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George Curry

Stories by George

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Memories of LBJ, Carter and Clinton

Covering the three-day celebration of the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act at the University of Texas last week brought back a string of memories – some fond, some bitter.

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Obama: Civil Rights Movement opened door for me

With civil rights legends Andrew Young, John Lewis, Julian Bond and Jesse Jackson looking on, President Barack Obama on Thursday credited the Civil Rights Movement and landmark legislation signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson in the 1960s for paving the way for his becoming the nation’s first Black president.

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Bill Clinton says voter ID laws undermine civil rights progress

Former President Bill Clinton praised President Lyndon B. Johnson for signing the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act into law, but said the progress that stemmed from those landmark measures are being undermined by Republican-led efforts to suppress the vote.

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Jimmy Carter: My life was shaped by ‘Black culture’

AUSTIN – Although he grew up in a rural farming community in Georgia during an era of rigid racial segregation in the 1920s and 1930s, former President Jimmy Carter said his life was shaped at an early age by “Black culture.”

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Bush says education achievement gap is ‘scandalous’

AUSTIN, Texas – Former President George W. Bush said the education achievement gap – up to four years at some grade-levels – is a “nation scandal” that deserves immediate action.

NUL State of Black America: Growing income inequality

The wealth gap between African Americans and Whites has expanded in recent years and is not likely to narrow without significant reductions in Black unemployment and changes in a system that favors the wealthy over poor and middle class Americans, according the National Urban League’s 38th annual State of Black America report titled, “One Nation Underemployed: Jobs Rebuild America.”

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Acceptance by Ivies doesn’t remove stigma

You would think that news of a high school student from a family of African immigrants getting accepted into all eight Ivy League universities would be met with universal celebration. If you thought that, think again.

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Black Press: Howard professor needs ‘reality check’

Howard University Journalism Professor Clint C. Wilson II’s broad criticism of the Black Press proves that he needs a “reality check,” said Ben Chavis, leader of a group of 1970s activists known as the Wilmington 10.

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Buy Black: Economic empowerment

Margarita “Maggie” Anderson wants to transform “Buy Black” from a leftover 1960s slogan to a modern economic empowerment strategy. And because she has lived it, there is no person better qualified to lead the charge.

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Obama worse than Bush on SBA loans

When I interviewed Marie Johns, then the outgoing deputy secretary of the Small Business Administration, a year ago, she said the SBA does not separate figures by race, though it hopes to do so at some point.

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President Obama’s surprising jobs record

Although unemployment rates are unacceptably high, especially for African Americans, President Obama has done a better job improving the jobless rate than most critics are willing to concede.

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‘Dead end’ Republican politics exposed

When Darrell Issa, R-Calif., the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, shares more information with conservative Fox News than with Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the ranking Democrat on the committee, that’s enough to make Cummings go ballistic.

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My sister’s keeper for Black girls

In all the hoopla surrounding President Barack Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative, overlooked is the fact that our young girls also need to be targeted for special attention.

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Financial marketplace pressed to be more inclusive

After people of color were excluded last year from the two largest bond issuance deals in history – Verizon Communications, which sold $49 billion of debt, and Apple Inc., which sold $17 billion of debt – the Rainbow PUSH Wall Street Project is stepping up efforts to expand opportunity for African Americans, women and other disadvantaged groups.

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Another Florida man gets away with murder

As we approach the second anniversary of Trayvon Martin’s murder in Sanford, Fla., justice again has been shortchanged in the Sunshine State.

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King must be ‘turning in his grave’ over family greed

The children of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. sue each other – as well as loyal family friends – so often that you need a program to keep up with the court action. Bernice and Martin Luther King III sued Dexter because he failed to open the books of their father’s estate.

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Judge to decide in Black Press vs. tobacco case

A “concerned” U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler is expected to rule next week on whether advertising she ordered major tobacco companies to purchase in order to correct their past false statements about the danger of smoking should be expanded to include Black media.

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Seattle ‘misfits’ fit enough to win

Prior to Sunday’s Super Bowl, I told anyone who would listen that I like both the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks, so I wouldn’t be terribly disappointed regardless of who won the game. But … I was hoping Seattle would emerge the victor and I will tell you why.

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Obama seeks to do something with a do-nothing Congress

President Obama’s State of the Union speech Tuesday night, parts of which were shared over the weekend, was designed to be upbeat and to again sketch his vision for an economically “United” States of America. But this year’s speech, like the one a year ago and like his second inaugural address, was a gallant effort to remain relevant during an era of a do-nothing Congress that will do even less in 2014.

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‘If I dated Black girls …’

“I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

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African Americans snubbed in youth smoke out

The U.S. Justice Department and the Tobacco-Free Kids Action Fund have reached an agreement with the four major tobacco companies that requires them to spend more than $30 million advertising with the three major television networks and run full-page ads in 35 White and Hispanic newspapers as well as purchasing space on their respective websites but not make a single purchase from a Black print or broadcast media company.

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The War on Poverty – and MLK

We are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty at roughly the same time we’re observing the 85th birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

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Senators exert ‘silent veto’ over potential judges

President Obama’s recent nominations of federal judges in Georgia – including one who supported regressive voter ID laws and another who favored retaining the confederate emblem as part of the state flag – highlights a failed system that effectively allows home-state U.S. senators to veto presidential judicial selections.

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Walking in Mandela’s footsteps

PRETORIA, South Africa – It’s not easy walking in the footsteps of Nelson Mandela, the nation’s first democratically elected president. No one knows that better than the two men who succeeded him as president of South Africa.

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Africa completes 10 days of mourning for Nelson Mandela

QUNU, South Africa (NNPA) – With a rich mixture of ceremonial military pomp and ancient tribal customs, Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first democratically elected president, was buried here Sunday in the village of his youth, culminating 10 days of national mourning.

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Mandela opponents trying to rewrite history

Many conservatives who actively opposed Nelson Mandela’s protracted struggle to establish democracy in White minority-ruled South Africa are trying to rationalize their past criticism by either ignoring their earlier public statements or trying to place the struggle for a democratic society in South Africa in a Cold War context.

WWRDH: What would Republicans do on health care?

Many ardent conservatives are critical of the Affordable Care Act or what they derisively call “Obamacare.” But what are they proposing that proves that they care about uninsured Americans?

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Republicans shed crocodile tears over health care

Republicans have no shame. After House Republicans voted more than 40 times to block implementation of what they derisively call Obamacare, they have the temerity to complain that the Obama administration flubbed the Oct. 1 rollout of the Affordable Care Act.

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Myth: Federal government out of control

The Republican push to reduce the federal deficit solely through spending cuts is based on mythology rather than fact. That was clearly demonstrated by a series of reports issued recently by the non-partisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

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‘Entitlement programs’ serve elderly, poor

Republicans have made it clear that their next budget goal is to slash so-called entitlement programs. Democrats have failed to explain to the public that the misnamed programs are valuable and prevent millions of Americans, many of them elderly or children, from living in poverty.

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Dr. Carson: Gifted Hands, foot in mouth

Dr. Ben Carson became the darling of conservatives earlier this year by stridently attacking the Affordable Care Act with President Obama sitting just a few feet away. Carson, who was serving as the keynote speaker at the National Prayer Breakfast at the White House, said:

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Obama’s showdown with ‘Teapublicans’

Believe it or not, President Obama’s decision to finally stand up to Teapublicans – a Republican Party hijacked by right-wing Tea Party zealots – in the latest standoff over the Affordable Care Act and the debt ceiling was the easy part. Next comes the real fireworks over the budget. And, judging from the past, the Democrats are likely to wave the white flag of surrender, even before the first shot is fired.

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U.S. government reopens, avoids default

President Barack Obama signed a bill into law early in the morning on Oct. 16 that ended the 16-day government shutdown and averted an impending financial crisis by raising the debt ceiling.

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Inside Jesse Jackson’s negotiation to win release of U.S. vet

Jesse Jackson was ensconced in his 6th floor suite at Hotel Nacional, at the end of the hallway, as the four people he had invited to accompany him to Cuba – James Gomez, director of International Affairs for the Rainbow PUSH Coalition; Lyle “Butch” Wing, the organization’s national political coordinator; Brewster McCauley, Jackson’s Chicago-based videographer, and this reporter – walked back and forth between the lounge and their rooms on the same floor.

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Yes, mental illness affects ‘us’

On Sept. 16, the news was shocking: A contract employee who worked at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., later identified as Aaron Alexis, killed 12 innocent people in the facility before he was killed by police.

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The truth about ‘Obamacare’

Major provisions of the Affordable Care Act went into effect on Tuesday and, like all new programs, there was a certain amount of uncertainty and confusion. But making things worse are the deliberate lies that have been told by what some call Obamacare.

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Government shutdown harder on Black workers

Although the shutdown of the federal government that began Tuesday is affecting all Americans, a disproportionate portion of the 800,000 furloughed federal workers are African Americans, according to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

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Selling out Black college football

I cringed as the scores came in over the weekend. Ohio State 76, Florida A&M 0. Florida State 54, Bethune-Cookman 6. Miami 77, Savannah State 7. Our HBCUs have traded their proud, rich football heritage for money. And I don’t think it’s worth it.

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Black media gets slighted, as spending power exceeds $1 trillion

Although annual Black spending is projected to rise from its current $1 trillion to $1.3 trillion by 2017, advertisers allot only 3 percent of their $2.2 billion yearly budget to media aimed at Black audiences, a new Nielsen report has found.

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1963, the pivotal year for civil rights

In the modern civil rights era, no year stands out in my memory more than 1963. I was a sophomore at Druid High School in Tuscaloosa, Ala., and living in McKenzie Court, the all-Black housing project on the west side of town. After a life of second-class citizenship, I finally saw the walls of segregation crumbling.

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Never say we haven’t made progress

Selma, Ala., the county seat of Dallas County, was a bastion of White supremacy in 1965. At the time, of the 15,000 potential Black voters, only 300 were registered. In response to chants of “We Shall Overcome,” by civil rights protesters, Sheriff Jim Clark wore a button on his uniform declaring, “Never.”

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D.C. marches inclusive – up to a point

Organizers of the two recent marches on Washington – one called by Al Sharpton and Martin Luther King III and the other engineered primarily by King’s sister, Bernice – almost stumbled over one another praising the diversity of their respective marches.

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Obama: Economic fairness, our ‘great unfinished business’

After repeatedly praising Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for leading a movement in the 1950s and 1960s that demolished America’s apartheid-like treatment of African Americans, President Obama told those attending an observance of the 1963 March on Washington Wednesday that making sure Blacks and Whites are on the same economic level is America’s “great unfinished business.”

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Marching orders for the future

Now that we’ve had two events at the Lincoln Memorial to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington, it is important to remember a few things about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. beyond his I Have a Dream speech.

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Why we’re still marching, 50 years later

For a while, it looked like the 50th anniversary observance of the March on Washington would expose a sharp split in the Civil Rights Movement. Al Sharpton jumped ahead of his colleagues by cornering Martin Luther King III and the two of them announced a March on Washington for Saturday. Other civil rights leaders were planning events around that time and complained privately that Sharpton and Martin III had locked up key funding from major labor groups, a primary source of funding for the movement.

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Events planned for March on Washington

In addition to the long-planned March on Washington scheduled for Aug. 24, the White House has announced that President Obama will speak at a commemorative service at the Lincoln Memorial on Aug. 28, the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Justice.

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Jackie Jackson: A mother’s love

On Wednesday, Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. was scheduled to be sentenced to prison in connection with using campaign funds for personal use. Dozens of letters were sent to the judge on his behalf, but none more touching than the one written by his mother, dated May 28. She began by noting, “I am Jacqueline Jackson, the mother of five children, one of whom I am writing about, my son Jesse Jackson Jr.”

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Jobs still a key issue 50 years after historic D.C. march

One of the primary goals of the 1963 March on Washington was finding or creating jobs for Blacks. At a panel discussion during the annual convention of the National Urban League, jobs was mentioned more frequently than any other topic as leaders discussed the famous march 50 years ago and an upcoming one planned for Aug. 24.

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The riches of international travel

CASABLANCA, Morocco – When I left Dulles Airport near Washington, D.C., last Thursday afternoon on Air France Flight #39, changed planes at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, and arrived Friday morning in the capital city of Rabat aboard Air France Flight # 1258, I knew I was in for an enriching experience that always accompanies international travel.

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Focus on poverty, not the middle class

Several of us were sharing our views on radio Sunday night with Gary Byrd when my friend and colleague Cash Michaels urged us to remember that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated while organizing poor people.

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