Posts made in January 2024

Vandals Strike Iconic Jackie Robinson Statue Ahead of Black History Month

A prized Jackie Robinson statue was stolen from a public park in Kansas by thieves who sawed off the bronze sculpture, leaving behind the iconic baseball player’s feet.

The brazen theft slammed by officials as “horrendous” and “disgusting” took place just one week before the start of Black History Month. “More than frustrated, I am angry to see that this has happened,” said Wichita City Council member Brandon Johnson. “This was disgusting. This should never happen.”

According to news reports the thieves struck sometime during the night at the League 42 baseball fields in McAdams Park, which is also home to the Jackie Robinson Pavilion. Surveillance footage shows at least two people topple the hefty statue and load it into a silver pick-up truck. City officials theorize the criminals are planning on selling the beloved statue as scrap metal. The sculpture cost the city upwards of $100,000 to install in 2021.

“A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives,” Jackie Robinson

“It has a huge impact in regards to the history of our community, the history of baseball, what Jackie Robinson really means and this step is actually the opposite of everything that Jackie Robinson stood for. So it’s just appalling to me,” said Troy Houtman, the Director of Parks and Recreation.

According to Houtman, the park has been dealing with a string of vandalism in recent months, and officials are offering the opportunity to return the iconic statue “no questions asked.” “We move on and repair this statue. Hopefully, they’re wise enough to do that and bring the statue back so we can make the repair. If not, I think we’ll find some other actions might occur,” said Houtman. The Wichita Metro Crime Commission offered a reward of up to $2,500 for tips leading to arrests and another $5,000 for tips that lead to the statue’s recovery.


  • Charred remnants of the stolen Jackie Robinson bronze statue were found Tuesday inside a trash can at a Kansas park, officials said. Pieces of the statue were dumped in the garbage and lit on fire at Garvey Park in Wichita, a police spokesperson said during a press conference streamed by KWCH. 

Third Most Common Places Hate Crimes Occur are Schools, FBI Says

Schools and college campuses are where 10% of all reported hate crimes occurred in 2022, according to a new FBI report.

Hate Crime Statistics 2022
This report provides an overview of hate crime statistics reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in 2022. The data is based on information collected from law enforcement agencies across the United States through the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program.

Key Findings

  • The FBI received 7,264 hate crime reports in 2022, a decrease of 5% from the 7,614 reports received in 2021.
  • The majority of hate crimes were motivated by race/ethnicity/ancestry (49.9%), followed by religion (24.1%), sexual orientation (18.2%), and gender identity (4.7%).
  • The most common type of hate crime was intimidation (35.9%), followed by assault (27.2%), and vandalism/property damage (17.7%).
  • The majority of hate crimes were committed in urban areas (64.6%), followed by suburban areas (24.4%) and rural areas (11.0%).
  • The largest number of hate crimes was reported in California (1,380), followed by New York (622), and Texas (545).
  • Hate crimes were more likely to be committed against African Americans (38.4%), followed by Jews (14.5%), and Latinos/Hispanics (12.4%).
  • The majority of hate crimes were committed by white males (52.2%).


The data suggests that hate crimes remain a persistent problem in the United States. While the overall number of hate crimes reported to the FBI decreased in 2022, the number of hate crimes motivated by race/ethnicity/ancestry and religion increased. This increase is concerning and highlights the need for continued efforts to address hate crimes and promote tolerance and understanding. The FBI is committed to working with law enforcement agencies and community partners to combat hate crimes. The agency is also working to improve its hate crime reporting system to ensure that all hate crimes are accurately reported and investigated.

Hate crime statistics released by the FBI last year showed that reported incidents in 2022 rose to 11,634 incidents, the highest number recorded since the FBI started tracking data in 1991, marking a 0.5% increase compared with 2021.

Additional Key Points

  • More than 30% of all juvenile victims were targeted at school. Hate crimes that occurred at schools most frequently occurred at elementary and secondary schools, the report found, and were most commonly motivated by anti-Black hate.
  • A senior FBI official said the goal of the new report was intended to draw the attention of school officials and local law enforcement to hate crime data and the number of incidents that occur in schools. The report is made available to allow local communities and officials to take action.
  • The FBI’s publication did not include 2023 data, a year that saw increased tensions on college campuses after Hamas’ Oct. 7, 2023, attack on Israel killing 1,200 and Israel’s subsequent retaliatory bombardment of the Gaza Strip that is still ongoing with the Palestinian death toll nearing 30,000. 
  • FBI officials said a separate analysis of data would be needed to address 2023 data.

Mississippi Group Aims to Increase Black Women’s Voting Power

By Safiya Charles

It’s not by chance that Cassandra Welchlin leads an organization focused on advocating for the needs of Black women. The social worker, organizer and now executive director of the Mississippi Black Women’s Roundtable (MS BWR), learned the relationship between power and choice at an early age.

Welchlin is the daughter of a single mother who earned a little over $2 an hour cleaning office buildings in downtown Jackson. Her mother couldn’t afford child care, so Welchlin hid in a utility closet as her mom worked. It was in that closet where Welchlin said she learned her ABCs.

“My mother worked across the street from the state Capitol where mostly white male legislators had the power to write a bill into law to increase her wages,” said Welchlin. “I saw that struggle and developed empathy. I may not have known the words to describe it back then, but I understood that this was about women’s economic security and Black women having dignity in their work.”

Today, she leads a group that works to shift power at the voting booth and at the policy table by advocating for policies and leaders that will improve opportunities for Black women and girls to make the best choices for their families and communities. Its work to advance women’s economic security, increase voter participation and support Black women in leadership has earned the nonprofit a $600,000 Vote Your Voice (VYV) grant over three years to support its operations.

The Southern Poverty Law Center initiative, conducted in partnership with the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, supports local, grassroots organizations that are committed to strengthening democracy and voting rights in communities of color in the Deep South. The SPLC has pledged $100 million in grants over the next decade to support organizations in Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi.

“We can’t overstate how critical this work is,” said Robin Brule, the SPLC’s Vote Your Voice program officer. “We’re working with groups on the ground that are place-based and incredibly knowledgeable about their own communities, that have built strong, trusted relationships. They’re working to remove discriminatory barriers to the ballot and are committed to expanding civic engagement and participation, operating, unfortunately, with very few resources to ensure every voter has a voice.”


Cassandra Welchlin is executive director of the Mississippi Black Women’s Roundtable, recipient of a three-year, $600,000 Vote Your Voice grant. (Credit: Jonathan Collins)

The need for this work in Mississippi is undeniable.

Black women in the state who work full-time, year-round earn 57 cents for every dollar white men make, while part-time, part-year workers earn only 51 cents, according to data from the National Women’s Law Center. Child care remains a significant barrier to economic advancement, particularly for single mothers in a state where almost 50% of children are raised in single-parent households – among the highest share in the nation.

Access to adequate health and reproductive care is also a major challenge for many women and families, as the state has for years refused to expand Medicaid coverage for low-wage earning people. Also, last year, when the federal government ended the COVID-19 public health emergency, the state started purging beneficiaries from its rolls.

Monique Harvin came to MS BWR after the birth of her fifth child. Despite having undergone a surgical procedure to prevent future pregnancies, doctors told Harvin she had a tubular pregnancy, a potentially life-threatening condition for mother and baby.

“It was stressful – emotionally, spiritually, and on my body,” said Harvin. “It was hard for me to accept.”

After a difficult pregnancy, and the delivery of a healthy baby, Harvin’s mental health swiftly declined. She felt tired and depressed. Her children’s father worked out of town, leaving her to juggle four young children, a newborn and other responsibilities. She needed help.

Yet Harvin said she couldn’t access any substantial postpartum services through Medicaid because she no longer qualified during a short period following her child’s birth. Before March of last year, Mississippi women could receive only two months of postpartum Medicaid care.

In a passing conversation, a co-worker told Harvin that MS BWR might be interested in hearing her story and could possibly offer some help. Harvin reached out, and she joined what would become a series of meetings and conversations about Black and Latinx women’s struggles seeking quality health care in the state.

“I felt immediately like, ‘Monique, you’re not alone,’” Harvin said. “I got a chance to get it out, to express my concerns, my thoughts, my feelings. Something that had once caused me trauma, depression and anxiety, I could be open about it in a safe environment. Not only sharing but hearing other women’s stories and making connections really helped me to overcome those barriers.”

The initiative, Mississippi Voices Project, which addresses access to health care for Black and Latinx women, is just one of the ways MS BWR aims to translate the individual needs and stories of women into political action. The organization also runs a program, called Quarters Because We Care Project, that provides laundry services to low-income families throughout the year.

“We leverage that as an opportunity to do all the work that we do,” said Welchlin. “We do voter registration in the laundromat. My mother is also a retired teacher. She conducts school in the laundromat. While the moms are washing, she takes their babies and reads with them.”


The nonprofit also provides rent and utility support to mothers in need, while offering training opportunities for women interested in political leadership and youth civic engagement.

Khloe Robinson is a 10th grader who became involved with MS BWR when her mother brought her along to some community cleanup events the group held around Jackson. She’s now part of a youth leadership team that works to help young people understand the power of voting and ensure that when they’re old enough to cast a ballot, they’re motivated to head to the polls.

“We see a lot of politicians who don’t really represent us, that’s why making sure Black people get out and vote is so important,” said Robinson. “Mississippi Black Women’s Roundtable is really focused on making Jackson a better place. They really try to get into the community and inform people about what we can do to make this city better.”

The SPLC grant will help MS BWR expand its existing work outside of the Jackson metro area, to conduct surveys and polling, and to continue voting rights and youth engagement work year-round. One of the group’s aims is to increase participation in down-ballot elections that have a pronounced impact on local communities.

“We are thrilled about this grant,” Welchlin said. “So often, small nonprofits don’t get the recognition, don’t get the dollars. Yet we’re the ones that are closest to the people. We are the people; our families are the people. So, this is personal. We still haven’t gotten to where we want to, but we’ve grown so much. This means a lot.”

Here’s a look at Mississippi’s other Vote Your Voice grant recipients and how they plan to use this funding to strengthen democracy:


The Children’s Defense Fund works to level the playing field for all children by advocating for policies that improve their lives and by creating community partnerships and programs to empower children and their families – with a particular focus on the needs of children in families with low incomes, children of color and children with disabilities. Through this $300,000 grant, the organization aims to boost civic engagement, voter education, registration and mobilization among young people, returning citizens, individuals purged from voter rolls and sporadic voters by hosting community workshops and forums; door-to-door canvassing; a targeted issued-based communications campaign; and digital engagement.


The Mississippi Center for Reentry provides life skills and job training, GED education, career planning and job placement assistance to formerly incarcerated people to assist them in reentering society. Since 2022, the group has provided voter education and held registration drives in Mississippi prisons, educating more than 400 individuals and assisting more than 150 currently incarcerated people in completing voter registration applications. Through this grant, the organization aims to increase civic engagement among formerly incarcerated Mississippians of color in nonmetro areas and to advocate for policy change within the corrections system.


The Mississippi State Conference NAACP is a chapter of the historic civil rights organization, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Since 1909, its mission has been to eliminate racial discrimination and ensure the political, educational, social and economic equality of all people. Since 2012, the Mississippi State Conference NAACP has registered more than 50,000 new voters. With this grant, it seeks to increase the voting participation rates of Black people throughout the state by increasing knowledge and awareness on issues impacting the community such as health care access and Medicaid expansion, minimum wage, and criminal justice reform.


The Parents’ Campaign Research and Education Fund is an alliance of moms, dads, grandparents, teachers, community leaders and citizens who advocate for Mississippi’s public school students. The organization provides objective research and analysis of public education policies and legislation to state leaders, policymakers and the public. With this SPLC grant, the organization aims to mobilize Mississippi public school supporters in critical elections and to engage and coach local advocates to become agents of civic change who can directly influence leaders and institutions that determine the quality of their children’s education and economic and civic opportunities. The group will be particularly focused on engaging communities of color, rural communities, young and single parents, and low-wealth households.


We Must Vote is a voter mobilization organization created to help people understand the power of their vote by providing education, registration and transportation assistance to underserved communities and people who have rarely or never voted. Over the last several years, it has registered more than 21,000 voters and assisted 255 formerly incarcerated people in restoring their voting rights. With the grant, We Must Vote aims to increase voter turnout among Black citizens in rural communities who have limited access to resources, through targeted campaigns, door-to-door canvassing and voting rights restoration efforts.


One Voice is a nonprofit working to democratize public policy in Mississippi. The organization advocates for the representation of historically silenced communities in spaces of power and works with communities to increase their awareness and capacity to create change and build power. With this SPLC grant, One Voice will work to expand voting rights in the state, push back against voter suppression laws and increase civic engagement among young Latinx voters in rural areas.


Mississippi Votes is a youth-led intergenerational organization invested in moving Mississippi forward through outreach that empowers young people, encourages civic engagement and educates communities on voting rights through place-based grassroots organizing. Through this grant, Mississippi Votes will increase its voter registration activities among low-propensity Black and Latinx voters, host youth policy summits, increase its field operations and door-knocking initiatives, and continue to advocate for electoral transparency in state politics.

Remembering the Challenger Space Shuttle Accident: A Tragic Loss in Space Exploration History

Editor’s note: 35 years ago the nation witnessed a terrible tragedy in the global race to space.  Click HERE for the full report and remembrance from NASA.

On January 28, 1986, the world witnessed a devastating tragedy in the history of space exploration when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded just 73 seconds after liftoff.  Let’s delve briefly into the events leading up to the disaster, the investigation that followed, and the profound impact it had on NASA and the space program.

The Challenger Mission:
The Challenger (STS-51-L) mission was NASA’s 25th space shuttle flight and was intended to deploy a communications satellite, the TDRS-B. The crew consisted of seven brave astronauts: Commander Francis “Dick” Scobee, Pilot Michael J. Smith, Mission Specialists Ellison Onizuka, Judy Resnik, and Ronald McNair, and Payload Specialists Gregory Jarvis and Christa McAuliffe, a teacher selected through the Teacher in Space Project.

The Disaster:
The Challenger disaster unfolded during the launch phase when a failure occurred in the shuttle’s solid rocket boosters. A faulty seal in the right-hand booster allowed hot gases to leak and ignite the external fuel tank. The resulting explosion caused the vehicle to disintegrate and tragically claimed the lives of all seven crew members.

Investigation and Findings:
In the aftermath of the tragedy, an extensive investigation was conducted by the Rogers Commission, led by former Secretary of State William P. Rogers. The commission’s findings revealed that the disaster was primarily caused by the failure of the O-ring seals in the solid rocket boosters, which had been compromised by unusually cold weather conditions on the day of the launch.

Impact on NASA and the Space Program:
The Challenger disaster had a profound impact on NASA and the space program. The agency conducted a thorough review of its safety procedures and implemented significant changes to prevent similar accidents in the future. The disaster also led to a temporary suspension of the space shuttle program and a period of intense scrutiny and public debate about the risks and benefits of space exploration.

Legacy and Memorial:
The Challenger disaster serves as a solemn reminder of the inherent dangers of space exploration and the sacrifices made by dedicated individuals in the pursuit of scientific knowledge. The crew of Challenger is remembered as heroes who gave their lives in the name of exploration, and their memory continues to inspire and motivate future generations.

The Challenger Space Shuttle accident remains a pivotal moment in the history of space exploration, forever etched in the collective memory of humanity. The lessons learned from this tragedy have shaped NASA’s safety protocols and have made the space program more resilient. As we continue to venture into the vast expanse of the cosmos, we honor the memory of the Challenger crew and their unwavering commitment to pushing the boundaries of human exploration

Spotlight: Ms. Woolsey’s soccer ball. Click HERE for a special story of a soccer ball and the Challenger Crew. “It’s crazy that a little piece of leather would survive something as horrific as that incident,” Ms. Woolsey said, “One of my players said she was asked the question how did it feel the day this happened. I found her response really moving because she said ‘I was furious. I was angry that the only thing that came back instead of people’s parents was a ball.’”

The soccer ball was returned to the school following an official memorial service by President Ronald Reagan.

President Ronald Reagan addresses the nation after the Challenger accident:

Louisiana Public Service Commission Casts Historic Vote for Energy Efficiency

Baton Rouge, La. (Jan. 24, 2024) – Together Louisiana, the state’s largest grassroots organization, is celebrating reforms passed today by the Louisiana Public Service Commission (LPSC). The vote establishes an independent, statewide energy efficiency program with Commission oversight, solving a conflict of interest that has been hampering the LPSC’s energy efficiency efforts for the last decade. 

“Finally, our state’s residents can look forward to energy savings and lower bills as a result of the Public Service Commission’s historic vote today,” said Jodie Manale, a leader with Together Louisiana. “For too long the program meant to save energy has been administered by the companies that sell energy – the fox has been guarding the henhouse. Now that conflict of interest has been eliminated.”

Ms. Manale was joined by approximately 80 leaders with Together Louisiana from every LPSC district who attended the meeting to advocate for the reforms. 

Since 2014, the LPSC has had an energy efficiency program to help ratepayers consume less electricity and save money. Through lobbying, utility companies delayed the implementation of a “comprehensive” energy efficiency program and, instead, set up an optional program that the utility companies themselves administer. The program included a provision that compensated utility companies, from ratepayer funds, for electricity they never sold as a result of the program. These ghost recovery charges cost ratepayers $37 million over the last nine years. 

“Energy efficiency is affecting a lot of people in our community, including my 70-year-old mother,” said Dani Moses, a resident of LaPlace and leader with Together Louisiana. “It is hard to watch her struggle to pay her utility bill month after month, and ghost recovery charges make the problem even worse.”

Today’s vote at the LPSC shifted control over energy efficiency programs to an independent, third-party administrator selected by and accountable to the LPSC. The new, expanded program will fund upward of $200 million of energy efficiency investments to fix wasteful, leaky homes and businesses just in its first four years, accomplishing more in its first cycle than the existing program has for the last decade. The approved rule also removes the provision for ghost recovery charges, which means more dollars for energy efficiency investments. 

Furthermore, it will create a surge in energy efficiency projects, providing good-paying job opportunities for local union contractors and the opportunity to train new workers in apprenticeship programs.

“Today’s vote means more good paying jobs, safer weatherized homes and lower bills,” said Danny Walker, Political and Legislative Director with the South Central Pipe Trades and leader with Together Louisiana. “The expansion of the program will allow us to train more people in high wage careers and put them to work.”

About Together Louisiana 

Together Louisiana, a statewide network of more than 250 religious congregations and civic organizations across Louisiana, representing more than 200,000 people. It is one of the largest grassroots organizations in the history of Louisiana. The mission of Together Louisiana is to give faith and community-based organizations an opportunity to develop the leadership capacity of their members and affect change on a larger scale than they could alone. Together Louisiana is currently working on issues that include utility reform, workforce development, tax fairness, disaster response, access to healthcare, criminal justice reform and improving infrastructure and transportation.

Federally Funded Farming Program is Helping California Farmworkers Become Farm Owners

Editor’s Note: Here’s another important story from Civil Eats highlighting a roadmap for manifestation of the American dream. Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association (ALBA) in Salinas, California is led by development director Chris Brown. He says although the federally funded farming program “welcomes anyone,” the organization “focus and greatest impact has been with immigrant farmworkers, mostly from Mexico and Central America.”

Application for the Farmer Education Course.

California’s farmworkers face untold barriers accessing the land, capital, and training needed to strike out on their own. For 20 years, ALBA has been slowly changing the landscape for this important group of aspiring growers.


JANUARY 18, 2024

Herlinda Huipe and her husband Carmelo Rojas operate Tierra HR Organic Farm on California’s Central Coast. It’s small, so they both still work part time on larger farms, primarily picking strawberries. But the couple has recently hit a milestone: During their busiest harvest days, they’ve had to hire people to help with their celery crop.

“They are people who are really fast at cutting it,” Rojas said, “and we pay them as contractors.”

The catalyst that led Huipe and Rojas to segue from farmworkers to farm owners is the Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association (ALBA) in Salinas, California, which for more than two decades has offered classes, on-farm training, land, equipment, and business support to aspiring organic vegetable farmers. ALBA has received over $15 million in support from federal grants, local and national foundations, and individual donors in the last 20 years, and more than 220 businesses have launched with the organization’s support since 2001.

In an impact report published last fall, ALBA development director Chris Brown found that more than 10 new farms get started each year and four to six expand beyond ALBA’s land.

Brown also learned that among the 121 alumni farmers who responded to a survey, 77 are still operating a farm business. Meanwhile, others are working in farm-support roles, as intermediaries between farm owners and product buyers and as administrators or business support staff for other farms. Recently, Brown said, he spoke with one alum who told him “she is helping farmers with marketing because, she said, ‘she’s not as good of a grower.’”

ALBA welcomes anyone, Brown said, but in this region known for growing heavily labor-dependent strawberries and leafy greens, the organization’s focus and greatest impact has been with immigrant farmworkers, mostly from Mexico and Central America. “They want to get away from that lifestyle and farm on their own,” he said.

Huipe and Rojas had the dream but until a friend told them about ALBA, they had no idea how they would even begin the transition. “We are really so grateful to ALBA, and all the people there.” Rojas said recently in Spanish. “They are friendly and always help us.”

Read the full article and more about the road to organic farming by Amy Mayer HERE.

Dexter Scott King, MLK’s Youngest Son Dies at Age 62

The youngest son and third child of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Dexter King has died, the King Center announced. The civil rights leader’s youngest son, 62, died Jan. 22 following a battle with prostate cancer. Born in Atlanta, Dexter would have celebrated his 63rd birthday on Jan. 30. He was named after Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, where his father served his first pastorate.

In a statement, The King Center stated that the second-born son of Dr. and Mrs. King “was the family member delegated to take on the mantel of continuing the precedent his father set by legally protecting his work. He devoted his life to the continued perpetuation of his father’s legacy and the protection of the intellectual property (IP) his father left behind.  At the time of his death Dexter served as both Chairman of The King Center and President of the King Estate. Becoming well versed in intellectual property law, and its management and licensing was the result of his dedication to the delegated task and the memory of both his father and mother.”

The statement goes onto to say, “He was preceded in death by his father (1968), his mother (2006) and sister Yolanda (2007). He is survived by his loving and devoted wife of 11 years Leah Weber King, his sister Rev. Dr. Bernice A. King, his brother Martin Luther King, III, his niece, Yolanda Renee King and a host of immediate and extended family members.

The King family will respond to media inquiries following a press conference planned for Tuesday January 23rd, at 10:00 am ET, at The King Center’s Yolanda D. King Theatre inside Freedom Hall. A memorial service will be announced at a later time.

At the time of his death, Dexter served as both Chairman of The King Center and President of the King Estate.

A Snow Day in Two Americas

A winter storm hit the D.C. area last week and it looks like cold temperatures will follow for the rest of this week, too.

Some closures are still in effect. Over the weekend many took advantage of the snow with an official snowball fight, sledding and even cross-country skiing on the mall. Across the area Washingtonians enjoyed several inches of snow, up to four in parts of D.C. and temperatures dropped to the 20s, it’s been reported.

It has been nearly two years since D.C. saw more than an inch of snow.

Officials say the Arctic air that brought subfreezing temperatures across the U.S. left tens of millions under wind chill warnings and dangerous icy conditions. The death toll was above 60, according to reports. It is also noteworthy in these hard economic times — paying for multiple wars — D.C’s snowiest days in two years started to fall on Martin Luther King, Jr Day.

And while most are focusing on the joy snowy days bring to briefly numb us from the harsh reality of the state of America, many can’t afford to forget that we still live in a socially, culturally and economically divided nation. Families, especially Black and Brown people are struggling with severe poverty in our so-called wealthy nation. Even today, people stand in line, including veterans, the homeless and those with disabilities, to receive what may be their only hot meal of the day. The list of improvements for a better and more just America is long and America is still under construction.

Nevertheless, we can never forget that all underserved Americans face the worst outcomes on snowy days, especially when the other America still frolics when it snows.

Sen. Hiram Revels: First African American to Serve in Congress

On this day in 1870, Hiram Rhodes Revels became the first African American to serve in the U.S. Congress. White officials tried to declare his election null and void.

One hundred and fifty-four years ago, on February 25, 1870, visitors in the packed Senate galleries burst into applause as Senator-elect Hiram Revels, a Republican from Mississippi, entered the Chamber to take his oath of office. Those present knew that they were witnessing an event of great historical significance. Revels was about to become the first African American to serve in the United States Congress. Just 22 days earlier, on February 3, the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, prohibiting states from disenfranchising voters “on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” Revels was indeed “the Fifteenth Amendment in flesh and blood,” as his contemporary, the civil rights activist Wendell Phillips, dubbed him.

Hiram Revels was born a free man in Fayetteville, North Carolina, on September 27, 1827, the son of a Baptist preacher. As a youth, he took lessons at a private school run by an African American woman and eventually traveled north to further his education. He attended seminaries in Indiana and Ohio, becoming a minister of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1845, and eventually studied theology at Knox College in Illinois. During the turbulent decade of the 1850s, Revels preached to free and enslaved men and women in various states while surreptitiously assisting fugitive slaves.

When the Civil War began in 1861, Revels was serving as a pastor in Baltimore. Before long, he was forming regiments of African American soldiers in Maryland, serving as a Union army chaplain in Mississippi, and establishing schools for freed slaves in Missouri. He settled in Natchez, Mississippi, at war’s end, where he served as presiding elder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1868 he gained his first elected position, as alderman for the town of Natchez. The next year he won election to the state senate, as one of 35 African Americans elected to the Mississippi state legislature that year.

In 2020 Senate Stories, a new Senate history blog, was created. And in recognition of Black History Month, its first blog post celebrated the sesquicentennial of the swearing in of Hiram Rhodes Revels, the first African American senator. Read the first full Senate Stories blog on Sen. Revels HERE.

New Study Project Thousands of U.S. Cities Turning Into Ghost Towns by 2100

A recent Scientific American article highlighted the findings of a depopulation study published in Nature Cities that predicted thousands of U.S. cities will become virtual ghost towns by 2100.

The study was conducted using US census population data from 2000, 2010 and 2020. The article states “These projected findings about depopulation in U.S. cities are shaped by a multitude of factors, including the decline of industry, lower birth rates and the impacts of climate change.”

The study conducted by Nature Cities can be found HERE.


The Urban U.S. could look very different in the year 2100, in part because thousands of cities might be rendered virtual ghost towns. According to findings published in Nature Cities, the populations of some 15,000 cities around the country could dwindle to mere fractions of what they are now. The losses are projected to affect cities everywhere in the U.S. except Hawaii and Washington, D.C.

“The way we’re planning now is all based on growth, but close to half the cities in the U.S. are depopulating,” says senior author Sybil Derrible, an urban engineer at the University of Illinois Chicago. “The takeaway is that we need to shift away from growth-based planning, which is going to require an enormous cultural shift in the planning and engineering of cities.”

Derrible and his colleagues were originally commissioned by the Illinois Department of Transportation to conduct an analysis of how Illinois’s cities are projected to change over time and what the transportation challenges will be for places that are depopulating. As they got deeper into the research, though, they realized that such predictions would be useful to know for cities across the entire U.S.—and not just for major ones, such as New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles. “Most studies have focused on big cities, but that doesn’t give us an estimation of the scale of the problem,” says lead study author Uttara Sutradhar, a doctoral candidate in civil engineering at the University of Illinois Chicago.

The authors analyzed data collected from 2000 to 2020 by the U.S. Census and the American Community Survey, an annual demographics survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau. This allowed them to identify current population trends in more than 24,000 cities and to model projections of future trends for nearly 32,000.  They applied the projected trends to a commonly used set of five possible future climate scenarios called the Shared Socioeconomic Pathways. These scenarios model how demographics, society and economics could change by 2100, depending on how much global warming the world experiences.

The authors’ resulting projections indicated that around half of cities in the U.S., including Cleveland, Ohio, Buffalo, N.Y., and Pittsburgh, Pa., are likely to experience depopulation of 12 to 23 percent by 2100. Some of those cities, including Louisville, Ky., New Haven, Conn., and Syracuse, N.Y., are not currently showing declines but are likely to in the future, according to the findings. “You might see a lot of growth in Texas right now, but if you had looked at Michigan 100 years ago, you probably would have thought that Detroit would be the largest city in the U.S. now,” Derrible says.

The full article by Nuwer on America’s projected depopulation can be found in Scientific American and by clicking HERE.