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I had the recent privilege of attending the annual dinner of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights honoring Congressman Barney Frank and National Council of La Raza head Janet Murguia. After affirming the enormous progress our nation has made in overcoming bias against people of color and gays and lesbians, Wade Henderson, the very thoughtful Leadership Conference head, issued one of the most eloquent and sobering warnings I’ve heard about the enormous dangers to America’s democracy we face today. We must heed and act upon his words.
On June 16th, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio is hosting a Juneteenth celebration commemorating the jubilant day in 1865 when the last Black slaves got word they were free more than two and a half years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. On June 17th, labor, civil rights, education, and community leaders, child advocates, and citizens are joining together in a silent march in New York City to protest the New York Police Department’s “stop and frisk” policing tactics. These two events cover very different places and times but are connected as part of the slow, hard and unfinished journey towards freedom and racial justice in our nation. Although we have come a very long way on the arduous road from slavery to freedom, we still have a long way to go.
The latest edition of UNICEF's report on child poverty showed the United States ranks second out of 35 developed countries on the scale of what economists call “relative child poverty” with 23.1 percent of its children living in poverty. Only Romania ranked higher. It was another shameful reminder that, as economist Sheldon Danziger put it, “Among rich countries, the U.S. is exceptional. We are exceptional in our tolerance of poverty.”
When Kyla was in the third grade, she failed the state-required end-of-grade tests at her Charlotte, North Carolina elementary school. Her grandmother was worried that summer school wouldn’t be fun, but then she heard about the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) Freedom Schools® program, and she knew Kyla...
This Father’s Day, June 17th, the Children’s Defense Fund-New York and I will be joining George Gresham, President of 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East and the Children’s Defense Fund national board member, Ben Jealous, President and CEO of the NAACP, Rev. Al Sharpton, Founder and President of the National Action Network, other advocates, elected officials, union leaders, and citizens to mount a silent march down Fifth Avenue to protest the New York City Police Department’s harsh stop and frisk policy.
Summer is usually imagined as a carefree time for children and families—a lazy, relaxing season filled with cookouts, backyard picnics, and trips to the ice cream truck. We don’t usually equate “summer vacation” and empty stomachs.
Since childhood, 21-year-old Ashante Dickens has had a clear goal: “I want to be an elementary school teacher. That’s my passion.” She got good grades in school, and did well enough in high school to be allowed to take a few early enrollment classes at a nearby college in early childhood education. She was on the road to realizing her dream when a family problem changed her course.
The growth in hate groups and the use of their divisive and negative language in the mainstream political and media arena is cause for national alarm. Already this year several horrendous hate crimes, possible hate crimes, and crimes committed by people with ties to hate groups have received national attention.
Five-year-old Kamari and his three-year-old brother Shamarr clown around in the dining room of the YWCA Family Center in Columbus, Ohio. They and their mother, Stekeshia Harris, slept on cots in the shelter’s library for their first three nights there because there were so many homeless families needing shelter—a 330 percent increase from two years ago.
This week has been a devastating one for children and the poor. It began with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops urging members of the House of Representatives Agriculture Committee for “moral and human reasons” to “protect programs that serve poor and hungry people over subsidies that assist large and relatively well-off agricultural enterprises.”