Associated Press Aug. 19, 2015 | 8:33 a.m. EDT

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Former U.S. Rep. Louis Stokes, a 15-term congressman from Ohio who took on tough assignments looking into assassinations and scandals, has died. He was 90.


Rep. Louis Stokes, D-Ohio, announces in 1998 that he will retire from Congress at the end of the year. Stokes, a 15-term Ohio congressman who took on tough assignments looking into assassinations and scandals, died late Tuesday.

His death, confirmed by a family statement, comes a month after he announced he had brain and lung cancer.

Stokes was elected to the House in 1968, becoming Ohio’s first black member of Congress and one of its most respected and influential. Just a year earlier, his brother, Carl, had been elected mayor of Cleveland — the first black elected mayor of a major U.S. city.

Louis Stokes was the dean of the delegation until he stepped down in 1999.

Stokes headed the House’s Select Committee on Assassinations that investigated the slayings of President John F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the late 1970s and concluded that in both cases, there “probably” had been a conspiracy.

Later, he served on the Iran-Contra investigative committee, where he drew attention with his unflinching interrogation of Lt. Col. Oliver North.

“What we seek to do in covert operations is to mask the role of the United States from other countries, not from our own government,” Stokes told North at a highly publicized hearing in 1987.

He was just as unflinching with his probe of fellow Democrats when he led the ethics committee investigation of a corruption scandal known as ABSCAM, which led to convictions of one senator and six House members. The senator and five of the House members were Democrats.

Stokes was repeatedly called upon to exercise his law training and diplomatic skills. He did two tours of duty as chairman of the ethics committee and stepped in upon request during the investigation of a case involving the private life of Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., who retired in 2013.

He was one of the Cold War-era chairmen of the House Intelligence Committee, headed the Congressional Black Caucus and was the first black on the House Appropriations Committee — a powerful panel that decides how much each authorized federal project actually gets to spend.

That post gave him a platform for protecting major Cleveland employers, such as NASA Lewis Research Center, and for directing federal dollars toward hometown projects.

He said he was proud to be in a position to put money into programs that he hoped would improve the quality of life of black people and poor people.

His seniority on that panel eventually brought him the chairmanship of the subcommittee with jurisdiction over all federal housing programs, plus the Department of Veterans Affairs, NASA and many other independent agencies.

Stokes’ public demeanor was patient and analytical, but colleagues also knew him as tough, principled and skillful.

He was one of only nine blacks in the 435-member House when he first took the oath of office in 1969 and never forgot his roots as the child of poverty and great-grandson of a slave.

He spoke often of his admiration for his younger brother, who served two terms as Cleveland mayor and was later a broadcaster and judge. Stokes lost some of his zest for politics after his brother died of cancer in 1996.

He also spoke of his mother, Louise C. Stokes, a widow with an eighth-grade education who supported her sons by working as a cleaning woman. She constantly prodded her boys to “get something in your head so you don’t have to work with your hands like I did,” he recalled. When her boys wanted games, she instead bought books.

Stokes served in the Army from 1943 to 1946 in a segregated unit where he said he experienced racism for the first time in his life.

Heading from Cleveland to take his entrance physical in Columbus, he was warned by his mother that “colored people cannot go in restaurants in downtown Columbus.”

Stationed in Mississippi, he and other blacks were sentenced to the guard house for refusing to pick up papers around the white soldiers’ barracks, and once confined, found the guard house had separate toilets for white and black soldiers.

Years later, when an anti-busing amendment was debated on the House floor, Stokes described the humiliation of segregation. “I was forced to ride in the back of the bus wearing the uniform of my country,” he said.

Struggles with racism lasted a lifetime.

In 1991, a Capitol Hill police officer ignored Stokes’ valid parking tag and refused to let the congressman into his own office building; he didn’t believe the black man behind the wheel was a member of Congress.

Stokes leveled his complaint through official channels and did not complain publicly about the demeaning delay at his own office building.

At one point in his career he said he had his eye on the Senate. But long careers by fellow Democrats John Glenn and Howard Metzenbaum meant no open seat until Stokes was well entrenched in the House and on his way to becoming one of the powerful appropriations subcommittee chairmen.

In 1992, Stokes ran for president as a favorite son, winning the delegates from his home district and then, in a minor convention drama, refusing to release their votes until the Clinton campaign formally asked.

The G.I. Bill made it possible for Stokes to go to college and law school.

A criminal lawyer for two decades before running for Congress, he argued a landmark “stop and frisk” case before the Supreme Court and worked on the NAACP lawsuit that forced Ohio to redraw the lines of what would become the state’s first black-majority congressional district.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press.




Master percussionist collaborated with Miles Davis and the Rolling Stones and was named a ‘living human treasure’ by Unesco in 2006

Doudou N’diaye Rose holding his sabar drumstick.
Doudou N’diaye Rose holding his sabar drumstick. Photograph: Seyllou Diallo/AFP/Getty Images

Senegalese drummer and band leader Doudou N’diaye Rose, who was named a “living human treasure” by Unesco, has died at the age of 85.

The musician, whose real name was Mamadou N’diaye, died in a Dakar hospital after being taken ill on Wednesday morning.

The so-called “mathematician of rhythm” was a master of the sabar drum and led the Drummers of West Africa orchestra, made up of his children and grandchildren, in mind-bogglingly complex beat medleys. He also conducted his daughters and granddaughters in the the all-female group, Les Rosettes.

“Today we lost our father, our friend, a great man,” his nephew Doudou N’diaye Mbengue told Agence France-Presse.

Doudou N'diaye Rose performing in Dakar in 2013.

Doudou N’diaye Rose performing in Dakar in 2013. Photograph: Seyllou/AFP/Getty Images

Born in 1930 into Senegal’s griot caste of musicians and storytellers, N’diaye revealed in a 2010 interview that his accountant father did not want his son to be a musician and that they went for seven years without shaking hands when he defied him.

He was mentored by Senegal’s then drum-major Mada Seck, who “knew all the secrets of percussion” and eventually passed on his instruments to N’diaye, who travelled deep into the west African countryside to develop his talent. Once N’diaye had learned “more than 100 different rhythms”, elders named him the new chief drum-major.

He first caught the wider world’s attention when, in 1959, US singer and dancer Josephine Baker invited N’diaye to perform with her shortly before Senegalese independence. He has since collaborated with musicians including Miles Davis, the Rolling Stones and Peter Gabriel, and toured Africa, Japan, France and the US.

Unesco’s “living human treasure” title was bestowed in 2006 to honour N’diaye’s custodianship of Senegalese culture and his work in passing on that knowledge to younger generations.

Continuing to play until his death, N’diaye told reporters he was at peace having transferred his skills to his children and grandchildren to carry on the tradition. His son Moustapha teaches percussion at the Cité de la Musique in Paris.

“I thank the good lord,” he said. “My children have learned the language of percussion well.”





Updated: Wednesday, August 19, 2015, 8:42 AM
Holy trailblazer, Batgirl!

The actress who gave the world its first portrayal of Batgirl died of complications from breast cancer Monday.Yvonne Craig, 78, died surrounded by loved ones at her home in Pacific Palisades, Calif., her family announced Tuesday in a statement.

Yvonne Craig joined the third and final season of the '60s TV series 'Batman,' becoming the first actress to play Batgirl.20th Century Fox Film Corp.

Yvonne Craig joined the third and final season of the ’60s TV series ‘Batman,’ becoming the first actress to play Batgirl.

“She felt that she lived a wonderful life and was blessed in many ways,” the statement said.

“She was able to travel the world and see many places. Yvonne spent quality time with those that she loved and was able to accomplish many goals and ambitions that she set for herself. “

Craig was born in Taylorville, Ill. She started her performing career in the ‘50s as the youngest member of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, and soon started appearing on screen, acting in “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” and “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.”

By the time of her death, she had scored more than 80 film and TV credits, most recently in the Nickelodeon cartoon series “Olivia.”

But Batgirl was her best known role. She joined Adam West and Burt Ward in the final season of the ‘60s series, and that legacy lasted a lifetime.

“I hear from women that I was their role model,” she told CNN last year. She said fans would tell her: “When I was a little girl, I realized that girls could kick butt just like guys.”

Yvonne West joined Burt Ward (as Robin) and Adam West (Batman) on the show.ABC Photo Archives

Yvonne West joined Burt Ward (as Robin) and Adam West (Batman) on the show.

Those heroic lessons reemerged online as fans mourned Craig’s death.

“Yvonne Craig is the reason I became a comic writer,” Gail Simone, a DC Comics Batgirl writer, said on Twitter.

“Most of the joy in my current life can be traced back in some way to seeing Yvonne Craig be amazing as Batgirl, my first real life hero.

After “Batman,” the woman wonder appeared in “Starsky and Hutch,” two Elvis Presley films and “Star Trek,” as a green-skinned Orion slave girl who tries killing Captain Kirk.

Craig eventually stepped away from acting to enter the real estate business, but continued visiting comic conventions to greet new generations of fans. Earlier this year, she canceled several scheduled appearances because of health problems, writing on her website her doctor advised her to “recuperate properly, and also stay out of crowds.”

FILE PHOTOBobby Bank/WireImage

Yvonne Craig, 78, appeared in more than 80 film and TV roles before her death Monday.

Craig published a memoir of her career, “From Ballet to the Batcave and Beyond,” in 2000.

After she fought breast cancer for the past two years, it metastasized and went to her liver, the family said. She is survived by her husband, sister and nephews.

Her family said one of Craig’s dying wishes was “that no one waste a moment of their time in mourning for her loss in sadness but instead celebrate the awesome life she had been fortunate enough to live.”

Craig’s death came one day after a Maryland man who dressed up as Batman to visit sick children in hospitals was killed in an accident involving his custom-made Batmobile.




August 19, 2015

Tony Gleaton, a professional photographer that transformed his back on an occupation in New york city style as well as started a travelling creative mission, recording the lives of black cowboys as well as producing pictures of the African diaspora in Latin The u.s.a, passed away on Friday in Palo Alto, Calif.

He was 67. The reason was dental cancer cells, his spouse, Lisa,

stated. Mr. Gleaton made his photos in the American West as well as Southwest, then, most plainly, in Mexico, where he lived amongst little-acknowledged neighborhoods of blacks– offspring of African servants gave the New Globe centuries previously by the Spanish– in towns on the seaside levels of Oaxaca, southern of Acapulco.

An exhibit of those pictures, “Africa’s Legacy in Mexico,” which showed up in galleries around the nation for greater than a years start in the 1990s, was sponsored by the Smithsonian Organization.

Tony Gleaton in a 1998 photo. His profession started in the fashion business however swiftly took a sharp turn.

Bruce Talamon, All Civil liberty Reserved

Mr. Gleaton focused on black-and-white pictures, their topics– kids as well as grownups|grownups as well as kids, alone or in teams– usually in direct interaction with the video camera as well as typically in limited frameworks that recommend however do not check out a particular setup, like an office or a barroom|a barroom or an office. In a meeting with The L.a Times in 2007, he called his pictures “abstractions from life,” stating “they might look all-natural however they are very crafted, extremely determined.”

“This is not journalism,” he included. “I am making fine art.”

The pictures he caught– or, much better, produced– could not be called intimate even certainly brilliant, as if Mr. Gleaton were assisting individuals arise from obscurity, enabling them to reveal their really presence. Undoubtedly, this was his mentioned function.

| This was his mentioned function.

“These are lovely photos of individuals that are not usually depicted in a gorgeous method,” he stated.

Leo Antony Gleaton was birthed in Detroit on Aug. 4, 1948. His dad, Leo, was a policeman; his mom, the previous Geraldine Woodson, showed institution. In the late 1950s the household transferred to L.a, where Tony finished from secondary school.

He employed in the Militaries as well as offered in Vietnam; when he returned, in the very early 1970s, he registered at the College of The golden state, L.a, where his passion in digital photography was stimulated. He likewise went to the Fine art Facility University of Style in Pasadena as well as the College of The golden state, Berkeley, though he never ever made a bachelor’s level.

He invested 3 years in New york city, functioning as a professional photographer’s aide in the fashion business as well as taking pictures for Information as well as various other publications prior to choosing that there was much more significant job somewhere else.

He remained in his very early 30s, as well as he started bumming a ride, winding up in Nevada, where he took photos of Indigenous American cattle ranch hands as well as black rodeo bikers.

Plumbing system the society of nonwhite cowboys, he took a trip to Texas, Colorado, Idaho as well as Kansas; his program “Cowboys: Rebuilding an American Misconception” showed up in galleries in Oklahoma, Nevada as well as The golden state. His years of taking a trip as well as photographing|photographing as well as taking a trip in Mexico started with a passion in Mexican rodeo.

“Among the intriguing aspects of Tony was that he might do much more with much less,” Bruce Talamon, the administrator of the Tony Gleaton Photo Depend on, stated in an e-mail. “By that I indicate as we reside in a time of celeb professional photographers with huge budget plans, as well as unknown varieties of aides as well as stylists|stylists as well as aides, Tony would certainly have a little bag with one medium-format cam, one lens, $ 5 in his pocket, as well as a couple of rolls of Tri-X movie.

“He constantly fired in offered light. He might discover stunning light all over he went.”

For his journeys to Mexico as well as Latin The u.s.a, Mr. Talamon stated, Mr. Gleaton “would certainly get a one-way ticket on a Greyhound bus.”

“These were self-financed journeys. As well as since he got on a budget plan, he had actually found out that there was constantly an extra bed at the town church, which benefited a minimum of 5 days. He would certainly provide to help dishes then, based upon the clergyman’s intros, he would certainly begin to photo, remaining for a couple of weeks, then he would certainly return house with magic.”

A huge guy– he was more than 6 feet high as well as evaluated greater than 300 extra pounds– Mr. Gleaton was referred to as a charmer, particularly with his topics as well as with pupils of digital photography. He was separated 3 times prior to he wed Lisa Ellerbee, an instructor, in 2005. She is his only instant survivor. They resided in San Mateo, Calif.

. Mr. Gleaton, that was light-skinned with eco-friendly eyes, stated he frequently needed to clarify to individuals that both his father and mothers were black which he was not biracial, which the prejudgments individuals had of him discovered their method right into his job.

He would certainly not explain his topics as Afro-Mexican, a tag put on them by outsiders; race, he stated, is “a social construct, not a bio-empirical truth.”

In the last few years Mr. Gleaton broadened his job to consist of various other countries in Central as well as South The u.s.a.

“Exactly what is essential regarding these photos is that they provided a face to something that no one had actually truly considered previously,” he stated in 2007 regarding his Mexican photos. “As well as it’s a location to start the conversation regarding exactly what we mean Mexico to be.

“We have a stereotyped sight of exactly what Mexico is, as well as Mexico is numerous points. You could have blemishes as well as red hair as well as be Mexican– as well as you could have extremely black skin as well as be Mexican.”

| Mr. Gleaton specialized in black-and-white pictures, their topics– kids as well as grownups|grownups as well as kids, alone or in teams– nearly constantly in direct interaction with the video camera as well as typically in limited frameworks that recommend however do not check out a particular setup, like an office or a barroom|a barroom or an office. The pictures he caught– or, much better, produced– could not be called intimate so a lot as certainly vibrant, as if Mr. Gleaton were assisting individuals arise from obscurity, enabling them to reveal their extremely presence.”One of the intriguing points regarding Tony was that he might do much more with much less,” Bruce Talamon, the administrator of the Tony Gleaton Photo Depend on, stated in an e-mail.

Tony Gleaton in a 1998 photo. Mr. Gleaton specialized in black-and-white pictures, their topics– kids as well as grownups|grownups as well as kids, alone or in teams– nearly constantly in direct interaction with the cam as well as normally in snug frameworks that recommend however do not check out a particular setup, like an office or a barroom|a barroom or an office. The pictures he caught– or, much better, produced– could not be called intimate so a lot as certainly vibrant, as if Mr. Gleaton were assisting individuals arise from obscurity, enabling them to reveal their extremely presence.”One of the fascinating points regarding Tony was that he can do much more with much less,” Bruce Talamon, the administrator of the Tony Gleaton Photo Count on, stated in an e-mail. A huge guy– he was well over 6 feet high as well as evaluated even more compared to 300 extra pounds– Mr. Gleaton was understood as a charmer, particularly with his topics as well as with pupils of digital photography.






Alexander Graham Bell, Inventor of Telephone, Dies at 75

(Aug. 2, 1922)

Warren G. Harding, 29th President, Dies at 57

(Aug. 2, 1923)

Marilyn Monroe, Golden Girl of the Movies, Dies at 36

(Aug. 5, 1962)

Richard Burton, Rakish Star, Dies at 58

(Aug. 5, 1984)

Pope Paul VI, Leader in Era of Change, Dies at 80

(Aug. 6, 1978)

Edith Wharton, Pulitzer-Winning Author, Dies at 75

(Aug. 11, 1937)

William Shockley, Creator of Transistor, Dies at 79

(Aug. 12, 1989)

John Milton Cage, Prolific Composer, Dies at 79

(Aug. 12, 1992)

Florence Nightingale, Famous Nurse, Dies at 90

(Aug. 13, 1910)

Babe Ruth, Baseball Great, Dies at 53

(Aug. 16, 1948)

Margaret Mitchell, Author of ‘Gone With the Wind,’ Dies at 49

(Aug. 16, 1949)

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Leader of Modern Architecture, Dies at 83

(Aug. 17, 1969)

Gregory Pincus, Developer of Birth-Control Pill, Dies at 64

(Aug. 22, 1967)

Alfred Eisenstaedt, Photographer of the Defining Moment, Dies at 96

(Aug. 23, 1995)

Truman Capote, Stylish Novelist, Dies at 59

(Aug. 25, 1984)

Charles A. Lindbergh, Who Made Historic Flight, Dies at 72

(Aug. 26, 1974)

Haile Selassie, Last Ethiopian Emperor, Dies at 83

(Aug. 26, 1975)

W.E.B. DuBois, Philosopher and Writer, Dies at 95

(Aug. 27, 1963)

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Robotic Flyers: The Future of Space Exploration?

Quadcopters, the four-propeller drones that have become a familiar sight in terrestrial skies, could one day grace the skies of other worlds.

Direct-Image Discovery of a Young Jupiter

The Gemini Planet Imager has discovered its first exoplanet, a young Jupiter still glowing with the heat of its formation.

New Dwarf Galaxy Neighbors & Dark-Sky Sanctuaries at the IAU

Keck Telescopes

As the IAU General Assembly in Hawai’i draws to a close, the results were still coming in: a new bevy of dwarf galaxies discovered around the Milky Way, the celebration of the first Dark-Sky Sanctuary, and a new directly imaged exoplanet to boot.


This Week’s Sky at a Glance, August 21 – 29

Watch the fattening Moon swing away from Saturn in this week’s twilight sky. And if you can find dark skies, August is a perfect time to explore the Milky Way, which runs from Sagittarius in the south, through the Summer Triangle very high in the east, and on down through Cassiopeia to Perseus rising low in the north-northeast.

Tiptoe Into the Twilight Zone

Twilight. Gloaming. Dusk. Blue Hour – all names for that colorful and contemplative time between day and night. We explore twilight’s brief but fascinating sights and learn why it gets shorter as summer turns to fall.

Tour August’s Sky (PODCAST)

The Perseids meteor shower may be over but August still offers magnificent views of Scorpius and Saturn in the south.


The Kavli Foundation Q&A: Jupiter-like Exoplanet 51 Eridani b

Learn more about the new Jupiter-like exoplanet in this interview with team leader Bruce Macintosh, who discusses why this discovery might help us understand how planets arise.

The Kavli Foundation Q&A: What Ignites Type Ia Supernova Explosions?

We finally know the ingredients that fire up a particular kind of supernova. Four researchers explain why a better understanding of how certain stars die can help reveal the evolution of the cosmos and its galaxies.

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An examination of the growing extremism over public lands; What you need to know about Republicans and birthright citizenship; Bomb-carrying man leads to abortion clinic evacuation; and more.

Center for Western Priorities: A look at the anti-government extremism behind the growing movement to seize America’s public lands.

Salon: Everything you need to know about the Trump-led Republican plot to end birthright citizenship.

Right Wing Watch: Oath Keepers, preparing for an Obama-provoked race war, say they will provide arms for black Ferguson protesters.

Think Progress: Kansas abortion clinic evacuated after man caught trying to enter while carrying an explosive.

The Daily Beast: Anti-immigration extremists love Trump’s harsh immigration proposal.

WBUR-FM (Boston): Rallies in support of Confederate flag continue to pop up around the country.

Raw Story: Two Texas men face hate-crime charges for raping and torturing black man.

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The United Nations’ (UN) World Humanitarian Day is held on August 19 each year. The day honors all humanitarians who have worked in the promotion of the humanitarian cause, and those who have lost their lives in the cause of duty. It aims to increase public awareness about humanitarian assistance activities worldwide and the importance of international cooperation.

What Do People Do?

World Humanitarian Day is a day dedicated to humanitarians worldwide, as well as to increase public understanding of humanitarian assistance activities. The day aims to honor humanitarian workers who have lost their lives or injured themselves in the course of their work, and to acknowledge the ongoing work of humanitarian staff around the world.

Many communities and organizations try to increase the importance of humanitarians by distributing publicity and information material. Additionally, some try to speak to the press to help spread these key messages of World Humanitarian Day, while other groups organize public events worldwide that feature humanitarian work.

For the year 2010 and beyond, it is anticipated that World Humanitarian Day will focus on particular humanitarian themes to help increase public awareness.

Public Life

World Humanitarian Day is a global observance and not a public holiday.


Humanitarians provide life-saving assistance to millions of people worldwide. They place their own lives at risk to help others in conflict zones and areas of natural hazards. More than 700 humanitarian workers have died or experienced the most dangerous situations while trying to help those in need. Humanitarians provide support for different world challenges such as hunger, gender-based violence, refugees and displaced people, help for children, as well as clean water and access to sanitation.

World Humanitarian Day was established by the General Assembly of the UN in December 2008 and was first observed in August 2009. The date of August 19 is the anniversary date of the 2003 Canal Hotel bombing in Baghdad where twenty-two people lost their lives including, the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General to Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello.

The total number of people affected by natural disasters has risen over the past decade, and about 211 million people are directly affected each year. Women and children are especially affected because of their ongoing struggles with poverty, insecurity, hunger, poor health and environmental decline. There are new and difficult challenges that arise each year that will require more flexible funding and adaptable humanitarian work. The increasing economic crisis and global challenges such as poverty, global health problems, increase prices and the rising number of people on the move, increases the need for humanitarians each year.


World Humanitarian Day does not have a logo because the day does not “belong” to the UN or any other agency or organization.  The media documents support the day by capturing images that show people helping others that are in need of assistance.

World Humanitarian Day Observances


Weekday Date Year Name Holiday type Where it is observed
Thu Aug 19 2010 World Humanitarian Day United Nations observance
Fri Aug 19 2011 World Humanitarian Day United Nations observance
Sun Aug 19 2012 World Humanitarian Day United Nations observance
Mon Aug 19 2013 World Humanitarian Day United Nations observance
Tue Aug 19 2014 World Humanitarian Day United Nations observance
Wed Aug 19 2015 World Humanitarian Day United Nations observance
Fri Aug 19 2016 World Humanitarian Day United Nations observance
Sat Aug 19 2017 World Humanitarian Day United Nations observance
Sun Aug 19 2018 World Humanitarian Day United Nations observance
Mon Aug 19 2019 World Humanitarian Day United Nations observance
Wed Aug 19 2020 World Humanitarian Day United Nations observance

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AUG. 14, 2015

Edward Thomas, here in 1976, joined Houston’s force in 1948. Credit 100 Club-Houston, Texas

When Edward Thomas joined the Houston Police Department in 1948, he could not report for work through the front door.

He could not drive a squad car, eat in the department cafeteria or arrest a white suspect.

Walking his beat, he was once disciplined for talking to a white meter maid.

Officer Thomas, who died on Monday at 95, was the first African-American to build an eminent career with the Houston Police Department, one that endured for 63 years. By the time he retired four years ago, two months shy of his 92nd birthday, he had experienced the full compass of 20th-century race relations.

His days were suffused with the pressure to perform perfectly, lest he give his white supervisors the slightest excuse to fire him — and he could be fired, he knew, for a transgression as small as not wearing a hat.

They were also suffused with the danger he faced in the field, knowing that white colleagues would not come to his aid.

In 2011, when Officer Thomas retired with the rank of senior police officer, he was “the most revered and respected officer within the Houston Police Department,” the organization said in announcing his death, at his home in Houston.

Edward Thomas, in wheelchair, saluted last month as Chief Charles A. McClelland Jr. and Mayor Annise Parker of Houston unveiled an image of Police Headquarters, renamed in his honor. Credit Cody Duty/Houston Chronicle, via Associated Press

On July 27, two weeks before he died, the department renamed its headquarters in Officer Thomas’s honor.

“He was a pioneering figure, not just in the Houston Police Department but in Southern policing in general, representing an era bookended by Jim Crow and the modern period,” Mitchel P. Roth, the author, with Tom Kennedy, of “Houston Blue,” a 2012 history of the city’s police force, said in a telephone interview. “It’s very rare to find a person of color having as long a career and having had a career with as much respect.”

Officer Thomas, by necessity and temperament so taciturn as to seem enigmatic, never spoke to the news media about his work. But interviews with his associates make it plain that the respect he earned was hard won, over a very long time.

“We all know what America was like in 1948,” Charles A. McClelland Jr., Houston’s police chief, the fourth African-American to hold that post, said by telephone. “If you think about some of the milestones in the civil rights movement, when Rosa Parks would not give up her seat on the bus in Montgomery, Ala., in 1955, Mr. Thomas had undergone this disparaging treatment for seven years. When major civil rights legislation was passed in 1964 which made his treatment unlawful in the workplace, he’d been a cop for 16 years.”

On Jan. 12, 1948, the day Officer Thomas joined the force, and for years afterward, he could not attend roll call in the squad room: His attendance was taken in the hall.

He could arrest only black people. Apprehending white suspects, he could merely detain them until a white officer was dispatched to make the arrest.

He patrolled his beat — a half-dozen-mile-wide swath spanning largely black neighborhoods — twice a day, alone, on foot: The department long refused to issue him a squad car.

“He told me,” Chief McClelland said, “that the very first time he was given permission to drive a squad car, when the sergeant gave him the keys, his instructions were: ‘You better make sure that you don’t wreck it, but if you do’ — and he referred to him by the N-word — ‘you better pin your badge to the seat and don’t come back.’ ”

For years to come, to spare the car, and his job along with it, Officer Thomas drove it to his beat, parked it, locked it and, as he had before, pounded the pavement on foot.

For talking to the meter maid, who had asked him to accompany her past a line of wolf-whistling construction workers as she made her rounds, Officer Thomas was fined a day’s pay.

Edward Thomas was born on Sept. 23, 1919, in Keachi, La., near Shreveport. His father, Edward, was a local landowner; his mother, Dora, was a schoolteacher. When Edward was about 9, his father died, and he became the de facto man of the house.

As a young man, he attended what is now Southern University and A&M College, a historically black institution in Baton Rouge, but he was drafted by the Army before graduating. Serving in a segregated unit, he took part in the Normandy invasion and the Battle of the Bulge.

After his discharge, he returned home and embarked on a career as a postal worker. Then one day, while traveling by bus to visit family in California, he picked a stray piece of paper off the floor. The paper was an application for the Houston Police Department. He would graduate as a member of its first organized cadet class.

African-Americans had served with the department since Reconstruction, hired to patrol Houston’s black wards. In the 20th century, three are known to have preceded Officer Thomas on the force. But by the time he graduated from the police academy, he was the department’s only black member.

“The others were driven out of the organization: They were forced to quit,” C. O. Bradford, Houston’s second black police chief and now a member of its City Council, said. “He endured it.”

He endured vitriol not only from his fellow officers but also from the very community he wanted to serve.

When Officer Thomas, during a ceremony last month, began his career in 1948, he couldn’t enter through the front door. Credit Cody Duty/Houston Chronicle, via Associated Press

“The police were not friendly to the black community during that era, and the black community did not welcome the police, for justifiable reasons,” Councilman Bradford said. “The black community did not want Mr. Thomas because he was the police, and the police did not want Mr. Thomas because he was black.”

Yet it was imperative that he win the trust of that community, not only for its well-being but also for his own.

“He had to depend on the relationship that he had with people in the community to help him if he got into a fight with a suspect or had to arrest a suspect,” Councilman Bradford explained. “He had no one to call: He could not put out an assist-the-officer call. Today, you press a button and all the help comes. But back then it wasn’t like that, and he was by himself.”

Little by little, through an approach that would now be called community policing, Officer Thomas won the residents over. Today, Chief McClelland said, many Houstonians in their 60s and 70s warmly recall his escorting them back to school when they played hooky, rather than arresting them — truancy was then an arrestable offense.

He also earned the esteem of his fellow officers. He did so, colleagues said, partly by keeping his head down and doing his job unimpeachably, precisely as he had in 1948 — including wearing his police hat every day of his working life, long after officers were no longer required to do so.

“At one point I asked him: ‘Why do you wear that hat all the time? We don’t wear hats anymore,’ ” Constable May Walker, a 24-year veteran of Houston’s police force and the author of the 1988 book “The History of Black Police Officers in the Houston Police Department, 1878-1988,” said on Wednesday.

“They told me to wear a hat,” she recalled his replying, “and I’m going to wear my hat.” Constable Walker added, “He never said who ‘they’ were.”

By the late 1960s, Chief McClelland said, Officer Thomas’s deep fealty to the past struck some younger, more politically minded black officers as accommodationist.

“I think that some may not fully appreciate that someone has to be first through the door,” said the chief, who knew Officer Thomas for almost 40 years. “He was the Jackie Robinson of the Houston Police Department.”

Today, 53 percent of the department’s 5,300 officers are members of minority groups. The proportion begins to approach the demographics of Houston as a whole, with a population of more than two million that is now about 70 percent minority, making it one of the most diverse cities in the United States.

“We all owe Mr. Thomas a debt of gratitude,” Chief McClelland said. “Not just black officers and Hispanic officers, but gays, lesbians. None of those things would have been possible if someone had not endured that harsh dramatic treatment.”

Officer Thomas’s marriage to Helen A. Thomas ended in divorce; a son, Edward, died before him. His survivors include a daughter, Edna Kay Thomas-Garner; a sister, Lillie Harrison; two grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

The Houston Police Department has no mandatory retirement age, and had he been physically able, Officer Thomas would gladly have worked there to the end of his life.

“Mr. Thomas, when are you going to retire and draw some of that pension money?” Councilman Bradford recalled hearing colleagues ask.

“This is what I want to do,” he replied.

To the end of his career, however, Officer Thomas did not eat in the department cafeteria. If in his early years he could not set foot there, in his later ones he would not — a small, telling act of free will.

Officer Thomas retired on July 23, 2011. Until then, in his 80s and 90s, he manned the security desk at the staff entrance of Police Headquarters, in downtown Houston.

His was the first face that his colleagues encountered as they passed through the back door — today the designated entrance for all officers — of the building that now bears his name.




AUG. 16, 2015

Julian Bond, a charismatic figure of the 1960s civil rights movement, a lightning rod of the anti-Vietnam War campaign and a lifelong champion of equal rights, notably as chairman of the N.A.A.C.P., died on Saturday night in Fort Walton Beach, Fla. He was 75.

He died after a brief illness, the Southern Poverty Law Center said in a statement Sunday morning. His wife, Pamela Sue Horowitz, said Mr. Bond suffered from vascular disease, The Associated Press reported.

Mr. Bond was one of the original leaders of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee while he was a student at Morehouse College in Atlanta. He was the committee’s communications director for five years and deftly guided the national news media toward stories of violence and discrimination as the committee challenged legal segregation in the South’s public facilities.

He gradually moved from the militancy of the student group to the leadership of the establishmentarian N.A.A.C.P. Along the way, Mr. Bond was a writer, poet, television commentator, lecturer and college teacher, and persistent opponent of the stubborn remnants of white supremacy.

Julian Bond at the N.A.A.C.P.’s annual convention in 2007. Credit Paul Sancya/Associated Press

He also served for 20 years in the Georgia General Assembly, mostly in conspicuous isolation from white colleagues who saw him as an interloper and a rabble-rouser.

Mr. Bond’s wit, cool personality and youthful face — he was often called dashing, handsome and urbane — became familiar to millions of television viewers in the 1960s and 1970s. On the strength of his personality and quick intellect, he moved to the center of the civil rights action in Atlanta, the unofficial capital of the movement, at the height of the struggle for racial equality in the early 1960s.

Moving beyond demonstrations, Mr. Bond became a founder, with Morris Dees, of the Southern Poverty Law Center, a legal advocacy organization in Montgomery, Ala. Mr. Bond was its president from 1971 to 1979 and remained on its board for the rest of his life.

He was nominated, only somewhat seriously, as a candidate for vice president at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, where he was a co-chairman of a racially integrated challenge delegation from Georgia. He declined to pursue a serious candidacy because he was too young to meet the constitutional age requirement, but from that moment on he was a national figure.


Mr. Bond in 1966, before making a speech in New York. Credit Associated Press

When he was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1965, along with seven other black members, furious white members of the House refused to let him take his seat, accusing him of disloyalty. He was already well known because of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee’s stand against the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War.

That touched off a national drama that ended in 1966 when the Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, ordered the State Assembly to seat him, saying it had denied him freedom of speech.

As a lawmaker, he sponsored bills to establish a sickle cell anemia testing program and to provide low-interest home loans to low-income Georgians. He also helped create a majority-black congressional district in Atlanta.

He left the State Senate in 1986 after six terms to run for a seat in the United States House. He lost a bitter contest to his old friend John Lewis, a fellow founder of student committee and its longtime chairman. The two men, for all their earlier closeness in the civil rights movement, represented opposite poles of African-American life in the South: Mr. Lewis was the son of a sharecropper; Mr. Bond was the son of a college president.

Mr. Bond with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Credit Associated Press

On Sunday, Mr. Lewis posted: “We went through a difficult period during our campaign for Congress in 1986, but many years ago we emerged even closer.” In another message, he wrote, “Julian Bond’s leadership and his spirit will be deeply missed.”

During the campaign, the United States attorney’s office began investigating Mr. Bond after allegations surfaced that he had used cocaine. Mr. Bond’s estranged wife, Alice, was said to have told the police confidentially that he was a habitual cocaine abuser. She retracted her accusations after Mayor Andrew Young of Atlanta, a friend of the family, telephoned her, leading to speculation that improper political pressure had been applied. She later refused to testify before a grand jury, and neither Mr. Bond nor Mr. Young was indicted.

Horace Julian Bond was born on Jan. 14, 1940, in Nashville, to Horace Mann Bond and the former Julia Washington. The family moved to Pennsylvania five years later, when Mr. Bond’s father became the first African-American president of his alma mater, Lincoln University.

Julian Bond’s great-grandmother Jane Bond was the slave mistress of a Kentucky farmer. Julian’s grandfather James Bond, one of Jane Bond’s sons, was educated at Berea and Oberlin Colleges and became a clergyman. His son Horace Mann Bond expected his own son Julian to follow in his footsteps as an educator, but the young man was attracted instead to journalism and political activism.

At an N.A.A.C.P. convention in 2006. Credit Stephan Crowley/The New York Times

At age 12, Julian was sent to the private Quaker-run George School near Philadelphia. It was there that he first encountered racial resentment when he began dating a white girl, incurring the disapproval of white students and the school authorities.

He moved back south at age 17 when his father became dean of education at Atlanta University. At Morehouse College, he plunged into extracurricular activities but paid less attention to his studies. The civil rights movement provided a good excuse to drop out of college in 1961. He returned in the early 1970s to complete his English degree.

Dozens of his friends went to jail during his time with Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, but he was arrested only once. In 1960, after word of student sit-ins at lunch counters in Greensboro, N.C., spread across the South, Mr. Bond and a few of his friends at Morehouse organized protests against segregated public facilities in Atlanta. He was arrested when he led a sit-in at the City Hall cafeteria.

During this period, he and some fellow black students had an early experience with racism in the Georgia House of Representatives. They visited there one day and sat in the whites-only visitors’ section. The Capitol police escorted them out.

At a news conference in support of Jimmy Carter’s 1976 campaign. Credit Larry Morris/The New York Times

Mr. Bond devoted most of the 1960s to the protest movement and activist politics, including campaigns to register black voters. Both he and Mr. Lewis left the student committee after its leadership was taken over by black power advocates who forced whites out of the organization.

He prospered on the lecture circuit the rest of his life. He became a regular commentator in print and on television, including as host of “America’s Black Forum,” then the oldest black-owned television program in syndication. His most unusual television appearance was in April 1977, when he hosted an episode of “Saturday Night Live.”

In later years, he taught at Harvard, Williams, Drexel and the University of Pennsylvania. He was a distinguished scholar in residence at American University in Washington and a professor of history at the University of Virginia, where he was co-director of the oral history project Explorations in Black Leadership.

Mr. Bond published a book of essays titled “A Time to Speak, a Time to Act” in 1972. He wrote poetry and articles for publications as varied as The Nation, Negro Digest and Playboy.

With John Lewis, now a Georgia congressman, in 1973. Credit Neal Boenzi/The New York Times

He was made chairman of the N.A.A.C.P. in 1998. He remained active in Democratic Party politics and was a strong critic of the administration of President George W. Bush.

Most of Mr. Bond’s poetry reflected the pained point of view of a repressed minority.

In addition to Ms. Horowitz, his second wife and a former lawyer for the Southern Poverty Law Center, he is survived by three sons, Horace Mann Bond II, Jeffrey and Michael; two daughters, Phyllis Jane Bond McMillan and Julia Louise Bond; a sister, Jane; a brother, James; and eight grandchildren.

In a statement on Sunday, President Obama called Mr. Bond “a hero and, I’m privileged to say, a friend.”

“Justice and equality was the mission that spanned his life,” Mr. Obama said. “Julian Bond helped change this country for the better. And what better way to be remembered than that.”

Correction: August 16, 2015
An earlier version of a slide show associated with this article misstated the name of a city in which Julian Bond attended a rally in 2012. It is Freeport, Ill., not Bainport.

Roy Reed covered the civil rights movement for The New York Times in the 1960s and 1970s. Ashley Southall contributed reporting.


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Cities across Alabama cancel contracts with company sued by SPLC

Fewer Alabamians will see minor traffic fines turn into a nightmarish cycle of court debt and incarceration after dozens of municipalities cut ties with Judicial Correction Services and other private ‘probation’ companies.

Fifty-four towns and cities across Alabama have reported to the Southern Poverty Law Center that they either have or intend to terminate their contracts with a for-profit company that collects traffic fines and other minor court debt for municipalities by charging illegal fees and threatening impoverished Alabamians with jail, the SPLC announced today.

In June, the SPLC urged officials in almost 100 municipalities to end their contracts with the company, Judicial Correction Services (JCS). The letter from the SPLC warned that the contracts are illegal and that the tactics used by JCS to collect fines can amount to extortion. Some of the Alabama municipalities had already severed ties with the company without the SPLC’s urging.

“These cities and towns are doing the right thing by cutting ties with Judicial Correction Services,” said Sam Brooke, SPLC deputy legal director. “Our investigation in Clanton shows that JCS is built on a business model that squeezes money out of the poor, often by resorting to illegal tactics. The leaders in these cities and towns have recognized that a contract with JCS is bad for their communities. We’re pleased they have done the right thing to avoid litigation.”

Approximately 50 towns are believed to still have contracts with JCS. The SPLC is awaiting their decision. The SPLC also warned approximately 30 towns this week that have contracts with similar for-profit companies.


“We’re hopeful that these towns will also do the right thing and cancel these illegal contracts,” Brooke said. “If they do not, more litigation may be necessary to protect the rights of the poor in these communities.”

The SPLC filed a lawsuit against JCS and Clanton in March. The city canceled its contract as part of a settlement agreement announced in June. The lawsuit’s claims against JCS of racketeering, extortion and abuse of process are still pending.

Under a contract first awarded in 2009, the city of Clanton put JCS, which offers its services for free, in charge of collecting payments from people who appear in municipal court but cannot afford to pay their fines. People unable to pay immediately were placed on “pay-only probation,” meaning the sole purpose of probation was the collection of fines, fees and related court costs.

After paying a $10 “set-up” fee, they typically had to pay $140 per month and had to report to JCS offices more frequently – sometimes multiple times per week – if they could not bring the entire amount. Out of each monthly payment, $40 went to JCS for its profits. When people fell behind, JCS continued to collect its own fees, effectively extending people’s probation and guaranteeing JCS more money. When people could not pay, company employees threatened to revoke their probation, which would result in jail time.

The SPLC lawsuit accuses JCS and its local manager, Steven Raymond, of violating the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act by extorting money from impoverished Alabamians under the threat of jail. The suit accused the defendants and Clanton of formalizing this relationship through an illegal contract in violation of Alabama law prohibiting the charging of a probation fee in city court.

This issue of charging probation fees was also raised in the SPLC’s letters to cities that use JCS. The letters described how these arrangements violate the due process clause of the U.S. Constitution because they create an inherent bias by allowing a for-profit corporation with a financial incentive to oversee probation. The letters also described how the contracts between these cities and JCS often violate the Alabama Constitution because they are not publicly bid – granting an exclusive franchise to the companies.

The Clanton lawsuit followed two earlier lawsuits in Montgomery, one by the SPLC and another by Equal Justice Under Law, that ended with a settlement agreement and that city severing ties with JCS as well.

The towns of Harpersville and Childersburg sued JCS earlier this year, claiming the company’s business practices led to the cities being sued by indigent municipal court defendants jailed when they were unable to make their payments. A circuit judge in the Harpersville case referred to it as a “debtors’ prison” and a “judicially sanctioned extortion racket.”

Maplesville is canceling its contract with a separate but similar private probation company, Professional Probation Services. Trussville also canceled its contract with a similar company, Alabama Court Services.

In addition to Alabama, JCS operates in cities throughout Florida and Georgia.

Alabama cities canceling JCS contracts and ending all private probation include: Autaugaville; Blountsville; Brent; Bridgeport; Brookwood; Calera; Childersburg; Clanton; Enterprise; Evergreen; Excel; Fairhope; Fort Payne; Glencoe; Gulf Shores; Hamilton; Hammondville; Harpersville; Hoover; Hueytown; Jemison; Lake View; Leeds; Level Plains; Lincoln; Millbrook; Montgomery; Moulton; Mount Vernon; Mountain Brook; New Hope; Ohatchee; Orange Beach; Owens Cross Roads; Pelham; Pleasant Grove; Prattville; Priceville; Russellville; Saraland; Scottsboro; Skyline; Somerville; Southside; Summerdale; Sylacauga; Sylvania; Talladega; Tallassee; Thorsby; Trafford; Vance; Vestavia Hills; and Wadley.
Alabama cities that have not canceled contracts with JCS include: Alabaster; Albertville; Anniston; Arab; Bay Minette; Brewton; Chickasaw; Citronelle; Collinsville; Creola; Crossville; Daleville; Dauphin Island; Double Springs; Douglas; Elberta; Falkville; Fultondale; Fyffe; Geraldine; Grove Hill; Guntersville; Gurley; Haleyville; Hartselle; Hollywood; Jackson; Jacksonville; Kimberly; Loxley; Marion; Midland City; Monroeville; Montevallo; Newton; Notasulga; Oneonta; Ozark; Rainbow City; Rainsville; Robertsdale; Selma; Silverhill; Stevenson; Trinity; Troy; Tuskegee; White Hall; and Woodstock.
Alabama cities contracting with other private probation companies that will receive SPLC letters: Adamsville, Alabama Court Services (ACS); Andalusia, Judicial Case Management (JCM); Argo, Professional Probation Services (PPS); Ashford (JCM); Attalla (PPS); Auburn (PPS); Bessemer (ACS); Cottonwood (JCM); Decatur (PPS); Fairfield (ACS); Florence (PPS); Gardendale (PPS); Gordon (JCM); Hanceville, Freedom Probation Services (FPS); Homewood (FPS); Irondale (ACS); Killen (PPS); Luverne, Alabama Probation Services (APS); Margaret (ACS); Moody (ACS); Morris (ACS); Muscle Shoals (PPS); Odenville (ACS); Opelika (PPS); Phenix City (PPS); Riverside (ACS); Roanoke (FPS); Slocomb (JCM); Springville (APS); Tarrant (ACS); and Wedowee (FPS).


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