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Thursday, October 16, 2008

95 Years of protecting civil rights in Seattle

The Seattle King County NAACP will be celebrating its 95th year of serving the civil and human rights interests of all people. Over the course of the past several decades we have promoted and protected equality in education, housing, employment, voting and so much more. While we are proud of our storied history, we will not rest on our past accomplishments. In the past year we have created several programs that we hope will become institutions in the Pacific Northwest. These programs include:

1. Seattle King County African American Legislative Day. This event is geared toward helping people of color to understand local politics and provide access to local politicians. We are touting this event as a major success. it was held at the Seattle City Hall and in the King County Council Chambers. Members of the community presented issues and concerns to local officials and we had the opportunity to have an open and frank discussion about what needs to change in our various communities. This is intended to be an annual event and will be held every year on June 19th.

2. Martin Luther King County Rally for Public Education: This is event is intended to provide educational access to those that are reliant upon a fully functioning public education system. Through this program we are able to provide information about open enrollment, special education programs, advanced placement classes and college admissions. This is now a yearly event.

3. Police Accountability Panel: Over the course of the past year we have held public hearings in throughout the county in reference to police accountability. Our research has helped to create policies that provide for greater accountability.

4. Health Fair: The Seattle King County NAACP recognizes that health disparities are a significant issue in our society. We also acknowledge that there are some diseases that disproportionately impact people of color. We are choosing to do something other than stick our head in the sand. We are holding a health fair on the same day as our 95th anniversary. At this event we will be discussing health care issues ranging from access to adequate health care to diabetes and HIV.

5. Youth Council: The Seattle King County NAACP recognizes that it is its responsibility to promote tomorrow's leaders. We are proud of our young people that have chosen to play an active role in their communities.

6. Executive Committees: In addition to the above mentioned programs, we have 18 executive committee members that handle hundreds of civil rights complaints every year.

95th Anniversary

This year we will be celebrating our 95th year by holding a special community event at Mt. Zion Church followed by a Dinner Reception at the Westin Hotel in downtown Seattle on November 15, 2008. Dr. Michael Eric Dyson will be the guest speaker at the Mt. Zion event. Dr. Dyson is one of the foremost experts on urban culture and equity and equality in our society. His message is an inspiring one that helps people to understand the complexity of our society.

The Dinner reception at the Westin will involve entertainment and awards for those that have made significant contributions to civil and human rights in Seattle. This year we will be celebrating the King County Bar Association and the Loren Miller Bar Association.

In the early 1970s the King County Bar Association created a scholarship for minorities that had law school aspirations. The creation of that scholarship has helped to create greater diversity in the legal profession. In fact, there are attorneys on the NAACP Executive Committee that were recipients of the KCBA's scholarship.

The Loren Miller Bar Association is essentially the African American Bar for Washington State. As Loren Miller enters into its 40th year of promoting diversity in the legal system, it is important to honor its founding fathers and the trail that they blazed for so many others that dreamed of being lawyers.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~SAVE THE DATE: NOVEMBER 15TH Seattle King County NAACP celebrates 95 years of dedication to civil and human rights!POWER, JUSTICE, FREEDOM: VOTE!Program with Dr. Michael Eric Dyson* keynote address FREE to the community. Purchase tickets to Freedom Fund Reception at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/ or call 1-800-838-3006*for more information on this speaker, please visit http://www.apbspeakers.com/

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Press Advisory


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NAACP IS PREPARED TO RESPOND TO RACIAL PROFILING AND DISPARATE TREATMENT OF AFRICAN AMERICAN YOUTH IN THE CENTRAL DISTRICT AND SOUTH KING COUNTY

The Seattle/King County Branch of the NAACP is deeply concerned about what appears to be a dramatic increase in racial profiling of African American youth in the Central District and South King County. We will be bringing two particularly egregious cases that have occurred in the past month to the attention of the public. One case involves an African American Juvenile Probation Officer who was grabbed by police officers and verbally harassed when she attempted to explain to police officers that one of the children on her case load had done nothing wrong. The other case involves a high school student at Garfield who has consistently been stopped and harassed by police officers. On multiple occasions his white counterparts have witnessed the officers swearing at the high school student while telling him that he will never amount to anything in his life. This behavior is appalling and must be stopped. It adversely impacts the self identity of our children and impacts their ability to succeed. Additionally, this sort of treatment undermines the objectives of programs that are geared toward helping youth.

We will also be talking about the steps that the NAACP will be taking to empower youth and what steps we will be taking to protect against racial profiling.

Presenters at the press conference:

  1. The Juvenile Probation officer that was harassed by police officers;
  2. The Garfield High School student that was harassed by Police; and
  3. James Bible, President of the NAACP

When: Monday 9/29/08

11:15 p.m.

Where: Seattle Urban League Building

105 14th Avenue
Suite C, 1st Floor
Seattle, WA 98122

Seattle King County NAACP turns 95!

SAVE THE DATE: NOVEMBER 15TH Seattle King County NAACP celebrates 95 years of dedication to civil and human rights!
POWER, JUSTICE, FREEDOM: VOTE!
Program with Dr. Michael Eric Dyson* keynote address FREE to the community.
Purchase tickets to Freedom Fund Reception at www.brownpapertickets.com or call 1-800-838-3006
*for more information on this speaker, please visit www.apbspeakers.com

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Join us for our Freedom Fund Dinner

The Seattle King County NAACP has been serving the civil and human rights interests of the people of Seattle for nearly 95 years. While we are proud of our tradition of working hard to protect the rights of all people while promoting equality and equity, we will not rest on our laurels. We will continue to take stand up for what is right.

SAVE THE DATE: NOVEMBER 15TH Seattle King County NAACP celebrates 95 years of dedication to civil and human rights!POWER, JUSTICE, FREEDOM: VOTE!Program with Dr. Michael Eric Dyson* keynote address FREE to the community. Purchase tickets to Freedom Fund Reception at www.brownpapertickets.com or call 1-800-838-3006*for more information on this speaker, please visit www.apbspeakers.com

Monday, August 18, 2008

Come Celebrate 95th

The Seattle King County Branch of the NAACP is the oldest branch west of the Mississippi River. Over the course of our 95 years of service to the greater Seattle area, we have worked to end discrimination in housing, employment, political participation, health, and criminal justice. We will continue to work to bring inequitable treatment to an end.

PLEASE MARK YOUR CALENDAR

We will be holding our 95th anniversary fund raiser on November 15, 2008. We would love to see you there. Please save this date and we will be sending more information soon.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

ACT-SO Competition

Finals and award presentations for the 2008 ACT-SO Program is April 26, 2008, Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center at 10:00 am until 1:00 pm. Please let every high school student in grades 9-12 that you come in contact with know it is not too late to be a part of this year's program. All they need to do is show up with a science project, song, poem, drawing, dance, painting, original essay, photography, or sculpture and get it judged. The time limit for all presentations is five (5) minutes. ACT-SO continues to strive for excellence in our students and encourage them to take advantage of all opportunities to showcase their talents. This year the first place winners will be going to Disney World to represent the Seattle King County Branch at the National ACT-SO. We are still in need of a few judges (science, painting, drawing, humanities, and music), while searching for a few of our past judges we have lost contact with. If you wish to be a judge, please contact the NAACP office at 206-324-6600. If you know or see Simeon Rhoden, Quinton Morris or Marlette Buchanan ask them to get in touch with ACT-SO at the above number.

Youth Violence Prevention Network

The Youth Violence Prevention Network is an organization dedicated to helping youth find creative solutions to violence in their communities. I have had the pleasure of attending these meetings and am greatly impressed with the level of thought that is put into creating an environment in which all people are respected and valued. For more information about this wonderful organization contact (206) 937-0210 or visit them on the web at www.youthviolence-prevention.org.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Free Gerald Hankerson

Dear Governor Gregoire:
Our Washington State Constitution asserts a belief in the rehabilitation of its felons as demonstrated by the very fact that it vested our State's governor with the pardoning power. Further, to assist the governor in the wise exercise of this power it created the Clemency Board; to review and commute the sentences of offenders in the most extraordinary of cases. On June 7, 2006, the Clemency Board voted unanimously in just such a case, and recommended clemency for Gerald Hankerson. In response to the Clemency Board's exceptionally favorable counsel, you "arrived at a different conclusion." This letter, on behalf of your community's leaders and the friends of Gerald Hankerson, and based upon the criteria herein, formally requests a reconsideration of your decision in order to balance the scales of justice.

Clemency empowers our State's Governor to pardon a person convicted of a crime or commute the sentence of a felon, often to time already served. Commutation reduces a criminal sentence. A pardon strikes the conviction from the books as if it never occurred, effectively wiping the slate clean. Gerald Hankerson is not asking for a clean slate per se, but fairness in sentencing. Gerald holds himself accountable for his involvement in the crime, but who, within our legal system, do we hold accountable for faulty jury instructions? By dropping the aggravating factor from his sentence, Gerald would be a candidate for the Department of Corrections Mutual Agreement Program (MAP). MAP is specifically tailored to offenders serving sentences for first-degree murder as a means to supervise an offender's transition back into the community. And the community would only benefit from Gerald's return.
Gerald has conducted himself in a manner both above and beyond what one would expect of a prisoner, and his positive demeanor is not typical among inmates. For a number of years, Gerald has had no serious infractions, has the maximum number of custody points, and is at the lowest security level possible for his sentence. Gerald has paid all his restitution and court fees, and has participated in numerous programs to benefit and better himself and others such as the Concerned Lifers Organization and Youths at Risk. Gerald has a positive and extensive support network in place as evidenced by the turnout at his clemency hearing; even the Clemency Board itself commented that they had never seen such an outpouring of support. Community leaders, councilmen, family and friends, all have invested a lot of time and effort in Gerald. He has a guaranteed four year college scholarship should he want to study, and he has a job with Korum Motors waiting for him. Most importantly he has good friends to turn to and guide him.
If our prison systems are intended to rehabilitate those incarcerated, to restore them to a useful life through therapy, education, and specialty programs to such a degree that they are able to contribute to themselves and become productive members of society, then our prison system has succeeded with Gerald Hankerson. But by denying his clemency, what message has now been sent to the rest of the prison population? What are they going to take from this decision? That positive change doesn't matter? That hard work and participation in state endorsed programs won't help their circumstances? That a unanimous decision by the Clemency Board means nothing?
Forgiveness, leniency, compassion, mercy: these words are the very definition of clemency. The reason you are reading this request today is not because of Gerald, but because of us, your constituents. Gerald would never have considered applying for clemency on his own accord; forgiveness seemed well beyond the realm of possibility. At our insistence he reached for the impossible by asking for leniency, and succeeded, unanimously so. We have seen Gerald grow over the decades, for indeed, a transformation of this magnitude is not one that happens overnight. Gerald's journey along this road of change has been a long and challenging one, and our compassion for him has never faltered. Mercy to those who have redeemed themselves is the right thing to do, and the very reason why clemency was established.
Often the most arduous task a leader must undertake, or the most difficult decision a leader has to make, is the morally correct one. We, the below signed petitioners, urge you, Governor Gregoire, to accept your Clemency Board's recommendation. Please reconsider this clemency based upon what is ethically, morally, and justifiably correct by Gerald S. Hankerson.