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Daily Archives: February 23, 2020
Posted: February 23, 2020 at 6:46 am
and I will be heard.
Last week, I wrote on Reverend William Wylie Harper and his efforts to abolitionize Mason County, efforts that had the support of Editor Tippett and were finally successful when West Virginia abolished slavery in 1864. He, however, was not the first abolitionist, nor the last.
The abolitionist movement in the United States began even before the American Revolution, primarily among the Mennonites and Quakers. In 1775, the Pennsylvania Abolition Society was founded as the first organization dedicated to the abolition of slavery, and in 1790, that group was the first to take a public stand and petition Congress to ban slavery.
In 1777, Vermont became the first state to abolish slavery while still the independent Vermont Republic. In 1780, Pennsylvania enacted the Gradual Abolition Act, which gradually ended slavery by freeing any children born to slaves after that date. By 1804, gradual abolition was enacted throughout the Northeast, and slavery was banned in the Northwest Territory (the area that became Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin).
That effectively ended slavery north of the Ohio River and Mason-Dixon Line, though the process of gradual abolition took decades to fully abolish slavery. But, by spreading the end of slavery out over several decades and thereby minimizing the impact on the economy, these efforts gained the support of anti-slavery men such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Quincy Adams, and later, Abraham Lincoln.
If those leaders had their way, gradual abolition would have spread into the South until slavery eventually died on its own. Of course, we know now that this did not happen. Virginia came close several times, but the economy of the Deep South was too reliant on slavery for it to end. This gave rise to the abolitionists, those who called for slavery to be unconditionally and immediately abolished.
As a movement, abolitionism was born in the 1820s, amid the Second Great Awakening. Alongside the growth of the Methodist and Baptist Churches, and particularly after its inclusion as one of the Methodist works of piety, opposition to slavery became much more than just an economic debate. It was a war for the soul of the nation.
Methodist and Baptist ministers fought this war from the pulpit, but it was clear that more was necessary, and other ministers took their preaching to the newspapers and meeting halls. The foremost of these ministers of abolitionism was William Lloyd Garrison.
Though he began his career as a supporter of gradual abolition, he soon realized that would not work. With years of experience in publishing, he joined Benjamin Lundy as co-editor of an abolitionist newspapers in 1829. After a brief stint in jail, he began his own newspaper in 1831.
It was in the first issue of that paper, The Liberator, that Garrison wrote, I am in earnestI will not equivocateI will not excuseI will not retreat a single inchand I will be heard. From that moment, Garrison was the unquestioned spokesman for the abolitionists.
By 1832, Garrison had enough support to organize the New England Anti-Slavery Society, which only a year later joined ten other organizations to form the American Anti-Slavery Society. Through those organizations, Garrison recruited talented orators to advance the abolitionist cause.
Some of these speakers included Angelina and Sarah Grimke, daughters of a South Carolina slave owner, and escaped slave Frederick Douglass. Together with Garrison, whom Douglass himself said spoke as if his words were full of holy fire, they could abolitionize just about any crowd.
Other Garrisonians, as they came to be called, included noted lawyer Wendell Philips and suffragettes Susan B. Anthony, Abby Kelley Foster, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Those four supporters, along with the Grimke sisters, were instrumental in convincing Garrison that African-American suffrage and womens suffrage were one and the same, and from 1837, The Liberator dedicated itself to both causes.
By 1838, the American Anti-Slavery Society had over 250,000 members and real political influence. That influence was a threat, and Garrison himself was threatened with lynching and a bounty in Georgia. Churches and schools supporting abolitionists were burned to the ground, abolitionists were imprisoned, and some, such as Reverend Elijah Lovejoy, were murdered in cold blood.
Nonetheless, they continued their fight, though they had little luck getting any abolitionist bills through Congress as long as the Southern states had a say in the matter. It wasnt until the midst of the Civil War, after the South had given up its seats in Congress, that their goals were realized.
On January 1st, 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves in areas under control of the Union Army. A step in the right direction, the Proclamation gained national support and paved the way for the 13th Amendment. With its ratification in December of 1865, slavery was abolished in its entirety. The fight for suffrage, however, continued.
Information from more sources than are possible to list here, but prominent among them is Henry Mayers All on Fire, a biography of William Lloyd Garrison.
The next meeting of the Mason County Historical and Preservation Society will be Saturday, March 14 at 5 p.m. at the Mason County Library.
Chris Rizer is president of the Mason County Historical and Preservation Society, reach him at email@example.com.
Posted: at 6:46 am
Have our local industrial units grown strong enough to face competition from other players in the field and function under the doctrine of level playing field despite having enjoyed some sort of state protectionism for quite some? What are the reasons for our industrial sector not picking up satisfactorily despite availability of liberal credit from Banking and other Financial Institutions ? Has the need arisen to introduce advanced technology and better professional management of the units ? These are a few questions haunting the local industrial sector and needing attention and resolution . Added to the scenario is such a factor which is laced with and resulting in showering benefits on many but causing lot of anxiety to various industrial units in our UT of Jammu and Kashmir. That is abolition of Toll Tax at Lakhanpur, Railway Stations and at Airports in Jammu and Kashmir.This abolition will result in the influx of goods and services from across the country at competitive prices much to the detriment of the local entrepreneurs interests many of whom fear that some units would definitely be grossly disadvantaged and many might not reach even breakeven point or in other words, the sale proceeds would not cover even its expenses. It is not that the Government, which by the decision of foregoing taxes, would be incurring an annual loss of revenue to the extent of over Rs. 1500 crore, is not conscious of the impending impact on the local industrial units . To look into the entire gamut of things post abolition of Toll tax , it constituted a high powered committee to assess the extent of impact. However, as is wont with most of such constituted committees , especially decorated as High Powered , timelines are never met , so turned out to be the Committee under reference which failed to submit its report to the Government within one month.With such casual approach, not only are the affected entrepreneurs jittery but it makes the oft repeated claims of the Government look prosaic that it was committed to the development of vibrant, modern and competitive industrial and manufacturing sector in Jammu and Kashmir. By convening just a meeting since constituting of this Committee evidences that seriousness accorded to the subject was in utter deficit. General Administration Department should arrange putting in place a system of monitoring of such committees performance from time to time by way of establishing a separate cell mandated to pursue the level of developments in all such cases . Some sort of arrangement , at least , for those units which were vulnerable to suffer on account of abolition of Toll Tax should be arrived at towards which, the Government must pay due attention.We reiterate that since a large work force -both technical and non technical was engaged in the local industrial sector thus being employer of hundreds of such people , every care should be taken that those workers did not lose their livelihood in case the stiff competition from other traders and manufacturers from outside Jammu and Kashmir as a consequence of abolishing of the Toll Tax resulted in affecting the working of the industrial units. Local Industrial Associations as well as Federation of Industries, Jammu are opposing the decision to do away with Toll Tax which would not wholly benefit the consumer but would definitely hamper the working of the units. Therefore, it is in the fitness of things, at the outset, the Committee submitted its report and recommendations to the Government at an early date so that it took some concrete decisions in the matter.
The Leading Daily of Jammu and Kashmir , India
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Posted: at 6:46 am
Alexandra Joye Warren
Alexandra Joye Warren dances during a rehearsal at Greensboro Cultural Center in Greensboro. In 2014, Warren created Joyemovement to give professional dancers in this region an opportunity to continue performing professionally.
Warren'smission is to tell the stories of the African Diaspora and explore the Afro-Future through dance.
When did you form your dance company?After living in New York for about seven years, I moved to Greensboro with my husband and infant daughter. After about a year, I became restless with wanting to perform the work I was beginning to create in New York. In New York, I was fortunate to work with women of the Urban Bush Women lineage like Christal Brown and Paloma McGregor and other women choreographers who told powerful stories with their choreography.
In 2014, I decided to create Joyemovement to give professional dancers in this region an opportunity to continue performing professionally.
Why did you want to form a dance company?Around 2013 when the trial of George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin was happening, I began to feel enraged. I had all of these questions and frustrations and I needed to work out how I was processing what was happening in the world, what happened in the past and what was continuing to happen. I knew I could only do that through choreography. This was another major reason I began Joyemovement.
What styles of dance did you perform?I focus on performing and creating contemporary/modern dance work. I also infuse West African movement principles into my contemporary work as well.
What dancer do you admire?There are so many. But the first time I saw Alicia Graf Mack when she was in the Dance Theater of Harlem on a field trip to the Kennedy Center when I was in high school I began to follow her career. I've seen her perform many times when she was with the Ailey Company and now she is a mom and the director of dance at Juilliard. I love how she keeps evolving. That inspires me.
What brings you joy?I love to read. When I was a child I always had too much energy and a defiant spirit, so I used to get grounded often for some reason or another. The only thing I was allowed to do was read. I long for those days now of lying in bed with my book light and just reading for hours. I recently joined the Well-Read Black Girl book club chapter in Greensboro. I also love listening to podcasts, snuggling up with my little ones and talking to my husband until the wee hours of the night.
How does this area play a role in your art?One of my mentors once challenged me to think about whether this region would be ready for the work I wanted to create or viable for a dance company. Greensboro has an amazing artists' community of nationally-recognized artists and presenters who are able to bring other nationally-recognized artists either here or nearby. Because of all the universities and colleges and several excellent dance programs from K-12 and in higher ed, dancers want the option to make their home here and not have to go to another city to continue their dance career.
What are you working on right now?I'm currently in development of a three-part piece which will premiere over the next few years. "A Wicked Silence" is a dance exploration of the consequences of the eugenics program in North Carolina. From 1919-1977, there was forced sterilization of patients of publicly-funded institutions that were judged to be "'mentally defective or feeble-minded' by authorities which later evolved into impoverished populations. This dance performance project will bring these stories to light in the context of new policies that are being proposed, which greatly affect the life and liberty of the poor in the 21st century.
What is your dream for your dance company?My goal is to reach as many audience members as we possibly can. I want to regularly tour the United States and perform internationally. I would like the company to be financially stable to support the dancers as a full-time job with benefits (which currently doesn't happen).
What is the best way for an audience to view a dance performance?I think it depends on the work. I am currently interested in creating intimate settings for my work and also figuring out how to make more come alive outdoors. I like for the audience to feel the dancers' energy and possibly internal emotion. That sometimes happens best in different settings like a bar, an art gallery, in the woods, etc.
Wesley Williams says My dream is to build a reputation of bringing the best out of the artist I work with even when they dont get it at the time.
Suah African Dance Theatre, http://www.facebook.com/SuahADT
From the time of his high school days, dance has called out to Wesley Williams.
Since 1998, the former college football player has led his own professional dance company first as Wesley Williams Urban Dance Theatre, then since 2012 as Suah African Dance Theatre.
These days, he does more drumming than dancing in the troupe that performs traditional West African drum and dance along with contemporary African dance. But his company continues to thrive.
Why did you want to form a dance company? To push black art and to release the creative side of me.
What has been the greatest challenge? Finances were a big issue in the beginning, but then finding professional-level dancers who can and will put in the necessary time to be the best they can be. Most dancers dont know the level of work required to be a professional.
What has been the most unexpected surprise? Artists who want to be paid for their art but dont know their craft.
What brings you joy? Having a brief thought about something small and in a few months seeing it evolve and performed on stage in a big way.
What dancer do you admire?Youssouf Koumbassa is the only dancer/performer I know from Africa who uses body movement to convey a internal message. He can interpret your insecurities and reflect it back to you in a non-verbal manner. In doing so, he does it with fluidity and conviction. His movement vocabulary challenges individual self-doubt.
What advice would you give other black dance companies? Stop paying artists for what they have done or even what they know. Instead, hold them accountable and pay them for their present time.
How does this area play a role in your art? This area plays a big roll because it doesnt have a Traditional African dance and drum company readily accessible and available as much as my company. Therefore, work for my company is plentiful right now.
What are you working on right now? My company's very first and North Carolinas largest African drum and dance conference to date. It will be a three-day event, including A-level dance and drum classes taught by celebrity natives from America and Africa. This event will have a health and wellness fair with African-style vending and vegan food and nutritional information for all to indulge in. This event will take place March 20-22 at the Greensboro Cultural Center.
What is your dream for your dance company? My dream is to build a reputation of bringing the best out of the artist I work with even when they dont get it at the time.
What is the best way for an audience to view a dance performance?I think approaching dance performances as theater is more effective when you try and connect what you see and hear with what you see and hear in your everyday world. Depending on how interesting your everyday world is, thats when you began to journey with the choreographer. Otherwise its just entertainment for someone who may or may not want to be entertained. But I feel that everyone wants to go on a journey.
Princess Johnson of Royal Expressions Contemporary Ballet is working on two productions. One will be an artists showcase for Juneteenth.
Royal Expressions Contemporary Ballet, http://www.royalexpressions.org
Royal Expressions operates a professional dance company, along with a school of dance and outreach dance programs for the community.
But supporting the professional dance company remains a struggle, even after 10 years. While Royal Expressions' school of dance continues to operate in Battleground Avenue studios, its professional dance company has been on hiatus since February 2018.
Johnson wants to raise more money so that its artists are paid for their studio rehearsal and performance time. "We want to be leaders in creating a dance company that supports its artists," she said.
The good news: Royal Expressions Johnson plans to relaunch the company in June in celebration of Juneteenth.
The holiday commemorates the June 19, 1865, announcement of the abolition of slavery in Texas, and the emancipation of enslaved African Americans throughout the former Confederate states.
What styles of dance did you perform? We are "contemporary ballet." We use both terms loosely. Ballet is in reference to telling stories through movement, not the style of dance. Contemporary is representative of any and all forms of dance. We do not want to limit ourselves and it keeps the audience surprised. We have included tap, jazz, contemporary, modern, African, ballet and pointe in our repertoire. You never know what style you will see. But what you will see is passion and high energy oozing from our dancers to the audience.
Why did you want to form a dance company?I started Royal Expressions Contemporary Ballet because I wanted to create a place for dancers to explore dance in a supportive learning environment, as well as choreograph shows that are meaningful and thought-provoking. Growing up in Greensboro, I never saw dancers that looked like me or had my story. I didn't get the traditional studio training from 2 years and up. I was an outreach kid. I thrived in dance the best I could through choreography and improvisation, but my technique was lacking.
I was determined to learn as much as I could and went to UNCG to major in dance. After auditioning and not getting in three times, I had a teacher, Eluza Santos, who wrote a letter so that I could continue my dance studies as a major. Through this experience, I was determined to make sure students who have a passion for dance have access to dance whether in a studio setting or in an outreach setting.
This spills over into our professional company that creates professional, paid performance opportunities for artists who would never have that chance. Our company is comprised of moms, students, full-time professionals and wives, ages 23 to 35. Each person came to our company looking for a way to express themselves and be a part of something where they feel they belong. Many started out as recreational adult students and worked their way into our professional company. We have produced six original dance productions that tell stories of the human experience from pursuing dreams, to womanhood, to infertility.
What has been the greatest challenge? Starting a dance company from scratch is not easy. Starting one from scratch as a black woman is even harder. I had great expectations that being a native of Greensboro and having overcome so many obstacles, yet still being able to pursue my ultimate dream, that things would have just fallen in place.
I knew there would be challenges, but never did I consider the challenges I would face as a black woman. I have learned recently that it's important that I share my perspective as a woman of color. It's important that I help people understand the big picture when it comes to arts funding in our city.
ArtsGreensboro has been around for many decades, much of that time segregation still existed and we were fighting for the right to live freely at that time, let alone setting up arts organizations. We must remember that it was only 60 years ago that the Sit-In movement started. My Dad was 2 years old and he saw his fair share of the Civil Rights Movement in his youth. Arts funding at that time was not about funding arts organizations of color. Unfortunately, that system was never dismantled. So we find that in the history of Greensboro there has never been a fully-functioning, thriving, long-term black performing arts company to-date. We have not had an opportunity to take residence in our city and become iconic to our city, much like the N.C. Black Repertory Company in Winston-Salem or the Chuck Davis African American Dance Ensemble in Raleigh.
So my greatest challenge is that there is no blueprint for an African American arts company to succeed in Greensboro. It's up to those of us here and now to speak up and speak out about it, so that those coming behind us can be represented and they can have it just a little bit easier. I have and I've caught flack and it was painful at first, but, I've also been able to garner much more true support and that is who I focus on those who want to blaze the trail along with us.
What has been the most unexpected surprise? I think the biggest surprise was when we received $14,315 from United Way of Greater Greensboro's Bryan/Community Enrichment and Venture Grants for our outreach programs. My husband actually recorded me opening that letter. I ran a lap around the studio, screaming in excitement. Little did I know that would be followed by some of the hardest years of my career and it would be a long time before I see that level of support again. I'm proud to say we have something in the works on this scale. I can't share details just yet.
What brings you joy?I love cooking and taking walks. These things calm me and put me in my happy place.
What dancer do you admire? This changes so frequently. I've had the pleasure of meeting Carmen De Lavallade once. I also have a relationship with Misty Copeland and Alicia Graf Mack. But right now, I"m on a Camille A. Brown kick!! Camille posted a part of her story about the struggles she endured before "making it big" one time. I had been attending her shows every time she came to NC because she was like me. She started a dance company because she felt she wasn't good enough. She created a space where dancers could not only be good enough, but unlock their fullest potential. I was in awe of her and saw so much of myself in her. So I commented on the post a "thank you," because I was so close to giving up. She reached out to me in my inbox and said, "I wanted to check on you and see how you're doing." That night she gave me perspective and offered me the best encouragement, "If your team is good, then you'll be fine. Don't quit." So not only am I amazed at her work, I'm just amazed at how invested she is in being a mentor to and a representative of the black dance community. She's still pretty responsive to me to this day on Instagram, so I feel pretty special.
What advice would you give other black dance companies? We must support one another. Share one another's progress. Meet up. Attend each other's shows. Be one another's sounding boards. We must understand that our success is dependent on all of us.
How does this area play a role in your art? Greensboro is home. It's always been my desire to do this here, because this is where my dance and life experiences happened.
What are you working on right now? We have two productions in the making. One will be an artists' showcase for Juneteenth. We received $3,000 from ArtsGreensboro for this project. We are excited to showcase a few professional artists in our city in celebration of our freedom. The other project is still in development and more details will be released, but it will take place in October. We are excited to announce a partnership that will make this happen.
What is your dream for your dance company? Our dream is to have a facility that includes six studios for our school, company and for other dance artists to use for learning and creating. The facility will include a small black box theater so that we can produce shows and have multiple runs of the shows. Our artists will be full time. We will have full time staff. We see ourselves as thriving artists in Greensboro.
What is the best way for an audience to view a dance performance? When you go to a dance performance, don't approach it the same you would a theater performance. It's easy to want to do that, but you should really think of it as a visual art gallery instead. Just take it in with your eyes, and with dance, you can also take it in with your ears. Listen to the breathing, the music. See how the movement meets the music. From there let dance speak to you. There is no right or wrong interpretation. The choreographer will create from a place of freedom and the audience receives in that same freedom.
Read more here:
Posted: at 6:46 am
In the past, Oneida County was referred to as Americas County. Rightly so.
Oneida County has as much, if not more, people and events connection to Americas history than any region in the nation.
From the Great Pass of the 15th Century to the moon landings of the 20th Century and much in between, Oneida County has led America on her quest for independence to her conquest of outer space.
A special national event occurred within our venerable borders. The 1777 example of bravery and courage was evident in General Herkimer s march to relieve the siege of Fort Schuyler (Stanwix). The stalemate battle at Oriskany by the brave colonial farmer-soldiers with Indian allies thwarting the British advance led to the American victory at Saratoga, and independence for a new bold experiment in mans quest for an independent moral, democratic nation.
The route of march of these early patriots is somewhat marked and at one time more easily accessible.
As Philadelphia has its Liberty Trail and Boston its Freedom Trail, the Mohawk Valley also has a similar connection to the Revolutionary War with its Courage Trail.
There has been much support of our local history development with efforts by the Landmarks Society of Greater Utica, The Oneida County History Center (formerly Oneida County Historical Society), Rome Historical Society and others including the present county administrations support for local history projects. As the county historian, I am proud of the work of the above citizens.
It would be a huge advancement for our regional history tourism if we develop and promote the Courage Trail.
It is time to form a Courage Trail Commission to further develop and promote the trail project. This group would best be composed of stakeholders from each of the history groups in the Mohawk Valley, plus local government entities.
The interest and energy in local history of many folks in our area, along with a county executive who understands and embraces such development, makes this a mandated decision.
Regardless of one reservation, I applaud the work of this county administration with the resurgence of the Bagg Square District, the ongoing development of the entertainment district, the development at Griffiss Business and Technology Park and recent news about the Marcy Nano Center, all indicative of a region on the cusp of making a breakthrough to becoming a go-to area for visitors.
One must recognize the positive approach of the Observer-Dispatch editorial board in heralding the good happenings in our region.
There are a number of stone markers along the route presently in place, sponsored by The Daughters of the American Revolution that need to be enhanced and developed for tourist use.
This development would complete the opportunity for promoting the vast Revolutionary War history of Oneida County joining with Fort Stanwix National Park, and the Oriskany Battlefield. Coupled with the Erie-Barge Canalway Trail and the Trail to Freedom (abolition history of Oneida County) this package would then be marketed as a complete visit for those who have an interest in Americas great story.
Adding such significant history venues to the tourism revenue stream is a gift waiting to be received. Oneida County is certainly on the move in a positive direction recently and needs to seize the opportunity to move it forward.
An increase in history tourism could dovetail with the other advancements for visitor revenue, such as: the U District, the Adirondack Bank Center at the Utica Memorial Auditorium and the on-going development of the Harbor Point project. Respect for the brave, patriotic souls of our early years would be an honorable, positive outcome.
Joe Bottini is Oneida County historian.
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Posted: at 6:46 am
It reminds one of the famous quote of former American President Abraham Lincoln, You cannot fool all the people all the time, as one sees the long agitation of the Block Grant (BG) teachers in Odisha against the hypocrisy of the State Government.
As the disgruntled teachers have again warned the Government of taking to streets after being befooled by the Government, wary of saving its skin, the Government has now grown vindictive. In a recent circular by the Higher Education Department, it has been told that if any teacher remains on leave for participating in any agitation, it will be viewed seriously leading to curtailment of salary, pre-mature retirement and even withholding of the financial grant to the institution. However, the move has raised eyebrows as it not just exposes the autocratic attitude of the Government meant to suppress agitation by the teachers by hook or by crook, but a breach of the their fundamental rights protesting an injustice.
As per reports, when the Government framed the 2017 Grant-In-Aid (GIA) order, it was clarified that the teachers and employees under Block Grant system would be entitled to all benefits, including DA, yearly increment and salary hike as per 7th Pay Commission recommendations. Though the new GIA policy was based on the declaration of CM Naveen Patnaik to abolish Block Grant system in order to regularise the beneficiaries but the GIA 2017 order was framed in such a manner that there was no scope for regularisation of service.
Again, before the last general elections, these employees under the banner of the Odisha School, College Teachers and Employees United Forum held a dharna before the State Assembly for fulfilment of their genuine demands like service conditions, equal pay for equal work, abolition of all anomalies in GIA order 2017 , extension of GIA to newly opened schools and colleges, pension benefits to employees and enhancement of pay as per the 7th Pay Commission rules etc.
To satisfy them, the BJD leaders had assured them of fulfilling the demands if their party came to power. Accordingly, these employees declared their support and felicitated CM Patnaik. But after the win of the BJD and Patnaik forming the Government for the fifth consecutive time, the ruling party reneged from its commitments.
While this has led to large scale resentment among the teachers and employees and they are preparing for a next bout of agitation, in order to cut them to size, the Higher Education Minister has implemented 5T principles under which 7-hour duty and biometric attendance were made mandatory. And, as per its latest move to foil agitation of the teachers, the circular issued on February 18 has banned any leave for participating in agitation against the Government.
To create division among the teachers community, the Government is going to make different pay structures for 488 category and 662 category of college teachers and employees. Commissioner cum Secretary of Higher Education Saswat Mishra has warned not to sanction any leave to any employee saying leave is not a matter of right.
On the other hand, convenor of 662 category colleges Golak Nayak said that in a democratic country, peaceful demonstration is a fundamental right of an individual. But the Higher Education Department in Odisha is making a mockery of it by mounting pressure on the Principals not to let off their employees for agitation, said Nayak, adding that he would move the court of law soon for breach of the fundamental rights of the teachers community.
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Posted: at 6:46 am
In his latest book, University of Denver law professor Csar Cuauhtmoc Garca Hernndez outlines why immigration prisons should be abolished, and how the country can move forward without them.
Can you imagine a world without immigration prisons? In his latest book, Migrating to Prison: Americas Obsession With Locking Up Immigrants, University of Denver law professor, author, and immigration expert, Csar Cuauhtmoc Garca Hernndez, takes a sobering look at Americas vast immigration prison network, how it works, and how the United States can break free from it. While the book is part history lesson, it is also part indictment of Democratic and Republican leadership and policies. Weaved throughout are the stories of the real people whose lives have been forever changed by Americas immigration prison system. Rather than call for reform, Garca Hernndez believes that the only equitable solution is the outright abolition of immigration prisons.
Over the last several months, Garca Hernndez has been touring the country to promote his book. During his stop in Denver, I had the chance to sit down with him to talk about growing up near the border, what drove him to write about immigration prisons, and what gives him hope about Americas immigration system.
You grew up in McAllen, Texas, right along the border, as the child of an immigrant family. How has your childhood influenced your work as an immigration lawyer and professor?
Garca Hernndez: My experience as someone who was born and had his first exposure to the world in this border community in south Texas and north Mexico really is why everything else that Ive done has taken the trajectory that it has. As a kid, my initial exposure to the law was the border patrol. They got to decide who it is who gets to cross the bridge that united two communitiesthe bridge that my family and I regularly traversed for everything from lunch to weddings. Seeing the power the people who worked as border patrol agents had and knowing that they carried some mysterious legal authority was for me an incredibly formative series of experiences.
In the book you write that at one point it looked like immigration prisons were going to become extinct. How did we get from there to where we are now?The moment in the 1950s when the Eisenhower administration decided to shut down most of the immigration prisons seems like a piece of fiction today. But that was the policy of the United States government until the Carter administration began to re-inaugurate detention as an important piece of immigration law enforcement. What happened to shift the governments response was that the face of migration literally changed. We started to see a lot of migrants from Asia. We started to see an increase of dark-skinned and poor migrants, particularly from Haiti and Cuba. The Cubans that left in the 1980s were poor people that were often described in the media as being criminal, and the governments response was to take a very strong arm approach to that threat.
You say that Americas immigration system isnt broken, its working exactly as its been designed to work. Can you elaborate on that a bit?If what we want is to help people abide by the immigration system, we could do that without locking them up behind barbed wire and making them go through the immigration court system without the benefit of lawyers. On the contrary, what we have is a system of prisons spread all around the countryfrom Miami to Seattle, Maine to San Diegothat effectively subverts the possibility of people who are going through the process to do so on their best footing. In large part, [its] because these facilities are in remote locations, difficult for lawyers to get to. Since the Reagan administration, weve been piloting projects that have supported people going through the process with lawyers, social workers, with case managers. Those have time and again had astonishingly high success rates of making sure people show up to their hearings.
Instead of calling for reform, you argue for outright abolition of immigration prisons. Why the distinction?I dont think you can ever justify locking up people simply for standing on a piece of land that is on the wrong side of a border. If what were concerned about is people actually being dangerous, thats what the police are for. At best, locking people up while theyre going through the immigration process is redundant, at worst it subverts the rule of law.
What is the greatest challenge to abolishing immigration prisons?The willingness of people to imagine it as a feasible option on the table. My driving goal in writing Migrating to Prison was to inject into the conversation about immigration law enforcement in 2020 the possibility of running an immigration law system that does not require locking up a single soul.
Do you see any glimmer of hope in our current immigration moment?There is more than just a glimmer of hope. The small democratic process is a messy process but it is one that requires hope. In the 1950s, the Eisenhower administration had the courage to shut down the immigration prison system that existed at the time. Its time for us in 2020 to be equally courageous.
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Posted: at 6:46 am
In 1810, at the start of the Mexican War of Independence, just over 10 percent of the population of New Spain was Afro-Mexican, according to the Spanish census. They were the descendants of the hundreds of thousands of Africans the Spanish transported to Mexico for slave labor.
By the early nineteenth century, almost all Afro-Mexicans were of mixed race (Indian, African, European) and termed negroes, mulattos, and/or mestizos. Only about one in ten was still bound in slavery, but all suffered under the burden of a caste system that saw pure Spaniards, criollos,at the top.
Abolition of slavery and the caste system were both stated goals of early independence leaders like Miguel Hildago y Costilla, often called the Father of the Nation, and Jos Maria Morelos y Pavn. The latter had African roots.
Mexicos African-descended people, writes scholar Ted Vincent, had a special incentive to fight, were encouraged to join the struggle, and provided many participants and leaders to the cause of Mexican independence.In the war against Spain the decrees of revolutionary leaders induced Afro-Mexican participation by making minority rights integral to the struggle [while] the decrees against slavery and the caste system alienated many white Mexicans from the independence cause.
After a long struggle, Mexico won its independence in 1821, but slavery wasnt formally abolished in the new nation until 1829. The delay was, of course, political: the independence seekers were a politically mixed lot. The leader who first came to power in 1821 was General Agustn de Iturbide, a conservative who spent most of the war fighting for the Spanish before joining the pro-independence side; he declared himself emperor. It was some time before the more liberal, republican forces came to power.
The president who did finally issue the decree ending slavery was of African descent himself. Vicente Guerrero had been a mule-train driver who rose to generalship in the War of Independence. He was the new nations second president, briefly reigning before being overthrown in a conservative coup. But in less than a year in office, this man formalized abolition.
Vincent, building on the work of earlier American and Mexican historians, shows that Afro-Mexicans played an outsized role in the independence struggle. In addition to leaders like Morelos and Guerrero, there were foot soldiers. In a struggle where switching sides was a big part of the war because most of the Spanish forces were conscripted locals, Afro-Mexicans conscripted by the Spanish switched to the freedom side more often than did other Mexicans.
This history, however, has been obscured, partlybecause insurgent politics were aimed at minimizing race to maximize unity. If anything was to be advertised, it was interconnectedness, as in making it known that General Guerrero, who was visually of African background, spoke many Indian languages and worked well with Indians.
This Afro-Mexican heritage stayed obscure, at least until more recent times. Some of the early nations laws highlighted the importance of racial equality. One banned the use of racial categories in government documents, including baptism, marriage, and death records. The subsequent lack of racial counts by census takers in Mexico is one reason little is known of Black Mexico, Vincent writes.
There is no gainsaying, however, that Mexico abolished slavery three and a half decades before the United States. Notably, however, President Guerrero couldnt enforce Mexicos anti-slavery law north of the Rio Grande. American settlers, bringing their system of chattel slavery from the South into that part of Mexico, had grown too powerful. These settlers would break away from Mexico in 1836, declaring a new slave republic before joining the rest of the United States in 1845 as a slave state. They called it Texas.
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By: Ted Vincent
The Journal of Negro History, Vol. 79, No. 3 (Summer, 1994), pp. 257-276
The University of Chicago Press on behalf of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History
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Posted: at 6:46 am
So the Labour Party is about to turn 120. And what has it done?
It was responsible for the National Health Service, anti-racism laws, slum clearance, social housing, decriminalisation of homosexuality, abolition of the death penalty, equal pay, the minimum wage, devolution, the end of conflict in Northern Ireland, the Human Rights Act and the first climate change act in history. Not bad, for a party that wasn't in power for 90 of those years.
But for each there was a powerful narrative - a wrong that simply had to be corrected. Today's Labour Party is choked by its own mythology, searching for purpose with a succession of leaders without a story voters could hear.
After losing four general elections in a row, it's about to choose the person to reverse their inward spiral. Keir Starmer, named after the party's founder, is favourite to win, and has so far trodden a cautious path that has yet to set the world alight.
But in 1945 Labour won a landslide with the boldest offer it has ever made - to end the 5 'Great Evils' of want, squalor, ignorance, unemployment and disease. It was a huge and inspiring pledge, and despite being little different to the sort of thing many parties promised before and since, was made with such commitment that voters were convinced.
After 4 years of Brexit, the voter is bereft. The Tories are all over the shop, with 3 PMs in 5 years all on radically different platforms that have divided their party. Boris Johnson won an 80-seat majority with a 3-word policy that would destroy the economy. He promised Red Wall voters he'd level up, and now can't look them in the eye as their votes get washed away.
According to the Office of National Statistics' latest assessment of 'social capital', 37% of us trusted the government in 2015. Last year, that figure had dropped to 19%. We have become disassociated from politics, turned off by tribalism that preaches only to the choir.
Labour's resurgence can come - will only come - if it finds a story more powerful than the fear peddled by Tories. It could do worse than take a leaf out of Dominic Cummings' book, and make a brash, fearless offer to do something radical to the system.
But rather than offering to break the machine, Labour should pledge to make it do more. The narrative that is most demonstrably a bad idea is austerity. And the thing the system should and must do better is social care. The logic therefore is obvious: the dream that Labour must weave is to cut the cuts, and announce that it is time to care.
Critics will say it's impossible to persuade people used to tales of Labour profligacy, and mad Leftie ideas from the past, that more spending is a good idea. Pessimists will point out state social care was a key plank of the Labour manifestos of Gordon Brown, Ed Miliband, and Jeremy Corbyn, to no avail. But perhaps they didn't do it properly, and perhaps it wasn't time.
The NHS was talked about for years before it happened, too. It took a war to make us all feel the same. Brexit, and Trumpism, and a PM grossly unable to take responsibility even for his own children, never mind the country's, may be enough to make us all willing to listen to a different song.
There are 5 million carers in the UK, whose sacrifice for loved ones, relatives, friends and neighbours is worth about 132billion to the economy, according to Carers UK. Despite their best efforts, those who need social care suffer from local authority funding cuts, a postcode lottery of community nurses and unmet needs. A quarter of official requests for help are refused.
That all builds up into a massive burden for the services we do have. Longer stays in hospital, more calls to ambulance services, more falls, more visits to A&E. Almost three-quarters of carers become mentally ill as a result, and 61% physically so. It's thought 600 people a day leave employment to become carers, many for only short periods at the end of someone's life.
But the loss of tax revenue and productivity is immense, as is the cost to the NHS. Throw in the fact the care industry - those actually paid, professionally, for this - has more people leaving it every year than any other sector, and you have a financial crash waiting to happen when a growing need meets with a constantly-declining ability to provide.
This week the Tories trumpeted an immigration cap which will decimate the care industry's ability to provide cheap EU workers. Some have claimed this will drive up wages in the care sector, increasing skills and career opportunities. Even if this is true, it'll drive up costs for the ultimate employers - council taxpayers, and homeowners, all over the country.
At the moment anyone with assets over 23,250 has to sell their home to pay for care. Those with less are funded by the local council. But this is subject to local demographics, with some authorities facing heftier bills for older communities, and the only way they can pay for it is to increase council tax.
Also this week, it was announced that the majority of councils will increase their household demands by the maximum of 4%. And all to pay for a service in which the richer, and less ill, are overcharged, in order to provide sub-standard care for the poorer, and more ill. The profit motive of private business removes all hope of fairness.
Priti Patel said the care industry should employ some of the "8million economically inactive" in the UK. Several million of those are out of work because they NEED social care. Others are children, prisoners, or pensioners. And even if every one of the 1.3million people the Government counts as officially unemployed and of working age were recruited as carers, that industry currently has 1.5m staff. We'd still be short, of both people and options.
One newspaper reports today that a minister said: "If we accept the premise that it's the government's job to look after people's parents in homes, we'll end up paying for a second NHS."
But it would cost just 4% of what the NHS will this year. The King's Fund calculates a National Care Service offering free personal care to all who need it - help with washing, dressing, eating, getting out of bed - would be 6billion. The IPPR thinks it would be even less.
And in return, 1 in 7 of the UK workforce could go back to work. The NHS would regain capacity. People would not get so ill, and not cost as much when they do. That same newspaper said "the PM intends to take a few years to consider all this, and see how things develop". That's disastrous indecision. Younger people are less likely to own homes, to fund their own care, and to be in a position to provide it for their parents. The bomb is ticking.
This is a 2-word policy. We care. You care. Labour cares. That narrative would cut through, that story would sell.
The Tories produce bogeymen, then fight them in a pretence of defending voters. Labour needs to be ambitious and show it can find radical solutions to the real nightmares we face.
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Posted: at 6:46 am
Robert Clarke, a senior advocate of Nigeria, says death sentence will not stop corruption because the act of stealing runs in the blood of Nigerians.
In an interview with the Punch, the lawyer said good governance remains the solution to curbing corruption and improve the economy.
He said corruption is strengthened by the perception of some Nigerians who view political positions as a money-spinning venture.
Whether it is capital punishment or not, a crook would always be a crook. Most of these things are in the blood, he said.
Somebody who wants to steal has it in the blood and some Nigerians have imbibed the custom of believing that when they are working for government, they are there to steal. If you are made a commissioner tomorrow, all your relations are looking forward to getting contracts from you.
So, we believe its a money-spinning venture. Sentencing people to death will not stop people from stealing. its in the blood of Nigerians to steal. Once there is good governance, the propensity to steal would reduce.
Clarke called for the abolition of death sentence, saying most governors refuse to ensure its effectiveness as a result of their religious beliefs.
He recommended a minimum of 20 years imprisonment as an alternative to capital punishment.
When a mechanic has power supply to work in his workshop and a tyre repairer has electricity to do his job, when will he have the time to dupe others? Nigeria is so great, with about 200 million people, he said.
Can you imagine if we have one singlet and briefs factory in Nigeria? Do you know the market it would have? We import everything. Whereas if most of our politicians who are stealing money can set up singlet and pants factories in every geo-political zone, the market is there, but we all just believe in stealing.
We should abolish death sentence and make it a minimum of 20 years imprisonment. I believe somebody who killed at the age of 36 and is sentenced to 20 years and comes back at the age of 56 should have learnt a lesson, rather than keep them there.
Some are afraid to sign a death warrant or they have religious phobia that you shouldnt take life when you dont make one. Then, let us agree to cancel death penalty in our books and make it 20 years imprisonment.
Posted: at 6:46 am
The government has this week published a policy statement on the UKs points-based immigration system, confirming that from 1 January 2021 free movement will be replaced with a points-based system which will apply to EU and non- EU citizens alike.
We comment below on the new rules, the absence of an immigration route for low skilled workers and also a new immigration category which will be introduced for the most highly skilled workers who will not need a job offer to come to the UK.
It is proposed that the key immigration routes will be opened from Autumn 2020 to allow migrants time to apply ahead of the new rules coming into effect on 1 January 2021. So there is limited time to prepare.
Medium and highly skilled route for those with a job offer
Minimum salary thresholds will be lowered
Following recommendations from the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) the minimum salary threshold for skilled workers coming to the UK for work is to be lowered from 30,000 to 25,600, with no regional variations on this. The minimum salary level has been dropped to take account of the fact that some medium skilled jobs will be paid lower salaries than those higher skilled jobs which are currently eligible for sponsorship. Employers will have to pay the higher of the (i) going rate for the specific job that they want to sponsor as set out by UKVI; or (ii) this minimum salary threshold.
In some cases, employees will be able to earn less than this minimum rate and still qualify under the rules. This is because additional points can be awarded for those who have a PhD which is relevant to the job, a PhD in a STEM subject which is relevant to the job, or a job which is on the shortage occupation list and these additional points will compensate for a lower salary.
The salary requirements for so called new entrants will be set at 30% less than the rate for experienced workers in any occupation. That means that a minimum salary threshold of 17,920 will apply to them (although a higher going rate may have to be paid depending on the job). It is likely that the criteria and rules in terms of which employees are eligible for a new entrant salary will be changed. Currently these rules apply to employees under 26 years old and those switching from student status.
Medium skilled jobs will be eligible in addition to highly skilled
The skills threshold is to be reduced from RQF6 (which is broadly graduate level) to RQF3 (broadly A level or equivalent), meaning that medium skilled jobs will become eligible for sponsorship. This is good news for employers who will welcome the flexibility to sponsor additional roles.
No immigration cap
There will be no immigration cap on the number of skilled workers coming to the UK (currently this is limited to 20,700 per year for Tier 2 (General)). This will mean that employers will have increased certainly about being able to sponsor someone from the outset of the process. It will also avoid delay as currently as a result of the immigration cap, employers have to apply each month and wait for a decision about whether a certificate of sponsorship has been granted.
Abolition of the RLMT
The resident labour market test will no longer apply. This is good news and will avoid employers having to advertise for a period of 28 days and it will also avoid having to keep evidence such as screenshots of adverts and other paperwork relating to the recruitment and selection process. It should mean a more speedy and efficient process and employers will benefit from more certainty in knowing that they will be able to sponsor a particular employee at an earlier stage of the process.
How will the points requirements work?
Applicants will need to demonstrate that they have a job offer from an approved sponsor; that the job offer is at the required skill level; and that they speak English. Migrants will require to reach a total of 70 points to be eligible to apply, but unlike the previous system applicants will be able to trade characteristics. So, for example, if someone earns less than the required minimum salary threshold, but no less than 20,480, they may still be able to come and work in the UK if they can demonstrate that they have a job offer in a specific shortage occupation, as designated by the MAC (currently the list includes civil engineers, medical practitioners, nurses and psychologists), or that they have a PhD relevant to the job. Over time the Home Office may add additional attributes which can be traded against a lower salary.
New immigration category for highly-skilled workers without a job offer
From January 2021, the Global Talent route which was introduced from 20 February 2020 will be extended to EU citizens on the same basis as non-EU citizens. The Global Talent visa is for talented and promising individuals in specific sectors who will be able to enter the UK without a job offer if they have the required level of points and are endorsed by a relevant and competent body. This scheme has recently been expanded to be more accessible to those with a background in STEM subjects: see our previous blog.
The Government is also going to create a broader unsponsored route within the points-based system to run alongside the employer-led system. This will allow a small number of the most highly-skilled workers to come to the UK without a job offer. More details will become available in the coming year as this immigration route is not yet fully developed.
What about lower-skilled workers?
There will be no immigration route available for lower-skilled workers (other than for example, the categories for youth mobility and the seasonal agricultural worker scheme which already exist). This will be a significant concern for employers who recruit a significant number of EU workers in low skilled jobs. Once the Brexit transition period ends, there would appear to be limited options available to such employers to replace this source of labour, other than to recruit from the UK labour market.
The Government has estimated that 70% of the existing EU workforce already in the UK would not meet the requirements of the skilled worker route. This demonstrates that there is likely to be a gap that will not be filled going forward by the new points system.
Employers intending to sponsor migrants for the first time should apply for a sponsor licence now. Otherwise if they wait until they need to recruit someone, they may face considerable delays. There is likely to be an increase in the number of employers applying for a sponsor licence over the coming months and this could potentially lead to a back log. Once a sponsor licence has been obtained, it is valid for a 4 year period.
What it means for me?
The immigration rules are a radical departure from the current system of freedom of movement- and there are some important differences from the current Tier 2 rules. Although there has been some relaxation of the rules for skilled workers, the fact that there will be no route for the lower-skilled is significant and will be a concern for businesses in sectors such as hospitality and leisure, the care sector and food processing. Businesses need to identify any potential recruitment gaps now and decide how best to plug them.
Employers should also budget for increased visa and associated costs (that are not currently relevant for EU workers prior to 31 December 2020). Those costs could be significant for those who recruit a significant number of overseas workers and can amount to several thousand pounds per head.
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