetic past and television shows such as the celebrity-focused Who Do You Think You Are? and Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.. Applications of DNA analysis in the area of criminal justice and the law have major consequences for social control from birth to death. This book explores the role of DNA research and analysis within the framework of race, ethnicity, and national origin—and provides a warning about the potential dangers of a racialized America.

Synthesizing the work of sociologists, criminologists, anthropologists, and biologists, author Judith Ann Warner, PhD, examines how the human genome is being interpreted and commonly used to affirm—rather than dissolve—racial and ethnic boundaries. The individual, corporate, and government use of DNA is controversial, and international comparisons indicate that regulation of genome applications is a global concern. With analysis of ancestry mapping business practices, medical DNA applications, and forensic uses of DNA in the criminal justice system, the book sheds light on the sociological results of “remapping race on the human genome.”


  • Provides historical background on the human genome in the modern context of the social construction of race and ethnicity
  • Examines the use of overlapping racial-ethnic and geographical origin categories to situate ancestry, health risk, and criminal profiles in a stereotyped or discriminatory manner
  • Argues for a re-examination of genome research to avoid racialization
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Coin given to US’s oldest park ranger by Barack Obama stolen in home invasion

Posted in Articles, Law, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2016-07-03 17:37Z by Steven

Coin given to US’s oldest park ranger by Barack Obama stolen in home invasion

The Guardian

Sam Levin

Ranger Betty Soskin holds a photo of herself has a young woman.
Photograph: Alamy

The White House is sending a replacement coin to 94-year-old Betty Soskin, who says she hopes she can recover the original from violent home intruder

The oldest park ranger in the US suffered a violent home invasion in which the suspect stole a commemorative coin Barack Obama gave to the 94-year-old woman, according to California police.

Park officials said on Thursday that the White House is sending a replacement coin to Betty Soskin, who works at the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front national historic park in northern California. But the ranger said she hopes she can recover the original.

Around midnight on Monday, an intruder broke into Soskin’s bedroom in Richmond, just north of San Francisco, according to police…

…Soskin received national attention in December when she introduced Obama at a tree-lighting ceremony in Washington DC. There, the president gave her the coin.

“If I can get that coin back I think I can forgive anything,” Soskin told local news station KTVU on Wednesday.

Soskin is well-known locally and within the park service for her talks and tours at the Rosie the Riveter park where she often tells personal stories about her life as a young black woman working at the Richmond shipyards during the second world war.

Meeting the president and receiving the coin was a powerful experience for Soskin, Leatherman said. At the time, she brought with her a picture of her grandmother, who was born into slavery…

Read the entire entire article here.

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Anti-Miscegenation Laws and the Dilemma of Symmetry: The Understanding of Equality in the Civil Rights Act of 1875

Posted in Articles, History, Law, Media Archive, United States on 2016-06-27 00:03Z by Steven

Anti-Miscegenation Laws and the Dilemma of Symmetry: The Understanding of Equality in the Civil Rights Act of 1875

The University of Chicago Law School Roundtable: A Journal of Interdisciplinary Legal Studies
Volume 2: Issue 1, Article 12 (January 1995)
pages 303-344

Steven A. Bank, Paul Hastings Professor of Business Law
University of California, Los Angeles

The Civil Rights Act of 1875, which was introduced by two Republicans from Massachusetts, Charles Sumner in the Senate and Benjamin Butler in the House, sought to overturn many of the bars to interaction between the races after the end of slavery. In its final form, the Act provided that “all persons … shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the accommodations, advantages, facilities, and privileges of inns, public conveyances on land or water, theaters, and other places of public amusement; subject only to the conditions and limitations established by law, and applicable alike to citizens of every race and color, regardless of any previous condition of servitude.” No provision of the Act, however, explicitly addressed state anti-miscegenation statutes, or laws that prohibit “intermarriage and all forms of illicit intercourse between the races.” Proponents of the Act confined their arguments largely to the issue of desegregating public places such as railroad cars, steamships, inns, cemeteries, churches, and public schools. Continued prejudice, distaste for miscegenation among both races, and a declining post-Civil War rate of miscegenation, combined to persuade supporters of the bill not to address these laws in the push to desegregate public institutions.

This decision, albeit a wise one politically, left Republicans open to attack. Republicans argued that symmetrical equality, where blacks are prohibited from doing what whites can do, but whites are equally prohibited from doing what blacks can do, was insufficient to satisfy the requirements of the Fourteenth Amendment. They contended that under the Equal Protection Clause, blacks should have the same right as whites to enter any public place. This argument, however, inescapably included anti-miscegenation statutes within the confines of its logic. While such statutes provided symmetrical equality, since they prohibited both blacks and whites from participation in interracial relationships, they denied blacks the same right to marry whites as whites enjoyed. If segregation of public places was unconstitutional, anti-miscegenation statutes must be as well. Opponents of Reconstruction seized upon this logical extension of the Republican principle of equality to suggest that the Civil Rights Act of 1875 would result in increased miscegenation. The charge became intertwined with the claim that Republicans sought to legislate “social” equality between the races. Thus, Republican treatment of miscegenation was watched closely. Accepting symmetrical equality in anti-miscegenation laws would weaken their argument against segregation. Conversely, arguing that anti-miscegenation laws were unconstitutional might arouse opposition to attempts to protect the civil rights of the freedmen…

Read the entire article here.

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Mixed-race in Oregon

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, History, Law, Media Archive, United States on 2016-06-26 19:18Z by Steven

Mixed-race in Oregon

The Asian Reporter
Portland, Oregon
Volume 26, Number 12 (2016-06-20)
ISSN: 1094-9453
page 6, columns 2-3

Dmae Roberts, Writer, Producer, Media and Theatre Artist

I received some exciting news this month. I was selected as one of the speakers for the Oregon Humanities Conversation Project, a program that brings people together to talk about current issues and ideas.

Participating in the program wasn’t something I was eager to do at first, since I’ve always seen myself as a bit shy. Although as an actor I’ve performed Shakespeare on Portland stages, typically I’m more of a wallflower. As I’ve gotten older, however, I found it wasn’t that I didn’t like talking to people. Instead, I realized I only enjoy talking when there’s an intriguing subject.

During the past decade, I’ve gravitated toward discussing the meaning of my mixed-race identity. While growing up in rural Oregon, there were few people of color. In my small school in the 1970s, I suspected I had mixed-race classmates, but it was a taboo subject, so it was not talked about. Students who could not pass as white, like my younger brother, endured racism. I, on the other hand, who appeared white to others, felt like a secret Asian girl. In my 40-plus years of adulthood, I’ve experienced shifts in the understanding of and attitude around multiracial identity and also witnessed the transformation in terminology for race and ethnicity from derogatory slurs to an expanding list of proud names…

Read the entire article here.

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States of Denial

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy on 2016-06-24 01:23Z by Steven

States of Denial

Fordham Law News: From New York City To You

When Barack Obama was first elected president in 2008, some pundits declared the United States to have finally reached a triumphal post-racial stage, an era of long-awaited racial harmony after the horrors of slavery and Jim Crow segregation. Yet, almost a decade later, race remains a source of tension and injury.

The situation is not so different in Latin America, and the similarities are of great interest to Professor Tanya Hernández. In her book Racial Subordination in Latin America: The Role of the State, Customary Law and the New Civil Rights Response (Cambridge University Press), Hernández examines the racial landscape of Latin American countries and uncovers customary laws of racial regulation that, while perhaps not as codified as Jim Crow laws, are as obstructive to genuine racial equality.

With degrees from Brown and Yale Law School, Hernández has studied comparative race relations and antidiscrimination law for over 25 years. In 2015, she was awarded a Fulbright Specialist Grant to consult on racial equality projects in France and Trinidad.

In this excerpt of her book, Hernández introduces a legal critique of race regulations in Latin America and the role of the Latin American states in erecting and sustaining racial hierarchies…

There are approximately 150 million people of African descent in Latin America, representing about one-third of the total population. Yet, these are considered conservative demographic figures given the histories of undercounting the number of persons of African descent on Latin American national censuses and often completely omitting a racial/ethnic origin census question. At the same time, persons of African descent make up more than 40 percent of the poor in Latin America and have been consistently marginalized and denigrated as undesirable elements of the society since the abolition of slavery across the Americas. Yet, the view that “racism does not exist” is pervasive in Latin America despite the advent of social justice movements and social science researchers demonstrating the contrary. When the BBC surveyed Latin Americans in 2005 regarding the existence of racism, a significant number of respondents emphatically denied the existence of racism. Many, for instance, made statements such as “Latin Americans are not racist,” and “Latin-America is not a racist region, for the simple fact that the majority of the population is either indigenous, creole, or mixed.”

Thus the denial of racism is rooted in what many scholars have critiqued as the “myth of racial democracy”—the notion that the racial mixture (mestizaje/mestiçagem) in a population is emblematic of racial harmony and insulated from racial discord and inequality. Academic scholarship has in the last twenty years critiqued Latin American “mestizaje” theories of racial mixture as emblematic of racial harmony. Yet, Latin Americans still very much adhere to the notion that racial mixture and the absence of Jim Crow racial segregation are such a marked contrast to the United States racial history that the region views itself as what I term “racially innocent.”…

Read the rest of the excerpt here.

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The Great New Orleans Kidnapping Case

Posted in Articles, Audio, History, Interviews, Law, Louisiana, Media Archive, United States on 2016-06-18 20:36Z by Steven

The Great New Orleans Kidnapping Case

Tripod: New Orleans At 300
89.9 FM WWNO
New Orleans, Louisiana

Laine Kaplan-Levenson, Producer

The Provost Guard in New Orleans taking up Vagrant Negroes. (1974.25.9.190)

It was June. It was hot. Kids were out of school, keeping busy outdoors. Parents were inside. Kind of like how it is now, except it was 146 years ago.

“It is a world turned upside down,” says Michael Ross, historian and author of ‘The Great New Orleans Kidnapping Case: Race, Law, and Justice in the Reconstruction Era.’ He’s talking about the year 1870, at the height of reconstruction. “You have five cities in the South that have integrated their police forces, at a time when not a single police force in the North had integrated.

It’s true. The NOPD first hired black officers in the 1860s. New York City didn’t have an African American in their ranks until 1911. This is one of the many things that makes New Orleans a stage for social change in the U.S. after the Civil War. One crime in particular brought these changes into focus.

Molly Digby is 17 months old and playing outside with her older brother. Two women of color walk up to the kids and start talking to them, until they’re all interrupted by a loud noise down the street. The women tell the boy he can go see what all the excitement is about, and they’ll watch the baby. He runs off, and when he comes back, the women, and baby Molly, are gone.

“A white baby is abducted by two mixed race women called Mulattos at the time,” Ross explains. “That story would have been just one of many terrible stories of that day that would have been buried in the third page of the newspaper. But a number of factors lead to it getting front page attention.”…

Read the story here. Listen to the episode here.

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