University of Puerto Rico to Create New Afro-Diasporic and Racial Studies Program — Repeating Islands

[Many thanks to Michael O’Neal (Society for Caribbean Studies) for bringing this item to our attention.] Latino Rebels reports that, earlier this month, the University of Puerto Rico Río Piedras campus announced that it will create a new program of Afro-Diasporic and Racial Studies, thanks in part to a $700,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon […]

University of Puerto Rico to Create New Afro-Diasporic and Racial Studies Program — Repeating Islands

“Judas and the Black Messiah” Director Shaka King on Fred Hampton, the Black Panthers & COINTELPRO 1 02 21

Democracy Now!

A highly anticipated new feature film, “Judas and the Black Messiah,” tells the story of Black Panther leader Fred Hampton and William O’Neal, the FBI informant who infiltrated the Illinois Black Panther Party to collect information that ultimately led to Hampton’s killing in 1969 by law enforcement officers. The film is premiering at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival and stars Daniel Kaluuya as Hampton, LaKeith Stanfield as O’Neal and Martin Sheen as FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. Shaka King, the film’s director and co-writer, says focusing on Hampton and O’Neal was a way “to make ‘The Departed’ inside the world of COINTELPRO,” referring to the decades-long illegal FBI program to undermine Black and radical political organizations. “I just thought that that was a very clever vessel and intelligent way to Trojan-horse a Fred Hampton biopic.”

8 Facts You Should Know About Racial Injustice in the Criminal Legal System

Racial discrimination has been ingrained in the criminal legal system from its earliest days and persists today.

By Daniele Selby

Rodney Reed in Allan B. Polunsky Unit, West Livingston, Texas in 2015. (Image: Courtesy of Massoud Hayoun/ Al Jazeera)

While Black History Month is a time to celebrate the progress that has been made and to honor those who fought for equal rights for Black people in the United States, it’s also an occasion to reflect on how far we have to go.

The legacy of slavery, racist Jim Crow laws, and hateful lynchings has translated into modern-day mass incarceration and the disproportionate imprisonment of Black people. No where is that seen more clearly than in prisons like the Mississippi State Penitentiary — also known as Parchman Farm —  and Louisiana’s Angola prison, which were built on and modeled after slave plantations and where several Innocence Project clients have been incarcerated.

Racial discrimination and bias has been ingrained in the criminal legal and law enforcement system from its earliest days and continues to pervade every level of the system today. The Innocence Project, with your support, is committed to addressing these injustices.

These eight statistics highlight the ways in which racial inequality persists in the criminal legal system today and contributes to wrongful conviction.

1. More than half of death row exonerees are Black.

Of the 174 people exonerated from death row since 1973, about 53% are Black, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. Historically the death penalty has been disproportionately applied to Black people in the U.S., and they are still overrepresented on death row. Today, the states that sentence the most people to death are those that once carried out the most lynchings.

Lynchings of Black Victims between 1883 and 1940 (left) and Executions of Black Defendants Between 1972 and 2020.

2. Nearly half the people currently on death row are Black

In 2020, about 42% of people on death row were Black including Innocence Project clients Rodney Reed and Pervis Payne, though Black people make up just 13% of the U.S. population overall.

The death penalty is more likely to be used in cases in which a white person is killed — people convicted of killing white people are executed at 17 times the rate of those convicted of killing Black people. Both Mr. Reed and Mr. Payne were convicted of killing white women in the South.

Since 1976 — when the death penalty was reinstated after a four-year suspension — nearly 300 Black people accused of murdering white people have been executed, compared to 21 white people accused of murdering Black people, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

3. Half of the 2,725 people exonerated since 1989 are Black.

According to the National Registry of Exonerations, 1,353 Black people have been exonerated since 1989, including Innocence Project client Jaythan Kendrick, who was exonerated last year. While these people have since regained their freedom, collectively, more than 10,000 years of freedom were stolen from them.The Lasting Legacy of Parchman Farm, the Prison Modeled After a Slave Plantation

4. Innocent Black people are seven times more likely to be wrongfully convicted of murder than innocent white people.

In particular, Black people are more likely to be wrongly convicted of murder when the victim is white. Among Black people exonerated from murder convictions, approximately 31% were wrongly convicted of killing white people, though just 15% of homicides by Black people involved white victims, the National Registry of Exonerations reported.

5. It takes longer to exonerate an innocent Black person.

Innocent Black people spend an average of 10.7 years wrongly imprisoned before being exonerated — about 45% longer than innocent white people. This racial disparity in time spent wrongfully incarcerated holds true across different types of convictions.

Black people tend to receive harsher sentences when accused of sexual assault, and have a harder time being exonerated from a wrongful conviction. On average, they spend 4.5 more years in prison than their white counterparts before being exonerated.

Black people wrongly convicted of murder spend an average of three more years in prison than white people — four if they are on death row. Innocent Black people spend an average of 16 years on death row before they are exonerated.

6. Police misconduct occurred in more than half of all wrongful murder conviction cases involving innocent Black people.

According to the National Registry of Exonerations, cases of Black people exonerated from wrongful murder convictions were 22% more likely to involve police misconduct than similar cases involving white defendants.

In Illinois, for example, under former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge, police psychologically abused and physically tortured more than 100 Black men and women until many falsely confessed to crimes they did not commit. Several people wrongly convicted by Mr. Burge and his officers, including Innocence Project client Kevin Bailey, have since been exonerated.Join Pervis Payne’s fight for justice

But racial discrimination can play a role in a wrongful conviction case before it even makes it into courtroom. Racial bias in everyday police encounters can often lead to wrongful conviction or even death.

7. About one-third of unarmed people killed by police are Black.

Of the more than 149 unarmed people killed by the police in 2017, 49 were Black, according to Mapping Police Violence.

Despite thousands of police shootings since 2005, only 110 officers who shot a person while on duty have been charged with murder or manslaughter, FiveThirtyEight reported. And less than half of them were convicted. Too often officers who use excessive force or engage in misconduct return to their jobs without consequence. This lack of accountability can lead to wrongful convictions. 

Termaine Hicks was released from SCI Phoenix Prison on Dec. 16, 2020, in Collegeville, Penn. His brother Tone Hicks and friend Tyron McClendon greeted him upon release. (Image: Jason E. Miczek/AP Images for the Innocence Project)

Philadelphia police shot our client Termaine Hicks in the back three times in 2001, assuming that he was attacking a woman he was actually helping. Officers then covered up their mistake and Mr. Hicks spent 19 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, while the officers — who went on to be the subjects of numerous allegations of lying, planting evidence, excessive force, and substantiated complaints filed by civilians — returned to their jobs. At the Innocence Project, we are advocating for police disciplinary records, which are currently confidential in about half the states, to be made public to increase police transparency and accountability.

8. Black people are more likely to be stopped and searched.

Studies have shown that Black people, Latinx people, and communities of color are more likely to be stopped, searched, and suspected of a crime — even when no crime has occurred. Data shows that when Black drivers are stopped, they are more likely to be searched, but contraband is less likely to be found.

Racial bias in policing contributes to the wrongful incarceration and conviction of innocent Black people and is also seen in arrest quotas, the use of surveillance technologies like facial recognition software to identify suspects, predictive policing tools, and gang databasesResearch also shows that strong unconscious racial biases associating Black people with criminality persist — in an investigation these biases could result in officers locking in on a suspect who conforms to the stereotypes and assumptions they hold, instead of conducting a comprehensive investigation into all potential suspects. This often becomes the first step toward wrongful conviction.



vor 1 Tag Die WDR-Sendung „In letzter Instanz“ hat eine Welle der Empörung und eine Debatte über Rassismus gegen Sinti und Roma ausgelöst. MONITOR-Chef Georg Restle spricht darüber in “StudioM” unter anderem mit dem Roma-Aktivisten Gianni Jovanovic und der Sängerin und Feministin Tayo Awosusi-Onutor. Ist Rassismus gegen Sinti und Roma ein strukturelles Problem? Welche rassistischen Klischees prägen die Berichterstattung in den Medien? Und warum führen wir solche Debatten immer wieder, ohne dass sich etwas ändert? Hier die neue Folge von “StudioM”: https://youtu.be/HOL-RvYLzbg

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Joe Ligon was released from prison today. He has been there since he was 15 years old. Falsely convicted in 1953.

Karine Omry RetweetedLauren @BernerAccount6


There’s something about our country and its culture that is very sick. I wouldn’t say it’s “broken,” because it’s working as it was intended to work, but it’s heinous and disgusting. This falsely convicted Black man served 68 years for something he did when he was 15.Quote Tweet

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Ted for stack@TeddyRedder · 12h Joe Ligon was released from prison today. He has been there since he was 15 years old. Falsely convicted in 1953. My 70 year old father was 3 years old. Eisenhower had just become president. 68 years. Today’s his first day out of prison since the Jim Crow era. God damn AmericaShow this thread

Out of a legacy of slavery, can our Church forge a path of reconciliation?

Out of a legacy of slavery, can our Church forge a path of reconciliation?

Our ancestors begged not to be sold south to the cotton plantations of Louisiana. They asked to bring their rosaries with them, some ran away. 

The truth about the 272 enslaved Africans sold by Georgetown University was a widely publicized story in 2016 when the institution revealed its relationship to slavery, and in 2017 when the Jesuits issued their official apology.

Can our Church heal this great sin without reconciliation?

There are no alternative facts regarding the sale of these 272 children, women, and men; the original inventory list is housed in the Georgetown University Slavery Archives. Now, descendants of the “GU272,” who number more than 10,000 worldwide, seek to reconcile a defining part of our history. The GU272 Descendants Association, a non-profit, has chosen to join hands in a bold step with our Jesuit brothers. Our association’s approach is three-fold: reuniting families and honoring the lives and contributions of our ancestors; unshackling the hearts and minds of those who have never been in physical bondage, but who nonetheless labor under an assumed hierarchy; and promoting an effective pathway forward. Our membership is open.

photo of Georgetown's 1838 Census of enslaved to be sold
The 1838 census of enslaved persons to be sold by Georgetown University

Slavery was the original sin of our country and our Church. Our more than 400-year history in the United States has revealed a truth about the Catholic Church’s previously kept secret. Our white brothers and sisters, priests, clergy, and religious cannot piously consider themselves Catholic or Christian while denying their ancestors’ complicity in the purchase, abuse, and sale of black and brown bodies, and without recognizing the sinfulness. 

There can be no denying that healing and reconciling our Catholic Church is inextricably linked to healing our nation. 

The Jesuits of the United States and Canada, Georgetown University, and the Catholic Church have demonstrated a commitment to embracing the reality of our destiny. In 2016, armed with the truth, our association committed to organizing an effective path forward — a sustained movement to reconcile with our Georgetown family, our nation, and our one human family, from the legacy of slavery. 

Frank Campbell
Frank Campbell, the only known GU272 ancestor captured on photograph.

Moving forward with healing as a Church and as a country is an intentional process, not just to learn the uncomfortable truth of our past, but to make a conscious commitment to action to mitigate the effects of slavery and racism.  

Forming a foundation to invest in and support the educational aspirations of GU272 descendants and promoting truth, racial healing, and transformation involves a demonstrated commitment by our Church to heal itself and our country. 

In John’s Gospel, Jesus said, “If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.” Only the work of our hands reveal our hearts; reconciliation is ours to embrace in the Catholic — the universal — Church. 

We bring our faith in God as the creator of us all, loving all of us equally. Faced with the truth, how will our Catholic Church reconcile our past, so that we can move forward?

Cheryllyn Branche

Cheryllyn Branche is the president of the GU272 Descendants Association, a non-profit representing over 10,000 living and deceased descendants of enslaved children, women, and men sold by the Jesuits of Georgetown University in 1838.

Ms. Branche is a retired principal of Xavier University Prep, now St. Katharine Drexel Prep in New Orleans, Louisiana. Her ministries include Coordinator for the Parish School of Religion, Director of RCIA, the Social Justice Ministry, Adult Faith Formation, and member of the Parish Council at St. Gabriel the Archangel Catholic Church in New Orleans, Louisiana. Cheryllyn is married to James W. Baker, III.


Lucy E. Parsons: Rumblings of the Coming Storm — Enough 14 –

A short text from 1892 by Lucy E. Parsons: Rumblings of the Coming Storm. Originally published in August 1892, Chicago. What were those rumblings which have been heard in the iron mills of Pennsylvania and mines of Idaho the last few weeks? They are the rumblings of the approaching Social Revolution which will deluge this…

Lucy E. Parsons: Rumblings of the Coming Storm — Enough 14 –