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Civil Rights Activist and Businessman Vernon Jordan has Died at 85

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Vernon Jordan, businessman and advisor to President Bill Clinton, died at the age of 85 on Monday evening.  According to his daughter, Vickee Jordan, “Vernon E. Jordan Jr. passed away peacefully last evening surrounded by loved ones. We appreciate all of the outpouring of love and affection,”

Born in the Jim Crow South city of Atlanta, GA, in 1935, Jordan worked tirelessly through his life, not just in civil rights and politics but also in business.  Harvard Historian Henry Louis Gates Jr. discussed his work in an interview with Bloomberg stating he was “kind of the Rosa Parks of Wall Street.” He continued by stating Jordan “realized that the first phase of the modern civil rights movement was fighting legal segregation, but the roots of racism were fundamentally economic.”

Jordan’s civil rights journey began after he graduated from DePauw University in 1957, the only black student in his class.  He continued his education by attaining his law degree from Howard University School of Law in 1960, later returning to Georgia, where he would become an integral part of multiple civil rights organizations.

In his 30s, Jordan worked for the NAACP and the United Negro College Fund, later becoming the President and CEO of the National Urban League in 1971.  He survived an assassination attempt in 1980 by white supremacist Joseph Paul Franklin.  Franklin was never prosecuted for shooting Jordan but was executed for the deaths of more than 20 people in 2013.  Throughout his time, Jordan would hold the positions of President of United Negro College Fund, Inc., Director of the Voter Education Project in the Southern Regional Council, Attorney consultant in the U.S. Office of Economic Opportunity, Assistant to Executive Director in the Southern Regional Council, and the Georgia Field Director in the NAACP.  After turning down President Clinton’s offer to be the first Black U.S. Attorney General, he became the transition team’s co-chairman and an unofficial advisor to the president.  Though holding no office in the administration, Jordan’s influence was felt in convincing Colin Powell to become Secretary of State, and in 1993 he encouraged Clinton to pass the NAFTA agreement.

While being involved in civil rights struggles organizationally, he also joined the struggle in his law career.  As a clerk for Atlanta civil rights attorney icon Donald Lee Hollowell, Jordan was involved in the case of two black students, Hamilton Holmes and Charlayne Hunter, integrating the University of Georgia. In 1982 Jordan retired from the National Urban League to work as an attorney, practicing general, corporate, legislative, and international law at Akin Gump after leaving private practice in Arkansas and Georgia.  Jordan joined New York investment firm Lazard Freres & Co. as a senior managing partner in 2000, releasing his autobiography the following year, “Vernon Can Read!: A Memoir.”  In 2020, PBS released a documentary on the icon entitled “Vernon Jordan: Make It Plain.”

Jordan is survived by his wife of 34 years, Ann Dibble Jordan, and their four children, Antoinette Bush, Mercer Cook, Janice Roberts, and Jacqueline Cook, along with nine grandchildren.  Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and close friends of this icon.

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Alex Haynes is Editor-At-Large/NYC Editor at Urban Newsroom, Executive Editor at UNR's Black Alerts and the host of Boss Mornings and Unmuted Nation. Alex joined Urban Newsroom in 2010 and contributes regular op-ed and editorial pieces while advising the columnist and contributing staff.

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Race and equity collide amid Biden travel ban in Africa over omicron variant

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In remarks from the White House on Monday, President Biden emphasized the need for vaccine boosters as a new strain of COVID-19 makes its way to the United States.

President Joe Biden on Monday said that the new omicron variant of the coronavirus is “a cause for concern, not a cause for panicâ€� during presidential remarks on Monday at the White House.  

The president said any plans to face the current virus mutation and any new COVID-19 threats will be met with a push for vaccines and boosters — not by “shutdowns and lockdowns.â€�  

From the Roosevelt Room with Vice President Kamala Harris and Dr. Anthony Fauci by his side, President Biden responded to questions about his call for travel restrictions to eight African nations that took effect Monday. 

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the Omicron COVID-19 variant following a meeting with his COVID-19 response team, including U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris (L) and Anthony Fauci (R), Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and Chief Medical Advisor to the President, at the White House on November 29, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

“Travel restrictions slow the spread [of omicron] although it does not prevent it,â€� said the president as he stood in front of a festive holiday garland around a fireplace. He added, “sooner or later we will get it (Omicron)â€� in the United States. 

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, however, wants the travel ban lifted against the Sub-Saharan African nations after scientists in his nation first identified the presence of the omicron variant. President Ramaphosa called the travel restrictions to his country and others “scientifically unjustifiedâ€� and “disappointing.â€� 

Officials in Africa are upset and expressed feeling penalized for simply having the science and technology to determine the new variant before other nations, including the United States.

Dr. Ayoade Alakija, chair of the African Union’s Africa Vaccine Delivery Alliance, also slammed the travel bans on southern African nations as a singling out of Africa. “This is discriminatory and xenophobia and it is wrong,” Dr. Alakija said in an interview with the BBC.

“The only thing the prohibition on travel will do is to further damage the economies of the affected countries and undermine their ability to respond to, and recover from, the pandemic,� said Ramaphosa.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa (Photo: Filip Singer/Getty Images)

Here in the U.S., activist and civil rights icon Reverend Jesse Jackson Sr. took to Twitter over the holiday to call on the United States and other world leaders to “helpâ€� African and poor nations, not punish them. 

“Africans are 1/8th of the human race. For [years] the US imported Africans & exported cotton. The U.S. & World are in Africa’s debt … We need less bans &more vaccine,� Jackson tweeted.

National Urban League President Marc Morial told theGrio on Monday that he “strongly� believes that the U.S. and other western nations have an obligation to make “many more vaccines� available to Africa “and other emerging nations as the vaccine is the best weapon against the pandemic.�

During his remarks, President Biden acknowledged that “vaccinating the world is just one more tool� to combat the pandemic, emphasizing that the United States “shipped for free more vaccines to other countries than all other countries in the world combined.�

Providing hard numbers, the president said that 275 million vaccines have been sent from the U.S. to 110 countries. He called on other world governments to step up as well.

After meeting with the White House COVID-19 Response Team, President Biden gave credit to the scientists and technologies in South Africa for identifying the omicron variant.

Despite criticisms the Biden administration has received for its travel restrictions in Africa, Morial of the National Urban League told theGrio that he believes “the travel ban is necessary.�

“I cannot second guess health professionals on the need for it,â€� he said. Morial did, however, acknowledge that there are potential economic impacts that “can’t be ignored due to this ban.â€� 

“An extended ban could impact business and leisure travel to the U.S. from these countries and of course these countries could in turn ban travel by U.S. citizens,� he added.

In this Oct. 18, 2019, file photo a JetBlue Airways flight flies in to Salt Lake City International Airport in Salt Lake City. JetBlue says it plans to increase the number of seats it will fill on planes starting in December. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

President Biden said the best prevention against any form of COVID is to be fully vaccinated and get a booster shot. 

In the United States, over 80,000 locations coast to coast are offering free boosters and vaccinations to prevent death and severe disease or disability. 

Research is underway on the effectiveness of the current vaccines against the new strain. In the event that the current vaccine is not effective against the new variant, or any other variant that comes, the Biden administration is working with Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson “to develop a contingency plan if needed� for a vaccine.

Concern over the omicron variant and decisions that have been made so far regarding U.S. travel in southern Africa comes as the United States is seeing an uptick in COVID-19 cases. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci told theGrio that “the vaccines are waning� and therefore the nation is seeing more vaccinated people being hospitalized with COVID infections. The president’s chief medical advisor is urging the nation to get boosters right away, especially as Americans go indoors and as they come together during the winter months and holidays.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a recent White House press briefing. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

“It is a complicated situation,� Fauci told theGrio, as the nation approaches 100,000 infections per day. The infections are driven not exclusively but “predominately� by people who are not vaccinated, he said. Dr. Fauci said roughly about 30% of the adult population are not vaccinated. In total, 60 million Americans who are eligible for vaccinations are not yet inoculated.

Emphasizing the urgency to get a booster shot, Fauci said it has even greater effectiveness than the initial doses. 

When it comes to the omicron variant and the Black community, doctors are weighing in with concerns about equity.

�Pervasive racial inequities are as problematic for the uptake of booster vaccines as they were for the initial doses. These inequities are predominantly attributable to gaps in access to primary healthcare,� Dr. Alison Galvani of the Yale Center for Infectious Disease told TheGrio.

“If you don’t have a primary care provider recommending the booster vaccine, you are less likely to receive one�

Unfortunately, omicron will likely have a disproportionately negative impact on communities of color, especially Black Americans, as is consistent with almost every other disease outside of COVID-19.

EMS medics transport a man with possible Covid-19 symptoms to the hospital on August 07, 2020 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

But Dr. Gigi El-Bayoumi, founding director of the Rodham Institute and a professor of medicine at George Washington University, told theGrio that although the mutations that omicron exhibits are concerning, “we are still learning whether or not it will be as infectious as the delta variant.�

“We have had other variants such as alpha and gamma that did not prove to have the same devastating impact that the original covid and variant delta has had.

“However, like any rapidly developing story, it is important that the public understand that as new information becomes available, there will be updates,� Dr. El-Bayoumi added.

El-Bayoumi said there is “promisingâ€� new treatment that appears to kill viral replication and reduces both death and hospitalization “when given at the first onset of COVID symptoms.â€� 

However, she cautioned that there are “theoretical concernsâ€� about the medication’s potential impact on human DNA. 

An often overlooked but growing concern of the pandemic is its impact beyond the coronavirus itself. A recently published report by the DC Department of Health, found five major concerns: Delayed Preventative and Chronic Disease Care; Long-term Effects of COVID-19 Infection; Economic Impact and Job Loss; Mental Health Stress, Social Isolation, Trauma, and Grief; and Loss of Academic, Social, and Emotional Growth in Children.

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The post Race and equity collide amid Biden travel ban in Africa over omicron variant appeared first on TheGrio.

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Former Alabama track star, Olympian Emmit King killed in shootout

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King, 62, was a sprinter and a member of the U.S. relay team for the Summer Olympics in 1984

A former University of Alabama track star and Olympian was killed in a shootout with another man, authorities say.

The Jefferson County Coroner’s Office on Monday identified Emmit King and Willie Albert Wells as the two men who died after exchanging gunfire in Bessemer on Sunday, AL.com reported.

Emmit King thegrio.com
U.S. athlete Carl Lewis raises his arms in victory as he wins the 100-meter final ahead of third-place Emmit King, left, at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials at the Coliseum in Los Angeles, June 18, 1984. (Credit: (AP Photo/Lennox McLendon, File)

King, 62, was a sprinter and a member of the U.S. relay team for the Summer Olympics in 1984 and 1988, but he didn’t compete.

He ran for Jefferson State Community College and for the University of Alabama, where he became the 1983 NCAA national champion in the 100 meters. That same year, he won the bronze in the 100 meters at the first World Championships.

Authorities said King and Wells, 60, knew each other and were arguing outside a house Sunday afternoon when they both pulled out guns and fired. Wells was pronounced dead at the scene, and King died later at a hospital.

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The post Former Alabama track star, Olympian Emmit King killed in shootout appeared first on TheGrio.

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Virgil Abloh’s final Louis Vuitton collection to be presented Tuesday

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The fashion designer passed away at age 41 after a two-year battle with a rare form of cancer.

Following the passing of Virgil Abloh, the beloved menswear designer for Louis Vuitton and founder and CEO of Off-White, the French fashion house will “pay tribute to the life and legacy of a creative genius” by showing his spring-summer 2022 collection this week in Miami.

Abloh passed away at age 41 after a two-year battle with a rare form of cancer called cardiac angiosarcoma, theGrio reported

Louis Vuitton announced on social media that it will show Abloh’s final menswear collection Nov. 30 at 5:30 p.m. EST. The spring-summer 2022 show will “pay tribute to the life and legacy of a creative genius.”

“It is with profound sorrow that I learned of the passing of Virgil Abloh,” said Michael Burke, Louis Vuitton’s chairman and CEO, in a statement shared on Instagram. “Virgil was not only a friend, great collaborator, creative genius, visionary and disruptor, but also one of the best cultural communicators of our times. He paved the way for future generations.”

Paper Magazine, Sprout By HP
DJ Virgil Abloh attends Paper Magazine, Sprout By HP

“As a devoted supporter of his community through his charities and passions, he was an eternal optimist who believed anything was possible In this same spirit, we at Louis Vuitton will proudly continue to celebrate his legacy with a final show in Miami, per his wishes. I am honored to have called him my friend. My deepest thoughts are with his wife, children, parents, family and the entire community that was touched by his greatness.”

In 2018, Abloh was named men’s artistic director for Louis Vuitton – the first African American to helm a line at the company.

“It is an honor for me to accept the position of men’s artistic director for Louis Vuitton,” Abloh said at the time. “I find the heritage and creative integrity of the house are key inspirations and will look to reference them both while drawing parallels to modern times.â€�

Abloh was a frequent Kanye West collaborator and worked with myriad A-List celebrities, many of whom paid tribute to LV’s artistic director on social media following news of his death on Sunday.

As reported by theGrio, Ye dedicated his latest Sunday Service concert to Abloh, his longtime friend, protégé and artistic director, with a rendition of Adele’s “Easy on Me� performed by the Sunday Service choir.

Pharrell Williams wrote on Instagram that his “heart is broken� following Abloh’s death.

“Virgil you were a kind, generous, thoughtful creative genius,� he wrote, adding that Abloh’s “work as a human� and “work as a spiritual being will live forever.�

“Sending love and light to your wife, children, family and day ones,� he continued, “you’re with the Master now, shine.�

“��🕊Rest In Peace Great One! Such a Visionary!��🕊,� wrote R&B superstar Kelly Rowland. “Sending my love and prayers to his family!���

“Rip Virgil prayers to your family thank you for always supporting the youth always kind we just spoke bro smh,� rapper Offset tweeted.

Abloh is survived by his wife, children, sister and parents. Information about a memorial service was not immediately available.

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The post Virgil Abloh’s final Louis Vuitton collection to be presented Tuesday appeared first on TheGrio.

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