Tag Archives: Civil Rights

Martin Luther King, Jr. and the story of a boycott that changed the world

By William S. Coleman III

He never held a public office, he was never appointed ambassador to the United Nations, and he was not the bishop of his church. The world knew him as a Southern Baptist preacher who was thrust into the national limelight because he saw things that were wrong and he tried to make them right.
The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. was an educated man who like his father preached the word of God as an ordained minister. He could have been assigned to a middle class neighborhood where he could have conducted weddings, baptisms, funerals and local fund raisers for its church and its congregations.

He could have lived a simple life, not challenging the local status quo or political leaders. He could have just preached tranquilize to his congregants and gradualism to those wanting to live in a community where people felt they had the right to live free. Dr. King, as he was known after he received his Doctorate of Philosophy degree from Boston University, was very happy enjoying family life with his wife Coretta and their children. Continue reading Martin Luther King, Jr. and the story of a boycott that changed the world

State Senator Chandler files Massachusetts Genetic Privacy Bill

The Forum on Genetic Equity is proud to announce that State Sen. Harriette Chandler (D-Worcester) has agreed to act as the lead sponsor for the MASSACHUSETTS GENETIC BILL OF RIGHTS.

Steve May, the executive director of the Forum on Genetic Equity, in announcing the lead sponsors stated that: “Genetic Discrimination is emerging as the bias issue of our time; it is unconscionable that people could be discriminated against based upon their genetic make-up… Massachusetts can move to the forefront by for confronting this issue head on.”

May continued: “Harriette Chandler has stepped into the void in an effort to address this important emerging issue, and she recognizing that we need to establish coherent rules of the road to protect individual control of their genetic material and the privacy of genetic information. She should be applauded for her foresight and willingness to foster this important public policy conversation”

The Genetic Bill of Rights updates legislative efforts by the General Court from the early part of the 2000’s to secure genetic information and genetic material. The state action in Massachusetts is credited with being a major factor creating the political environment which made it possible for Congress to enact the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) in 2008. Continue reading State Senator Chandler files Massachusetts Genetic Privacy Bill

Worcester cop slapped with civil rights lawsuit

BOSTON — A civil rights lawsuit has been filed by a Chicago resident against Worcester Police Officer Jeremy Smith, alleging the use of excessive force during a routine motor vehicle stop.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts has announced that Wakeelah Cocroft, of Chicago, Illinois, has filed the case in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts.

The complaint alleges that Ms. Cocroft was a passenger in a vehicle being driven by her sister, Clytheia Mwangi, of Worcester, on December 29, 2007. The two women were pulled over at a gas station on Park Avenue at 7am by Officer Smith. According to Ms. Cocroft, the officer aggressively approached the vehicle they were in and began screaming at Ms. Mwangi for speeding.

While the officer wrote the ticket, Ms. Cocroft, who was a passenger in the car, went into the station to purchase gas and then returned to use the pump. The police officer began yelling at her and ordered her to return to the car. As she went to the car, she told the officer that he had no right to speak to her in that manner and that she knew her rights.

Officer Smith grabbed her from behind, and threw her on the ground, slamming her face against the concrete, according to the complaint.

She alleges that he then kneeled on her back until a second officer arrived in response to a 911 call by Ms. Mwangi.

The complaint alleges that the use of force caused bodily injury to Ms. Cocroft’s face and shoulder.

The civil rights claim alleges that the use of force was excessive and unnecessary and that there was no probable cause to arrest Ms. Cocroft for charges of Disturbing the Peace and Resisting Arrest. In addition, the complaint alleges that Officer Smith arrested Ms. Cocroft in retaliation for speaking up about his conduct.

The coming fight: genetic bias and individual privacy in the 21’st century

By Steve May, executive director, Fund for Genetic Equity

Scholars call this the information age. Truth is we all seem a little numb to titles like that. However, there is no disputing that in our lifetimes we all are bearing witness to the greatest expansion of human knowledge since the Renaissance. The amount of information available to each of us is stunning. A growing percentage of the information in the digital universe is privileged communications. Things like medical records, personal health information, and lab results. We all expect that this information is handled with care. We expect that the most intimate details of our health records are safe and secure.

Beyond this expectation, we think little about them. After all, they are numbers and statistics, family histories, dates of immunizations and x-rays. Suppose however, that someone or maybe many someone was very interested in the details of your personal health. Imagine that they had an interest in gathering as much information about your health as possible. Would that change how you would see the contents of your medical records? Continue reading The coming fight: genetic bias and individual privacy in the 21’st century

The Education of a Black Radical: A Southern Civil Rights Activist’s Journey, 1959–1964 … By D’Army Bailey

“A strong, uncompromising voice that dreams of a better America, Judge Bailey has experienced the ugliness of both racism and fear. Yet he has not stepped back. What a wonderful life to share.”—Nikki Giovanni, from her Foreword

When four black college students refused to leave the whites-only lunch counter of a Greensboro, North Carolina Woolworth’s on February 1, 1960, they set off a wave of similar protests among black college students across the South. Memphis native D’Army Bailey, the freshman class president at Southern University—the largest predominantly black college in the nation—soon joined with his classmates in their own battle against segregation in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. In The Education of a Black Radical, Bailey details his experiences on the front lines of the black student movement of the early 1960s, providing a rare firsthand account of the early days of America’s civil rights struggle and a shining example of one man’s struggle to uphold the courageous principles of liberty, justice, and equality. Continue reading The Education of a Black Radical: A Southern Civil Rights Activist’s Journey, 1959–1964 … By D’Army Bailey