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This Former Kenyan Refugee Just Made History As The First Black Mayor Of Northern Ireland

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Lilian Seenoi-Barr made history this week when she became the first Black Mayor of Northern Ireland. On Monday night, she was installed as mayor of Derry City and Strabane at a special council meeting.

Ms. Seenoi-Barr, who arrived there 14 years ago as a refugee from Kenya, said it was an honor to become the first citizen. After being installed, Seenoi-Barr addressed the council chamber, thanking everyone who made the journey from Kenya for the “historic moment for Derry” acknowledging that their attendance “signifies the unity and shared pride between our communities,” BBC News reports.

“Many of you know that I am deeply proud of my Maasai heritage, rich with culture and tradition,” said Seenoi-Barr. “Growing up as one of 14 siblings in a Maasai village, I was nurtured in a home filled with love, unity, hard work and commitment to justice and freedom – values I carry forward into my service.”

“But my story, becoming both a Maasai woman and a Derry girl, began back in 2010 when I came to this city in search of safety and for a better life,” added Seenoi-Barr. “If you had told me then that I would be seated here today as the mayor of the north’s second city, I don’t think I, or anybody in my family would have believed you…Since I arrived Derry has embraced me, it has granted me a family, a community and now the honour of serving as your first citizen.”

The 42-year-old is no stranger to breaking barriers—just last year, She made headlines for the remarkable accomplishment of becoming the first Black woman to become an elected member of the “public office in Northern Ireland” as a councilor.

ot everyone has been happy with this development and unfortunately, since the mayoral announcement, Seenoi-Barr confessed to being the subject of “racist abuse and death threats. But she said that while the threats have been hurtful, she has also had enormous support across the island from community organizations and politicians who have stood in solidarity,” RTE, Ireland’s National Public Service Media reports.

“Of course there are some in recent weeks who have seen this history making moment as a threat and it is no secret that it has provoked anti immigrant sentiments,” countered Seenoi-Barr. “That has been a reminder of the issues we face as a community, but I know that those sentiments find no home in Derry and they were not reflected by most people in our city and district.”

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Why Black Woman Police Chief Says She Doesn’t Want To Hire Black Or Hispanic Women

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There’s a reason we often believe Black cops are cops first and Black second (or never). Time and time again, Black police officers—such as the thugs in blue accused of beating Tyre Nichols to death—prove that they carry around the same anti-Black attitude that many of their white counterparts patrol the streets with.

Well, there’s a Black woman police chief in Atlanta who has taken this sunken place mentality to a whole new level, and she declared during a command staff meeting that she doesn’t want to hire any more Black or Hispanic women as police officers because they come into the force with too much “attitude.” (There’s an NWA joke in there somewhere, but Ima leave it alone for now.)

According to Fox 5 Atlanta, Atlanta VA Medical Center Police Chief Beverly Banks was captured in audio recordings from a September 13, 2023, command staff meeting attended by more than a dozen people, during which she said the following:

“I am to the point… I don’t want to hire black women no more. I’m to that point. I ain’t got no white women beating down my door to come in and work. But I wish they would. Cause I don’t have these problems.

“I don’t have no Hispanic women. Hell, I don’t want them neither. Cause you know what comes with it? A whole of lot of f—–g attitude. And I don’t want it. I’m the only one with an attitude in this place. Me.”

First of all, you know the narrative that racism in policing comes down to “a few bad apples” is some bluish-white nonsense when an officer of the law can casually declare their discriminatory attitudes towards Black people while other commanding officers just sit there and nod along like it’s just another Tuesday.

To be fair, Banks and two other commanding officers were suspended with pay last month due to what the Veterans Administration called “unacceptable behavior,” but that doesn’t change the fact that she felt comfortable enough to say what she said without fear of repercussions. (And by “repercussions,” I mean paid suspension, which some people might call a vacation.)

Also, it’s worth mentioning that it wasn’t just the clear hatred of Black women with bad attitudes—that came from a Black woman who clearly has a bad attitude—that got Banks suspended. The suspensions of the officers also revolved around “allegations of sexual assault and harassment.”

Months before she arrived, VA internal affairs examined the case of Shaneka Jackson. She accused Deputy Chief Johnnie McCullor of sexual assault.

“I didn’t know what he was doing until everything ultimately started to happen,” Jackson told the FOX 5 I-Team.

McCullor denied everything. But a 2022 VA investigation raised questions about his honesty and found Jackson to be “accurate and truthful.”

“I was being truthful,” said Jackson. “And nothing happened.”

Jackson lost her job. McCullor remained deputy chief. And when Chief Banks took over, she kept him there. It’s unclear whether she knew about the IA findings.

In December 2023, another Black woman with the department filed a handwritten complaint with her supervisor accusing McCullor, who is also Black, of threatening to drag her down the hall by her hair, and while it’s unclear what happened with that complaint, during a department-wide meeting the next month, Banks reportedly told McCullor, “Deputy Chief McCullor, if you don’t know how to talk to people, tell me now so I can do whatever I need to do to get you disciplined… again.”

It’s also unclear what that “discipline” would entail since a sexual assault allegation determined to be “accurate and truthful” wasn’t enough to get him the ax. According to the EEO complaint filed by Jackson, McCullor offered to help her get a job with the private security company the Atlanta VA also uses, but that offer came with the condition that she perform sexual acts with the deputy chief.

Jackson was ultimately demoted and transferred—which she said happened after she finally filed the complaint—and after she failed to show up for work the next day, the private security company fired her and denied it had anything to do with the complaint she filed.

McCullor, Banks, and a third officer with the department, Major Daryl Gates, were all relieved of duty pending a VA investigation “to address the challenges in the Atlanta VA police department” as well as “investigate the situation in the Atlanta police department, make recommendations related to these 3 individuals, and identify other changes that might be needed to improve the culture.” Gates has since been reinstated. It’s unclear what role he played in the “unacceptable behavior” that is still under investigation.

As for Banks, a VA spokesman told Fox 5 of her remarks about hiring Black and Hispanic women, “There is no place for racism or discrimination at VA, and these comments are unacceptable.”

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29-Year-Old Black Man Found Hanging From Tree at High Shoal Falls, North Georgia

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The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) has been called upon to probe the death of Trevonte Jamal Shubert-Helton, a 29-year-old resident of Sautee Nacoochee, Georgia. The Towns County Sheriff’s Office and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources initiated the investigation following a grim discovery at the Swallow Creek Wildlife Management Area on February 21, 2024.

According to reports, Shubert-Helton was found hanging from a tree by a hiker during the afternoon hours. The hiker promptly alerted Towns County 911 to the distressing scene. Initial findings from the ongoing investigation suggest that Shubert-Helton was alone at the wildlife management area at the time of his death, indicating that this tragic incident may be isolated.

In response to the circumstances surrounding Shubert-Helton’s demise, authorities have opted to conduct an autopsy at the GBI Medical Examiner’s Office to shed light on the cause and manner of his passing. This meticulous examination aims to unravel the details surrounding the unfortunate event and provide clarity to his loved ones and the community at large.

While the investigation remains active and ongoing, law enforcement agencies urge anyone with pertinent information to come forward and assist in the pursuit of truth and justice. The loss of Trevonte Jamal Shubert-Helton has cast a somber shadow over Sautee Nacoochee and beyond, prompting a collective call for answers and closure.

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11 Black history facts to commemorate Black History Month

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From Harriet Tubman to Martin Luther King Jr., learn more about the luminaries and events that shaped the past and continue to define the future.

Each year from Feb. 1 to March 1, Black History Month is recognized in the U.S.

Set aside to commemorate the many contributions and accomplishments of Black Americans, the observation provides an opportunity to spotlight the sacrifices, heritage and luminaries that helped shape our country’s history.

What initially began as a week near a century ago, became a month-long celebration in 1976 when President Gerald Ford officially decreed Black History Month an official observation.

How that recognition evolved is one of many Black History facts you may not already know, but it’s instrumental in how we recognize Black History Month today.

There are also many other details you may or may not be aware of. For instance, you’re probably aware that Harriet Tubman was responsible for saving the lives of countless enslaved persons through the Underground Railroad. But did you know that after enlisting in the Civil War, Tubman was also the first Black woman to lead an armed military operation in the U.S.?

Read on to learn more about Tubman’s contributions, along with facts about other notable figures like Rosa ParksMartin Luther King Jr. and Carter Woodson.

You’ll also find details on the National Museum of African American History and Culture, who the first Black American to win an Academy Award was, which legendary Black musicians were among the first inductees of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and many other notable facts to honor and commemorate Black History Month this year.

Black History Month began as a week

Black History Month began as merely a week back in 1926 thanks to the efforts of one man: Carter G. Woodson. A scholar and teacher, Woodson was the second Black American to receive a Ph.D. from Harvard among many other academic achievements.

Woodson believed that Black history was largely ignored in education, saying that African American contributions were “overlooked, ignored, and even suppressed by the writers of history textbooks and the teachers who use them,” according to the NAACP.

Aiming to change that, Woodson launched Negro History Week in 1926 to honor and highlight the contributions of Black Americans, choosing the second week of February to align with the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.

The annual commemoration would eventually evolve into the month-long celebration that we now know as Black History Month.

President Gerald Ford established Black History Month

During America’s Bicentennial celebration in 1976, U.S. president, Gerald Ford, extended what was, then, Black History Week into a month-long recognition.

In a message delivered on Feb. 10, 1976, Ford officially designated the observation, urging citizens to join him in tribute to Black History Month, citing the message of “courage and perseverance” it brings.

“Freedom and the recognition of individual rights are what our Revolution was all about. They were ideals that inspired our fight for Independence: ideals that we have been striving to live up to ever since,” Ford said in his message and called on citizens to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments” of Black Americans.

Thurgood Marshall was the first Black American appointed to the Supreme Court

Though the U.S. Supreme Court was officially established in 1789, it would be nearly 180 years before a Black American was appointed as one of the justices.

On Aug. 30, 1967, Thurgood Marshall was confirmed by the U.S. Senate, becoming the first Black person to serve on the nation’s highest court.

Nominated by President Lyndon B. Johnson, Marshall served on the Supreme Court for 24 years before retiring in 1991.

Aside from Marshall, the other two Black Americans to serve on the Supreme Court are current Justices, Clarence Thomas and Ketanji Brown Jackson.

Two U.S. museums honor Black history, culture and heritage

The National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., is a national museum exclusively dedicated to documenting the life, history and culture of African American citizens.

Boasting a collection of more than 40,000 artifacts, the museum is part of the Smithsonian Institution and was dedicated, fittingly, by the U.S.’s first Black president, Barack Obama, on Sept. 24, 2016.

The recently-opened International African American Museum in Charleston, South Carolina also recognizes the heritage and traditions of African Americans and their experience through art, language, music, food and more.

The first Black person to win an Oscar was…

In 1940, actor Hattie McDaniel became the first Black person to be nominated for — and win — an Academy Award for her performance as “Mammy” in the film “Gone with the Wind.”

Appearing in more than 300 films, it was her supporting role in the classic 1939 movie that earned McDaniel an Oscar plaque (statuettes wouldn’t become the norm until a few years later) for the honor.

Though the achievement was history-making, McDaniel and her guest were still required to sit separate from the other nominees as part of the still-enforced segregation. And despite the accomplishment, it would take more than 50 years for another Black woman to take home a trophy. A distinction that goes to Halle Berry, who won an Oscar for her role in “Monster’s Ball” in 2002.

Part of MLK’s ‘I Have a Dream” speech was improvised

The galvanizing speech given by Martin Luther King Jr. on the steps of the Lincoln Monument in 1963 goes down in history as one of the most memorable of all time.

Known as the “I Have a Dream” speech, King’s address in front of more than 250,000 people gathered together for the March on Washington didn’t initially include some the historic passages that have since come to define the Civil Rights Movement.

In fact, some of King’s most iconic quotes came unscripted after gospel singer, Mahalia Jackson, encouraged King to tell the crowd about “the dream,” leading him to improvise that portion of the speech, according to the National Constitution Center.

Chuck Berry, Sam Cooke and others are among the first ever inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has been honoring legendary musicians and performers since it was established in 1986.

Luminaries from the first class of trailblazers inducted into the Hall of Fame include the following performers: Chuck Berry, James Brown, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Fats Domino, Robert Johnson, Little Richard and Jimmy Yancey.

The first woman inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame? Aretha Franklin in 1987.

Juneteenth was declared a federal holiday in 2021

On June 17, 2021, President Joe Biden officially established Juneteenth National Independence Day as a federal holiday, the first since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was designated as a federal holiday back in 1983.

Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, the day that legalized slavery officially ended in Texas, the last of the Confederate states to abolish the practice.

Though the holiday wasn’t made official until 2021, Juneteenth has been commemorated in the U.S. and countries around the world for decades and represents Black citizens’ fight for equality, as well as honoring family and community.

Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat because she was ‘tired of giving in’

Activist Rosa Parks is best known for her role in the Montgomery, Alabama Bus Boycott in 1955. Refusing to move to the back of the bus, as was customary for Black citizens, Parks sat in one of the front seats typically reserved for white passengers.

As a result, Parks was arrested, sparking a year-long boycott of the Montgomery bus system, which ultimately led to the desegregation of public transportation nationwide.

In the years since, some have suggested Parks refused to sit in the back of the bus simply because she was tired after work, a fact Parks refuted in her 1992 autobiography saying:

“People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true. I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day. I was not old, although some people have an image of me as being old then. I was forty-two. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.”

Harriet Tubman was the first Black woman to serve in the military

Known for helping enslaved persons escape and gain their freedom in through the Underground Railroad, it might be less known that Harriet Tubman also served for the Union Army during the Civil War which lasted from 1861 to 1865.

Working as a nurse, scout, spy and soldier, Harriet Tubman is considered the first Black woman to actively serve in the military, according to the National Women’s History Museum.

After serving in the war, Tubman helped raise money for freedmen along with joining Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton in their fight for women’s rights.

Vermont was the first state to ban slavery, Mississippi the last

Known for its sleepy towns and breathtaking scenery, Vermont is also the first state in the American colonies to outright ban slavery. On July 2, 1777, Vermont’s legislature voted to not only abolish the practice, but also secure voting rights for Black men.

In subsequent years, other eastern states followed including Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island.

After a clerical error in which Mississippi failed to ratify the 13th Amendment that abolished slavery in 1865, the state became the last in the U.S. to officially abolish slavery in February of 2013 148 years after Congress passed the initial resolution.

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