In August 2020, Jason Wright (1982 – ) was hired as the Washington Football Team president, making him the first Black president of an NFL team. Wright is also currently the youngest president of an NFL team. He spent seven years as a running back with the Atlanta Falcons, Arizona Cardinals, and Cleveland Browns. Wright earned an MBA from the University of Chicago. He then spent seven years at McKinsey and Company, where he focused on helping to turn around struggling companies.
Wright’s key focus in his new role will be improving team culture, addressing allegations of sexual harassment, and advancing its legacy after its name change. Wright is confident about his ability to make a positive impact. He states that the “psychological and emotional well-being” of his employees is his top priority. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Wright’s mother was a flight attendant, and his father was a civil rights activist and entrepreneur in the insurance industry. Wright is married and has two children
African American immunization expert Tiffany Tate has accused the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) along with multinational services firm, Deloitte of stealing her idea for a mass vaccination tracker. Tate’s vaccination tracker is known as PrepMod. She is seeking $15 million in damages. A cease and desist letter was issued to the CDC and Deloitte in August 2020. Tate asserts that the CDC and Deloitte took concepts from her vaccination tracker and used them to develop a system with similar features. The Deloitte and CDC vaccination tracking system is called the Vaccine Administration Management System (VAMS). Deloitte also reportedly tried to hire Tate in June 2021 to help develop their system. Tate claims the Deloitte system is the same system she already has with PrepMod.
Eight officers of color filed a racial discrimination suit on February 9, 2021, stating that they were barred from guarding the former Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, who has been charged with the death of George Floyd. Officers state they were reassigned to work on other floors within the jail so that they would not come into contact with Chauvin. Court documents indicate the officers identifying as African American, Hispanic, Pacific Islander, and mixed-race were “segregated and prevented from doing their jobs by defendant solely because of the color of their skin”. Officers also stated that Chauvin received special treatment from a white lieutenant.
Chauvin was charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter after video footage recorded May 25, 2021, showed him placing his knee on George Floyd’s neck for approximately nine minutes, during which time Floyd repeatedly stated that he could not breathe. Attorney for the eight officers, Lucas Kaster said, “When Officer Chauvin arrived, they were prepared to do the jobs they had done every single day up to that point, until, that is, Superintendent Lydon’s order prevented them from doing so.”
Attorney Kaster also stated, “The impact on our clients has been immense. They’re deeply humiliated and distressed, and the bonds necessary within the high-stress and high-pressure environment of the ADC have been broken,” The lawsuit asserts that Superintendent Lydon gave orders that all officers of color were not allowed to guard Chauvin or have any interaction with him, or even to be on the same floor where he was being held. Attorney Kaster describes the officers as being “extremely upset and offended.” Devin Sullivan, one of the plaintiffs states in court documents that he was in the midst of patting down Chauvin when he was told to stop by Superintendent Lydon and then was replaced by a white officer.
Esteban Hotesse (1919 – 1946) is the only known Latinx member of the Tuskegee Airmen. The Tuskegee Airmen was a black military unit that saw combat during World War II. Hotesse was born in Moca, Dominican Republic and immigrated to the U.S. with his mother and younger sister in 1923. The family settled in Manhattan. Hotesse enlisted into the Army Air Corp in 1942. He was first assigned to the 619th Bombadier Squadron, which later merged with the 477th Bomdadier Group M in 1944. The 477th was one of the Tuskegee Airmen squadrons that remained stationed in the U.S. and did not see combat overseas. The 477th did, however have to combat racism and discrimination on U.S. soil. The 477th and 619th merged after the military leaders began receiving pressure to provide more opportunities for black soldiers to fill key positions in the air corp.
McKissack & McKissack is the oldest black-owned architecture, construction, and engineering company in the U.S. The company was started in 1905 by brothers Moses McKissack III (l879-1952) and Calvin Lunsford McKissack (1890-1968). Their knowledge of the construction trade was passed down from their father (Gabriel Moses II) and enslaved grandfather (Moses McKissack I). Calvin and Moses III were educated at Pulaski Colored High School and attended Fisk University, a historically black college. They started the company in Pulaski, TN, and then relocated the business to Nashville, TN.
State requirements for architects changed in 1922, requiring all architects to be licensed and registered. The McKissack brothers took correspondence courses and obtained architectural degrees to meet the licensing requirements. When the brothers passed the state licensing exam in 1922, they were some of the state’s first registered architects. Some of their most well known projects were several public schools in the 1930’s and the Tennessee State University Library in 1927. McKissack & McKissack architects was awarded its largest contract in 1942, a $5-$7 million contract with the U.S. government to design and build Tuskegee Army Airfield. The airfield was the training site for the Tuskegee Airmen. The firm attend greater notoriety as a result of this project and by 1945 were licensed to work in Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Florida, and Mississippi.
The “Saltwater Railroad” is the name of the waterway traveled by enslaved persons fleeing from the South to Florida to reach freedom in the British-controlled Bahamas. The Salt Water Railroad was similar to the Underground Railroad that the enslaved used to flee to northern states enroute to Canada. The enslaved fleeing to the Bahamas began around the time that the U.S. invaded Spanish Florida. Spanish Florida had been a location to which many seeking to escape slavery in the South would flee. However, the 1819 Adams-Onis Treaty finalized the U.S. takeover of Florida, making it an unsafe destination for those seeking freedom.
Accessing freedom in the Bahamas via The Saltwater Railroad began as early as 1821 and continued for 40+ years. It was primarily used by the enslaved freeing from Georgia, North Carolina, and Florida.
Cobalt is a mineral utilized for lithium batteries in computers, electric cars, and cell phones. The demand for cobalt continues to rise. According to estimates by the World Economic Forum’s Global Battery Alliance, the demand for cobalt is expected to grow fourfold by 2030; mainly due to the electric vehicle boom. The demand for cobalt has tripled in the last several years.
Greater than 60% of the world’s cobalt comes from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). It is often mined by impoverished men, women, and children for as little as $2 per day. Appalling human rights violations related to mining operations abound at artisanal mines in the DRC. Workers at these mines typically have no safety equipment. It is also well known that handling cobalt exposes workers to toxins that sicken workers and cause birth defects. DRC has experienced significant conflict and disruption. DRC has also faced the challenge of fighting Ebola and government corruption. Child labor, serious injuries, fatal accidents, violent conflict between miners and security personnel occur regularly.
Civil Rights and Voting Rights trailblazer Fannie Lou Hamer is well known for her activism. Hamer was unrelenting in her efforts to secure economic and political freedom for black people living in the Mississippi delta. Hamer was around 45 when she became active in the civil rights movement. Her organizing and efforts resulted in her and her husband being fired from their employment as sharecroppers. Hamer fought tirelessly until she died in 1977. She was only 59 years old. Many people may be unaware that she died from breast cancer. After a radical mastectomy, Hamer would stuff her bra with socks, unable to afford a prosthesis. Friend and fellow civil rights activist Eleanor Holmes-Norton had her fitted for a prosthesis since she could not afford it.
Founded in 1954 by husband and wife team, George and Joan Johnson, Johnson Products was the first African American owned company to be publicly traded in the United States. Headquartered in Chicago, IL, the company manufactured and distributed cosmetic and hair care products.
The Johnsons reportedly started the company with a $250 business loan. George Johnson was initially denied at one bank branch because bankers thought his idea would not be profitable. So he reportedly went to another branch and told them that he wanted to take his family on vacation. This time, the loan was approved. The Johnsons created and packaged the products in their basement before opening a production plant in Chicago during the1960’s.