*Some of the Americans watching Kamala Harris’s performance at Wednesday’s vice presidential debate with the greatest intensity are organizers, alumni and alumnae of the Divine Nine, a collection of African American fraternities and sororities that have played an enormous role in the political life of the United States since the days of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Harris, a U.S. senator from California, was in Salt Lake City, Utah to debate Vice President Mike Pence in a quadrennial junior-varsity matchup that has taken on unusually broad significance with President Donald Trump battling Covid-19 and former Vice President Joe Biden nearly 78 years old, placing him in a group at high risk of infection.
When she accepted the Democratic Party’s nomination, Harris introduced her family—among them her beloved Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority and others from Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
Harris attended Howard University, one of those HBCUs. Her shout-out echoed worldwide.
As the first HBCU graduate and the first member of an historically black Greek letter organization named to a major party ticket, her nomination created a groundswell of enthusiasm among the more than 2 million global members of such institutions..
Carla Mannings is chief of strategic initiatives at Partners for the Common Good. She sat with a group of her sorority sisters to watch Harris’s speech at the Democratic National Convention. “There is a level of excitement that I’ve never seen,” she said.
Since Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden announced Harris as his running mate, social media has brimmed with support.
“Kappa Alpha Psi is definitely behind her, she has our vote,” said Randall C. Pippen Jr., a member of that fraternity who attended Howard with Harris and served with her on student government there. “I’ve talked to Omegas and Deltas who support her, and Deltas have shared the social-media post of ‘Deltas for Kamala,’” he said, referring to the Omega Psi Phi fraternity and Delta Sigma Theta sorority. “The support is across the board.”
Some of America’s most household-name black political figures and civil rights leaders joined Divine Nine organizations. King, Jr. was an Alpha Phi Alpha and Rev. Jesse Jackson is a member of Omega Psi Phi. Shirley Chisholm, the first African American woman elected to Congress, was a Delta Sigma Theta.
“As a proud member of the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., which is the fraternity of John Lewis, James Weldon Johnson, Rev. Al Sharpton and many others, we are grateful for all the members of the Divine Nine Black Fraternities and Sororities who are overjoyed by the nomination of Kamala Harris for the office of Vice President of United States of America,” said Ben Chavis, CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association.
“It’s clearly an historic moment,” said Everett B. Ward, president of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., on behalf of the nine National Pan-Hellenic Council presidents. He said Harris represents a high standards of public service and leadership.
“All of our organizations, prior to Sen. Harris’s nomination, historically have been involved in voter registration, voter education and advancing public policy that involves African Americans,” Ward said. “The nomination underscores the importance for our organizations to continue promoting voter engagement and voter education.”
The Divine Nine experience doesn’t end after college, with members engaging in volunteerism, community service, advocacy work, social gatherings and mentoring programs.
“Once you become a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, you’re always a member,” Mannings said. “We are about serving the community.”
Harris’s nomination “is a nod to the excellence that comes out of HBCUs,” said Inez Brown, who attended Howard and joined Alpha Kappa Alpha with Harris. “Often, people think HBCUs are not up to the same standards as predominantly white institutions and it’s absolutely not true.”
Pippen said Harris was a member of the college debate team and student government during their years together. She volunteered for community service events with Kappa Alpha Psi and was active in the anti-apartheid social justice movement on campus.
For sorority sister Jill Louis, a Dallas attorney, Harris’s nomination has given the nine Greek organizations a higher purpose.
“For us, it’s a bigger cause,” says Louis. “We are looking to galvanize the entirety of the Divine Nine and all members of HBCUs across the country.”
(Kalyn Womack contributed to this report. Edited by Fern Siegel and Matt Rasnic.)
The post ‘Divine Nine’ Will Be Watching Kamala Harris During VP Debate appeared first on Zenger News.
The Weeknd Calls Out ‘Corrupt’ Grammys After 2021 Nominations Snub
*The Weeknd has called out the Recording Academy after he was snubbed for next year’s Grammy Awards.
His fans are giving the Grammys the side-eye after the singer received zero nominations, even though, as TMZ points out, his single, “Blinding Lights,” topped the charts and his album, “After Hours,” hit to #1.
The Weeknd responded to the diss in a tweet hours after the nominees for the 63rd Grammy Awards were announced on Tuesday.
“The Grammys remain corrupt,” he wrote. “You owe me, my fans and the industry transparency…”
The Grammys remain corrupt. You owe me, my fans and the industry transparency…
— The Weeknd (@theweeknd) November 25, 2020
Meanwhile, TMZ reports that The Weeknd’s snub may have to due with him headlining next year’s Super Bowl, but Harvey Mason Jr., Recording Academy Chair and Interim President/CEO, tells PEOPLE that’s not the case.
In a statement to the publication, he said “We understand that The Weeknd is disappointed at not being nominated,” Mason Jr. says. “I was surprised and can empathize with what he’s feeling. His music this year was excellent, and his contributions to the music community and broader world are worthy of everyone’s admiration.”
According to TMZ’s report, Grammy officials gave The Weeknd an ultimatum between the two events, and after heated negotiations, they came to an agreement.
“We were thrilled when we found out he would be performing at the upcoming Super Bowl and we would have loved to have him also perform on the GRAMMY stage the weekend before,” Mason Jr. adds in his statement. “Unfortunately, every year, there are fewer nominations than the number of deserving artists. But as the only peer-voted music award, we will continue to recognize and celebrate excellence in music while shining a light on the many amazing artists that make up our global community.”
“To be clear, voting in all categories ended well before The Weeknd’s performance at the Super Bowl was announced, so in no way could it have affected the nomination process. All GRAMMY nominees are recognized by the voting body for their excellence, and we congratulate them all,” the statement continues.
27 More Black Ex-Franchisees Join Racial Discrimination Lawsuit Against McDonald’s
*MIAMI – Twenty-seven new plaintiffs, all former Black McDonald’s franchisees, joined an ongoing federal lawsuit against the fast-food chain claiming the company engaged in systemic discrimination and denied them the same opportunities as White franchisees.
The new amended complaint now has 77 named plaintiffs in the lawsuit originally filed by 52 Black former franchisees on Sept. 1, 2020.
The claims now include nearly 300 stores with compensatory damages that average between
$4 million and $5 million per store, exclusive of punitive damages.
The plaintiffs allege McDonald’s sold itself as a recruiter and developer of Black talent, profited from its Black consumer base and maintained a two-tier system that pigeonholed unsuspecting Black owners and assigned them horrible locations guaranteed to fail.
This suit comes on the heels of a federal class action lawsuit filed October 29 by current Black franchisees.
“McDonald’s is now fighting a four-front legal war. They are being sued by current and former Black operators, Black employees and senior executives,” said James L. Ferraro, the lead attorney for both the current and former franchisee lawsuits. “As the pool of plaintiffs grow, there will be more pressure on the company to dispense with the public relations ploys and focus on how it can help its Black employees and franchisees.”
At the same time there are calls for state pension funds to drop McDonald’s stock. States like New York, California, Ohio and Florida have massive investments in McDonald’s. In Tennessee, Rep. Joe Towns has requested Treasurer David H. Lillard to divest the state’s holdings and reallocate the money toward companies “practicing good corporate citizenship.”
Ferraro said all these challenges are coming together because the company has turned a blind eye to obvious racial problems while promoting its public image.
McDonald’s once boasted a high of 377 Black franchisees in 1998. That number now stands at 186 even though McDonald’s has increased its stores from 15,086 to 36,059. The cash flow gap for Black franchisees more than tripled from 2010 to 2019, per National Black McDonald’s
Operators Association (“NBMOA”) data.
Plaintiffs’ average annual sales of $2 million was more than $700,000 under McDonald’s national average of $2.7 million between 2011 and 2016 and $900,000 under the national average of $2.9 million in 2019.
The lawsuit claims McDonald’s was ruthless in steering Black operators toward the oldest, most decrepit stores in the toughest neighborhoods routinely rejected by Whites franchisees. This severely limited opportunities for expansion and growth, and far too often set in place a chain of events – low cash flow, decreased equity, debt and bankruptcy – that led to financial ruin.
The plaintiffs argue McDonald’s violated federal civil rights laws by:
- Excluding Black franchisees from the same growth opportunities found at safer, higher- volume, lower-cost stores offered to Whites.
- Retaliating against Black franchisees for rejecting strong-arm offers to continue operations in crime-ridden
- Denying Black franchisees meaningful assistance during financial hardships while White franchisees were routinely given such
- Failing to provide any legitimate business reasons for repeated denials of franchise opportunities over many
- Unfairly grading the operations of Black restaurants, which resulted in poor internal reviews, effectively pushing Black franchisees out of the McDonald’s system by denying them the eligibility for growth and favorable franchise
- Providing misleading projections which induced Black franchisees to purchase undesirable franchises.
The amended complaint was filed with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division. To download the complaint, click here.
Duchess Meghan Opens Up About Miscarriage: ‘I Tried to Imagine How We’d Heal’
*Meghan, Britain’s Duchess of Sussex, revealed in an essay published in the New York Times on Wednesday that she suffered a miscarriage in July.
The former actress and wife of Prince Harry said the moment occurred while she was caring for her son Archie.
“I knew, as I clutched my firstborn child, that I was losing my second,” Meghan wrote, describing how she felt a sharp cramp, and dropped to the floor while holding her son.
“Hours later, I lay in a hospital bed, holding my husband’s hand. I felt the clamminess of his palm and kissed his knuckles, wet from both our tears,” she wrote. “Staring at the cold white walls, my eyes glazed over. I tried to imagine how we’d heal.”
Meghan added: “Sitting in a hospital bed, watching my husband’s heart break as he tried to hold the shattered pieces of mine, I realized that the only way to begin to heal is to first ask, “Are you OK?”
“I knew, as I clutched my firstborn child, that I was losing my second,” Meghan Markle writes about her miscarriage. Today, we are sharing an essay by the Duchess of Sussex about the loss that she and Prince Harry suffered earlier this year. https://t.co/xCJbgPgufq
— New York Times Opinion (@nytopinion) November 25, 2020
“Losing a child means carrying an almost unbearable grief, experienced by many but talked about by few,” she wrote.
“In the pain of our loss, my husband and I discovered that in a room of 100 women, 10 to 20 of them will have suffered from miscarriage. Yet despite the staggering commonality of this pain, the conversation remains taboo, riddled with (unwarranted) shame, and perpetuating a cycle of solitary mourning,” Meghan continued.
The duchess is receiving an outpouring of love on social media, with author Elizabeth Day writing on Twitter: “Chrissy Teigen and the Duchess of Sussex speaking openly about something that historically has given women so much pain, shame and trauma, is a game-changing step.
“I, and countless others, am so grateful to them. Beyond that, I simply want to tell them: I am so, so sorry.”
Prince Harry reportedly told the royal family about his wife’s miscarriage in the summer and they were “very supportive,” a royal expert says, Newsweek reports.
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