All Articles Tagged "Missouri"

Missouri Lawmaker Withdraws Bill That Would Have Revoked Scholarships Of Protesting Student Athletes

December 17th, 2015 - By Veronica Wells
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Earlier this week, we reported about a new bill proposed by Missouri representative Rick Brattin, calling for the revocation of student athlete scholarships if they participate in any protest or demonstration on campus.

According to The Kansas City Star, the Kansas City area lawmaker, has withdrawn it.

The bill, as both Brattin and his co-sponsor Kurt Bahr, have said was in direct response to the University of Missouri football team refusing to play any more games until the school’s president Tim Wolfe resigned.

The withdrawal comes less than a week after Brattin proposed the measure after it spurred strong debate across the state and nation, wondering if it infringed upon the rights of free speech for college athletes.

The bill also included fines for coaches who encouraged the protests or boycotts.

Brattin issued this statement.

“While I am withdrawing the legislation, I hope the conversation will continue so that we can take steps to ensure the University of Missouri is providing a stable, positive learning environment for our young people,” the statement said. “I sincerely believe students should be able to express their viewpoints, but I also believe our flagship state university has to keep and maintain the order that is expected from such an esteemed educational institution.”

Another Kansas City representative, Brandon Ellington, a Democrat, said Brattin made the right decision by withdrawing his bill.

“This unconstitutional legislation never should have been filed in the first place,” Ellington’s statement said. “Seeking to punish those who peacefully take a stand against racial injustice violates not only the constitutional right to free speech but the values we hold as Missourians.”



Support Black-Owned Businesses With Exploring Black Meccas

February 6th, 2015 - By jade
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A Black Mecca is a city where a good amount of African Americans live and thrive in the community on a daily basis. When you hear of a black mecca you always think of places such as Atlanta and DC but in this new two-part series two MadameNoire editors went to St. Louis to see what they had to offer. We are encouraging locals to support and celebrate small town businesses in the area during black history month!

 Click here to see Goapele give us a tour of Oakland.

For more information on the places that were featured in the segment see below:

Vaughn Cultural Center 

3701 Grandel Square

St. Louis, MO 63108

Cultivate Salon

1110 Tower Grove Ave.

St. Louis, MO 63110

Sweetie Pies (Mangrove Location)

4270 Manchester Ave.

St. Louis, MO 63110

Marquee Restaurant & Lounge 

1911 Locus St.

St. Louis, MO 63101


“People Just Got So Vile And Vicious” Iyanla Speaks On Social Media Outrage Behind Her Visit To Ferguson

September 22nd, 2014 - By Veronica Wells
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Source: OWN

Source: OWN

When we first learned that Iyanla Vanzant was visiting Ferguson, Missouri, shortly after Michael Brown was killed, many felt like it was too soon, or even worse that she was profiting off this tragedy. And in this day and age, with Facebook, Twitter and other forms of social media, people made their grievances known.

And while Iyanla didn’t let that stop her from continuing her service in the area, she did notice it and decided to remove herself from social media. She recently spoke about her decision to visit Ferguson and spreading negativity on the Rickey Smiley Morning Show.

“Well what happened was people didn’t understand that– well, you know we think the worst first. I became an opportunist. I was ‘taking advantage of the people’ and ‘why was I going in there?’ People just got so vile and vicious on social media and I don’t participate in things that aren’t healthy or loving. So I just pulled off.”

RIckey Smiley: I don’t understand stuff like that because we have a platform, a national platform to help you with your cause. Did you get paid for going to Ferguson?

Iyanla: No! And that was the other thing. People were upset This was the post where I said, ‘Ok, this is just insane.’ [The post read] ‘Since Iyanla and Oprah are going to make a fortune going to Ferguson, they should share it with the community.’  How did this get reduced to me making money?

I was disturbed by the images that I saw, the young men looting, the police going after the people. So I wanted to get on the ground. I went on the ground, in the community. I went to the site where Michael Brown was killed and prayed and poured libation for him because that’s coming out of my tradition. Just to get that spirit settled. I spoke to the young brothers, 15, 16, 17 years old who were masked and running up and down the street, screaming ‘No Justice, No Peace.’ And I’m like, ‘Why are you saying that? You have no justice, you have no peace. What is it that you want?’ I taught the people how to create an ask. What are you asking for?’ 

And I’m still in touch with them. I made a commitment to them. I gave them a plan of action, to pause, get clear, plan, prepare and participate. I’m still in touch with the mighty 13, young brothers that I put together to march. I made financial contributions to them. So I’m not worried about the people. What I’m worried about are the hundreds of thousands people who get on social media, powered by electronic waves and spew negativity into the universe, upon a person. We need to use our power wisely. You know how they had that campaign, “Don’t Tweet and Drive,” well I’m going to start a campaign about eliminating negativity on social media because it is dangerous. It is an energetic that we are sending out in the world and we direct that towards one person.  I could feel it in my heart, in my spirit, in my soul and so I just backed off. It’s dangerous.

You don’t have to like me but you can’t curse me. We need to understand, particularly people of color, we need to really be clear. Because the way your grand momma saved your butt from going to jail was because she got on her knees and prayed and she spoke those words out into the universe. So we’ve got to start using our power wisely.

I can relate. There really are far too many people, and yes, Black people, who are seemingly always ready and willing to tear you all the way down for every action and reaction. We saw that when we posted pictures for the #DontShoot campaign, people were saying it wasn’t enough or that we should be speaking about other issues. But when we posted news about celebrities, (in addition to the stories we’d already written about Michael Brown), folks asked why we weren’t talking about Mike Brown. You really can’t win these days. Whether you do speak, or don’t speak, there will almost always be a naysayer, who likely hasn’t done anything, attempting to piss on your efforts.

You can listen to Iyanla’s full interview with Rickey Smiley in the video below.

Newly Passed Missouri Law Requires 72-Hour Reflection Period Before Abortion

September 15th, 2014 - By Jazmine Denise Rogers
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Source: Shutterstock

Source: Shutterstock

Last week, Missouri legislators passed a law that will now require women to take a 72-hour reflection period after consulting a healthcare provider about getting an abortion, Al Jazeera reports. The law was enacted after Republican lawmakers banned together to override a veto presented by Democratic Governor Jay Nixon, who pegged the 3-day wait period as “extreme and disrespectful,” as it made no exceptions for incest or rape victims.

Nixon’s veto, however, was overturned my Missouri’s House by a 117-44 vote.

“[If] you get a couple of more days to think about this pregnancy, think about where it’s going, you may change your mind” about terminating your pregnancy, said Rep. Kathie Conway, a Republican from St. Charles.

Abortion advocates, on the other hand, feel that the law is insulting to women who have more than likely already done their share of “soul-searching” before taking the steps to have their pregnancies terminated.

“It’s designed to demean and shame a woman in an effort to change her mind,” said Rep. Judy Morgan, a Democrat from Kansas City.

The new law will take effect 30 days after the veto-override. Currently, approximately half of the states in the U.S. (including Missouri) have abortion waiting periods of 24 hours.

What are your thoughts on Missouri requiring a 72-hour waiting period?

You Want To Help Ferguson? Get In Touch With Its Leaders: Committeewoman Says It’s Time To Participate Politically

September 3rd, 2014 - By Charing Ball
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Patricia Bynes, democratic committee person of Ferguson Township, has the best advice for those looking to help Ferguson right now:

“My message for anybody who wants to help Ferguson: you need to get in touch with its leaders, because that is who can tell you exactly what’s going on,” she said during our telephone interview.

And according to Bynes, the word is that the people are tired.

More specifically the residents of Canfield Green apartment complex, who have been traumatized by not only the shooting (including having the uncovered body of 17-year old Michael Brown laid for four hours outside of their windows), but also by the SWAT, the tear gas and the national media, who have descended on their door steps.

And in some small ways, they are also worn out by the people, who are only trying to help.

“They can’t take the marches, which start at 10 a.m. and goes on through the day into evening and into the early morning hours. They are tired and they can not sleep. Sometimes they don’t know what day they are going to be able to get out on the street and the neighborhood because of all the police barricades, to go to the work.I spoke to a resident just yesterday and he said that he is trying to break his lease to get out of Canfield. They want to see justice for Mike Brown, but it is becoming too much.”

Bynes, who has been committee person since 2007, wonders if we are setting the local residents with protest-fatigue and more importantly, how that will effect them when it is time to organize for the long haul. And she would understand the difficulty in long term organizing.

Although she regularly keeps the ear of township, city and state officials, Bynes’ position is on a volunteer basis. It’s one she does while still working a full time gig within the United States Soybean Export Council. And it is a position she says she does out of pure passion for the community since she was first appointed after the previous committeewoman, 70 year old Phyllis Foulks retired. Bynes has since run for the position and won the election.

Although she does not physically live inside of Ferguson, she does like a couple of minutes away within the unincorporated St. Louis county, which is a part of the large matrix of 90 municipalities and 28 township, which makes up St. Louis County. Still, as committeewoman for the area, she is somewhat vexed by a number of politicians in particular, who she says have been “talking for the city” and have failed to reach out to current leadership within the Ferguson community.

Political leaders like Antonio French, who is an alderman in St. Louis City, a twenty minute drive away from Ferguson. Also Mo. State Senator Jamilah Nasheed, whose district has no jurisdiction over Ferguson.

“Two of the largest, loudest voices that you hear, have nothing to do and can’t truly help on the ground, for real, when it comes to creating legislation and policy for Ferguson,” she said.

Legislation, policies and other efforts to address what she calls the lack of political interest by young people. Bynes believes that young people in Ferguson bare the brunt of a lot of these actions against them including being targeted by law enforcement.

Bynes would know considering she didn’t really get into politics until the age of 31 (she is 34 years old now). Prior to that, she said that she had been running with an activist group of people and had always been against the status quo. However she said she began to realize that in order to change the system people, particularly good progressive people, had to be willing to work to write and implement rules, which  make the police and other figures more accountable.

“And that is what I need young people to understand. Just because we are right and just because we are visible angry, that is not enough to actually change what’s going on. And we have to think how can we implement the change we actually need and that means getting a voice at the political table,” she said, also adding: “What folks don’t seem to understand is that the status quo works very well for many people and not many people are going to be willing to give up their position of power. Therefore you have to be willing to step up to the plate and take it.”

Even if it means starting out for smaller political seats – like committee person, she said.

Bynes asserts that she is not trying to preach to the young activists, who she feels has been courageously protesting in the streets of Ferguson for nearly a month now. Instead, she is only seeking to address a lack of political participation in the area, which she says contributes to much of the discomfort of Black residents. As she asserts, there are two Fergusons: the White Ferguson, who doesn’t have a problem and loves the community the way it is (as indicative of the ever popular I “heart” Ferguson window signs, which litter downtown) and the second Ferguson, which is out in the streets, protesting now.

Bynes said that she is inspired by the young activist and wants to work with many of them. Her aim to help those interested in running for office, to offer political and campaign training and assistance. But as she also advises, this can only come after the youth are finished protesting out in the streets and have given serious consideration to what they feel like the issues are.

And after they have given residents, particularly around the Canfield Green apartment complex, what she calls “a rest.”

“What I need people to understand is that this is a long term,” she said. “If you really want to help Ferguson, you help us knock on these doors. You help us make these calls. You will help us motivate these residents to vote and run for office.”


Was Iyanla Vanzant Profiting Off Of Ferguson’s Pain?

August 29th, 2014 - By Veronica Wells
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Was Iyanla Vanzant Profiting Off Of Ferguson's Pain?

Source: OWN

When I learned that Iyanla Vanzant was traveling to Ferguson, Missouri I’ll admit I had a bit of trepidation.

I love Iyanla but the fact that she was taking her cameras with her didn’t exactly comfort me. Then there was the picture of police chief Thomas Jackson, seated with Michael Brown’s uncle, Charles Ewing, a pastor, the two of them holding hands with Iyanla’s clasped over them. I’m a Christian and I know we’re supposed to heal and forgive but it seemed to be a little too soon, no? Was that healing authentic? Had Brown’s uncle really forgiven the police department, before he’d even had a chance to bury his nephew?

It felt like too much too soon.

That’s the thing, I’ve started to question about these types of tragedies. It’s a double edged sword in losing your loved one in the public eye, the way Michael Brown’s family lost him. On the one hand, you feel an outpouring of support from strangers who affirm that your relative’s life meant something but on the other hand, the grieving process is a bit rushed and unnatural when you have to explain the depths of your sadness to the media or fight and grieve at the same time.

And apparently, I wasn’t the only one who felt Vanzant’s actions were a bit ill timed.

Though she released a statement through OWN saying she was traveling to Ferguson to “provide a set of tools to begin the healing process while also promoting peaceful change,” Black Twitter didn’t take too kindly to program. And really, that picture, the one you see above, set people off.

People interpreted the message to mean that, once again, Black people would have to be the bigger people and forgive an injustice that has yet to stop hurting and literally killing us. One person wrote:

“There’s been reports of black professors, actors, sheriffs and so on being racially profiled. How much more ‘acceptable’ do we have to be? As a black person, you should not have to prove your worth, your value in order to be treated as a human being.”

Of course, she’s right. Officer Darren Wilson hasn’t been arrested yet. The Ferguson police department has released very few, hard facts about what actually went down during the moments when Brown was killed; but somehow, in the midst of that very important work, police chief Jackson had time to sit down with Iyanla Vanzant…on camera?

Come on…

And still others are questioning whether or not Vanzant traveled to Ferguson so that she could profit off of the people’s pain.

While I agree, it might have been a better idea to chill on the cameras for a minute, I don’t think she went there with ill intentions.

After all, Iyanla herself has lost a daughter. She knows what type of “work” it takes to heal from something like that, if complete healing is even possible.

And while people outside of Ferguson, looking in, may feel a way about her being there, the people on the street seemed to appreciate having her there to listen to their grievances and even found comfort in the prayers she offered at the site of Michael Brown’s death.

In her prayer, it was clear to me that Iyanla was not there to stunt. OWN’s cameras might not have captured this moment but it was a powerful one. During her prayer, she said:

“We know that in the DNA of our beings, we know what to do. And we are calling it forth right now God and we ask that you give it to us more than we fear it. We ask that you give us the voice, we ask that you give us the clarity. We ask that you give us the courage to call out the things that need to be called out to make life better for those coming up behind us.”

I always found it so interesting that people always take issue with Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. And I guess I get it. People think that they’re “ambulance chasers” seeking to gain shine in the midst of tragedies. But I never felt that way. And listening to Sharpton eulogize Mike Brown this past week, that feeling was reaffirmed.

We might not like the way Jesse, Al or even Iyanla seek to bring awareness to these issues but they are doing something. And the only thing worse than making a mistake in doing something is doing nothing and condemning those who are trying.

Ferguson Protestor Cusses Fox News Reporter Out On Live Tv

August 22nd, 2014 - By Veronica Wells
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Screen Shot 2014-08-22 at 1.46.24 PM

Don Lemon wasn’t the only news anchor to be challenged in relation to the protesting in Ferguson. Fox News, was also in Ferguson covering the story when things went way left.

Fox anchor, Steve Harrigan was there, on the sidewalk, a safe distance away from the real action ie. tear gas and even shots at one point, when he started talking trash about the protestors.

He said, “This is right now, a media event pure and simple. This is people running toward tear gas, running away from it. The dignified protestors went home at dusk. This is just child’s play right now.”

Well one man didn’t take kindly to those words and he embarrassed the hell out of Harrigan while he was on tv.

Basically, he challenged Harrigan in a very real way. What about this is child’s play? And to who? Watching the moment unfold is better than the transcript could ever be so I strongly encourage you to watch the video.

I watched that video with sheer delight. Dee-Light! While I will say the media is doing a good job in the volume of coverage they’ve dedicated the shooting of Mike Brown and the subsequent protesting but I’ve seen too much focus being directed toward the few people who’ve decided to loot or use violence. I’ve seen very, very little actually describing the hostile nature with which the police are behaving towards the mostly peaceful protesters. I understand that a curfew has been imposed but the people of Ferguson and across the nation and world don’t stop being angry, hurt, confused, disenfranchised, betrayed and embittered at midnight.

In fact, the militarized presence after the sun sets, the fact that the police raided a church, the headquarters for many protestors, to break morale, the fact that tear gas and rubber bullets have been used against mostly peaceful protestors would only stand to make people even more upset.

So to suggest that the “dignified protestors” have gone to bed is a joke. People in Ferguson are so angry because authorities haven’t heard them historically and they aren’t really hearing them today. I hear plenty of media reports talking about the rioting and the anger but there aren’t enough people trying to even find out why people are so enraged. An 18 year old was killed and his body laid in the street for four hours after his death. Of course they’re upset as well they should be. It would behoove Fox News and all the other media outlets to really do some investigative work and ask the protestors what they’re fighting for, why they’re angry and what would they need in order to restore peace. Any calm that comes before any of their issues are addressed, will only be temporary.

Mike Brown’s Parents Talk Meeting With Eric Holder + Iyanla Challenges Rappers To Come To Ferguson

August 21st, 2014 - By Veronica Wells
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Screen Shot 2014-08-21 at 9.33.59 PM

Earlier we told you that Attorney General Eric Holder was traveling to Ferguson, Missouri to meet with law enforcement to discuss how they can improve the ways in which things have been run down there. It seems to be helping a bit. Today, the governor ordered that National Guard withdraw from the protests. What we didn’t know was that Holder was also planning on meeting with the parents of the slain teenager, Michael Brown.

In a recent interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Brown’s parents spoke about their meeting with Holder and whether or not it restored any of their faith in the justice system.

Here’s what Michael’s mother Lesley McSpadden had to say:

You can read a person. And when you’re looking at them and they’re looking at you in your eyes, it put some trust back there, that you lost. And he did ensure that it’ll be a fair and thorough investigation. 

Anderson Cooper: Do you have confidence in the investigations- the county, state and federal investigations?

Up until yesterday, I didn’t. But just hearing the words come directly from his mouth, face to face, he made me feel like one day I will. And I’m not saying today or yesterday but one day, they’ll regain my trust.

You can watch the clip of their interview below.


And in other Ferguson news, Iyanla Vanzant has traveled to the suburb of St. Louis to not only is she there filming a special episode of “Iyanla Fix My Life” but to speak to some of the protesters and community members and pray for peace and healing for Ferguson and for our very troubled nation. Today, at 3 pm she started her 14 day peace challenge while the legal process unfolds. And Iyanla not only issued the challenge, she also asked some prominent members of the Hip Hop community to join her. She said the young people feel like the elders in the community aren’t hearing them or taking part so she asked that people who young people listen to and respect should show go to Ferguson and participate in the challenge. In a video posted on her Facebook page yesterday, Vanzant challenged rappers Jay Z, LeBron James, common, Nas, Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q, Drake and Lil Wayne. Take a look at it below.

As far as I know the only rapper whose responded is Common. Check out the video he sent below.

11 More Updates About The Michael Brown Case And The Ferguson Unrest You Should Know

August 18th, 2014 - By Charing Ball
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Source: Facebook

Source: Facebook

In short, lots has happened over the weekend in Ferguson. And the story is still evolving.

What we do know for certain is that at the time of this report, Officer Darren Wilson had not be charged in the killing of 18 year Michael Brown.

I really feel strongly that folks should be paying attention to this. So here are some other updates:

That’s Not It: School Suggests 13 Year Old Gets Breast Reduction To Stop Harrassment At School

January 23rd, 2013 - By Veronica Wells
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Middle school can be a tough time for any child but school administrators are supposed to be there to step in, in case things get too far out of hand. But unfortunately, for Tammie Jackson and her 13 year old daughter that was not the case.

Tammie Jackson, of St Louis County, Missouri, said that her 13 year old daughter Gabrielle has been experiencing sexual harassment because of the size of her breasts. When Tammie called the school district to inform them of the issue, instead of looking into the issue, having a conversation with the students in question, they suggested that Tammie get her daughter a breast reduction.

Once the news hit, the school claimed they’re investigating the issue and were going to provide counseling for students who are undergoing bullying issues.

But still for Tammie, the initial response she received was inappropriate, “Talk with the kids. Let them know people’s bodies are changing, everybody is different, but God made us all great.”

A breast reduction, huh? At thirteen? As women, our bodies aren’t even done growing at thirteen. What legit surgeon would take her on as a patient? The suggestion is not only ridiculous, it’s unhealthy, both emotionally and physically if she were to decide to actually go through with it. I hope the school rectifies this situation but really it’s not all that surprising to me. After all, this is America where misogynist attitudes reign. This suggestion of getting a breast reduction is right along in the same vein with people, men and women alike, blaming involuntary sex victims.

How do you think the school should have handled this situation? If this were your daughter what would you have done at this very inappropriate, very insensitive suggestion?