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Saturday, March 8, 2014


Opening ReMARCs
The Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees criminal defendants the right to legal counsel.

At no point does it state that representing counsel shall be penalized for upholding this basic principle. This certainly was not the case for John Roberts when he defended serial killer John Ferguson, convicted of killing eight people. In fact, Roberts earned Senate confirmation and became Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

However, punitive voting is precisely what occurred this week when the Senate rejected, 52-47, the nomination of Debo Adegbile to lead the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice – a decision based largely on his work as legal counsel for Mumia Abu-Jamal when he worked as a lawyer for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF). While Adegbile never represented Abu-Jamal in any of his trials, he worked on legal briefs once the LDF took Abu-Jamal’s appeal based on blatant racial bias in the jury selection and instruction in the trial. In fact, the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with LDF’s arguments and overturned Abu-Jamal’s death sentence, giving him life imprisonment without parole.

Adegbile is highly-regarded across the legal and civil rights communities. Earlier this year, the National Urban League joined 75 other organizations in a letter of support for his nomination. At that time, we called him “one of the preeminent civil rights litigators of his generation…a consensus builder…[who] has earned respect and admiration from a bipartisan set of colleagues, lawyers, and leaders…because of his principled and measured approach to issues.” We wholly stand by that today.

Regardless of how anyone feels about Abu-Jamal, Adegbile upheld the principles and expectations of our justice system and did not deny a defendant the right to competent counsel.

The Senate’s actions, on the other hand, are disappointing and disgraceful, and perhaps worst of all, puncture a precedent-setting hole in the very principles of our nation’s Bill of Rights.

To Be Equal
“There are some Americans who, in the aggregate, are consistently doing worse in our society -- groups that have had the odds stacked against them in unique ways that require unique solutions…And by almost every measure, the group that is facing some of the most severe challenges in the 21st century in this country are boys and young men of color.” President Barack Obama
President Obama Rallies Help for Young Males of Color with “My Brother’s Keeper” Initiative 

Last Thursday at the White House, I was on hand for one of the most inspiring and important Presidential announcements in recent history. In the aftermath of the killings of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis, and in response to data showing how badly the odds are stacked against millions of boys and young men of color in the United States, President Obama kicked-off “My Brother’s Keeper,” an unprecedented public-private initiative aimed at improving life outcomes and addressing opportunity gaps for the nation’s most vulnerable population.

The President made the announcement before an audience of young males of color and a coalition of government, business, civic and philanthropic leaders. I was proud to be there to represent the National Urban League. In unusually personal terms, President Obama spoke about his own struggles with drugs and alienation as a young boy growing up without a father. He called on all Americans to do more to improve the prospects for young males of color who are less likely to graduate from high school and more likely to be unemployed or end up in jail than any other group in America.

Partner Spotlight
AT&TTIME Magazine Highlights National Urban League Entrepreneurship and Job Training Programs

Read the special feature on the un-and-underemployment crisis in America that ran in the February 24th issue of TIME Magazine highlighting National Urban League entrepreneurship and job training programs.

Urban League Jobs Network
JOBSEEKERS: How to Get Your Resume to the Top and Avoid the Digital Black Hole

Career Success Webinar
Wednesday, March 12
12:30pm EST

Applying to jobs but can’t quite catch the recruiters attention? Join the Urban League JobsNetwork and Aisha Taylor of TAYLORmade Consulting for tips on how to get your resume to the top of the pile.

CLICK HERE to register today!
Washington Bureau
National Urban League Applauds Extension of Internet Essentials

National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial today issued the following statement in response to the announcement by Comcast NBCUniversal that it will indefinitely extend its Internet Essentials program:

“The National Urban League applauds Comcast NBCUniversal’s announcement that it will indefinitely extend its Internet Essentials program in an effort to improve the socio-economic outlook of communities of color. As a long-time proponent of universal broadband adoption, we recognize the nexus between technology-enabled opportunity and our mission to enable economic self-reliance, parity, power and civil rights.

“As we contemplate broadband-enabled solutions that can prove useful in jumpstarting our economy and creating more opportunities for our communities, we look forward to working with Comcast NBCUniversal to help leverage the Internet Essentials program to drive job growth, create more opportunities for minority-owned businesses and improve education outcomes in underserved areas.”
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Affiliate Newswire
Knoxville Area Urban League Gets Boost with CDFI Certification

The Knoxville Area Urban League (Knoxville, TN), with the City of Knoxville, announced its new community development financial institution (CDFI) certification at its annual membership meeting at the Holiday Inn at World’s Fair Park.

“The Urban League has been quite tenacious as we worked with the U.S. Treasury to gain this certification,” said Phyllis Nichols, Knoxville Area Urban League President and CEO. “We’re working to achieve sustainable efforts for economic development. One tenet of our mission is community development and becoming a certified CDFI will allow the Urban League to provide capital to a target market not served by traditional institutions.

“We will be able to strengthen our entrepreneurship training through partnerships and provide technical support to startups and expanding small and minority businesses.”


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