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California Celebrates Voting Rights Acts as Felons Regain Voter Eligibility

ap060209033384By McKenzie Jackson and Tanu Henry/California Black Media

For the past couple of weeks, America has been celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights act with events all around the country.

Last Thursday evening, many statewide and local organizations joined the commemoration with an event on the steps of the State Capitol in Sacramento. Legislative Black Caucus members partnered with the Sacramento branch of the NAACP and Urban league, civil groups, other elected officials from around the state and Californians from all walks of life to mark the historic legislation many regard the most important achievement of the Civil Rights Movement.

“As we see attempts to roll back voting rights in a number of states, it’s a good time to reflect on the widespread disenfranchisement of minorities and the struggle that led to passage of the Voting Rights Act,” said

Assemblymember Cheryl Weber (D-San Diego) who was an official host of the event about 100 people attended. “We need to revisit the history and heroes of that struggle and recommit ourselves to honor their sacrifice by exercising our right to decide who makes the decisions that affect our lives.”

For many voting rights advocates, California’s decision last week to restore voting rights to tens of thousands of felons serving sentences under community supervision makes marking the golden jubilee of the historic legislation even more special. California’s new policy comes at a time when there is growing support across the country among liberals, conservatives and moderates for extending voting rights to ex-felons.

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla made the announcement last week after the state settled a lawsuit filed by the ACLU and a number of Civil rights groups on behalf of 60,000 felons.

 “If we are serious about slowing the revolving door at our jails and prisons, and serious about reducing recidivism, we need to engage – not shun – former offenders,” Padilla said. “Voting is a key part of that engagement; it is part of a process of becoming vested and having a stake in the community.”


All across the state there were Voting Rights celebrations honoring  the efforts of civil rights activists half a century ago whose actions led to former U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act into law on Aug. 6, 1965.

At the largest commemoration in Los Angeles, Peggy Trotter Dammond Preacely, a civil rights activist since she was a teenager in the 1960s, was the keynote speaker. Organizers held the event titled “ The 1965 Voting Rights Act 50th Anniversary Tribute Call-To-Action Mass Meeting” at Holman United Methodist Church Thursday evening.

Preacely, who was a member of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, urged blacks to continue to fight for equal voting rights.

“I speak to all of us, all of you, about how critical it is that we each find our voice and stand for something,” she said. “This is the time; this is the place to work for equal rights.”

The landmark legislation outlawed the discriminatory voting practices taking place in the Deep South after the Civil War. The act was designed to enforce the voting rights cemented by the U.S Constitution, but voting advocates say more work needs to be done after U.S. Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in the Shelby v. Holder case.

The case’s verdict  nullified the Section 5 protections in the Act. The section required certain states and jurisdictions to get approval in advance from the Department of Justice when it made electoral changes, such as changing voting requirements.

Empowered by the Supreme Court’s ruling, over the last two years several states have enacted laws requiring certain types of identification to vote, cut back on early voting days and limited who can register voters.

Over a dozen speakers took to the pulpit at the historic Black church on the west side of Los Angeles and spoke of the importance of making sure everyone, particularly African Americans, have a right to step into the ballot box.

The speakers at Holman UMC included U.S. Congresswoman Karen Bass; Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti; Los Angeles City Council members Marqueece Harris-Dawson and David Ryu; SCLC-Southern California President Pastor William D. Smart Jr.; Holman UMC Pastor Kelvin Sauls; CORE California Chair Adrian Dove; and Bend the Arc National Chair Stephen Rohde.

Other speakers were Los Angeles City Controller Ron Galperin, Los Angeles Urban League President and CEO Nolan Rollins and SCLC-Southern California Board Chairman Alice Golf.

The event was organized by a number of voting and civil rights groups and hosted by award-winning actor and singer Keith David. SCLC Freedom Singers and the Own Your Voice|Own Your Vote Ensemble performed during the two-hour tribute.

Congresswoman Bass, the Democrat whose district is in the greater Los Angeles area, called the Supreme Court’s judgement two years ago a mistake.  She is supporting the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2015. The bill aims to amend the Voting Rights Act of 1965 with a key provision that would limit the power states have to amend federal voting laws. This bill is making its way through the United States House of Representatives.

Roxanne Williams Announces ‘100 Day Plan’ to Fix San Bernardino

Roxanne Williams

Roxanne Williams

SAN BERNARDINO, CA- On Tuesday, August 11, Roxanne Williams, educator and candidate for the ward six seat on the San Bernardino City Council announced her plan for her first 100 days in office.

The plan is geared toward ensuring communities in San Bernardino feel safe, get vital services and that San Bernardino has a revitalized economic environment. Williams will be a voice for working families. As a member of the city council, she will fight to create jobs in San Bernardino, and restore fiscally sound management to the city –including improved basic services, stopping the threats of the closure of our community centers, libraries and parks, and fixing the potholes and street lights. Her detailed 100 day plan is the first and only among contenders for Ward 6 and is designed to address these critical problems.

“Obviously, we can’t solve everything in the first 100 days, but we can certainly have real conversation and create plans in order to put San Bernardino back on track,” said Roxanne Williams. “We have so much potential in San Bernardino, but we can’t lift our people up if we don’t protect our families, fix our finances and balance our budget, which I hope to bring my experience balancing budgets to this office.”

Williams was a Teacher of the Year in 2001, was a Top 10 Teacher in 2011, nominated for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST), and continues to work as a Program Specialist in San Bernardino City Unified School District. As a single mother with five children, ages 13 to 24 years old, she knows how hard San Bernardino families work and what it’s like to struggle. She also knows how to succeed in a tough moment.

You can view Roxanne’s 100 day plan at www.roxannecanwin.com/issues. For more information, visit RoxanneCanWin.com and hear what she’s up to at Facebook.com/roxannewilliamsforcouncil.

Today’s Youth Tomorrow’s Future

unnamedBy Naomi A. Riggins

SAN BERNARDINO, CA- Charter schools were created in hope of improving the  public school system and offering parents another public school option to better meet a child’s specific needs. Charter Schools were built on the belief that public schools should be held accountable for student learning. In exchange for this accountability, school leaders have the freedom to do whatever is academically necessary to help students achieve success.

The Newman Leadership Academy Charter School has raised the expectation of public school and education standards by fostering partnerships between parents, teachers, students and the community.  Newman Leadership Academy has accredited teachers with smaller class sizes creating individualized instruction, additional academic support and intervention programs. They have hands on training and education in state-of-art technologies and enrichment activities such as basketball, cheerleading and gardening. Newman Leadership Academy has before and after school childcare and provides breakfast, lunch and dinner to the students in the after school program.  Please contact the school office regarding space availability. Applications are available online. The NLA is located at 1314 E. Date Street, San Bernardino, 92404. For more info, visit www.newmanleadership.org or call (909) 881-1100. The academy is also currently seeking Teachers and Recreation Aides