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August 2015


MIAMI, FL -  Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau (GMCVB) President & CEO William D. Talbert, III, CDME and American Black Film Festival (ABFF) Founder Jeff Friday officially announced yesterday the return to Miami of the American Black Film Festival (ABFF) June 15-19, 2016.  The ABFF will celebrate its 20th anniversary with an exciting line-up of film screenings and an extensive schedule of events and networking opportunities to be announced in the months ahead.  The highly anticipated ABFF is considered the nation's largest gathering of Black film and TV enthusiasts.  "We are thrilled with the return of the American Black Film Festival to Miami and look forward to welcoming the thousands of attendees expected for this highly anticipated event," said Talbert. "The diverse multicultural fabric of our community will provide the ideal setting for the festival's 2016 milestone celebration."    The 2016 ABFF will coincide with the GMCVB's fourth annual Miami Film Month and includes a commitment by the ABFF to hold their annual event in Miami for the next three years.  "I am so happy to celebrate the American Black Film Festival's 20th anniversary in Miami next year," said ABFF Founder Jeff Friday.  " Aside from being one of the most desirable destinations in the world and a big attraction for festival-goers, the community has always embraced ABFF and its mission to showcase and provide a platform for African Americans in film and television.  2016 marks our eleventh festival in Miami and I'm proud to call the GMCVB a committed partner. We look forward to the celebratory four day weekend with tremendous enthusiasm - it's great to be back!"  
Pictured left to right: Bruce Orosz, GMCVB Chair; Jeff Friday, Founder American Black Film Festival (ABFF); Elijah Wells, ABFF Community Showcase winner and Overtown Miami filmmaker; Connie Kinnard , GMCVB Vice President Multicultural Tourism and Development; William Talbert, GMCVB President and CEO; and City of Miami Commissioner Keon Hardemon.


‘OITNB’ Star Uzo Aduba: State Of U.S. Race Relations Creates ‘Opportunity To Stand On The Right Side Of History’

Orange Is The New Black” star Uzo Aduba, also known as her character Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren, joined HuffPost Live and commented on the current state of race relations in the U.S.

Aduba: “We’re living in a time right now where the challenging and the hard conversation needs to be had. We’re watching the country, the face of this country and the ideas of this country, change and move into a place where we have the opportunity to stand on the right side of history. And I think people are wanting to be made part of the conversation that is our American history. And I feel that it is our responsibility as human beings and members of the human family to use our voice to ignite that change. I do think that is important. I think we are living in a very fragile time where we have the opportunity to be the people we say we are. Not just stand by and watch anything and everything happen in ways that will be disastrous for our future.”




The New Florida Majority: Help Us Save The Voting Rights Act!


Mrs. Desiline Victor

Last week we commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, we also had memories of just two years ago when Florida resident, Desiline Victor was almost denied her right to vote because of intentional voter suppression laws. We honor and pay homage to those who fought a tireless battle for the basic democratic right to vote. With that honor, we are inspired to make sure we aren't fighting this same fight in the next 50 years to come.  

On October 28th, 2013, Desiline Victor set out to participate in early voting at North Miami Library. During her three hour wait to vote, poll workers instructed her to come back later. Mrs. Victor, who at the time was 102 years old, was told she could have to wait in line for up to six hours. It wasn’t until late evening that Desiline Victor was able to cast her ballot. To us, Desiline Victor is an unsung hero and an example of why we will not shy away or be hushed about voter suppression.   

Click here to urge Congress to Restore the Voting Rights Act 

"Two years later and we’re still here."  One of her sons, Mathieu Pierre Louis reflects on the events of that day, “I’m the one who dropped her off there, and was going to pick her up. And she told me about it. She said, ‘I can’t vote. They won’t let me vote because they are too many people in the line’. If we’re going to celebrate the anniversary of voting rights, something needs to be changed. I want something to be changed for my mother. She’s still alive, the next elections are coming up and God willing she will make it to vote again.”  

Last week, President Barack Obama said, "It [Voting Rights Act] broke down legal barriers at the State level and local level that kept African-Americans from being able to vote." With the countless stories of disenfranchisement, we acknowledge not much has changed and without the VRA there will be efforts to suppress the votes of people of color and the poor. By restoring the Voting Rights Act, we can protect voters in Southern States from discriminatory changes in voting procedures.  

Click here to support the Voting Rights Advancement Act

The two key provisions of the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2015 (H.B. 2867, S. 1659):   

  1. Discriminatory Voter ID Laws Would Not Be Treated Differently Than Other Forms of Discrimination In Voting.
  2. Its Protections Include Coverage Of All Southern States With Ongoing Discrimination: 

The most discriminated states, Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia would all be immediately covered and would have to submit any changes in voting to the U.S. Department of Justice or a federal court, to prove that they would not be discriminatory. Once again, changes in voting procedures would be frozen until they are “precleared” and not test-driven during elections.  

New Florida Majority stands alongside Mrs. Desiline Victor, Mathieu Pierre, and countless civil rights leaders in the push for our fundamental right-the right to vote. 


Click here to sign our petition in support of restoring the Voting Rights Act 


Despite His Claims to the Contrary, Bush’s Executive Order Banning Affirmative Action Led to Decreased African American Enrollment

CAP Action analysis finds that Bush’s executive order banning affirmative action led to decreased enrollment of African American students.

Washington, D.C. — On the campaign trail, one of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s (R) biggest selling points is that he can appeal to groups outside of the traditional Republican coalition, such as African Americans. He bemoans the lack of opportunity for Americans to rise up into the middle class. Nonetheless, according to a new analysis, "Opportunity for Some," released today by the Center for American Progress Action Fund, then-Gov. Bush erected new barriers for many African Americans hoping to attend a four-year state university by signing an executive order banning affirmative action in Florida.

While Gov. Bush claims his executive order banning affirmative action led to an increase in the number of African American students in Florida’s state university system, African American enrollment in selective, four-year public universities in Florida actually dropped 10.9 percent from 2000 to 2013. At the same time, African American enrollment increased 3.5 percent nationally. Moreover, during that same period of time, the African American share of Florida’s population grew by 7 percent. If black enrollment fell at the same rate nationwide as it did in Florida, it would have resulted in a 13.9 percent drop in the number of black students enrolled in four-year public universities—a total of 85,726 fewer African American college students across the country.

"Similar to many issues Republicans are talking about today, the gap between Jeb Bush’s rhetoric of inclusion and the reality of the impact of the policies he has enacted is massive," said Arkadi Gerney, Senior Vice President of Campaigns and Strategies at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. "From Stand Your Ground to purging voters and cutting off access to education, Bush’s record shows a disparate impact on communities of color."

Attending college is an essential step in upward mobility and expanding opportunity. African Americans receive one of the largest rates of return in employment and earnings benefits for earning a college degree. For example, black men who earn a bachelor’s degree see a median wage increase of 28 percent—or $10,000 annually—compared to those with an associate’s degree. A bachelor’s degree is far more beneficial for a black male than a white male, as a bachelor’s degree only results in an increased median wage of 13 percent—or $6,100 a year—for a white male.

Affirmative action does not just benefit African Americans. For example, diversity in the classroom is linked to higher levels of academic achievement and the improvement of intergroup relationships for all students. Employers also agree that a diverse workforce leads to innovation and creativity. When considering these facts, it is unsurprising that the American people support affirmative action in college admissions. According to a 2014 Pew Research Center poll, 63 percent of Americans support affirmative action on college campuses, including 84 percent of African American respondents, 80 percent of Hispanic respondents, and 55 percent of white respondents.

Read the full analysis: Opportunity for Some by Kristen Ellingboe and Anna Chu



(New York, NY) – On July 21, 2015, a federal court signed an order approving an estimated $12 million settlement of back pay claims for black and Hispanic sheet metal workers in litigation against their union.  These minority members of Local 28 of the Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association, the trade union for sheet metal workers in New York City, suffered underemployment from 1991 to 2006.  The foundation for this settlement was an earlier contempt ruling against Local 28, ordered by the late United States District Court Judge Robert L. Carter. The case, E.E.O.C. v. Local 28 of the Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association, 71 Civ. 2877 (LAK), was filed in 1971 by the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, the New York State Division of Human Rights, and the City of New York.  The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) replaced the Department of Justice as prosecuting counsel in 1974.  The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and Debevoise & Plimpton LLP intervened in the case in 2003 on behalf of aggrieved minority members and successfully moved for the case to be certified as a class action. Following a fairness hearing held on July 14, 2015, Judge Lewis A. Kaplan of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York granted approval of the back pay settlement.  Pursuant to the settlement, Local 28 will provide compensation to black and Hispanic members to settle claims for wages lost during the period April 1, 1991 to June 30, 2006. The settlement includes an initial fund of approximately $4.2 million for nearly 400 class members.  Local 28 will then make additional payments for five years, linked to the number of hours worked by Local 28’s members.  It is estimated that total payments will reach approximately $12.7 million at the end of the five-year period, assuming that Local 28’s work levels remain at or near recent levels throughout that period.  This settlement supplements a 2008 settlement of $6.2 million, which covered back pay claims from January 1, 1984 through March 31, 1991. Local 28 has also agreed to reforms designed to equalize work opportunities for nonwhite and white union members.  These include improved monitoring and investigation of discrimination complaints, an expansion of the use of the union’s referral hall to guarantee non-discriminatory hiring decisions, increased education and training opportunities for members, and increased monitoring, analysis, and reporting of potential work hours disparities by the union. The settlement was achieved after extensive negotiations with the union by the Lawyers’ Committee and Debevoise, on behalf of the class of underemployed black and Hispanic union members, along with the EEOC, the New York State Division of Human Rights, and the City of New York.  The Court-appointed Special Master, David Raff, also had significant input into the final terms of the settlement and the enhanced injunctive reforms. “The local union has agreed to provide substantial payments to its minority members who lost so much due to traditional patterns of discrimination,” said Ray P. McClain, director of the Employment Discrimination Project of the Lawyers’ Committee.  “This is a major step in bringing this decades-long litigation to a conclusion, for the union and all its members – a step that would not have been possible without the tireless dedication of our co-counsel at Debevoise & Plimpton, who have spent countless hours working pro bono on behalf of our clients in the union.” “This settlement grows out of longstanding efforts to obtain compensation for class members who were harmed by disparities in work opportunities between Local 28’s white and nonwhite members,” said Wendy B. Reilly, counsel at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP.  “We are very pleased that the class will receive meaningful back pay this year and for the next five years as a result of this settlement.” “I am pleased that we have been able to negotiate this partial settlement that includes strong injunctive relief as well as individual relief,” said EEOC General Counsel David Lopez. “This case demonstrates EEOC’s longstanding commitment to achieving equal access to jobs regardless of race.” EEOC New York Regional Attorney Robert D. Rose said, “This partial settlement of EEOC’s longstanding litigation against Local 28 is a big step forward for black and Hispanic sheet metal workers.  The EEOC will continue to enforce the court orders in this case until full and lasting equality for those workers is realized.” “This is an important and long-awaited day for African-American and Latino members of Local 28,” said Kristen Clarke, Civil Rights Bureau Chief at the New York State Office of the Attorney General.  “Attorney General Schneiderman is pleased with the partial settlement and remains committed to advancing equal employment opportunities across New York State.” “This is another big victory in the decades-long process to end discrimination against black and Hispanic members of Local 28 and restore their lost wages,” said Joshua Rubin, senior counsel at the New York City Law Department. “The City will continue to press for non-discriminatory practices and a final resolution of the case.” “This agreement was reached through the collaborative efforts of the plaintiffs and the leadership of Local 28, headed by newly elected President and Business Manager Kevin Connors, in conjunction with Special Master David Raff, as well as the members of the class and other members of Local 28,” said Daniel Clifton, the attorney for Local 28.  “Local 28 looks forward to the continuing cooperation of all parties in an effort to provide equal work opportunities for all of its members,” added Clifton.