The ‘Jim Crow Era’ has passed, but the Fight for $15 must still take on the ‘Jim Crow Economy’

moneyA coalition of civil rights groups have filed a law suit against the city of Birmingham that links a three-year battle to raise the city’s minimum wage with the Alabama’s racist heritage. CNN reports that Birmingham became the first city in the South to try to raise the minimum wage for anyone employed within its city limits. Alabama lawmakers responded by passing a law that abolished the wage increase. Every Alabama lawmaker who voted against the raise was white, according to the lawsuit.

DC city council member apologizes for making inadvertently racist comments

Washington DC snowWashington, DC council member Trayvon White Sr. issued an apology after receiving public backlash for comments he made in a video he posted on social media implying that the DC weather was controlled by the Rothschilds, a European Jewish banking family who have been linked to anti-Semitic conspiracy theories for years. Read more about the story at CNN.

Starbucks CEO wants to meet 2 men arrested in Philadelphia store

StarbucksStarbucks CEO Kevin Johnson says the arrest of two black men at a Philadelphia Starbucks was “wrong” and “reprehensible,” and says he hopes to meet with the men soon, The Washington Post reports. The manager of the Starbucks no longer works there, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. Johnson told ABC News that he hopes to personally apologize for what happened and says he wants to make sure it never happens again. The Inquirer  and The Daily Beast report that about 40 people protested the arrest at the store where it happened on Monday. A video of the arrests has been posted on YouTube.

 

Contract-for-deed: A house you can buy, but never own

houseZachary Anderson realized too late he was not actually the owner of the Atlanta home that he thought he purchased. Records showed the owner as Harbour Portfolio VII LP. It turned out that Anderson had entered into a “contract-for-deed,” a type of transaction that was widespread in the 1950s and 60s when African Americans couldn’t always get conventional home loans. The Atlantic has more on these rent-to-own deals that leaves buyers without ownership of their homes:

In a contract for deed, the buyer purchases an agreement for the deed rather than buying the deed itself. The tenant has to fulfill the conditions of the agreement in order to get the deed, conditions that usually include making a series of timely payments over decades, paying for home repairs and general maintenance of the home, and paying taxes and insurance on the property. If he misses one payment, thus violating the agreement, he can be evicted, losing all the equity he put into the home.

A lawsuit alleges these deals are racially discriminatory and violate the Fair Housing Act. Read more about the lawsuit at The Atlantic.

MLK’s protest against a racist court system

Martin Luther King, Jr.Sixty years ago, on Easter Sunday 1958, Martin Luther King, Jr. led a “prayer pilgrimage” in Montgomery, Alabama. The pilgrimage was in protest of the death sentence handed to a young man, Jeremiah Reeves, who was executed in Alabama’s electric chair. The Atlantic has Dr. King’s comments on “A Question of the Dignity of Man,” originally titled “Statement Delivered at the Prayer Pilgrimage Protesting the Electrocution of Jeremiah Reeves.” You can read Dr. King’s complete comments at The Atlantic.

 

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Surviving Alabama’s death row

racial justiceWhen he was 29, Anthony Ray Hinton was convicted of the murders of two fast-food managers in Birmingham, Alabama and sentenced to death row. He was finally freed in 2015 after serving 30 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Now 61, he’s written a book about his experiences, The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row. Hinton talked to Slate about his experience and his new book:

It didn’t matter that he had a good alibi. It didn’t matter that he passed a polygraph test. A racially biased prosecutor presenting faulty evidence that Hinton’s mother’s gun was used in the crimes, and aided by Hinton’s own contemptuous and incompetent defense counsel, won a conviction anyway.

Read more about Hinton and his new book at Slate.com.

ACLU Response to White House Drug Policy Proposal

ACLUThe White House announced a new proposal today for policies that respond to the opioid addiction crisis, including possibly imposing the death penalty for those charged with dealing drugs.

Jesselyn McCurdy, deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union Washington Legislative Office, had the following reaction:

“The opioid crisis is a serious problem that requires a serious solution. But the draconian law enforcement provisions included in this proposal are unconstitutional and absurd.

“Drug trafficking is not an offense for which someone can receive the death penalty. The Supreme Court has repeatedly and consistently rejected the use of the death penalty in cases where there has been no murder by the convicted individual.

“This approach is also disturbingly reminiscent of the war on drugs, which set back American drug policy decades, and codified harm to black and brown people — laws we have just begun to reverse. And like the war on drugs — with a focus on extreme punishments instead of the root causes of drug use and no provisions to address racial disparities — the White House’s proposal will almost certainly fail to solve the actual crisis facing the country.

“The administration has, once again, put out a potentially disastrous and ill-thought-out policy proposal into our national discussion. The idea of executing people who sell drugs is ineffective, and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle understand that.”

This statement can be viewed online here:
https://www.aclu.org/news/aclu-response-white-house-drug-policy-proposal

Podcast: LinkedIn for Lawyers

LinkedInDo you and your firm have profiles on LinkedIn, and more importantly, are you getting the most out of the social network? In this On the Road podcast from the Legal Talk Network, Laurence Colletti talks to Dennis Kennedy and Chuki Obayo about how to use LinkedIn to its fullest potential. They discuss leveraging connections, responding to articles and the advantages of the different premium versions.

‘What happens when the business and practice of law is through with you?’

black lawyer juryMost people go into the practice of law with some sort of goal in mind: be it justice, social reform or other “greater good” goals, or the accumulation of wealth and success. But what happens to lawyers who never achieve their goals, regardless of how selfless or selfish they were? At the ABA Journal, Adam Banner takes a look at the film Roman J. Israel, Esq. and how it illustrates that some lawyers fall short of their lifelong legal career goals. After a long legal career, the title character finds himself on the edge of the “attorney afterlife,” also known as “lawyer hell.” Click here to read the complete article.