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Alberto Gonzales Resigns – Leaves A Badly Damaged Department of Justice

Posted by DallasBlackBlog on Monday, August 27, 2007

Alberto Gonzales was one of the worst Attorney Generals in modern American history.

He was a man truly out of his depth who was installed as a crass political operative at a time when the nation deserved a professional Justice leader and defender of the Constitution.

Gonzales was simply a political hack doing the bidding of the White House – not an independent voice of reason and sanity.

This politically beholden Attorney General Alberto Gonzales did so much damage in so little time – especially to the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Divisions.

The Department of Justice will be hard pressed to soon recover any semblance of the integrity and regard it has now lost as a result of the many indefensible actions of Alberto Gonzales.

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Posted in Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Civil Rights, Hispanic, Law, Legal, Politics, Republican, U. S. Department of Justice, Uncategorized, Voting Rights | Leave a Comment »

NAACP Landmark Discriminatory Lending Lawsuit

Posted by DallasBlackBlog on Thursday, August 23, 2007

The NAACP filed suit in Los Angeles federal court against 14 of the country’s largest lenders, alleging systematic, institutionalized racism in sub-prime home mortgage lending. This is the first known lawsuit that challenges such lending practices on a broad scale. The suit was announced at the NAACP’s 98th annual convention, themed “Power Beyond Measure,” in Detroit through July 12.

According to the lawsuit, African American homeowners who received sub-prime mortgage loans from these lenders were more than 30 percent more likely to be issued a higher rate loan than Caucasian borrowers with the same qualifications.

“We are asking our members and all African American borrowers who bought or refinanced a home in the last five years to come forward and tell us their stories or at least re-examine their mortgages,” said NAACP National Board of Directors Chairman Julian Bond. “They can help us correct these egregious, demoralizing practices that too often turn the so-called American dream of homeownership into a nightmare.”

Other studies cited in the lawsuit demonstrate that disparities are pervasive. In fact, upper income African Americans are more than twice as likely to receive higher cost loans as their lower income white counterparts. Just this morning, USA Today reported that the National Community Reinvestment Coalition’s most recent study underscores this point, finding that discrimination against minorities persists in mortgage lending. The Federal Reserve Board, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the FDIC have all made similar observations.

“Lenders named in the suit, on average, made high cost sub-prime loans to higher qualified African Americans 54 percent of the time, compared to 23 percent of the time for Caucasians,” said NAACP Interim President & CEO Dennis Courtland Hayes.

Mortgage lenders named in the lawsuit include: Ameriquest, Fremont Investment & Loan, Option One, WMC Mortgage, Long Beach Mortgage, Citigroup, BNC Mortgage, Accredited Home Lenders, Encore Credit, Bear Sterns First Franklin Financial, HSBC Finance and Washington Mutual.

“The NAACP is bringing this suit as part of its longstanding demand that offending lenders stop discriminatory practices and bring their activities into compliance with federal law including the Fair Housing Act, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, and the Civil Rights Act,” said NAACP Interim General Counsel Angela Ciccolo.

Even when creditworthiness and other risk characteristics are accounted for, African Americans are still significantly more likely to get higher rate loans. According to the lawsuit, these statistical disparities are not mere coincidences, but instead are a result of systematic and predatory targeting of African-Americans borrowers.

“My credit record warrants a better interest rate,” said Amara Weaver of the Waukesha County NAACP in Wisconsin, whose mortgage was shifted to a sub-prime lender immediately after closing on a property in her neighborhood that had been a drug den. “As a professional if I get treated that way, I know those who are less fortunate are victimized more often. This situation lets me know I can’t expect equal treatment and that is frustrating.”

“It’s extremely frustrating,” added Michelle Allison of the NAACP’s Merced Branch in California’s Central Valley. She refinanced with a major lender and was locked into a prepayment loan and now owes $100,000 above what she initially requested. “It’s like being over a barrel. I just wanted to be treated fairly and receive the best service. I was not given options or enough information for me to make an alternate decision. I want to get back to where I was financially before I received my loan.”

NAACP branches across the nation are addressing the predatory lending issue. In Michigan, the Detroit branch’s executive director Heaster Wheeler chairs the state’s Predatory Lending Task Force. He and others have met with Gov. Jennifer Granholm who has instructed the state insurance and banking commissioner as well the state’s civil rights office to coordinate with the branch to craft further legislation and use their authority more strictly to enforce current laws. The Washington, D.C. Branch has partnered with the American Association of Retired Persons. Through workshops, seminars, church meetings and other gatherings it has been discovered that the typical predatory lending victim in that city is an elderly African American female who is single and on social security. They are encouraged to refinance for home improvements and other reasons. The NAACP’s Connecticut State Conference has a committee to address predatory lending issues and has been actively engaged in assisting individuals in their cases. They are also encouraging legislative action and are conducting community education initiatives.

In addition to the NAACP’s Legal Department, the organization and the proposed class of its members are represented by Feazell & Tighe LLP of Austin and Kabatek Brown Kellner LLP of Los Angeles and the law office of Gary L. Bledsoe.

Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.

Posted in African American, Announcements, Civil Rights, Financial, Law, Mortgage, NAACP, Predatory Lending, Race, Racism, Real Estate | Leave a Comment »

National Black Law Students Reject Supreme Court School Case Rationale on Race Plans

Posted by DallasBlackBlog on Thursday, August 23, 2007

June 30, 2007

For Immediate Release:

(WASHINGTON, DC June 28, 2007) — In an unfortunate 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court of the United States struck down the race conscious integration plans of Seattle and Louisville public schools, deeming them unconstitutional. While studies have consistently shown the benefits of racially diverse classrooms in all stages of education, the Supreme Court’s ruling seems counterintuitive considering this nation’s history as well as the growing racial and ethnic composition of our country.

The Supreme Court found the race conscious plans of Seattle and Louisville unconstitutional because they were not narrowly tailored to take race into account to the minimum extent necessary. In both of these school districts, race was used as a tiebreaker in determining which school a student will attend in order to achieve a diverse student population. As we stand here in front of the Supreme Court today, this case reflects a period where the Supreme Court is intellectually dishonest concerning the problems of race in America.

This decision’s message is similar to Plessy v. Ferguson; embarrassing our nation and tacitly ignoring issues of racial injustice in facilities. It is imperative for our generation to mobilize on these issues as we have the unique challenge to discern a less overt and elusive form of Jim Crow’s legacy, said Eddie L. Koen Jr., National Chair of the National Black Law Students Association. With the ongoing attempts by the American Bar Association to modify accreditation evaluations for law schools, in addition to the composition of the Court, we are in danger of witnessing a disparate impact for the enrollment of not only black law students, but K-12 schools all over the country.

The two school districts, Chief Justice Roberts wrote, have failed to provide the necessary support for the proposition that there is no other way than individual racial classifications to avoid racial isolation in their school districts.” Moreover, the way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discrimination on the basis of race . . . The reasoning applied by the Chief Justice that ignoring race will rectify the issues of unequal access to educational institutions was a unjustifiable deviance from both statistical data on school integration and Supreme Court jurisprudence going back to Brown v. Board of Education. The court ignores issues of de facto segregation and assumes color-blind policies will act as an invisible hand to magically fix the ills of our nation’s history.

Race conscious integration plans have been essential in preventing racial isolation in school districts and providing equal access to educational institutions. Justice Breyer noted in his dissenting opinion that between 1968 and 1980, the number of black children attending a school where minority children constituted more than half the children fell from 77% to 63% (81% to 57% in the south). However, this positive trend has slowly reversed since 2000. Since 2000 the figure has risen from 63% back to 77% (57% to 69% in the south). In light of these figures, the Supreme Court insists on a ruling that will only intensify the problems of racial isolation and equal access to educational institutions.

The Supreme Court’s willingness to find the Seattle and Louisville race conscious integration plans unconstitutional conflicts with decades of equal protection jurisprudence dating back to Brown v. Board of Education. In Brown, the court began remedying minorities lack of an equal opportunity to pursue an education. The decision made by the court to further restrict race conscious integration plans not only inhibits the ability of school districts to provide minorities access to equal educational institutions, it exacerbates the problems of segregation that have unjustifiably inhibited the progression of minorities in American society.

We have witnessed times in the past where the high court has rendered a bad decision. We witnessed Plessy v. Ferguson, where the court’s separate but equal doctrine provided an impetus to further segregation laws. Today, we whole-heartedly agree with Justice Breyer’s dissent, which states in part that, this is a decision that the Court and the Nation will come to regret.

The National Black Law Students Association recognizes the severity of this case and will work to determine the full ramifications of the Supreme Court’s decision. The National Black Law Student Association will continue to serve as advocates for the right of minorities to have equal access to education.

Founded in 1968, the National Black Law Students Association (NBLSA) is a nationwide organization formed to articulate and promote the needs and goals of black law students and effectuates change in the legal community. As the largest student run organization in the country with over 6,000 members, NBLSA includes chapters or affiliates in six different countries including The Bahamas, Nigeria, and South Africa. NBLSA encourages the development of talented, social conscious lawyers of tomorrow.

For more information, Contact Levi Christian Pearson at communications@nblsa.org

Posted in African American, African American Education, African American Lawyers, Announcements, Black, Black Education, Black Lawyers, Brown v. Board of Education, Civil Rights, Education, Education Reform, Law, Public Education, Race, Supreme Court, Urban Education | Leave a Comment »

Oliver Hill, Esq – Brown v Board Attorney Passes at 100

Posted by DallasBlackBlog on Sunday, August 5, 2007

Civil Rights Attorney Oliver Hill is shown in this Jan. 15, 1999 file photo, in his office in Richmond, Va. Hill, who was at the front of the court fight that led the Supreme Court to end racially segregated schools, died Sunday, Aug. 5, 2007. He was 100. (AP Photo/The Roanoke Times, Eric Brady, File) (Eric Brady – AP)

In 1954, he was part of a series of lawsuits against racially segregated public schools that became the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision, which changed America’s society by setting the foundation for integrated education.

“He was among the vanguard in seeking equal opportunity for all individuals, and he was steadfast in his commitment to effect change. He will be missed,” said L. Douglas Wilder, who in 1989 became the nation’s first elected black governor and was a confidant of Hill’s. Wilder is now Richmond’s mayor.

In 1940, Hill won his first civil rights case in Virginia, one that required equal pay for black and white teachers. Eight years later, he was the first black elected to Richmond’s City Council since Reconstruction.

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Posted in Brown v. Board of Education, Civil Rights, Education, Law, Race, Racism, Supreme Court, Urban Education | Leave a Comment »

George Bush’s Lawless Actions

Posted by DallasBlackBlog on Tuesday, July 31, 2007

President George Bush has flouted the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in intercepting the conversations and e-mails of American citizens on American soil on his say-so alone. He has claimed authority to break into and enter American homes, open the mail of American citizens and commit torture in order to collect foreign intelligence.The most troubling of Bush’s abuses travels under the banner of “extraordinary rendition.”

He has insisted that the entire United States is a battlefield — even pizza parlors …

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Posted in Civil Rights, Law, Politics, War On Terror | Leave a Comment »