Traveling While Muslim: The Case of the Exploding Chocolate

This is an excerpt from and a commentary on a Politico article dated August 11, 2018, by this same name.

end racism now image from facebook

End Racism NOW.

He’s a Muslim.

He’s an American citizen.

He has a passport. And a Global Entry Card

He travels. A lot. He estimates that he goes abroad six to eight times a year.

And he regularly is pulled aside by Customs and Border Patrol. He estimated that he gets pulled over for additional screening at least half of the time.

This time it was at Dulles International Airport. Not once. Not twice. But four times.

The second agent ripped up his kids’ chocolate present to check and make sure it didn’t explode.

The third agent confiscated his Global Entry Card because he was “noncompliant” and he “mocked us for checking your chocolate for explosives.”  

The fourth agent then came forward.  This conversation was their interchange:

“I’m the supervisor on duty. So you think because you have Global Entry you’re exempt from screening?”

“What? No. I said I’ve been screened and cleared three times so far. But despite that, your officer took my Global Entry card and said I’m being non-compliant. And he said that I’ve broken the law. But he refuses to give me any example of non-compliance or cite what law I’ve broken. Please explain this to me.”

The supervisor turned to the confiscating officer and asked, “Why’d you stop him?”

“Well, he was laughing at us.” (It’s true, I did chuckle in disbelief. Guilty as charged.)

“But did he refuse orders?”

“No, I mean, he harassed us.”

I didn’t yell at this point, but I raised my voice. “This is ridiculous. You have the power. You’re detaining me. You have my property. But somehow I’m harassing you? What? Do you hear yourself?”

I turned back to the supervisor. “I’m asking for about the 10th time now. How was I non-compliant and what law did I break?”

“Well those are his words—not mine,” the supervisor said. Now we were getting somewhere.

“Great, so you won’t even stand by your own officer’s words. Meanwhile, you have my Global Entry card. I’m still detained. Why am I still here, then?”

At that point, the fourth agent asked a question. “What do you do for a living?

So he told them. “I’m a civil rights lawyer with expertise on racial and religious discrimination and profiling.”

And then he asked again.

“I’m asking for the last time. What law have I broken? How was I non-compliant?”

Rather than answer, he [the fourth agent] responded, “Well, I think everything checks out. You can go.”

Who is this man? His name is Qasim Rashid (@MuslimIQ), He’s “an attorney, author and national spokesperson for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA. He’s [also] a Truman national security fellow.”

As the article states, and I agree, why should someone have to be a lawyer to be treated equally under the law? Why should an immigrant seeking asylum who has little knowledge of the English language be subject to intimidation and removal of their children from their care?  Why should any person of color, because of their name or what they wear (e.g., a hijab), or what they look like be profiled, pulled aside, and intimidated when they travel?

And how do we let people know their rights when interacting with law enforcement?  According to Mr. Rashid, you should check out the ACLU’s booklet entitled KNOW YOUR
RIGHTS WHEN ENCOUNTERING LAW ENFORCEMENT.

And Speak Out.  Just like with the #MeToo movement that has more and more women speaking out on their experiences with sexual harassment and sexual assault, individuals who have been profiled because of their race, religion, or national origin should also speak up about their experiences.  Then people will, like the #MeToo women, begin to see and push back against the maltreatment, harassment, and discrimination of people of color by those in power.

Transgender Students Can Use Facilities that Match their Gender Identity Within the 3rd Circuit

This decision covers those living in Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and the Virgin Islands.  The case, known as Joel Doe et al v Boyertown Area School District et al, is another school bathroom case. Boyertown is a school district in Berks County in southeastern Pennsylvania.  The following blog was written by the Women’s Law Project, a Pennsylvania-based public-interest law center focused on the rights of women and girls.  They wrote one of the amici briefs in this successful gender-identity rights case.

[On May 24, 2018], the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed a lower court’s ruling that upheld a Pennsylvania school district’s policy that permits transgender students to use restrooms and locker rooms that correspond with their gender identity.

Court observers had the opportunity to witness a rare spectacle. Rather than take weeks or months to issue an opinion after arguments, the three-judge panel convened for a less than 30 minutes before ruling in favor of Boyertown Area School District’s policy and by extension, the rights of transgender students.

The plaintiffs, four cisgender students who claimed they were harassed by the mere presence of a transgender person in the locker room or restroom, were represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom. The School District defended the suit, and the Pennsylvania Youth Congress Foundation, a coalition of LGBTQ youth leaders and youth organizations, intervened in the lawsuit. They were represented by the ACLU and ACLU of Pennsylvania.

Attorneys at the Women’s Law Project and co-counsel at Drinker Biddle & Reath, LLP filed an amicus (“friend of the court”) brief in support of the Boyertown policy that argues that the presence of transgender students in facilities corresponding to their gender identity does not violate Title IX. Rather, Title IX protects the rights of transgender students to use those facilities.

Twelve organizations signed on to the brief, including the American Association of University Women, California Women’s Law Center, Champion Women, Equal Rights Advocates, Gender Justice, Legal Aid at Work, Legal Voice, National Women’s Law Center, New Voices for Reproductive Justice, Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, Southwest Women’s Law Center, and Women’s Law Center of Maryland.

“This ruling is a huge victory for the rights of transgender students,” says WLP staff attorney Amal Bass, who co-authored the amicus brief with staff attorney Christine Castro and managing attorney Terry L. Fromson. “The momentum is undeniable, and the Third Circuit panel sent an important message today by issuing its decision unanimously and immediately.”

You can read or download our brief here.

For all of the documents, see here.

Background

Boyertown School District instituted a policy to allow students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that reflect their gender identity, rather than the sex identified on their birth certificates.

Four anonymous students represented by Alliance Defending Freedom, a legal advocacy group often focused on restricting the rights of LGBTQ people, challenged the policy, arguing that the presence of transgender student constituted sexual harassment under Title IX and violated the Constitution.

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is a federal civil rights law designed to eliminate sex discrimination in schools and education programs.

Our Argument

Our brief highlights the fact that the courts have previously ruled that a person’s reproductive anatomy is not, in all instances, an accurate signifier of a person’s sex. For transgender people, a person’s gender identity is the most accurate determinant of their sex. Thus, Title IX does not provide a legal basis for Appellant-students to deny transgender students equal access to an education.

To the contrary, Title IX requires the school district continue the current policy of enabling transgender students to use facilities matching their gender identity because the alternative—a policy that segregates students only by biology-based, assigned sex—would discriminate against transgender students by denying them use of facilities in accordance with their gender identity.

Indeed, when plaintiff’s counsel advised the judges that he was merely asking for a “return to the status quo,” meaning, a reversal of the recently enacted policy, Circuit Judge Theodore McKee responded by bringing up landmark segregation case Brown v. Board of Education, pointing out that changes are made when there is a problem with the status quo.

“The Momentum is Undeniable”

This victory comes on the heels of another big win for transgender rights in the United States. On Tuesday May 22, a federal court ruled against a Virginia school district, holding that federal law protects a transgender student who sought to use the boys’ bathroom at his school. A federal appeals court based in Chicago issued a similar ruling in a different challenge in May 2017.

The Women’s Law Project is a public interest law center in Pennsylvania devoted to advancing the rights of women and girls.

Sign up for WLP’s Action Alerts here. Follow us on twitter and like us on Facebook

We are a non-profit organization. Please consider supporting equal rights for women and girls by making a one-time donation or scheduling a monthly contribution.

via Victory: Third Circuit Court of Appeals Affirms Rights of Transgender Students — WLP Blog

NAACP Report in Opposition to the Nomination of Jefferson Beauregard Sessions to Be Attorney General of the United States

Read and then call your US Senators to tell them to oppose Jeff Sessions for US Attorney General. Do it today!

Central Oregon Coast NOW

Read the entire, shocking report.  Call your Senator now with opposition.  This man cannot be Attorney General of the United States

“From his actions as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama in the 1980s, to his actions as Attorney General of Alabama in the 1990s, to his twenty-year career as a United States Senator, Sessions’ record demonstrates hostility to principles of equality and justice, and to the core civil rights statutes and legal principles that as Attorney General he would be charged with enforcing.    For this reason, the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) strongly opposes the confirmation of Senator Jeff Sessions to serve as the 84th Attorney General of the United States….

In sum, any fair and objective assessment of Sessions’ record demonstrates that he is neither qualified nor prepared to vigorously enforce the nation’s civil rights laws. ”

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Major Victory: #DAPL Halted

Great blog. The statement of Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman, Dave Archambault II helps put this decision by the US Army Corps of Engineers in perspective. This was and is an indigenous family human rights struggle. Let’s hope that the new presidential administration honors this decision.

Central Oregon Coast NOW

Today is a historic day both for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and for indigenous people everywhere.

Thanks in part to the pressure from people like you, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that it would not be granting an easement under Lake Oahe for the Dakota Access pipeline to cross the Missouri River, just a half mile upstream of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe reservation.

Taylor Peterson, Katherine Morrisseau, Nancy Scanie, and Fawn Youngbear-Tibbetts. Clan Grandmother Nancy Scanie from Cold Lake Dene First Nation in Alberta Canada represents the Athabasca Keepers of the Water. (photo by Joey Podlubny)

Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman, Dave Archambault II said in a statement,

“We wholeheartedly support the decision of the administration and commend with the utmost gratitude the courage it took on the part of President Obama, the Army Corps, the Department of Justice and the Department of the Interior to take steps to correct the course of history and to do the right thing.

With this decision we look forward to being able to return home and spend the winter with our families…

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Victory at Standing Rock

I am so pleased that the Sioux Nation has won the day. For their people and for Mother Earth. This is one of two great blogs I’ve seen this morning that provides a very good background summary on this civil rights battle. Read on…

Nel's New Day

CANNON BALL, ND - DECEMBER 04:  Fireworks fill the night sky above Oceti Sakowin Camp as activists celebrate after learning an easement had been denied for the Dakota Access Pipeline near the edge of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation on December 4, 2016 outside Cannon Ball, North Dakota. The US Army Corps of Engineers announced today that it will not grant an easement to the Dakota Access Pipeline to cross under a lake on the Sioux Tribes Standing Rock reservation, ending a  months-long standoff.  (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images) CANNON BALL, ND – DECEMBER 04: Fireworks fill the night sky above Oceti Sakowin Camp as activists celebrate after learning an easement had been denied for the Dakota Access Pipeline near the edge of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation on December 4, 2016 outside Cannon Ball, North Dakota. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Protesters across the United States celebrated today after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that it would “explore alternate routes” for the Dakota Access Pipeline instead of granting an easement the pipeline. Over 2,000 U.S. military veterans had joined the thousands of protesters at the site to protect them from the authorities, and federal officials had given them until tomorrow to leave the site .

Native American tribes began last April to block the part of the current 1,172-mile-long pipeline’s $3.8 billion project designed to cross under Lake Oahe in North Dakota at the confluence…

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The Day We’ve Been Dreading: Plans to Evict #NoDAPL Water Protectors Made Public

Native Americans are asking all of us to stand with them. Speak out. Help stop this atrocity and violence against the indigenous peoples.

Transformative Spaces

14917209_1834292066812571_2296314898723987447_o Water Protectors square off with police earlier this month. (Photo: Johnny Dangers)

As people from around the country continue to converge in Standing Rock, and less than a week after police blasted Water Protectors with water cannons in freezing temperatures while gassing them in a confined space, the Army Corps of engineers has lived up to a long-held tradition of the United States government — the displacement of Native peoples. In a letter addressed to Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II, the Army Corps outlined its plans to remove water protectors from their frontline encampment areas on December 5. In what we can expect will be a violent spectacle, reminiscent of the violence we have already witnessed during this struggle, Indigenous people will once again be faced with forced relocation for the sake of white wealth. While the government has at times voiced sympathy for the Protectors, such actions are, of course, both historically consistent…

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picture of PSU's Old Main Building surrounded by students, faculty, staff, and community members at the "#NotMyPresident Walk-Out/Love Trumps Hate" Rally

Love Trumps Hate Rally

picture of PSU's Old Main Building surrounded by students, faculty, staff, and community members at the

Outdoor portion of the PSU “#NotMyPresident Walk-Out/Love Trumps Hate” Rally

Penn State University held a “#NotMyPresident Walk-Out” Protest on Tuesday, November 15. It was one of many held at universities across the country. Students who believe in human rights and who oppose the election of Donald Trump got up, walked out of class, and headed to a designated meeting space on each campus to “show their resistance” to this election.

Students at PSU left their classrooms at the University Park Campus and headed to Old Main’s front lawn where protests have historically been held since the civil rights protests of the late 1960’s.

It quickly turned into what I believe would be better called a “Love Trumps Hate”  Rally.  The speakers acknowledged that Donald Trump will be the next president of the United States. We, as citizens must, therefore stand up and speak out for all people and the environment.

Caring for all of our brethren including LGBTQIA people, people of color, Muslims, documented and undocumented immigrants, and women is an absolute necessity. Like in the 1960’s, the civil rights movement must rise again.

The rally occurred at two different venues.  The first one happened in front of the Old Main Building.  Somewhere between 800 and 1000 people appeared to be attending this part of the rally. Since the university did not allow any voice amplification, most people, including myself, were unable to hear what was said.

So the best I could do was take pictures of the signs that were carried by the participants.  Here is some of what was expressed.

The “#NotMyPresident” Type Signs

sign saying Donald Trump is NOT My President with Sponge Bob saying,

Grr! Donald Trump is NOT My President

banner asking whether Trump is/will be the President or a Predator/

Prez or Predator???????????

picture of a boot underneath the words

Anger sign declaring those opposing Trump will “Make Racists Afraid Again.” This was the only non-peaceful statement I saw at the rally.

cardboard sign saying

Put a “Fence Around Pence.”

The Public Discourse and “Love Trumps Hate” Type Signs

black sign with a flag at the top. Underneath the flag are the words,

Democracy is Dissent. A statement declaring that we have a 1st Amendment constitutional right “of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress.”

picture of two signs. Once says

Get White Supremacy Out of the White House (a call for Trump to reverse his decision to make White Supremacist Steve Bannon his Senior Counselor) and a call for “Civic Engagement.”

Large fiberboard sign saying

Nasty Women Keep Fighting

The March

After the speeches were done, about half of the participants marched over to the Hetzel Union Building to hold a second rally calling people to stand up, support our brethren, and to fight back just as those that fought segregation did in the 1940’s, 1950’s, and 1960’s during the Civil Rights Movement.

picture of people leaving Old Main and heading towards the HUB

Leaving Old Main

picture of people moving from the outdoor rally into the HUB for the second part of the program.

Entering the Hetzel Union Building (aka the HUB)

Inside the HUB

Once inside, people gathered on the steps near the HUB-Paul Robeson Center that  was created to “provide cultural, educational and social support for Black students. It was also expected to provide a place for ‘building bridges to understanding.'”  Using the Center as a backdrop, the rally focused on standing up, fighting back, making sure our voices are heard, and spreading the message of civil rights for all.

I was able to hear much of what was said and sung in this venue.  Here are some of the additional messages I saw and some of the words I heard.

picture of signs and people standing on the steps leading up to the Paul Robeson Cultural Center at the HUB on PSU's University Park Campus.

Rally on the steps of the HUB-Paul Robeson Cultural Center.

Picture of what looks like two federal officers holding a Confederate flag and two other officers carrying a flag that says

A Wall is NOT an invitation to dialogue.

Hand-drawn sign that says,

We are fighting for what’s right.

Hand-drawn sign that says,

We are Stronger Together

A friend and colleague, Peter Buckland, also attended the rally.  Here’s his view and commentary from inside the HUB. If I can get a YouTube link, I’ll embed it here.

And this is how the rally ended:

Let the Sunshine In

What I did not get a picture of was everyone coming together at the end of the rally to hug one another, saying that “I’ll be here for you.” Black. White. Latino. Muslim. Gay. Straight. Women. Cis. Men. As the Three Musketeers said, “All for One and One for All.” Love does Trump Hate.

The Women’s Movement Is for Everyone

Feminism is for Everyone

Credit: Art Crimes on Flickr, under Creative Commons

This is Women’s History Month.  And today is International Women’s Day.

In celebration of these two events, Women’s eNews Commentator Mary S. Hartman wrote an article entitled “This Women’s Movement, Now, Is for Everyone | Womens eNews.”

In this article, she links Betty Friedan’s views on the early days of the National Organization for Women and the Feminist movement to today’s movements and actions.

In her 2002 interview with Hartman, Friedan was asked what she envisioned the women’s movement to look like mid-century.  She said,

Well, I hope that by then our focus will not long have to be on women as such, or women vis a vis men… [that] we will have achieved what at the moment we seem to be achieving — real equality between women and men.

Friedan then went on to say that we needed “something larger,” namely a “people’s movement” with “diverse leaders of both sexes acting together and championing not just women’s rights but civil rights, unions, youth movements and more.”

I believe we are moving in that direction with coalitions, with the Occupy and Ferguson movements, and with people coming together on social media to raise our collective voices for civil rights.

What do you think? Read Hartman’s article and then comment.

Happy International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month!

picture of an empty seat at the table for Dr. Jones

An Empty Seat at the Table: In Memory of W. Terrell Jones

On Tuesday, August 19, I received a forwarded email from PSU Executive Vice President and Provost Nicholas P. Jones:

It is with deep sorrow that I’m writing to inform you that our colleague and friend, Dr. Terrell Jones, Vice Provost for Educational Equity passed away this morning.  Terrell had been on medical leave the last few months.  He will be greatly missed across the University not only for the impact of his contributions to Penn State, but also for simply the wonderful person that he was.  We will share with you the details regarding funeral arrangements as they become available.  Please keep Carla [Roser-Jones] and Terrell’s children in your thoughts and prayers.

This short note brought tears to my eyes and a great sense of loss. W. Terrell Jones was a civil rights advocate par excellence both in and out of work. He brought humor and caring to everything he did.

picture of Terrell Jones & Carla Roser-Jones

W. Terrell Jones (pictured with his wife Carla Roser-Jones). A Civil Rights advocate in and out of work.

I first met Terrell in the early 1990’s when I attended a meeting of the Centre County Advisory Council to the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC). Soon after that, I was appointed to this Council and served with Terrell up until his death. Until March of 2013, Terrell chaired the monthly meeting of the Advisory Council. His passion for low-income students of color, concern for community diversity and acceptance, and a love of knowledge was quite apparent.

He was a teacher, a counselor, a fountain of trivia on people and ethnicities across the country and around the world. And did his work—both paid and unpaid with a sense of humor and dignity. Here’s a sampling of his ability to teach with humor in the classroom; this is one of the many classes on race relations and cultural diversity that he taught over his 35 years of work at the Pennsylvania State University and one year at Lock Haven University.

On Thursday, August 21, I attended the bimonthly meeting of the Inter Agency Task Force on Community Activities and Relations in Harrisburg. According to the PHRC,

The task force is made up of [the] PHRC, the PA Attorney General’s Office and the PA State Police, working in conjunction with other state and federal agencies, community organizations, advocacy groups, local government and law enforcement agencies.  The primary function of the group is to quickly and appropriately address civil tension when conflicts occur, and to promote positive community relations among various groups in order to prevent tension.

The meeting was opened at 10:30 am by Tameka Hatcher, Program Analyst for the PHRC. We usually open these meetings by going around the table and introducing ourselves. This morning was slightly different. Tameka held up Terrell’s name plate and announced that he had passed after a four-month battle with cancer. She asked for a moment of silence and then asked Martin Kearney, Investigative Supervisor at the PHRC and me to say a few words about Terrell. We then placed the name plate at the table to honor our missing comrade.

picture of an empty seat at the table for Dr. Jones

An Empty Seat at the Table: In Memory of Dr. W. Terrell Jones

Here’s some of the accomplishments we talked about:

Local Ordinances

Terrell helped organize a community public forum on discrimination in housing and employment based on sexual orientation and gender identity about 8-9 years ago. Based on the feedback from that forum, the State College Borough decided to review their Fair Housing Ordinance that had passed in 1994 and decided to expand it as well as create an employment anti-discrimination ordinance in 2008. Working with the Centre County Advisory Council, Terrell and I worked with the town council to help craft the new ordinances that now contain the broadest anti-discrimination protections in the state. The employment ordinance includes marital status, familial status, family responsibilities, gender identity, and sexual orientation in addition to the state-level protections found in the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act. The public accommodations and fair housing ordinance includes marital status, familial status, gender identity, sexual orientation, and source of income in addition to the state-level protections of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act.

Tension and Hate

Calming down communities when tensions rise due to religious, racial, gender, or LGBTQIA intolerance, vandalism, and/or hate speech was a forte for Terrell. He created trainings on racial equality, worked with groups to figure out how structurally and organically they could improve their communities to be more accepting and tolerant. He did this for the entire Penn State University community at all of the campuses, within Centre County and across the state. Working with Unity groups, the PHRC, and coalitions, he helped bring together people.

Statewide Leadership

At Penn State University

Seen as an expert on race relations and diversity, Terrell was often called upon to lead programs and organizations dealing with these types of issues. When he started his position as Vice Provost of Educational Equity in 1998, he created “A Framework to Foster Diversity.” According to the Centre Daily Times, this document is a regularly updated plan outlining Penn State University’s diversity and equity goals. As part of his leadership in this position, Terrell oversaw many different offices and commissions to achieve his vision of “an inclusive and welcoming environment for all.” These offices and commissions include:

Units and Programs

College Assistance Migrant Program
Educational Opportunity Center (Philadelphia)
Multicultural Resource Center
Office for Disability Services
Office of Veterans Programs
Student Support Services Program
Talent Search
Talent Search York
Upward Bound
Upward Bound Math and Science Program
Upward Bound Migrant

Commissions and Committees

Equal Opportunity Planning Committee
President’s Equity Commissions
Commission on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Equity
Commission on Racial/Ethnic Diversity
Commission for Women

And according to the PSU Office of the President, Terrell led other programs and events throughout his tenure at the University: “He served on the University’s Forum on Black Affairs for many years, and was its president from 1986-87. He also was chair of the Equal Opportunity Planning Committee from 1989-96 and Penn State’s Representative for the Global Sullivan Principles from 2000-2005.”

Community Leadership

As I previously stated, Terrell was appointed to and later led the Centre County Advisory Council to the PA Human Relations Commission for over 20 years. We met 10 out of the 12 months of each year and then held a family picnic for members every August. Our meetings brought together members of the community who act as the “eyes and ears” of diversity in the community. We gathered each month to discuss concerns about injustice and joys of acceptance of people of all backgrounds within Centre County.

Both of us also handled the Blue Pages phone hot line answering questions about unfair treatment and potential discrimination.  As appropriate we gave these individuals information on how to contact the PHRC to file a complaint and/or provided on other resources to assist them in resolving their issues.

Over the years, several different representatives from the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission would attend these meetings so that we could pass on the news – both good and bad – to help the state monitor issues of inclusion and tension throughout the state.

We also had a good time, always looking forward to Terrell’s “main dish” offerings at our picnics. He fed us with fried turkeys, roasted pork, and tons of catfish over the years – all his own handiwork!

Terrell was also active in his local church – the Jacob Albright-Mary McLeod Bethune United Methodist Church. I understand that he was one of the leaders of this church, having served from 1990 until his death as a member of its Administrative Council. At the funeral, Reverend Kathleen Danley described his leadership by telling about her arrival at the church this past January. She said that members of the church seemed very tense or sad about their former preacher’s departure. Until Terrell arrived. She said with his arrival, the tension left the room and everyone felt better and got to work. Having that kind of presence is rare.

Leadership across the Commonwealth

Terrell also brought his wisdom and expertise to all corners of the Commonwealth. I asked Martin Kearney, the Investigative Supervisor for the Harrisburg Regional Office of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission to put this part of Terrell’s leadership into perspective. Here’s the email he wrote in response:

You asked me about Terrell’s work with PHRC.  I have had the pleasure to have worked with Terrell for nearly a decade when he was Chair of the PHRC Advisory Council for Centre County.  Other colleagues, such as Homer Floyd, Kaaba Brunson, and Ann Van Dyke have known and worked with Dr. Jones for three decades or more.  I am grateful I had the opportunity to learn from him and his work.

Essentially, from the state standpoint, Terrell was key in helping make PSU a more welcoming place for persons of all protected classes, particularly but not exclusively students of color, in his career.  He kept the PHRC apprised of these efforts, especially in regard to academic achievement and safe learning environment for these students.  His work in the vineyard has borne fruit, but as we know, more labors need to be made to make education more accessible and affordable for students in need.

Terrell was active with the Pennsylvania Black Conference on Higher Education (PBCOHE) [he served as its President from 2008-2010], which attempted to get all universities in the Commonwealth, public as well as private, achieve equal education opportunity for students of color.  Our Commission was very active in this initiative as well and Terrell’s work helped to increase the numbers of students of color going to college and successfully graduate.  He was also key in helping to investigate and resolve tension situations related to race and ethnicity not only at PSU but on other campuses as well.  For instance, he led an investigation in 2007 at Bloomsburg University campus involving allegations of excessive force and misconduct by campus police toward African American students.  He conducted this investigation with skill, transparency and thoroughness, recommending better communication between students and police and cultural competency training for campus police.

Terrell’s presence in Centre County was well known, especially in his and the Advisory Council’s efforts in State College Borough’s consideration and passage of the Fair Housing (1994) and Human Relations Ordinances (in 2008), efforts of which you know so well (since you were so key in both of these), which had expansive protections beyond Commonwealth law for sexual orientation, marital status and family responsibilities.  Through the work of Terrell and the Council, relationships were built, to create a constituency that supported these ordinances.  It is notable that when the Fair Housing Ordinance was passed, there was [a large and very] vocal opposition to it.  The opposition to the expanded Human Relations Ordinance over a decade later was not only much smaller but much less vocal.  It was consciousness raising of our growing notions of equality, led by Terrell and the Council, that helped to foster this change.

Finally, Terrell not only knew issues of diversity and equality, he knew this state very well.  He pored over the bias reports that the Commission created, reported incidents of which he knew, but also added a historical perspective of these incidents for our state and nation.  In my dealings with him, I always walked away having learned something of value, lessons I carry in my work to this day and which our Commission carries on as well.

A place at the table for our Commission’s Inter-Agency Task Force is missing.  While none of us can fill this space that he leaves, his spirit and the knowledge he passed on will continue for decades to come.

The Farewell Tribute

At Terrell’s funeral on Saturday, August 23, the love for Terrell showed throughout the church. It was overflowing with people. The vestry was full. The room across the hall from the vestry was full. And those who couldn’t find seats in either of these rooms went downstairs to the reception hall. Fortunately all of us got to see the service since the church provided video access to the full service. I think the “Affirmation of Faith” affirms Terrell’s life-long passion for equity and justice. In part, here’s what was proclaimed

Affirmation of Faith by Canaan Banana (edited by Rev. Grey)

I believe in an almighty God

Maker of all people of every color and hue,

Who does not rank people according to their color or gender,…

Who provide[s] abundant resources for

Equitable distribution among all people….

[Who] overturns the iron rule of injustice.

From henceforth He shall continue to judge hatred, racism, sexism,

And every manner of dehumanizing exclusiveness and arrogance.

I believe in the properly placed spirit of reconciliation,…

The Power that overcomes the poverty, abject ghetto life,

Abject rural life, drug and alcohol addiction,

women and children abuse, and pimping, prostitution, and pushing in all of their forms.

And I believe in the … Resurrection of personhood

And equalizing justice, and equality…

Amen

 

Terrell, we’ll miss you at the table of equality and justice for all. You will be missed greatly. Rest in peace my friend.

 

Addendum: According to the obituary that appeared in the Centre Daily Times on August 21, the family has requested that in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Albright-Bethune United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 153, State College, PA 16804 or to the Dr. W. Terrell Jones Scholarship Memorial Fund at the Pennsylvania State University, by visiting www.GIveNow.psu.edu/TerrellJonesMemorial.

It’s a Black and White Issue

overturn_hobbylobby_ruling_now.jpg

Show your support for overturning the Hobby Lobby Ruling

Women have rights. It is a black and white issue. Show your support for overturning the Hobby Lobby decision by the US Supreme Court

Rally near your nearest Hobby Lobby protesting this decision. Here’s a link to the Hobby Lobby’s “Store Locator.” Your local NOW chapter may also be participating in a local action. 

Wear Black and White on July 5.

Women Have Rights. It's black and white issue.. Show your support this July 4th. Wear black and white or red and blue.  Change your profil picture to a black and white one. Keep your pic up until August 26.

Women Have Rights. It’s a black and white issue.

And turn your profile picture or banner on all of your social media sites black and white through August 26; this is the anniversary of women’s right to vote being placed into the US Constitution.

Thanks for your support of this action continuing to oppose the War on Women.