Services for "Mayor for Life", Marion S Barry, Jr.
Marion Shepilov Barry, Jr.
||Christopher Marion Barry dies at age 36WASHINGTON (ABC7) — Marion Christopher Barry, 36, son of the late DC mayor Marion Barry, was pronounced dead early Sunday morning at George Washington University Hospital. According to information gathered by Dave Wilmot, a long time Barry family friend, Christopher Barry and friends were at an apartment in the Wellington Park complex of Southeast drinking alcohol and using the drug K2 when Barry collapsed and they could not revive him. They called 911 and Barry was rushed to the hospital. According to a D.C. police incident report, around 12:10 a.m. Christopher had stepped outside when he reportedly did the drug. Once he returned back inside, a complainant reports the 36-year-old was "acting crazy/different" when he suddenly "dropped."
Christopher had a troubled life, a number of arrests in recent years revolving around drug and alcohol use or driving without a permit. After his father's death in November 2014, he ran in the Democratic primary for his father's Ward 8 council seat, but placed sixth among candidates running. Shortly before the election, he was charged with throwing a trash can and destroying a security camera at the PNC Bank in Chinatown after a teller refused to allow him to make a substantial withdrawal to pay employees of his demolition company.
The younger Barry grew up largely in the public eye in DC, a child in St. Albans School, when his father was arrested in an FBI sting on drug charges while mayor of the city. Christopher's mother, Effie Barry, died in September 2007. He eloquently eulogized her as the type of woman who's born only once in a thousand years, "like a Nefertit or Cleopatra."
Christopher placed entries on his Facebook page hours before his death, remembering his close friend, AJ Cooper, a budding politician , who in December 2014, died suddenly at age 34. Another entry said: "Never let anyone who has never been in your shoes judge the way you walk."
Officials say Christopher's body was taken to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner where an autopsy is pending the exact cause and manner of death.
We interviewed Christopher earlier this month, after a 6-year-old boy was hit by a stray bullet during a shoot-out near the Wellington Park apartment where Barry stayed with his girlfriend.
||DR. FRANCES CRESS WELSING PASSES AWAY AT 80 YEARS OLDBeloved and renowned scholar, author, educator and psychiatrist Dr. Frances Cress Welsing has passed away at 80 years of age this morning.
Known for her 1970 essay The Cress Theory of Color-Confrontation and Racism (White Supremacy and her 1991 novel The Isis Papers; The Keys to the Colors, Dr. Cress-Welsing was an instrumental figure in Afrocentric psychiatry. Her theories on race, racism, law, politics, and sexuality were some of the first of their kind to be studied on an international level.
Dr. Frances Luella Cress was born on March 18, 1935 in Chicago, Illinois to second generation doctor, Henry N. Cress, a physician, and Ida Mae Cress, a teacher. She received her bachelor’s degree at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio in 1957 and her Doctorate in Washington D.C. at Howard University College of Medicine in 1962. In 1967, she opened her own pediatric practice in Washington D.C.
Her first essay, The Cress Theory, was published during her time as an assistant professor of pediatrics at Howard and according to Welsing, it was the reason her tenure at the university was not renewed in 1975.
Her findings and research in the realm of cultural and behavioral science are some of the most ground breaking and controversial to have come out to date. Her theories revolve around the idea that racism is the result of the effects of varying amounts of melanin in one’s skin on their racial perception and development. Her theories, deemed radical, touched on many attributes of society in ways that hadn’t been so thoroughly questioned and debated in the past. Her Unified Field theory Psychiatry was a framework including biology, psychology, and physics as prerequisites to understanding the etiology of a unified field of energy phenomena that underlined racial conflict in America. In layman’s terms, her theories scientifically proposed origins and perpetuated existence of racism. Welsing is quoted saying,
“I put the discussion of melanin on the board in order to [describe how pigmentation] was a factor in what white supremacy behavior was all about”
Along with being an educator, Dr. Cress Welsing spent 25 years working as a staff physician for the Department of Human Services in Washington D.C. and served as a clinical director of two schools there for emotionally troubled youth. Dr. Cress-Welsing’s authority on melanin related research and voice of scientific reason is one that will be missed not only in the black community, but in the psychiatric community as well. She was a model figure of the Afrocentric scientific community and her legacy will never be forgotten.
||Channel 9 News at Torrie's at Wilson's on Christmas 2015The 7th Annual Christmas Day Dinner @ Torrie's at Wilson's on December 25, 2015.
||Services for "Mayor for Life" Marion Barry, JR.The public will have three days to honor the life of former D.C. Mayor Marion Barry. On Wednesday, the plans for the days of events were revealed. They include a crosstown procession and two public services. News4's Mark Segraves takes a closer look at the tributes planned. (Published Wednesday, Nov 26, 2014)
Three days of memorial events will remember the life of former D.C. Mayor and Council Member Marion Barry. Barry, known to many as Washington's "mayor for life,'' died Sunday at age 78. He served four terms as mayor and three terms as a city council member. D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray and other officials announced details of the memorial events at a news conference Wednesday afternoon.
Barry will lie in repose for 24 hours in the Wilson Building, beginning with a ceremony 9 a.m. Dec. 4. The following day, Friday, Dec., 5, Barry's body will be taken by public procession to Temple of Praise (700 Southern Ave. SE), a church he regularly attended. The procession will go through all eight wards, similar to the funeral procession for former Mayor Walter Washington in 2003, News4's Mark Segraves reported. A musical and video tribute will take place from 3 to 6 p.m., followed by a community memorial service from 6 to 9 p.m. His funeral will be held Saturday, Dec. 6 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center (Halls C&D, 801 Mount Vernon Place NW). A viewing from 8 to 11 a.m. will precede the service, which will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. A private burial will follow. After a brush with death several months ago, Barry gave his family specific instructions on how his services should be planned, Segraves reported.
Meanwhile residents who want to express condolences for Barry are being invited to the Wilson building this week. The public can sign an official book of condolence at between 9 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday and Friday.
||Christmas Day DinnerOn December 25,2014 from 12:00 noon until 4:00pm, Torrie's at Wilson's, The Inner Voices, Athletes in Action and many other supporters set out to feed those who are less fortunate and anyone else who wanted to eat a nice, hearty dinner. It was as wonderful day. Women were picked up from the halfway house by Tyrone Parker of the Alliance of Concerned Men and Malik Farrakhan of Cease Fire, Roach Brown was on the radio live for the entire four hours, interviewing all who had anything to say. We'd like to take this time to thank all of the volunteers and all of the people who came to eat. You are the ones who made this event successful. Thanks!
||Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)A SNCC Legacy Project Tribute for
Mayor Marion Barry
First Chairman of the
Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee
Marion Barry, at the age of 24, was elected the first Chairman of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). From his election as SNCC Chairman in 1960 until his passing some 54 years later, Marion Barry was engaged in public service. While a doctoral student in chemistry in the early 1960's, Marion Barry led SNCC-sponsored demonstrations to end segregation in public accommodations across the South.
In 1965, Marion was sent to Washington by SNCC to head up its fundraising office, and in addition to undertaking his responsibilities at the Friends of SNCC office, he began organizing the youth of the District to oppose segregation in Washington. Marion co-founded the organization Youth Pride to help out-of-work youth be trained for gainful employment. After his work with Youth Pride, Inc., Marion was elected to serve as Chairman of the District's School Board.
When Home Rule was granted to the District, Marion was elected to serve on the District's legislative body. In 1979, Marion became the second person to be elected Mayor of the District of Columbia. He eventually served four terms as Mayor. After leaving the Mayor's office, Marion served as the Council member from Ward 8.
Marion passed away last Sunday morning, and will be missed by the residents of the District of Columbia for the contributions he'd made to their lives. Marion's comrades from SNCC will honor his memory on Friday, December 5 at 6 pm. The gathering will be held at the African American Civil War Memorial Museum, 1925 Vermont Avenue, NW, Washington, DC. All SNCC, Friends of SNCC and all other concerned veterans of the Civil Rights Movement are invited to attend," said Frank Smith, former DC Councilmember and SNCC organizer in Mississippi.
Mr. Barry's funeral will take place on Saturday, December 6 at the Washington Convention Center. SNCC members who played a role in Washington government and served with him on the Council, School Board, and in the Mayor's office will be informed about the plans for his funeral. Once plans are announced and made available, they will be promptly listed on the SNCC Legacy Project website at www.SNCCLegacyProject.org and at www.afroamcivilwar.org.
For more information please contact Frank Smith at 202-369-5119.
Mayor Marion Barry
||Darren Wilson leaving Ferguson police forcePublished time: November 28, 2014 16:34
Edited time: November 28, 2014 17:08
||Man Stabbed Near Chinatown Metro Station, Two Women WantedPolice say two women are wanted for allegedly stabbing a man near the Gallery Place/Chinatown Metro station in D.C. Wednesday evening.
||Janay Rice on the impact of the elevator incident: 'Like a battle that we just can't win'One moment in their lives brought Ray and Janay Rice into the public eye for all the wrong reasons. While Ray Rice has now been reinstated, and is looking for a team, his life off the field, and that of his wife Janay, are forever changed by what happened in that elevator.
||Boy missing for four years found behind fake wall in Georgia closet, police sayThe tearful 13-year-old was reunited with his mother Saturday. Five people, including dad Gregory Jean and stepmom Samantha Joy Davis, arrested for child cruelty, false imprisonment. A terrified boy was found cowering Saturday behind a false wall in the linen closet of a suburban Atlanta home, four years after his Florida mother reported him missing, authorities said. Clayton County police were responding to a call of a child being beaten in Jonesboro. Occupants of the house denied any knowledge of a 13-year-old boy. Police searched the home but found nothing, authorities said. But then a second call came in, and officers went back to the home, this time with information about where the boy was hidden.
||Prison food is a public health problemPRISON POLICY INITIATIVE UPDATES
for March 8, 2017
Showing how mass incarceration harms communities and our national welfare
Prison Policy Initiative
This week we explore the fact that prison food isn’t just gross, it’s a public health hazard.
Food for thought: Prison food is a public health problem
By Wendy Sawyer
Prison Voice Washington report
This past fall, a new report from Prison Voice Washington detailed the decline in food quality served in the state's correctional facilities. While incarcerated people often voice complaints about (very real) quality-of-life issues related to food service, there is a broader public health concern here: the long-term health consequences of forcing incarcerated people to consume unhealthy food.
The Prison Voice Washington report
The report from Prison Voice Washington reveals how changes in food service at the Washington Department of Corrections violate the state's own Healthy Nutrition Guidelines. Since turning over food service to the Department's business arm, Correctional Industries, the quality of food has deteriorated and culinary job opportunities that require actual cooking skills have dried up. People incarcerated in Washington are now being forced to eat unhealthy, processed food from its central food factory.
The downturn in prison food quality can be blamed on larger trends toward industrialization and privatization. Industrialization, as exemplified by Washington state prisons, replaces cooking from scratch with processed foods that may only require reheating before serving. "When the Department of Corrections turned over responsibility for food services to Correctional Industries…, it substituted 95% industrialized, plastic-wrapped, sugar-filled 'food products' for locally prepared healthy food."
Highly processed and hastily prepared food is typical of privatized food service as well. Nationally, much of prison food is outsourced to two large private corporations, Aramark Correctional Services and Trinity Services Group, the targets of increasing numbers of inmate grievances and embarrassing lawsuits. While under contract with Aramark, for example, kitchens in Michigan and Ohio prisons reportedly "served food tainted by maggots… rotten meat… food pulled from the garbage…[and] food on which rats nibbled."
What's especially disheartening about the state of food in Washington's prisons is that not long ago, incarcerated people in each facility were preparing food fresh from scratch, using ingredients grown at the prisons or bought from local farmers. According to Prison Voice Washington, "Prisons grew their own food, maintained dairies and bakeries, and the food… was cooked locally." Today, there is just one massive farm, which Correctional Industries touts as part of its "closed-loop grain-to-baker-to-prison food chain." The most recent harvest it reports online is 200 acres' worth of dry peas. There are still gardening programs at some facilities, but according to Prison Voice Washington, "a few small gardens… [present] a rosy veneer of sustainability and fresh produce to circumvent any real scrutiny of the bleak food reality."
Their point? The Department is capable of doing a better job, and had done so as recently as 2009. Short-sighted administrators looking to save a few cents per meal have made a bad deal with Correctional Industries, trading a fresh, healthy food service program for highly processed foods that make incarcerated people sick.
To make their case, the authors of the Prison Voice Washington report include an incredible amount of evidence including invoices, nutrition labels, and four appendices of order forms and menus. They show that:
Incarcerated people in Washington do not receive minimum requirements for fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, or milk.
Incarcerated people are fed more than the recommended amounts of refined starches, added sugars and sodium.
The DOC is fully aware of the nutritional shortcomings of its menu, so it supplements meals with fortified drink powders. These are often left untouched, so even those supplements do little to make up for the lack of nutrients in the actual food served.
Besides the prison menu, the only other choices incarcerated people have are the products available through the commissary, where more than 90% of available products "are very unhealthy, and are categorized as 'Avoid' in the [State's] Healthy Nutrition Guidelines for Vending Machines." Even the instant oatmeal is the highly sweetened, low fiber variety on the "not recommended" list.
Again, this is all at odds with Washington's ostensible commitment to improving nutrition. In most states, correctional agencies follow federal guidelines (or attempt to), without so much as lip-service to providing anything above a minimum standard. Washington, however, has the most comprehensive food standards of any state, although many other cities and states have adopted their own standards for food served or sold at other public agencies. The only other state with nutritional standards that apply to correctional facilities is Massachusetts; New York City and Philadelphia have sweeping city-wide nutritional standards that apply to correctional facilities as well. The Prison Voice Washington report should serve as a model to hold other agencies accountable and ensure healthy foods are available to people in correctional facilities.
Other studies of prison food show that Washington's failings are not unique
Washington's DOC is certainly not unique; prisons and jails are notorious for serving terrible food. Prison meals are a favorite subject for colorful photo projects and personal experiments — even Buzzfeed has made one of their trademark videos about it. And research confirms that prison food is not just gross; it is often nutritionally inadequate:
A menu analysis from a large county jail in Georgia found incarcerated people there were served a diet too high in cholesterol, saturated fat, and sodium, and too low in fiber and several micronutrients — all factors linked to an increased risk of heart disease.
An analysis in South Carolina found similar deficiencies, and like the Washington study, found the menu too stingy in fruits, vegetables, and milk, and too reliant on starches.
In a Michigan report, correctional officers reported frequent deviations from the menu, especially watering down recipes and serving small portions, making it impossible for people to get the nutrients agreed upon by contract.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that sodium is off the charts in U.S. prisons: in 1989 (the most recent year of available data) federal prisons were serving a diet with 10,000 mg of sodium per day; by 1995, their goal was to reduce it to 6,520 mg per day — still almost three times the recommended upper limit.
So yes, prison food tastes bad. But more importantly, it's really bad for you.
The links between chronic disease and nutrition mean that prison nutrition matters
Incarcerated people are at increased risk of chronic diseases, but rather than using Food Services to help control both health problems and the costs of medical treatment, prisons exacerbate illnesses by serving and selling unhealthy foods. Half of all incarcerated people in state and federal prisons report having had a chronic illness and are "potentially at risk for future medical problems." Nearly as many — 40% — report a current chronic condition. Considering 1) the prevalence of chronic illness in prisons, 2) the documented impact of diet on these diseases, and 3) the much lower cost of food compared to medical treatment, it is irresponsible and shortsighted of correctional agencies to prioritize cost-cutting over nutrition.
The most problematic correlations between prison food and health include:
Weight: The most obvious link between food services and health is weight. The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that three quarters of people incarcerated in state and federal prisons are overweight or obese. Other researchers have found that each period of incarceration increases an individual's Body Mass Index, which is a measure of overweight and obesity. Prison food is part of the reason why: as we've seen, menu analyses have found that prisons and jails serve highly processed, unwholesome food, and offer primarily high-fat and sugary options for purchase. Even when the menu fits nutritional guidelines on paper, it is often prepared in ways that make it less healthy: Prison Voice Washington reports that food service workers "attempt to fry" ingredients, so entrees like meatloaf end up "literally soaked in oil and margarine."
Chronic diseases: In addition to excess weight, incarcerated people suffer disproportionately from chronic health conditions. 30% of incarcerated people have hypertension, 10% heart problems, and 9% diabetes — all higher rates than the general population. As the American Heart Association's diets for heart disease and hypertension make clear, conditions like these can be prevented or even reversed to some extent by a nutritious diet. Instead, they are made worse by menus with too much sodium and fat and not enough fiber and essential nutrients from fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Racial health disparities: African Americans are more likely to suffer from hypertension and diabetes, and research points to disproportionate incarceration of African American men as a cause of these health disparities. "Incarceration may help structure obesity disparities," according to one study, and "part of the reason African American men suffer worse health is that they spend more time on average in prison, a place that undermines health," concludes another. By ignoring the negative effects of the unhealthy prison diet on this vulnerable population, states are willingly putting them at greater risk for premature death. Each year of incarceration reduces life expectancy by two years, and this is especially true for black men.
To be sure, prisons do provide "therapeutic" or "medical" diets, prescribed by health services staff. Unfortunately, the Washington study reveals that even the "lighter fare" diet would do little to help someone with a chronic illness; it includes an extra serving of vegetables, but even less protein. In any case, when half of the incarcerated population has a chronic illness, it would make sense for a nutritious, health-services-approved diet to be the norm, not the exception. (Thankfully, some agencies have figured this out for themselves: Pennsylvania uses the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics' diabetic diet for its regular menu standards, and Massachusetts has created a healthier menu to minimize the number of special dietary menus needed.)
The budget is no excuse
The fact is, serving decent food is cheaper than serving unhealthy and unappetizing food in the long run. Considering the additional costs associated with poor food quality, the cost-cutting measures correctional agencies have taken around food services are fiscally short-sighted. For one thing, deteriorating food quality causes frequent security problems: when incarcerated people see that they are getting worse — or less — food than before, they protest in various ways — from dumping bad potatoes on the floor to strikes. Additional guards may be required to manage food service, not to mention the risks associated with large-scale protests like the coordinated prison strikes in the fall of 2016.
health care costs graphic
Food costs are also dwarfed by healthcare costs in prisons, so improving the nutritional quality of prison food would be a cost-effective way to improve inmate health. In our recent analysis of criminal justice costs, we found that correctional agencies spend almost six times more on health care than on food. Prison Voice Washington found that food costs make up less than 4% of the daily cost of incarcerating a prisoner — compared with healthcare, which accounts for 19% of the cost.
As the Washington authors note, even doubling the state food budget wouldn't cost very much for the total budget and would be well worth it considering the additional healthcare costs related to chronic illness. The American Diabetes Association, for example, estimates that healthcare costs are 2.3 times higher for incarcerated people with diabetes. And overall, 86% of healthcare spending is for people with at least one chronic condition. As Prison Voice Washington concludes, "In the short run, healthy food does cost a little more — but unhealthy people cost a great deal more."
Moreover, some states have begun to recognize that even "cost saving" moves toward industrialization and privatization aren't worth the problems with food quality, security, and long-term health consequences. An audit of Florida's Aramark contract found that its food costs were lower, quality was better, and more inmates actually ate the food when the Department operated its own food services program. And after struggling with a private contractor, Minnesota decided to return food services to in-house control in 2015, "providing real food for inmates even if it costs more money."
Before long, incarcerated people's health problems become community health problems
People who believe prison should be as punishing as possible may see little reason for facilities to serve much more than bread and water. But there is a practical reason to care about the food served in prisons: people incarcerated in state prison return to our communities sooner than you might think. As we found in an analysis last year, the median time served in state prison is 16 months and the average is 29 months. That's more than enough time for a poor diet to cause long-term health effects. Research shows just four weeks of eating an unhealthy, high-calorie diet can lead to long-term increases in cholesterol and body fat.
When people are released from prison, their health problems become community health problems — and a financial burden on the local public health system. Preventing and helping treat chronic illnesses by serving nutritious food is cheaper than medical treatment, both during incarceration and after release.
As the Washington report demonstrates, prison food has managed to get even worse over time — and more and more people have been forced to subsist on it as the prison populations have exploded. And now, states and communities must face the long-term health consequences — and resulting healthcare costs — of feeding large numbers of incarcerated people unhealthy food. Far from a frivolous complaint, unhealthy prison food is actually a public health concern likely costing states and taxpayers far more than it saves.
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@AltBJS highlights important data on racial disparities in the criminal justice system
Last month, in honor of Black History Month, the twitter user known as @AltBJS highlighted a different fact each day about racial disparities in the criminal justice system. Some of these facts were well-known, but many were not, and most had only partial citations. Emily Widra collected all of the tweets and sources into one accessible blog post. Check it out.
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What it’s like to get lunch with the president who gave you
What it’s like to get lunch with the president who gave you your freedom
by Casey Tolan
WASHINGTON—The seven former federal inmates knew they were visiting the White House to talk about their experiences with senior administration officials.
But as they sat in the Roosevelt Room on Wednesday, they didn’t realize that another guest was coming to see them.
“All of a sudden, the door busts open and we hear, ‘How’s everyone doing?’ and the president walks in,” Philip Emmert, who served 14 years for a meth sales charge, remembered. “He said, ‘I have a little spare time, so let’s go out to eat.'”
That led to a possibly unprecedented lunch with Obama and the seven former inmates, all of whom served years for nonviolent drug charges and had received presidential clemency.
“Two months ago I was sitting in a cell, and today I was eating lunch with the president,” Angie Jenkins, who was granted clemency by Obama in December after 17 years in prison, told me. “My heart fell to the ground.”
Obama with, from left, Serena Nunn, Ramona Brant, Phillip Emmert, and Angie Jenkins.
The lunch with Obama was the highlight of a big week for clemency in the capitol: that same day, the president announced
that he was commuting the sentences of 61 more inmates. The next day, dozens of former federal inmates, many of whom had received presidential clemencies, were honored at a ceremony at the Open Society Institute, an advocacy group started by George Soros.
They then attended a policy briefing at the White House on Thursday afternoon
, in which they shared their stories with senior administration officials and discussed how the justice system could be improved. That night, they were invited to a dinner sponsored by Google.
The renewed focus on clemency comes as Obama strives to make the most of his last 10 months in office. While criminal justice reform efforts are stalled in Congress
, many see the clemency power as an opportunity for the president to make real changes for federal inmates.
So far, Obama has granted 248 clemencies—more than any other president
since Franklin D. Roosevelt, but far less than the 10,000 that administration officials at one time predicted.
At the lunch, Obama got to meet three of the individuals he had given freedom, along with four others who had received clemency from Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. The former inmates who met with the president described feeling a combination of utter shock and joy. “You knew he was the president, but he made you feel so comfortable and welcome,” Jenkins said. “I told him, ‘Today you made me feel like Cinderella.'”
After Obama surprised them in the Roosevelt room, the group rode along in his motorcade, shooting through downtown D.C. to Busboys and Poets
, a restaurant that employs formerly incarcerated people. Over sandwiches, they talked to the president about their lives.
“I sense that he really does care,” said Emmert, a former veteran who was one of the few inmates who received clemency from George W. Bush. “He said he’s going to do more [clemencies], he said he’s just getting started.”
The former inmates said Obama asked them a lot of questions, focusing especially on the barriers they faced or were facing once they got out of prison. “I was telling President Obama about the difference it’s made to have a job waiting for me already when I got out,” Jenkins said. She’s now working at a wholesale company in Oregon.
Each had their own message to give the President. “I said to him, you’re only one person, you can’t save the whole world, but Mr. President, just save who you can,” Norman Brown, who served 22 years before getting a clemency from Obama last year, remembered.
Ramona Brant, center, walks into the restaurant with Obama.
Ramona Brant, who served 21 years of a life sentence
before being granted clemency by Obama in December, said it took her a minute to realize she was actually sitting next to him—especially because she’s still living in a halfway house and is still in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons.
“I thanked him for believing in me,” Brant said. “I promised I would never let him down, he would never have to worry about his name being tainted for signing the paperwork allowing me to be free.”
For the larger group of former inmates who visited the White House on Thursday, it was a day of mixed emotions—joy at being free and sadness for the friends who were still behind bars.
“Merry Christmas!” proclaimed Rhozier “Roach” Brown, 71, as he stood in line to get into the White House. He wore a blue suit with gold buttons, a naval captain’s hat, and a white mustache. “Every day is Christmas on this side of the fence.”
Brown, who was convicted of murder in 1965
, applied to President Nixon for clemency several times and was denied. But President Ford accepted Brown’s petition on Christmas Day 1975 (after pardoning Nixon).
Clemency, Brown told me, was “like reincarnation”—”You go from the darkness to the light,” he said.
In his lifetime, he stressed, he had never seen the kind of attention in the general public to criminal justice reform and helping former inmates.
Inside the briefing room in the White House’s Eisenhower Office Building, as attendees waited for the event to start, there were shouts of recognition as inmates who served time at the same prison saw each other for the first time in years. Especially among female prisoners, several said, there’s a sort of sisterhood that lasts much longer than a sentence.
Sitting in the back of the room was Phyllis Hardy, 72, who was released from prison last year after serving 23 years
on a drug charge. Female inmates who served with Hardy gave her hug after hug, calling her “momma” and “grandma,” and the pearls around her neck shook as she embraced them.
“You do a crime, but that doesn’t mean it has to define you for life,” Hardy told me. “God gives us a second chance, so why can’t us humans learn to help each other too?”
Many of the speakers at the briefing talked about “survivor’s guilt,” how it felt to leave behind friends still in prison, who didn’t receive clemencies. Meanwhile, interns walked around the edges of the room offering much-needed boxes of tissues.
Former inmates also talked about the challenges of re-entering society. Brant, who has been living in a halfway house in North Carolina since she was released in February, said that until last week she was planning to live with her son. But then she realized that she couldn’t get her name added to the lease because she was an ex-felon.
How a first-time drug charge became a life sentence for a mother of two
At the briefing, which was livestreamed online
, senior advisor Valerie Jarrett vowed that Obama would continue granting clemencies, and condemned people who objected to criminal justice reform. “There are people who are entrenched in the status quo, let’s face it, there are people who like things just the way they are. I don’t know how they have the mercy to call themselves, often times, people of faith,” she said.
“You know, we’re getting near the end of the term so we say all kinds of things we might not have said,” Jarrett added to laughs.
Perhaps the most emotionally resonant moments were discussions of what Obama meant to people behind bars. Shauna Berry Scott, who served 10 years before a commutation from the president in 2015, remembered election night in November 2008. “When they announced he won, there was such a roar that the building shook,” she said. “That election was so electrifying, it was like everyone in the building was jumping up and down and screaming.”
As she started to break into tears, Berry Scott quoted James Baldwin: “The very time I thought I was lost, my dungeon shook and my chains fell off.”
Obama’s election, to her, meant freedom. “I knew he was going to be the fulfillment of so many of us getting out of there,” she said.
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Washington Post Article: Dr. Frances Cress Welsing
The Washington Post
March 18, 2016
Memorial service to be held for celebrated, controversial Frances Cress Welsing.
Psychiatrist and author Frances Cress Welsing was known for her controversial views on race. (Elvert Barnes/elvertbarnes.com)
By Hamil R. Harris
March 17 at 10:32 PM
When family members, friends, and colleagues of Frances Cress Welsing began planning a memorial service for the psychiatrist and author who devoted her life to studying racism and its root causes, they knew they would have a tall order trying to capture her impact.
She was both celebrated and controversial, but never wavering in her belief that the persistent struggles of people of color were the results of the racism they had endured. Welsing died Jan. 2, a few hours after suffering a stroke. She was 80.
Welsing provided psychiatric services to D.C. government agencies and institutions for 27 years. She also maintained a private practice in the District beginning in 1967, counseling patients until days before her death.
Several of those she helped, such as motivational speaker and radio host Roach Brown, say they owe her their lives.
In 1965, Brown was a 21-year-old inmate at the D.C. Department of Correction’s prison in Lorton, Va. A year earlier, he and two other men had been charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of a “local fence in a dispute over the price of hot jewelry,” Brown said.
[The price of redemption]
No weapon was ever recovered, and Brown, now 72, has always maintained that he was not the triggerman.
Welsing testified during his trial that his actions were consistent with someone whose environment had led to mental-health problems.
“They ended up giving me life in prison because Dr. Welsing spoke up on my behalf,” said Brown, who went on to start the prison theatrical group Inner Voices. “She saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself.”
Brown, who had his sentenced commuted in 1975, will be among those in attendance at the memorial service for Welsing on Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m. at Metropolitan AME Church in the District. “Dr. Welsing turned me and other guys around,” Brown said. “She was our Harriet Tubman to get out of mental slavery.”
Welsing first gained notoriety in 1969 after she wrote an essay, “The Cress Theory of Color Confrontation and Racism (White Supremacy).” In it she theorized that racism was rooted in the varying degrees of melanin and the “color inferiority” of white people. She argued that the lack of melanin led white people to develop “hostility and aggression” toward people darker than themselves.
“She had a theory about race and why white people do what they do and I dealt with the what,” said Neely Fuller, author of “The United Independent Compensatory Code System Concept: a textbook/workbook for thought speech and/or action for victims of racism (white supremacy).”
In her 1991 book, “The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors,” Welsing again looked at the origins of white supremacy and its impact. She wrote that “black males must help one another to understand that they are being led by the dynamic of white supremacy to inflict extreme damage upon themselves and each other.”
[Welsing’s work provokes different reactions]
“Dr. Welsing’s major contribution as it relates to black mental health was that she had the capacity to challenge the dominant prevailing thought of our society and she gave it the name global white supremacy,” said Kevin Washington, president of the Association of Black Psychologists.
Ray Winbush, director of the Institute for Urban Research at Morgan State University and former director of the Race Relations Institute at Fisk University, said Welsing drew heavy criticism for her views, which she expected. She frequently engaged her detractors.
In 1974, she and Stanford University physicist William Shockley, who had argued that blacks were genetically inferior to whites, engaged in debate on the syndicated television show “Tony Brown’s Journal.”
Welsing was born in Chicago in 1935.Her father, Henry N. Cress was a physician, and her mother, Ida Mae Griffen, was a school teacher, and there were high expectations.
“We were taught that we were special,” said Welsing’s older sister, Lorne Cress-Love. “We were encouraged to read and discuss all types of issues.”
Cress-Love said their father and their grandfather, who also was a physician, were passionate about fighting for equality. “My father told us that our grandfather spent more time fighting for the race than practicing medicine.”
In 1957, Welsing earned a bachelor’s degree from Antioch College and in 1962 she earned a medical degree from the Howard University College of Medicine. After graduation, Welsing completed a residency at St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington. From 1968 to 1975, she taught in the pediatric department of Howard University’s Medical School.
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