Civil rights advocates give Kerry 100 percent rating
The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR) recently gave Sen.
John Kerry, D-Mass., a 100 percent rating, its highest possible grade,
citing his work on minimum wage and immigration reform legislation, and
his opposition to judicial nominees whom the organization says
“disregard basic civil rights.”
“LCCR fights every day for civil rights and equal opportunity, and too
often has had to claw and scrape to hold on to the gains of the last 30
years in the face of an unprecedented, systematic campaign by the right
wing to take us backwards,” said Kerry in a statement. “I’m proud to
have stood up for the freedom and opportunity that makes America great,
and I’ll keep up that fight in the United States Senate.”
Nancy Zirkin, LCCR’s executive vice president, said Kerry’s perfect
score “highlights his staunch support of critical civil, social and
human rights issues.”
Kerry is a co-sponsor of the Civil Rights Act of 2008, which aims to
“increase accountability when civil rights and workers rights are
violated … [and] help to restore rights that the Supreme Court has
weakened through its flawed decisions over the last 8 years,” according
to a Kerry statement.
He has supported comprehensive immigration reform; backs the DREAM Act,
which helps undocumented children attend college and apply for
citizenship; led the filibuster against Supreme Court Justice Samuel
Alito’s confirmation; opposed the nomination of Chief Justice John
Roberts; and opposed Attorney General Michael Mukasey’s appointment
because of his refusal to deem water-boarding torture.
Roxbury youth organization to host summer training program
VISIONS Inc. of Roxbury is preparing to introduce the “Legacy Project,”
its first summer training program for young people between the ages of
15 and 25.
The eight-week training program, funded by a $52,000 grant from the
Michigan-based W.K. Kellogg Foundation, will “give participants an
in-depth understanding of multiculturalism, and valuable strategies to
lead discussions about diversity issues in cross-cultural settings,”
according to a statement from the organization, a 23-year-old nonprofit
professing to teach “anti-racism and anti-oppression strategies.”
Program participants will produce a collaborative community event
intended to accomplish two goals: providing safe, positive engagement
for local youth, and giving local performers an opportunity to shine.
Participants will also have the option of continuing their training and
becoming certified VISIONS Youth Consultants.
“By creating jobs and volunteer opportunities for young people ... we
hope to expose them to the importance of community activism,” the
Sessions begin June 23 and run through Aug. 23. For more information
about the Legacy Project, contact Jamila Capitman at 857-277-2422 or
via e-mail at email@example.com. For more information, visit www.visions-inc.org.
7 Hub companies earn “Inner City Urban Business Award”
from the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC) and the Boston
Redevelopment Authority (BRA) recently joined Mayor Thomas M. Menino to
announce that seven Boston businesses received the 2008 Inner City 100
Award for Excellence in Urban Business.
The seven companies, who are now finalists for the National Inner City
100 Award, include: ARGUS, City Fresh Foods, Commonwealth Worldwide
Chauffeured Transportation, Dancing Deer Baking Company, Roxbury
Technology, Suffolk Construction and Tech Networks of Boston.
Founded 10 years ago by ICIC and Inc. magazine, the Inner City 100 is a
program that ranks and publicizes the fastest growing inner city
businesses nationwide. Over the years, the list has spotlighted
thousands of thriving urban businesses.
David G. Latimore, president and CEO of ICIC, said the Inner City 100
“has shown the nation how the advantages of inner cities, such as
diverse workforces and strategic locations, can combine to create
Criteria that companies must meet to qualify for the list include
having at least 51 percent of their operations located in an
economically distressed urban area and at least 10 employees.
The national Inner City 100 list will be unveiled at the 10th Annual
Inner City Awards Dinner at the Boston Convention & Exhibition
Center on May 1.
Washington Group Int’l to pay $1.5 million to racially harassed black workers
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently
announced a settlement with Washington Group International Inc. (WGI)
for $1.5 million on behalf of African American workers who were
harassed at their Everett workplace, and then retaliated against for
WGI provides planning, engineering, design, construction, technical,
management and operations, and maintenance services to public and
private sector clients.
The EEOC charged in its lawsuit that WGI created a racially hostile
work environment for black employees and failed to take appropriate
action to remedy the discriminatory conduct at the Sithe Mystic Power
Plant construction project in Everett, which the company managed from
approximately Dec. 2001 through June 2003.
According to the EEOC, WGI not only subjected black employees to racial
graffiti and other forms of harassment, but retaliated against those
“Employers must remain vigilant in protecting all employees from racial
harassment, especially in today’s increasingly diverse labor force,”
said Spencer H. Lewis Jr. of the EEOC’s New York District Office.
“Rather than swiftly taking corrective action to remedy the racially
hostile workplace, WGI targeted the victims for retaliatory measures,
The EEOC filed suit against WGI in 2004. The consent decree resolving
the case was submitted to U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Marianne
B. Bowler for approval.
Under the decree, WGI will pay $1.3 million to be shared among six
African American former employees, and $200,000 to be divided among 11
similarly situated individuals.
Additional injunctive relief includes requiring WGI to conduct
anti-discrimination training and implement an anti-graffiti policy;
revise its equal employment opportunity policies and procedures; post a
notice about the settlement for all Power Unit construction sites for
the next two years; and monitoring by the EEOC for two years.
“Thrive in Five” partnership aims to boost Hub students’ school prep
A collaborative headed by Mayor Thomas M. Menino and the United Way of
Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley recently announced the launch of
a partnership intended to stop the development of an educational
achievement gap between the next generation of white and minority
students before it starts.
The 10-year initiative, called “Thrive in Five,” seeks to join
families, educators, health care and human service providers, private
sector contributors, city departments and state agencies to prepare
Boston school children for academic success.
“We have an obligation — scientific, economic and ethical — to focus on
our children’s earliest years and provide them and their parents with
the tools they need to achieve,” said Menino in a statement.
Toward that end, Menino announced the initiative has already received
$3.25 million in funding commitments. The City of Boston has pledged
$750,000, and the United Way $1.3 million. The remaining $1.2 million
will come over the next three years from Children’s Hospital Boston,
Partners HealthCare and the Nellie Mae Education Foundation.
The initiative draws on economic and scientific data compiled by Dr.
Jack Shonkoff of Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child
indicating that brain and cognitive development early in a child’s life
have long-term impacts. Trauma and neglect at an early age can
negatively influence that development, leading to problems with
learning, health and behavior later in life.
According to the announcement, Thrive in Five will focus on surrounding
children and families with school readiness support, raising the
quality of early education and care and screening children at younger
ages to identify potential threats to healthy development.
“This is a community effort,” said Michael K. Durkin, president and CEO
of the United Way, in a statement. “Families, government, health care,
nonprofits, the business sector — we all win when a child is ready to
succeed in school and life.”
For more information, visit www.thrivein5boston.org.
Applications ready for Mayor’s Youth Council
application for Boston youth interested in joining the Mayor’s Youth
Council is now available. Applications will be accepted until April 17.
Menino established the council in 1994 “to provide Boston’s young
people with an active role in addressing youth issues,” according to a
Mayor’s Office statement.
The council’s members are volunteers chosen to act as information
liaisons between city youth and the Mayor’s Office — they tell their
peers about existing opportunities for young people in Boston and take
suggestions about how kids think City Hall can improve its youth
“The Mayor’s Youth Council is not only a great resource for teens
living in the city, it is a great opportunity for these teens to take
active roles representing their neighborhoods and dealing with the
issues their peers face,” Menino said. “The Youth Council is a way for
teens to gain valuable leadership experience … They are my eyes and
ears in the neighborhoods.”
Spots on the council are open to teen residents of Boston who will be
entering their junior or senior years in high school or an alternative
program this coming September. Knowledge of existing teen programs is
Representatives from each neighborhood will be chosen. The time commitment is about 10 hours a month.
Those interested in applying can visit www.bostonyouth
Local lawyers to offer free legal advice exclusively to veterans
Massachusetts Bar Association (MBA) has announced it will hold a free
session of its monthly “Dial-A-Lawyer” program dedicated solely to the
legal questions of veterans of the United States Armed Forces.
Veterans interested in discussing legal issues with an attorney are
asked to call the Dial-A-Lawyer phone line at 617-338-0610 between 5:30
and 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 9. The number will only be active
during those three hours on that date. If callers receive a busy
signal, the MBA asks that they hang up and try again. While the legal
advice is free, standard local telephone charges will apply.
“Veterans’ legal needs are extensive and diverse, and we are lucky to
have a talented group of committed attorneys to provide complimentary
legal advice to veterans across the Commonwealth,” MBA Executive
Director Marilyn J. Wellington said.
According to Thomas Kelley, secretary of the state Department of
Veterans’ Services, many of the nearly 500,000 veterans living in
Massachusetts face pressing legal issues, ranging from divorce and
child support to landlord/tenant disputes and procurement of benefits.
“Many men and women who return home from serving our country in the
U.S. military have complex or unique [problems] … that require
professional assistance,” said Kelley. But, he added, “the costs
associated with hiring a lawyer to answer their questions” discourage
many from seeking that aid, making the MBA’s free assistance all the