World News (231)

Recently, an email was circulated by anti-immigrant forces saying that they intended to show up “armed” to an immigrants’ rights event at a public library in Georgia, because we as the organizers of the event had dared to challenge law enforcement and “speak [our] minds.” The majority of the speakers, including myself, were immigrants.

As an outspoken immigrant who is often critical of the United States government’s policies, I have often been told to go back “instead of stirring up trouble here.” Unfortunately, we have become accustomed to aggressive and hateful speech in the course of pursuing justice. But this email escalated anti-immigrant rhetoric to threats of violence.

Many immigrants and refugees have left home countries where governments restricted their freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. They arrived in a country where such freedoms are protected in the First Amendment of the Constitution. And yet, those who become outspoken community organizers, activists and even elected officials in the U.S. are targeted and silenced by the government. This targeting of immigrants and refugees, particularly people of color, for speaking up shows the emptiness of the rhetoric about the sanctity of free speech for all in this country. By silencing outspoken immigrant activists, jailing them and inciting violence against them, the government and White supremacists are attempting to keep immigrants in a state of fear and intimidation.

The targeting of Representative Ilhan Omar—a Somali-American, Muslim, Black woman who came to the United States as a refugee in 1992—is illustrative. She has taken strong positions on U.S. foreign policy, Palestinian liberation and immigrants’ rights. She stands for much of what the Trump administration is against, and the state and White supremacists protest her mere presence in Congress.

While the harassment that Omar has endured is recent, this targeting of outspoken immigrants goes back to at least the early 20th century. Consider the Palmer Raids. Between 1919 and 1920, during the Wilson administration, U.S. Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer led a number of raids against anyone suspected of having ties to leftist groups. The Palmer Raids resulted in the arrest of 3,000 to 10,000 people, the jailing of thousands and the deportation of hundreds of immigrants.

Emma Goldman is one of the people impacted by this ongoing criminalization. A Jewish immigrant to the U.S., she stands as a major figure in the history of American radicalism and feminism. An influential and well-known anarchist of her day, Goldman was an early advocate of free speech, birth control, women’s equality and union organizing. She was arrested for “inciting to riot” after speaking to unemployed workers and encouraging them to take action and demand work. She was arrested again for publicly teaching women how to use contraceptives. Her criticism of mandatory conscription of young men into the military during World War I led to a two-year imprisonment, followed by her deportation in 1919.

More recently, scores of primarily Muslim immigrants have been targeted, imprisoned and deported in the post 9/11 era. Ghassan Elashi is just one example. He was born in Gaza, Palestine, and he was one of the Holy Land Foundation directors targeted by the FBI for leading an organization that did relief work in Palestine. The organization came under investigation a few months after 9/11, causing the government to seize its assets and force its closure.

Despite an overwhelming lack of evidence, Elashi was later convicted for allegedly providing aid to Hamas, which was deemed a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the Clinton administration in 1995. He is currently serving a 65-year sentence in a Communications Management Unit, a system that exists within the U.S. Bureau of Prisons and predominantly houses Muslims, per reports. The CMU system has faced criticism for discriminatory practices and blatant violations of the constitutional rights of those detained.

In the Trump era, the targeting has also impacted outspoken immigrants such as Ravi Ragbir. The executive director of the New Sanctuary Coalition and a long-time immigrants’ rights leader, he came to the U.S. from Trinidad in 1991. Ragbir has advocated against the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant policies, has been very critical of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and helped educate community leaders and elected officials on the costs of deporting and separating families. He has faced retribution by the government as a result.

ICE has already deported one member of the New Sanctuary Coalition, Jean Montrevil, and it attempted to do the same to Ragbir. Following a routine ICE check-in in January 2018, the heavily surveilled Ragbir was arrested and detained. But Ragbir and his supporters pushed back via organizing and legal action against ICE. They alleged that the agency was retaliating against him for his speech, and an appeals court agreed. The judge stated that, “public expression of his criticism, and its prominence, played a significant role in [ICE’s] recent attempts to remove him.” In response to the decision, Ravi Ragbir said: “It was all of our voices together that made this decision possible and we have to continue to speak out against the travesty of our deportation system.”

The callous and scary chants of “send her back” directed at Ilhan Omar at the Trump rally in North Carolina sent a chill down my spine and a served as a reminder of the targeting of outspoken immigrants and refugees for state retribution in the U.S. for centuries. The criminalization of immigrant activists in the Trump era has resulted in the disruption of free speech against the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant policies. And when the government is given the green light to violate the rights of one group of people, we know that it’s only a matter of time before it comes after all of us.

The targeting of immigrants, with the aim of deterring their speech and organizing work, must cease immediately. As immigrants, we cannot allow these threats from the state and White supremacist forces to keep us from doing our work. As Ravi Ragbir said, we have to continue to speak out boldly against policies that we deem racist and xenophobic.

In Georgia, we decided to go ahead with our forum, despite the threats, for that same reason. Georgia is an open-carry state, and we could not legally prevent several members of the anti-immigrant organizations from entering the library with firearms. But when a climate of intimidation and fear is combined with the threat and potential of violence, we look to our history of resistance and the strength of our partners to forge ahead. We organized for the safety of all participants and took security precautions into account. Yes, we ensured that the event was safe and productive, but it is outrageous that as immigrant activists, we have to face the potential threat of an armed attack for daring to speak out against unjust laws.  But that will never stop us.



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A group of doctors reached out to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in an effort to provide free flu vaccines to detained immigrants. The group is alarmed that the Trump administration “is denying flu vaccines to immigrants in custody,” which could have disastrous results, NBC News reports.

The physicians, all members of a new group called Doctors for Camp Closure (D4CC), sent a letter to DHS on November 5 asking the agency to stop denying detained migrants the flu shots they need. As NBC reports, at least three children detained by Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which is part of DHS, died from flu-related complications in 2018. 

D4CC members have offered to set up a free, mobile flu shot station at the CBP processing and detention facility in San Ysidro, California. “We implore you to allow our volunteer physicians to hold our requested influenza vaccine clinic,” the doctors said in their letter to DHS

But CBP denied the doctors’ request. A spokesperson from the agency responded to the letter with a statement obtained by NBC. “As a law enforcement agency and due to the short term nature of CBP holding and other logistical challenges, operating a vaccine program is not feasible,” the spokesperson said.

Dr. Luz Contreras Arroyo, a member of D4CC, spoke to NBC about the potentially hazardous conditions that the agency could create. “This is how epidemics begin,” he said. “It’s not just migrants. Workers will come out to communities, potentially spreading that virus and it could get out of control.” Arroyo also stressed the importance of remembering that detained migrants are not criminals. “Seeking asylum is not a crime,” he said.

According to NBCCBP isn’t supposed to hold anyone longer than 72 hours, but the agency typically detains people for far longer than that. 

Health care providers have protested longer detention periods for migrants, warning that children in particular would face more serious health risks with the extended incarcerations.

The doctors also wrote that detained children are nine times more likely to die from flu-related complications than other children. “In our professional medical opinion, this alarming mortality rate constitutes an emergency which threatens the safety of human lives, particularly children,” says the letter from D4CC. “As physicians, we have seen the effects of flu infections in the strongest as well as the most vulnerable, and the outcomes can be devastating.”



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LGTBQ characters of color on television are steadily increasing, especially on television, where 47 percent of all regular characters on broadcast scripted TV series are people of color, a three percent increase and a record high, according to a new report released by GLAAD. In addition, and for the second year in a row, the report titled “GLAAD we’re on TV” confirmed that LGBTQ characters of color are outnumbering their White counterparts, representing 52 percent compared to 48 percent. GLAAD had challenged all platforms–broadcast, cable, and streaming–to make at least half of LGBTQ characters on each platform be people of color, within the next two years.  

“Last year, GLAAD called on the television industry to increase the number of LGBTQ characters and more accurately reflect the world we live in, and they responded by exceeding this challenge,” Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD told Deadline in an article published today (November 8). “At a time when the cultural climate is growing increasingly divisive, increased representation of LGBTQ stories and characters on television is especially critical to advance LGBTQ acceptance. Shows like ‘Pose,’ ‘Schitt’s Creek,’ ‘Batwoman’ and ‘Billions’ demonstrate that not only are LGBTQ stories and characters on TV becoming more diverse, but that viewers everywhere continue to respond with extreme positivity.”

The report emphasized the importance of TV watchers having access to diversity by noting that The Public Religion Research Institute found that less than 25 percent of Americans have a close friend or family member who is transgender, which means that much of what’s learned comes from what they see in media and on their screens. “This is why the historic casting of Brian Michael Smith as Paul Strickland–primetime scripted broadcast TV’s first Black, transgender man series regular character–on FOX’s mid-season drama ‘9-1-1: Lone Star’ is so important,” said the study.

Additional key findings from the report:

  • When it comes to racial diversity, of the 120 regular characters on broadcast, 52 percent are people of color, a two-percentage point increase from last year with six more characters. This marks the second year in a row where LGBTQ people of color have outnumbered White LGBTQ people on broadcast, making broadcast the only platform to meet the goal of having at least half of LGBTQ characters be characters of color.

  • Another record-high percentage was with Latinx characters, up one percent to nine. Black series characters held steady at 22 percent, while Asian Pacific Islanders represented eight percent across broadcast television regular characters. 

  • On the cable and streaming side, diversity is moving a bit slower: Cable has 48 percent who represent characters of color–up two percentage points from last year–whereas streaming has shown 41 percent people of color, a seven percentage point drop from last year. 


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Foster care and adoption agencies will soon be able to legally refuse their services to families in the LGBTQ+ community if a new rule put forth by the Trump administration goes into effect. 

On Friday (November 1), the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHSproposed a rule that would reverse a 2016 discrimination regulation that included sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes. Per the HHS:

The proposed rule represents the Trump administration’s strong commitment to the rule of law—the Constitution, federal statutes and Supreme Court decisions. These require that the federal government not infringe on religious freedom in its operation of HHS grant programs and address the impact of regulatory actions on small entities.

White House Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere told The Hill in an interview: “The administration is rolling back an Obama-era rule that was proposed in the 12 o’clock hour of the last administration that jeopardizes the ability of faith-based providers to continue serving their communities. The federal government should not be in the business of forcing child welfare providers to choose between helping children and their faith.”

The majority of the more than 400,000 children in the foster care system are people of color, according to a 2017 report, with 23 percent of them identified as Black, 21 percent as Latinx and 9 percent listed as “other races/multiracial.”

Reports The New York Times:

The Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law estimated in a report that 114,000 same-sex couples in 2016 were raising children in the United States. Same-sex couples with children were far more likely than different-sex couples with children to have an adopted child, 21.4 percent versus 3 percent, the report found.

Alphonso David, president of Human Rights Campaign, called the proposal “horrific” in a statement and also said it would “permit discrimination across the entire spectrum of HHS programs receiving federal funding. The Trump-Pence White House is relying on the same flawed legal reasoning they’ve used in the past to justify discrimination against LGBTQ people and other communities.”

The rule is expected to be published in the Federal Register on Monday (November 4), after which there will be a 30-day comment period and an effective date for the rule unless a legal challenge halts implementation.



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Against the advice of many scientists, policymakers and public health experts, the Trump administration is poised to pass new rules that will severely limit the scientific data that can be used to make public health regulations. It could also, opponents argue, expose more Americans to dangerous toxins and life-threatening pollution.

The New York Times obtained a draft of the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPAproposed rules, “Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science.” The document states that the agency will only consider the conclusions of academic studies if scientists disclose all of their raw data, including confidential medical records.

While the EPA cites the new regulations as evidence of the agency being “committed to the highest quality science,” The Times reports:

The measure would make it more difficult to enact new clean air and water rules because many studies detailing the links between pollution and disease rely on personal health information gathered under confidentiality agreements. And, unlike a version of the proposal that surfaced in early 2018, this one could apply retroactively to public health regulations already in place.

Examples of studies that could be rejected—although they have been used in the past to write national policy initiatives—include ones that show how mercury from power plants impairs brain development and how lead in paint dust causes childhood behavioral disorders.

Paul Billings, senior vice president for advocacy at the American Lung Association, said in an interview with The Times: “This means the EPA can justify rolling back rules or failing to update rules based on the best information to protect public health and the environment, which means more dirty air and more premature deaths.”

The fossil fuel industry, as well as some Republican lawmakers and the American Chemistry Council, have publicly disagreed with the use of studies that cannot be independently verified via raw data, reports The Times. A 2015 report from the Congressional Budget Office found that it would cost the EPA hundreds of millions of dollars to redact private information if academics made their raw data available to the public. But in September, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, told a congressional committee, “Good science is science that can be replicated and independently validated, science that can hold up to scrutiny. That is why we’re moving forward to ensure that the science supporting agency decisions is transparent and available for evaluation by the public and stakeholders.”

On Wednesday (November 13), the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology will hold a hearing on the proposal. Key opponents from the medical and science fields are expected to testify.



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Actor and comedian Mo’Nique filed a lawsuit against Netflix over race and gender discrimination in a Los Angeles court on Thursday (November 14), The Hollywood Reporter reported. “Netflix courted Mo’Nique, saw what she had to offer and made her an offer. But the offer Netflix made Mo’Nique wreaked of discrimination; it perpetuated the pay gap suffered by Black women,” notes the suit. 

The performer is suing the streaming company for racial and gender discrimination over the $500,000 offer she received to do a stand-up special. In the suit, Mo’Nique compares her offer to what other comedians were reportedly paid: Jerry Seinfeld ($100 million), Eddie Murphy ($70 million), Dave Chappelle ($60 million), Chris Rock ($40 million), Ellen DeGeneres ($20 million), Jeff Dunham ($16.5 million) and Ricky Gervais ($40 million). The 38-page suit also includes headshots of seven Netflix executives, all White, as visual support for the company’s “complete lack of racial diversity.”

“In short, as this lawsuit shows, Netflix’s treatment of Mo’Nique began with a discriminatory low-ball offer and ended with a blacklisting act of retaliation,” states the complaint. Netflix told THR that its offer to Mo’Nique was fair and that it will fight the lawsuit.



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On Thursday (November 14), Representative Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) introduced The People’s Justice Guarantee, a bill that calls for a sweeping overhaul of the justice system that centers “the voices of the people most impacted by injustice in America,” per a statement. From Pressley in the statement:

You cannot have a government for and by the people if it is not represented by all of the people. For far too long, those closest to the pain have not been closest to the power, resulting in a racist, xenophobic, rogue and fundamentally flawed criminal legal system. The People’s Justice Guarantee is the product of a symbiotic partnership with over 20 grassroots organizations and people impacted by the discriminatory policies of our legal system. Our resolution calls for a bold transformation of the status quo—devoted to dismantling injustices so that the system is smaller, safer, less punitive and more humane.

Pressley hopes to use policy to shift “the purpose and experience of the criminal legal system,” while dramatically reducing the U.S. prison and jail population. The proposed legislation calls for decriminalizing migration, ending mandatory minimum sentencing and abolishing the death penalty and sentences of life without parole. Per the statement, the legislation is based on five “guiding principles”: shared power, freedom, equality, safety and dignity.

The resolution highlights the need to uphold the dignity and humanity of those impacted most by the criminal justice system, and it proposes tax incentives to encourage local governments to decarcerate and moves to decriminalize sex work. Pressley also pushes for an end to the “draconian systems of mandatory detention and automatic deportation” of people crossing the U.S. border. Additionally, the resolution stresses the need to allow “transgender individuals to be housed in a facility that conforms with their gender identity” and calls for federal Pell grants to be rewarded regardless of incarceration status. 

“We have an incarceration crisis in America that is making us less safe and undermining the values upon which our country is built—liberty and justice for all,” said Rob Smith, executive director of The Justice Collaborative, in the statement. “The People’s Justice Guarantee is a bold, transformative plan to shrink our jail and prison populations sharply, end wealth-based discrimination in the criminal legal system, and invest heavily in the communities that have been the most destabilized by the failed policies of mass incarceration.”

The bill is endorsed by nearly a dozen organizations, including American Civil Liberties UnionColor of ChangeUndocuBlack NetworkNational Immigrant Justice Center and URGE: Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equity. Read it here.



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African American Policy Forum kicked off season two of its podcast, “Intersectionality Matters,” on Wednesday (November 13) with an episode titled “What Slavery Engendered: An Intersectional Look at 1619.” Host Kimberlé Crenshaw—professor at Columbia Law School and the University of California, Los Angeles—walked through history with guest Dorothy Roberts, a professor and scholar in race, gender, bioethics and the law at the University of Pennsylvania. Per the episode description, they sought to “shed light on the lasting consequences of slavery, segregation and White supremacy and their impact on Black women specifically.”

“It wasn’t the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution nor the Stars and Stripes that gave birth to America; it was the Black vagina that laid the golden egg or rather the chattel slave,” Crenshaw said in the show’s introduction. “The property mortgaged to build America, slaves, was $12 billion dollars worth, [which] speaks on how Black vaginas have been appropriated, syndicated, capitalized but never vindicated.”

In highlighting the systemic erasure of Black motherhood and the creation and maintenance of the Black welfare queen trope, Roberts explains the long-reaching implications of these ideas. “It’s not just that Black women’s enslavement and forced reproduction paint Black women as the scapegoat towards the social problems,” said Roberts, “but it also laid the foundation for a whole future, including eugenics of government policies aimed at controlling the reproduction of people, including forced sterilization. It just seems natural that the government should be able to regulate the childbearing of Black women because Black women are dangerous reproducers.”



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As Native American Heritage Month continues, the Shinnecock Indian Nation will describe their struggle to protect their ancestral and burial lands in a new PBS Independent Lens documentary, “Conscience Point,” which premieres tonight (November 18). The nation resides on a reservation in The Hamptons, New York, an area synonymous with golf courses and multimillion-dollar properties.

“As Native people, you feel a responsibility to your ancestral territory to protect the land as much as we can,” American Indian Movement advocate Rebecca Hill-Genia said in the film. “Its nearly impossible in this day and age, but we’re still gonna do the best we can.” Conscience Point is the site where Shinnecock ancestors met the first European settlers. 

Directed by Treva Wurmfeld, who summered in The Hamptons as a child, the film follows Hill-Genia and her long-standing battle over The Hamptons’ continual destruction of Shinnecock sacred burial grounds for mansions and marquee attractions. This film highlights the debate over who has rights to the land. “Some people say, ‘My family has been here four, five, six generations,’ well, we’ve been here 400 generations plus,” Hill-Genia said. 

The documentary gathers perspectives from a land developer, local officials, Shinnecock members and longtime fishermen and farmers who blame the developers and summer-vacationers for the destruction of the Shinnecock Bay’s ecological system. The changes to the environment are then compounded by the extreme wealth gap. “In 1640 when the first settlers arrived, we gave them eight square miles of land to use which is now current day South Hampton Village and we’ve paid the price for it ever since,” said Lance Gumbs, Shinnecock tribal trustee. “Here we sit in the middle of the lifestyle of the rich and famous and yet 60 percent of our people in our community are below the poverty level. That’s a problem.” 

The other problem that looms largely in this film is the blatant disrespect felt by the Indigenous people. Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, for example, was carved out of a sacred burial ground and uses a Shinnecock image in its logo, yet refuses to allow Shinnecock members access to the land. “This land was stolen from us,” Gumbs said. “Flat out, hands down, no questions, stolen.” Small victories are won, though the film showed that even those came with a price.



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More than 2 million Americans live in residences without tap water or flushing toilets, says a new report—and Native Americans are the group most likely to be without them. 

The report, “Closing the Water Access Gap in the United States,” was conducted by the US Water Alliance and DigDeep, a nonprofit that has helped to build water systems for the Navajo Nation. It was released today (November 18) and concluded that race is the strongest predictor of water and sanitation access. Per NPR:

Fifty-eight out of every 1,000 Native American households lack plumbing, compared with three out of every 1,000 white people, according to the report. This disparity has implications for public health. They experience more deaths, poverty and higher unemployment rates.

The report was conducted after DigDeep founder George McGraw learned that there was no conclusive, national data on water access. “No one could tell us, from federal to state agencies to other nonprofits, just how many Americans still don’t have running water or a working toilet where they live,” he told NPR about why he commissioned water experts from across the country to pool their information to create the report.

On the Navajo Nation, the report found that some groundwater has been contaminated by the presence of 521 abandoned uranium mines. In addition, gastric cancer rates doubled in the 1990s in locations near the mining sites. According to the Indian Health Service, it would cost an estimated $200 million to provide basic water and sanitation access to the Navajo Nation.

“Our nations didn’t have access to funding for infrastructure in the same way that it’s federally allocated for cities and states overall,” Mahrinah von Schlegel, an anthropologist from New Mexico’s San Ildefonso Pueblo tribe, told NPR. “It’s been a struggle, one, to get the access to that infrastructure capital, and then, two, it’s really expensive to develop some of these remote areas.”

While an estimated 2 million people do not have water in their homes, over 44 million Americans get water from systems that were recently in violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act, reports NPR.

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The new documentary “Dear Walmart,” available Tuesday (November 19) via streaming services, tells the intimate stories of four Walmart workers who helped build a national grassroots movement that advocates for better wages, respect and updated family workplace policies.

An emailed statement notes that “Walmart is the largest employer of African Americans, women and Latinx workers in the United States.” But organizers say they are routinely mistreated. “Instead of helping people come out of poverty, they perpetuate it with the wages that they pay,” Organization United for Respect (OUR) Walmart leader Evelin Cruz, who died in 2016, says in the film. Cruz led the 2012 Pico Rivera strike via a strong Latinx coalition that inspired other Walmart employees around the nation to protest poor working conditions. 

Anthony Goytia, a Walmart worker who joined the protests, says in the film: “I did different things to make ends meet. I collect a lot of recyclables. A couple months ago we found ourselves selling breast milk.” Goytia continued, “That’s ridiculous. I work for this company that is the largest retailer in the world, and they want to get mad at me because I’m asking for more money. I can’t even raise my family.” And Bene’t Holmes tells of having a miscarriage at a store and then being reprimanded for taking leave.

As a result of the activists’ actions, Walmart instituted paid family leave for 500,000 workers and improved its family leave policy. Entry-level pay was raised from $9 and hour to $11. And in 2019, Organization United for Respect helped 33,000 laid off Toys R Us employees win a $20 million hardship fund after the company folded without offering severance.


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Stand-up comedian Margaret Cho isn’t one to back down from a controversial topic, and her appearance on the latest episode of Daily Beast’s podcast The Last Laugh, which aired Tuesday (November 19), is right on brand. She talks about the new opportunities available to Asian-American comedians, Dave Chappelle’s criticism of the bisexual community, Shane Gillis’ firing from SNL for racist comments and the backlash she received for exaggerating a North Korean character at the 2015 Golden Globes. 

Cho broke boundaries in 1994 when she starred in the ABC sitcom “All-American Girl,” the first and only sitcom to center an Asian American family until “Fresh off the Boat” debuted 20 years later. But she never had the opportunity to write or produce that her White male counterparts enjoyed. “They never opened that door for me, I would have had to force it open and I just didn’t know. I didn’t know of any other Asian-American comedians who I could ask,” said Cho. “I just didn’t have the knowledge or capacity to know I should demand that.” But now that doors are opening, Cho said she’s hopeful. “I would love to see more and I have seen some more, but I think there’s still some way to go in terms of diversity.”



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On Tuesday (November 18), a congressional watchdog agency announced that nearly 1,000 Superfund sites, the nation’s most contaminated hazardous waste locations, face increased climate threats and require dedicated government intervention.

In a new report, “EPA Should Take Additional Actions to Manage Risks from Climate Change,” the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that at least 945 toxic waste sites are in danger of rising seas, more intense inland flooding, forest fires and other environmental disasters. This number represents six out of 10 Superfund sites overseen by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The greatest threat facing the sites is flooding, according to the report. Nearly 800 sites are at risk due to increased rainfall caused by global warming. More than 200 are at high risk for wildfires and at least 187 are vulnerable to storm surges caused by Category 4 and 5 hurricanes, according to The Washington Post.

“We found that EPA has taken some actions to manage risks at these sites,” reads the report. “However, we recommend it provide direction on integrating climate information into site-level decision making to ensure long-term protection of human health and the environment.”

In 2014, under President Barack Obama, the EPA crafted a plan to address climate change that included action items for the Superfund program. But the Trump administration has reversed a number of Obama’s environmental policies that targeted climate change. Regarding Superfund sites, The Post reports, “Trump administration officials formally rejected a recommendation to clarify how preparing toxic sites to withstand the impacts of climate change is part of the EPA’s mission.” It continues:

After the release of the report, Senate Democrats sent a letter to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler demanding an explanation for agency leaders’ “failure to embrace addressing climate change as a strategic objective.”

“We believe that EPA’s refusal to implement GAO’s recommendations could result in real harm to human health and the environment as the effects of climate change become more frequent and intense,” the lawmakers told Wheeler.

As previous studies have shown, a disproportionate number of people of color live near these toxic sites. According to the EPA, 19 percent of all Black Americans and 23 percent of all Latinx people lived within three miles of a Superfund site in 2016.

“All Americans deserve timely action on Superfund site cleanups in their communities—not delays,” EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler stated last month. “We will continue to advance or accelerate Superfund cleanups across the country by addressing issues that cause site-specific delays.”

In contrast, Nancy Loeb, director of the Environmental Advocacy Center at Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law, told the Post, “The report raises critical issues that are not being addressed. It’s a huge shortcoming not to take climate change into consideration.”



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It has been 30 years since the United States signed the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of the Child, a human rights treaty meant to protect children around the globe. In honor of this anniversary, a U.N. human rights expert was in Geneva on Monday (November 18) to discuss a new study on the current treatment of children around the world, NPR reports. In it, the author writes that the United States is guilty of “inhuman treatment for both the parents and the children.”

Manfred Nowak, a human rights lawyer based in Vienna, Austria, wrote “Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty,” which says the Trump administration’s family separation policy is “absolutely prohibited” by the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The study was commissioned in October 2016.

“And there are still quite a number of children that are separated from their parents—and neither the children know where the parents are, nor the parents know where the children are. So that is something that definitely should not happen again,” Nowak said during his remarks, per NPR.

The study “estimates that the U.S. is still holding more than 100,000 children in migration-related detention,” NPR reports. Nowak added in his speech, “That’s far more than all the other countries where we have reliable figures.” In fact, he said the U.S. incarcerates more children than anywhere else in the world:

“In general, the incarceration rate in the United States is very high also of adults, and that you see also with children. So it’s about 60 out of 100,000” children, Nowak said. “And that is the highest that we could find, followed by others like Bolivia, or Botswana, or Sri Lanka….”In general,” Nowak said, “the North American region is the one with the by far highest regional imprisonment rate of children.”

As NPR reports, the U.S. signed but never ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which means the convention’s rules “do not formally apply to the United States of America.” However, Nowak still believes the country should be held accountable for its atrocities thanks to other civil rights treaties.

“In my opinion, the way, how they were separating infants from the families only in order to deter irregular migration from Central America to the United States of America, for me, constitutes inhuman and degrading treatment, and that is absolutely prohibited” by those other international treaties, he said.

“I am deeply convinced that these are violations of international law,” Nowak said. He added, “The same is also true for the high number of children being deprived of liberty in the administration of justice” in the U.S.

Nowak emphasized the importance of valuing children in his talk. “Children should live, or grow up, in families—their own families, foster families, family-type settings,” he said, “and not in institutions where they’re in fact deprived of liberty, where there’s strict discipline, there’s a lot of violence. There’s no love.”



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Throughout history, black women have faced the uphill battles of both racial and gender biases, especially in male-dominated STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields. Even so, many overcome their adverse circumstances, making invaluable contributions to the scientific community, particularly in the United States Space Program. The issue, however, is that the contributions these brilliant pioneers made largely went unnoticed.

NASA scientists including Katherine JohnsonDorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson began to get some overdue credit, however, when author Margot Lee Shetterly released her 2016 tome, Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Who Helped Win the Space Race

A film adaptation with the shortened title, Hidden Figures, hit theaters the same year to great acclaim, earning three Oscar nominations, including one for Best Picture.

These works told the stories of the women of color largely hired by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA, later NASA) during World War II to work as “human computers,” manually crunching numbers, filling the many vacancies left by those fighting the war overseas. 


President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a 1941 executive order into law that prohibited racial, religious and ethnic discrimination in the country’s defense injury, thus paving the way for these “hidden figures’” advancements. While there are no official numbers on how many women filled these roles over the years, experts have estimated there were several hundred over the years. (Shetterly’s estimate was in the thousands.)

Of course, black women’s contributions aren’t limited to NASA. Here are 10 of the women who used their brains to skyrocket to the top of their fields.


Katherine Johnson


Katherine Johnson poses for a portrait at work at NASA Langley Research Center in 1966

Photo: NASA/Donaldson Collection/Getty Images

Neil Armstrong's "one small step for man" may not have happened without this woman. Just weeks after Katherine Johnson began a position as one of Langley Research Center's human computers in 1952, supervisors transferred the summa cum laude West Virginia State College graduate (with degrees in both mathematics and French) from the African-American computing pool to the flight research division. There, Johnson performed the NASA calculations that made possible the manned space missions of the early 1960s as well as the 1969 moon landing.


Even astronaut John Glenn put his full faith in Johnson, requesting she re-do all-electronic computer calculations before he embarked on his 1962 Earth orbits. Glenn has been quoted as remarking, “If she says they’re good, then I’m ready to go.”

Aside from earning a 2015 Presidential Medal of Freedom, Johnson was portrayed by actress Taraji P. Henson in 2016's Hidden Figures.

Dorothy Vaughan


Dorothy Vaughan (l) in 1950

Photo: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Also a central part of Hidden Figures (in which was played by actress Octavia Spencer), Dorothy Vaughan left her position as a high school math teacher for a "temporary war job" in Langley's all-black group of female mathematicians known as the West Area Computing Unit in 1949. During what would become a nearly decade-long career, Vaughan became NASA's first African-American manager, eventually heading up the West Area Computing Unit.

An expert in NASA's programming coding language known as FORTRAN, she worked on the SCOUT (Solid Controlled Orbital Utility Test) Launch Vehicle Program that put America’s first satellites into space. Before her retirement from NASA in 1971, she also worked closely with Johnson on the computations for Glenn's orbital space missions.


Mary Jackson


Mary Jackson poses for a photo at work at NASA Langley Research Center in 1977

Photo: Bob Nye/NASA/Donaldson Collection/Getty Images

Mary Jackson began working under Vaughan's supervision in the segregated West Area Computing section as a computer in 1951. After two years in that role, the former teacher (who was portrayed in Hidden Figures by actress and musician Janelle Monae) transitioned to working for engineer Kazimierz Czarnecki on wind tunnel experiments.

At Czarnecki's urging, she took engineering classes, and, after being promoted to aeronautical engineer in 1958, Jackson officially became NASA’s first black female engineer. After helping develop the space program throughout her successful career (during which she authored or co-authored about 12 research reports), the Virginia native took a demotion to fill the role of Langley’s Federal Women’s Program Manager. In that position, she devoted her time to helping other women find STEM jobs at NASA.

Dr. Gladys West


Dr. Gladys West at her induction into the Air Force Space and Missile Pioneers Hall of Fame at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. on December 6, 2018.

Photo: Adrian Cadiz

When Gladys West was inducted into the Air Force Space and Missile Pioneers Hall of Fame in December 2018, the organization hailed her as the hidden figure whose mathematical work lead to the invention of the Global Positioning System (GPS). In 1956, she began working at the U.S. Naval Weapons Laboratory and helped produce a study that proved the regularity of Pluto’s motion relative to Neptune.


Also while at U.S. Naval Weapons Laboratory, she programmed an IBM 7030 “Stretch” computer that delivered refined calculations for an “extremely accurate geodetic Earth model, a geoid, optimized” for what would eventually become known as GPS.

Dr. Mae Jemison


Mae Jemison

Photo: SSPL/Getty Images

Mae Jemison was a woman with many firsts to her credit. She was working in the medical field as a General Practitioner and attending graduate engineering classes in Los Angeles when NASA admitted her to its astronaut training program in June 1987. After more than a year of training, she became the first African-American woman astronaut, holding the title of science mission specialist.

On September 12, 1992, Jemison, along with six other astronauts, launched into space aboard the Endeavour, and with that earned the distinction of the first African-American woman in space as well. During her eight-day mission, Jemison conducted experiments on weightlessness and motion sickness. Prior to her career as an astronaut, she also acted as a Peace Corps medical officer for Sierra Leone and Liberia.

Dr. Shirley Jackson


Dr. Shirley Jackson stands with President Barack Obama before receiving the National Medal of Science, during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House on May 19, 2016, in Washington, DC.

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

A theoretical physicist, Shirley Jackson was the first black woman to graduate with a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in any field (Her Ph.D. is in Theoretical Elementary Particle Physics) and also just the second African-American woman to earn a doctorate in physics in U.S. history. 

During her tenure at what was formerly known as AT&T Bell Laboratories' Theoretical Physics Research Department in the 1970s and 1980s, she has been credited as helping develop the technology that enabled caller ID and call waiting.

President Barack Obama selected Jackson, a onetime chair of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, to receive the National Medal of Science in 2015. She is currently serving as the president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, also making her the first African-American woman to lead a top-ranked research university.

Dr. Patricia Bath


Dr. Patricia Bath

The first female African-American medical doctor to complete an ophthalmology residency and also the first to receive a medical patent, Patricia Bath invented a laser cataract treatment device called a Laserphaco Probe in 1986. (The co-founder of the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness patented her invention in 1988.)


Her research on health disparities between African-American patients compared to those of other races lead to the creation of a volunteer-based "community ophthalmology," offering treatment to underserved populations.

Dr. Marie M. Daly


Dr. Marie Daly

After receiving her B.S. and M.S. in chemistry from Queens College and New York University respectively, Marie Daly went on to complete her Ph.D. at New York City's Columbia University. Upon graduating in 1947, she earned the distinction of being the first African-American woman to receive a chemistry Ph.D. in the U.S.

Daly's groundbreaking research included studies of the effects of cholesterol on the mechanics of the heart, the effects of sugars and other nutrients on the health of arteries and the breakdown of the circulatory system as a result of advanced age or hypertension.

Annie Easley


Annie Easley

Photo: NASA/Interim Archives/Getty Images

Another major contributor to the U.S. Space Program, Annie Easley worked on myriad projects for NASA over the course of her 30-year careers as a mathematician and rocket scientist. Like Johnson, Vaughan and Mary Jackson, she first worked as a computer and then eventually became a programmer.

Aside from conducting studies on battery-powered vehicles, Easley also worked on shuttle launches and designed and tested a NASA nuclear reactor. She was also a "leading member of the team which developed software for the Centaur rocket stage, which laid the technological foundations for the Space Shuttle launches and launches of communication, military and weather satellites," per NASA.

Dr. Alexa Canady


Dr. Alexa Canady

In 1984, Alexa Canady, a cum laude graduate of the University of Michigan's medical school, became the first African-American woman to be certified by the American Board of Neurological Surgery. Canada, who also earned B.S. in zoology from the University of Michigan, would later take on the role of chief of neurosurgery at Children’s Hospital of Michigan at just 36 years old, and, while there, she specialized in congenital spinal abnormalities, hydrocephalus, trauma and brain tumors.



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Whether it be in politics, science, medicine or the arts, Latinas have defied social, cultural, and gender stereotypes throughout many generations and have become pioneers in their respective fields and native countries.

In honor of these brave, daring, and at times controversial women, here are 10 Latinas who fought against the odds and became the first in their class:

Sonia Sotomayor - First Latina U.S. Supreme Court Justice 380w, 700w, 1400w" type="image/webp" sizes="(min-width: 675px) 300px, calc(100vw - 40px)" /> 380w, 700w, 1400w" sizes="(min-width: 675px) 300px, calc(100vw - 40px)" />sonai-sotomayor-photo-by-allison-shelleygetty-images-.jpg?profile=RESIZE_710x

Sonia Sotomayor

Photo: Allison Shelley/Getty Images

Born in the Bronx, New York in 1954, Sonia Sotomayor grew up in challenging circumstances. Although she recalled regular summertime visits to Puerto Rico to see friends and family, her home life in New York was not a happy one. Her father was an alcoholic who died in his early 40s and her mother kept her emotional distance from her daughter. The family lived in the housing projects, which would later be overrun by gang violence.


Still, Sotomayor's mother pushed her children to take their education seriously, which left a deep imprint on Sotomayor, who knew by age 10 that she wanted to be a lawyer. Sotomayor won a scholarship to Princeton University and graduated summa cum laude in 1976 and went on to receive her law degree from Yale.

In 1979 Sotomayor served as an assistant district attorney, which eventually paved her way to becoming a U.S. District Court judge, appointed by George H.W. Bush. Under Bill Clinton's administration, Sotomayor would make her way to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in 1997, and a little over a decade later, Barack Obama nominated her to the highest court in the land. In 2009 Sotomayor would make history as the first Latina to become a U.S. Supreme Court Justice. Since then, she has built her reputation on being an advocate for criminal justice reform and women's rights.

Rita Moreno - First Latina PEGOT Recipient 380w, 700w, 1400w" type="image/webp" sizes="(min-width: 675px) 300px, calc(100vw - 40px)" /> 380w, 700w, 1400w" sizes="(min-width: 675px) 300px, calc(100vw - 40px)" />rita-moreno-photo-by--john-springer-collectioncorbiscorbis-via-getty-imagesjpg.jpg?profile=RESIZE_710x

Rita Moreno

Photo: © John Springer Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images


Born in 1931, Puerto Rican actress Rita Moreno has built an award-winning career in film, television and theater that has spanned over seven decades. Famous for her supporting roles in the film adaptations of the King and I (1956) and West Side Story (1961), Moreno would earn herself an Oscar for the latter, making her the first Latina to achieve such a feat.

In the 1970s, Moreno became a regular cast member of the beloved PBS children's show The Electric Company and would later be cast in a supporting role on the HBO hit drama Oz (1997-2003).

Her multitude of credits as an actress, singer and dancer would later result to one of her biggest crowning achievements in 2019: She is the first Latina to be elevated to PEGOT status, a small group of entertainers who have won a Peabody, Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony award.

Isabel Perón - First Latina Female President 380w, 700w, 1400w" type="image/webp" sizes="(min-width: 675px) 300px, calc(100vw - 40px)" /> 380w, 700w, 1400w" sizes="(min-width: 675px) 300px, calc(100vw - 40px)" />sabel-de-peron-president-of-argentina-making-her-first-speech-to-the-public-since-returning-as-president-after-a-months-rest-from-the-balcony-of-government-house-buenos-aires-photo-by-keystonegetty-im.jpg?profile=RESIZE_710x

Isabel Perón making a speech from the balcony of Government House in Buenos Aires on October 21, 1975.

Photo: Keystone/Getty Images

Despite her lower-middle-class background and her fifth-grade education, former nightclub dancer Isabel Perón would become Latin America's first female president.

Born in Argentina in 1931, Isabel Perón's rise to power would be through her husband, Argentinian president Juan Perón, who was previously married to the late and beloved Eva Perón (aka Evita). As the third wife, Isabel, known to her countrymen as "Isabelita," would serve as her husband's vice president and First Lady during his third presidential term, starting in 1973.

However, just a year in office, Juan suffered from a series of heart attacks and died on July 1, 1974. Isabel took over as president, and while her nation and political allies and even some of her husband's enemies initially showed support for her, she quickly fell out of favor after she issued a government-run suppression campaign against her adversaries, including a string of political murders and anti-left-wing policy measures and purges.

In 1976 Isabel was forced out by a military coup and remained under house arrest before being allowed to move to Spain. In 2007 an Argentinian judge issued an order for her arrest for the disappearance of an activist in 1976, but Spanish courts refused to extradite her, citing the charges didn't fall under the category of crimes against humanity.

Ellen Ochoa - First Latina Astronaut in Space 380w, 700w, 1400w" type="image/webp" sizes="(min-width: 675px) 300px, calc(100vw - 40px)" /> 380w, 700w, 1400w" sizes="(min-width: 675px) 300px, calc(100vw - 40px)" />ellen-ochoa-during-training-at-vance-air-force-base-in-houston-tx-1993-photo-by-nasaliaison.jpg?profile=RESIZE_710x

Ellen Ochoa training at Vance Air Force base in Houston, Texas in 1993.

Photo: NASA/Liaison

Born in Los Angeles in 1958, Ellen Ochoa immersed herself in the sciences, graduating from San Diego State University with a bachelor's in physics (1980) and later from Stanford University with a master's in science (1981) and a doctorate in electrical engineering (1985).


As a doctorate student, she focused her studies primarily on optical systems involving high tech space exploration, which eventually led her into the NASA space program in 1991. Two years later, Ochoa became the first Latina woman to fly into space, which occurred aboard the shuttle Discovery.

Ochoa would complete a total of four space missions during her career at NASA and would make history once again when she became the first Latina director of the agency's Johnson Space Center in 2013. 

Evangelina Rodriguez - First Dominican Female Doctor

Despite being born into poverty and discriminated against for being born of partial African descent, Afro-Dominican Evangelina Rodriguez became the first woman from the Dominican Republic to earn her medical degree.

Born in 1879, Rodriguez was raised by her grandmother and diligently worked her way through school and earned her education, despite the social and cultural challenges of being a poor half-black female who was a product of wedlock. She received her medical degree from the University of the Dominican Republic in 1909 and began building her career in small towns and giving medical care to the poorest citizens.

After scrounging her earnings for many years, Rodriguez furthered her expertise by studying gynecology and pediatrics in France in 1921 and graduated four years later. She returned to her country and cared for her patients, while also becoming a political firebrand, advocating for women's rights and issues, such as birth control, and speaking out against dictator Rafael Trujillo.

Gabriela Mistral - First Latina Author to Win the Nobel Prize in Literature 380w, 700w, 1400w" type="image/webp" sizes="(min-width: 675px) 300px, calc(100vw - 40px)" /> 380w, 700w, 1400w" sizes="(min-width: 675px) 300px, calc(100vw - 40px)" />gabriela-mistral-photo-by-leo-rosenthalpix-incthe-life-images-collection-via-getty-imagesgetty-images.jpg?profile=RESIZE_180x180

Gabriela Mistral

Photo: Leo Rosenthal/Pix Inc./The LIFE Images Collection via Getty Images/Getty Images

Tragic love, childhood, piety, sadness, bitterness and the politics of the times brought forth the lyrical poetry that defined Chilean poet, diplomat and educator Gabriela Mistral. Born in 1889 as Lucila Godoy Alcayaga, the poet would later go by her pseudonym Gabriela Mistral, which she created by fusing the names of her favorite poets Gabriele D'Annunzio and Frédéric Mistral.

While working on her poetry as a young woman, Mistral also served as a village school teacher. An intense romance with a railway worker who would end up killing himself, was one of several tragedies throughout her life that would inspire her poetry, and it was her sonnets memorializing the dead, Sonetos de la muerte, in 1914 that would make her famous throughout Latin America.

As an artist and intellectual who gained international fame for her poetry, Mistral was invited to travel the world as a cultural ambassador for the League of Nations and lived in France and Italy in the mid-1920s to early 1930s. She lectured and served as an educator throughout the United States, Europe and Cuba and received honorary degrees at renowned universities. In 1945 she was the first Latin American female poet to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature.


Isabel Allende - First Latina Author Dubbed as Most Widely Read in the World 380w, 700w, 1400w" type="image/webp" sizes="(min-width: 675px) 300px, calc(100vw - 40px)" /> 380w, 700w, 1400w" sizes="(min-width: 675px) 300px, calc(100vw - 40px)" />isabel-allende-peruvian-writer-milano-italy-22nd-october-2015-photo-by-leonardo-cendamogetty-images.jpg?profile=RESIZE_710x

Isabel Allende in October 2015

Photo: Leonardo Cendamo/Getty Images

Another Chilean artist, Isabel Allende, would follow in Mistral's footsteps to become "the world's most widely read Spanish-language author." In fact, Allende would become the first woman to be awarded the Gabriela Mistral Order of Merit.

Born in Peru in 1942, Allende would gain international recognition for her magical realism in novels such as The House of Spirits and City of Beasts. Drawing from historical events (her father's first cousin was Chilean president Salvador Allende, who was overthrown in a military coup in 1973) and her own experience, Allende honors the stories of women in mythical fashion and is credited to have transformed non-fiction literature.

Among her many awards, Allende received Chile's National Literature Prize in 2010 and was honored by President Barack Obama with a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2014 as well as an honorary degree from Harvard that same year.

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen - First Latina & Cuban-American to Serve in Congress 380w, 700w, 1400w" type="image/webp" sizes="(min-width: 675px) 300px, calc(100vw - 40px)" /> 380w, 700w, 1400w" sizes="(min-width: 675px) 300px, calc(100vw - 40px)" />ileana-ros-lehtinen-r-fl-poses-for-a-portrait-in-her-office-in-the-rayburn-house-office-building-on-thursday-march-16-2017-in-washington-dc-photo-by-matt-mcclainthe-washington-post-via-getty-images.jpg?profile=RESIZE_710x

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in her office in Washington, D.C. in March 2017.

Photo:  Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Political activism ran in Ilena Ros-Lehtinen's family. Born in Cuba in 1952 and later immigrating to the United States at age eight, Ros-Lehtinen grew up with an anti-Castro activist father and memories of escaping Fidel Castro's regime. Focusing her career in education, Ros-Lehtinen earned both her a bachelor's degree in 1975 and a master's degree in 1985 at Florida International University. In 2004 she received her doctorate in education from the University of Miami.

While operating a private school in Miami in the early 80s, Ros-Lehtinen was elected to the Florida House of Representatives, becoming the first Latina to accomplish this. She continued her groundbreaking streak by becoming the first Latina to serve in the state senate and in 1989, the first Latina and first Cuban-American to serve in the United States Congress as a member of the House of Representatives. Starting in 2011, she also became the first female to ever manage a regular standing committee, the Committee on Foreign Affairs.

As a moderate Republican, Ros-Lehtinen was considered one of the most popular bipartisan politicians before retiring her House seat in 2017. She was the first House Republican to come out in support of gay marriage and served as a member of numerous caucuses in her 30-year political career, including the LGBT Equality Caucus, the Climate Solutions Caucus and the Congressional Pro-Life Women's Caucus.


Maria Elena Salinas - First Latina Journalist to Win a Lifetime Achievement Emmy Award


Maria Elena Salinas speaking at the International Women's Media Foundation Awards Luncheon at on October 22, 2014, in New York City.

Photo: Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for IWMF

Born in 1954, Los Angeles native Maria Elena Salinas is distinguished for being the longest-running female TV news anchor in the U.S. and the first Latina to earn a Lifetime Achievement Emmy. With a journalism career spanning over three decades, Salinas has interviewed world leaders — from presidents to heads of state to dictators — and served as the co-anchor for Univision's nightly news broadcast as well as its news magazine program, Aquí y Ahora (Here and Now).

Known as the "Voice of Hispanic America," Salinas recently retired from her role at Univision but continues to focus on her philanthropy, which includes education, promoting women's media, and increasing voter registration within her community. “I am grateful for having had the privilege to inform and empower the Latino community through the work my colleagues and I do with such passion," she stated while stepping down from Univision, adding, "As long as I have a voice, I will always use it to speak on their behalf.”

Eulalia Guzmán - First Mexican Female Archaeologist

Born in 1890 in San Pedro Piedra Gorda, Eulalia Guzmán was an educator, feminist and philosopher best known as Mexico's first female archaeologist. She helped develop the Ixcateopan, Guerrero archaeological project, an archive of her country's history, and the National Library of Anthropology and History.

Although some of Guzmán's archaeological work became controversial among Mexican scholars for their lack of authentication — namely her claim that she discovered the remains of the Aztec Emperor, Cuauhtémoc — she was popular among indigenous populations who celebrated her accomplishments.


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As the first black president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela fought for justice. Serving from 1994-1999, he led the anti-apartheid movement and fought against institutional racism, which eventually led to him serving 27 years in prison.

Although he was a controversial figure in some circles, Mandela received several awards throughout his life including the Nobel Peace Prize, the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Soviet Union’s Lenin peace prize. Sharing his fight with leaders from all over the world, Mandela also mingled with prominent leaders such as Fidel Castro and Bill Clinton.



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The stories of heroism, tenacity, and courage of the American West weren’t just reserved for the cowboy: long before him was the Native American, whose cultural and spiritual diversity, as well as deep-rooted connection to the land, made for a rich...

The stories of heroism, tenacity, and courage of the American West weren’t just reserved for the cowboy: long before him was the Native American, whose cultural and spiritual diversity, as well as deep-rooted connection to the land, revealed an entirely different way of living that Americans are able to admire today. But during the 19th and 20th centuries, the U.S.—motivated by its political and economic agendas—had a hostile perspective on its older neighbors, believing them to be inferior and even more, a threat to its plans of westward expansion. Notably during the Gold Rush of the 1800s, these two opposing world views clashed into violence, but in turn, gave birth to legendary Native American war leaders. takes a look at five notable Native Americans who admirably fought for the survival of their culture and land and left a lasting legacy for generations to come.

Geronimo (Department of Defense. (File:Geronimo.jpg) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

Geronimo (Department of Defense. (File:Geronimo.jpg) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)



Geronimo (1829-1909) An Apache leader who fought fiercely against Mexico and the U.S. for expanding into his tribe’s lands (now present-day Arizona), Geronimo began inciting countless raids against the two parties, after his wife and three children were slaughtered by Mexican troops in the mid-1850s. Born as Goyahkla, Geronimo was given his now famous name when he charged into battle amid a flurry of bullets, killing numerous Mexicans with merely a knife to avenge the death of his family. Although how he got the name "Geronimo" is up for debate, white settlers at the time were convinced he was the "worst Indian who ever lived." On September 4, 1886, Geronimo surrendered to U.S. troops, along with his small band of followers. During the remaining years of his life, he converted to Christianity (but was kicked out of his church due to incessant gambling), appeared at fairs, and rode in President Theodore Roosevelt’s inaugural parade in 1905. He also dictated his own memoir, Geronimo’s Story of His Life, in 1906. On his deathbed three years later, Geronimo reportedly told his nephew he regretted surrendering to the U.S. “I should have fought until I was the last man alive," he told him. Geronimo was buried at the Apache Indian Prisoner of War Cemetery in Fort Still, Oklahoma.

Sitting Bull (Photo: O.S. Goff/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Sitting Bull (Photo: O.S. Goff/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Sitting Bull (1831-1890) As a holy man and tribal chief of the Hunkpapa Lakota Sioux tribe, Sitting Bull was a symbol of Native American resistance against U.S. government policies. In 1875, after an alliance with various tribes, Sitting Bull had a triumphant vision of defeating U.S. soldiers, and in 1876, his premonition came true: He and his people defeated General Custer’s army in a skirmish, now known as the Battle of the Little Bighorn, in eastern Montana territory. After leading countless war parties, Sitting Bull and his remaining tribe briefly escaped to Canada but eventually returned to the U.S. and surrendered in 1881 due to lack of resources. He later joined Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, earning $50 a week, and converted to Catholicism. On December 15, 1890, prodded by Indian agents who feared Sitting Bull was planning an escape with the Ghost Dancers, an emerging Native American religious movement that predicted a quiet end to white expansion, police officers attempted to arrest him. Amid the commotion, the officers ended up fatally shooting Sitting Bull, along with seven of his followers. Although he was originally buried at Fort Yates—the North Dakota reservation where he was killed—in 1953, his family moved his remains near Mobridge, South Dakota, the place of his birth.

The Crazy Horse Monument in South Dakota.

The Crazy Horse Monument in South Dakota.

Crazy Horse (1840-1877) Leader of the Oglala Lakota peoples, Crazy Horse was a courageous fighter and protector of his tribe’s cultural traditions—so much so, that he refused to let anyone take his photograph. He is known to have played key roles in various battles, chief among them, the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876, where he helped Sitting Bull defeat General Custer. Unlike his fellow Lakota leaders, Sitting Bull and Gall, who ended up fleeing to Canada, Crazy Horse remained in the U.S. to fight the American troops, but he eventually surrendered in May of 1877. In September of the same year, Crazy Horse met his end when he left his reservation without permission to take his sick wife back to her parents. Knowing he would be arrested, he initially didn’t resist the officers, but when he discovered they were taking him to a guardhouse (due to rumors he was planning on hatching a rebellion), he fought them and tried to escape. With his arms detained by one soldier, another stabbed his bayonet into the war chief, eventually killing him. Although his parents buried his remains in South Dakota, the exact location of his remains is not known.

Chief Joseph (Photo: MPI/Getty Images)

Chief Joseph (Photo: MPI/Getty Images)


Chief Joseph (1840-1904) While many Native American war leaders and chiefs were known for their combative resistance towards the U.S.'s westward expansion, Chief Joseph, Wallowa leader of the Nez Perce, was known for his concerted efforts to negotiate and live peacefully with his new neighbors. Although his father, Joseph the Elder, had brokered a peaceful land treaty with the U.S. government that extended from Oregon to Idaho, the latter reneged on its agreement. To honor the memory of his father, who died in 1871, Chief Joseph resisted staying within the confines of the Idaho reservation that the government had mandated. In 1877, the threat of a U.S. cavalry attack made him relent, and he began leading his people to the reservation. However, the Nez Perce leader found himself in a difficult situation when some of his young warriors—angry that their homeland had been stolen from them—raided and killed neighboring white settlers; the U.S. cavalry began chasing the group down, and reluctantly, Chief Joseph decided to join the warring band. His tribe’s 1,400 mile march and defense tactics impressed General William Tecumseh Sherman, and from then on, he was known as the “Red Napoleon.” Tired of the bloodshed, Chief Joseph surrendered on October 5, 1877. His emotional surrender speech was etched into the annals of American history, and up until his death, he spoke against the U.S.’s injustice and discrimination against Native Americans. In 1904, he died, according to his doctor, of a “broken heart.”

Red Cloud (Photo by Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images)

Red Cloud (Photo by Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images)

Red Cloud (1822-1909) Born in what is now North Platte, Nebraska, Red Cloud spent most of his young life at war. The Oglala Lakota Sioux leader’s fighting skills made him one of the most formidable opponents of the U.S. Army, and in 1866-1868, he led a victorious campaign, known as Red Cloud’s War, which resulted in his taking control over Wyoming and southern Montana territory. In fact, fellow Lakota leader, Crazy Horse, played an important role in that battle that led to many U.S. casualties. Red Cloud’s win led to the Treaty of Fort Laramie in 1868, which gave his tribe ownership of the Black Hills, but these protected expanses of land in South Dakota and Wyoming quickly became encroached upon by white settlers looking for gold. Red Cloud, along with other Native American leaders, traveled to Washington D.C. to persuade President Grant to honor the treaties that were originally agreed upon. Although he didn’t find a peaceful solution, he did not participate in the Great Sioux War of 1876-1877, which was led by his fellow tribesmen, Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull. Regardless, Red Cloud continued to travel to Washington D.C. to fight for his people and ended up outliving all the major Sioux leaders. In 1909 he died at the age of 87 and was buried at Pine Ridge Reservation.



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African-American Inventors

African-Americans have faced many obstacles over the course of history, but this hasn't stopped bright, innovative individuals from developing inventions that have changed the world. From the traffic light to the blood bank, here are some famous African-American...

African-Americans have faced many obstacles over the course of history, but this hasn't stopped bright, innovative individuals from developing inventions that have changed the world. From the traffic light to the blood bank, here are some famous African-American inventors.


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Garret Augustus Morgan Garrett Morgan opened up a sewing machine and shoe repair shop in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1907. An innovative mind, he kept busy creating prototypes to solve many everyday problems. One of his first creations was a liquid that straightened fabric—which he later sold as a product for hair straightening.

In 1911, after hearing about the tragic deaths in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, Morgan invented a safety hood and smoke protector for firefighters. The hood, which contained a wet sponge to filter out smoke and cool the air, became the precursor to the gas mask. To sell his safety hood, Morgan had to hire a white actor to pretend to be the inventor.


In 1923, Morgan patented another useful invention: A hand-cranked mechanical signal machine for traffic crossing. It would eventually lead to the creation of the traffic light.


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Charles Drew African-American surgeon Charles Drew felt called to the study of medicine after his sister, Elsie, died of Influenza. He excelled in medical school, and became a doctor around the beginning of World War II. Drew was recruited to set up a program for blood storage in Britain, which laid the foundation for the American Red Cross Blood Bank. In 1943, Drew was chosen as the first African-American surgeon to serve as examiner on the American Board of Surgery.


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Lewis Howard Latimer Though Thomas Edison is recognized as the inventor of the light bulb, African-American inventor Lewis Latimer played an important role in its development. In 1881, Latimer patented a method for making carbon filaments, allowing light bulbs to burn for hours instead of minutes. Latimer also drafted the drawings that helped Alexander Graham Bell receive a patent for the telephone.


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George Carruthers Physicist and inventor George Carruthers built his first telescope at age 10, and has spent the rest of his life making important contributions to the study of outer space. Carruthers has developed ways to use ultraviolet imaging in order to view images in deep space that were previously impossible to see. In 1972, Carruthers invented the "Far Ultraviolet Camera/Spectograph," the first moon-based observatory. It was used in the Apollo 16 mission. Then, in 1986, one of his inventions captured an image of Hailey's Comet—the first time a comet had ever been pictured from space.


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Elijah McCoy This list wouldn't be complete without The Real McCoy. Elijah McCoy was born in 1844 to parents who fled from slavery in Kentucky, via the Underground Railroad. McCoy was born free in Canada, and moved back to the United States when he was 5. At age 15, he traveled to Edinburgh in Scotland for an apprenticeship, and returned as a mechanical engineer. In Detroit, he took a job as a fireman and oiler for the Michigan Central Railroad, unable to find any other work. At his home workshop, McCoy developed an automatic lubricator for oiling steam engines on trains and ships. McCoy's invention allowed trains to run faster and longer without stopping for maintenance. The invention was so good, it was referred to as "the real McCoy," in order to differentiate it from other pale imitations that popped up on the market.



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Unless lawsuits against it are successful, the Trump Administration is planning to carry out immigration raids of homes and workplaces across the country starting on Sunday (July 14), reports The New York Times. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will target at least 2,000 people who have been ordered deported but remain in the country. The raids may also capture people in their proximity such as children. 

Democracy Now reports that ICE raids will take place in Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York and San Francisco. Raids were set to take place in New Orleans but the city announced that ICE will postpone the roundups due to Tropical Storm Barry. There are lots of resources online for how to cope with raids. Here are a few of the best:

Emergency Planning

Colorlines sums up what you should do in advance of raids. » We Have Rights campaign offers a preparedness tip sheet that you can download and fill out along with helpful tips for how to store it. The sheet prompts you to list out essential information including your emergency contacts, your consulate and your child’s medication. » Immigrant Legal Resource Center has tips in English and Spanish to help prepare children for possible family separation. » National Immigration Project has a comprehensive illustrated guide to handling a number of situations. 

Know Your Rights

​​​​We Have Rights has animated videos voiced by Jesse Williams that run you through what to do if ICE comes to your home, stops you in the street or comes to your job. Languages include Spanish, Arabic and Haitian Kreyol. » The ACLU presents a range of scenarios, including being stopped in the street.  » Toward the bottom of the page, the American Immigration Lawyers Association has a list of rapid response hotlines in select cities and states. »The Immigrant Defense Project, a clearinghouse of information generated by organizations around the country, has six infrographics that show you how to deal with ICE at your door, in English and Spanish. They include a list of lies that ICEagents routinely tell people. Top ruse: ICE agents pretend to be local police. » Also from the Immigrant Defense Project are know-your-rights posters and booklets in 16 languages. ​​​​​​

Finding Legal Help

Informed Immigrant has a database of service organizations searchable by zip code and coded according to what they do, from providing legal help to connecting you to mental healthcare. » The National Immigration Law Project has a searchable network of attorneys in many states. » The ACLU compiled a list of large national organizations that provide legal help to immigrants. 



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