Starting last week, the four major cell phone service providers — Sprint, Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile, and AT&T — enabled customers to text their emergencies to the local governments in 16 states that are set up for it. (Only Vermont is currently using the technology statewide.) For now, the FCC says that texting 911 should be limited to the hearing-impaired and people in situations where speaking could be dangerous (think domestic abuse or hostage cases), and photos and video won’t go through. Still, this is disruption we can get behind. Read more.
The former Illinois congressman, who is currently serving 30 months for spending campaign funds on elk heads and other things, recently informed AL.com that he has already completed two books, the compellingly titled The Last Campaign: A Memoir and The Tao of Jesus Christ. When the website asked Jackson for his thoughts on prison reform, he responded with “emails and a nine-page letter laying out a plan that calls for presidential pardons for all offenders who have served their time.” (The latter was written by a fellow inmate.) It’s good to keep busy. Read more.
Check out the just-released second trailer for Universal Pictures’ James Brown biopic, Get on Up. The story begins with a 6-year-old James Brown, as he’s abandoned by his mother (played by Viola Davis) and left to live with his Aunt Honey (played by Octavia Spencer), who runs a brothel. And the film ends in 1993 with a comeback concert, after Brown served prison time for aggravated assault and eluding the police in a wild car chase. So not quite a birth-to-death biopic. Brown would eventually die on Christmas Day in 2006 – 13 years after the movie’s above ending. Read more.
Critics of President Barack Obama’s judicial pick Michael Boggs breathed a sigh of relief on Monday when Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), a revered civil rights icon, announced his opposition. But it looks like some of Lewis’ allies would have made things uncomfortable for him if he’d waited much longer to speak out. The Rev. Joseph Lowery said Tuesday that he and other civil rights leaders and lawmakers were mulling holding a press event on Monday to urge Lewis to clarify his position on Boggs. The Georgia judicial nominee has been under attack for his socially conservative record on civil rights, abortion and gay rights. Lewis previously opposed him, but in recent weeks had gone silent — just as Boggs’ nomination was starting to move in the Senate. Read more.
Michel Martin’s critically acclaimed show, Tell Me More, will be coming to an end this August due to NPR’s budget deficit. The program, which is the network’s only show that targets Black listeners, has been on their air for seven years. Although Martin will remain with the network, she’s disappointed her show is being canceled. “To be honest with you, I think we’ve been casualties of executive churn,” Martin said. “Every CEO who has been at this network since I’ve been here — and how many are there now? Six? Seven? — all of them have supported this program, but none of them have stayed around long enough to institutionalize that support.” Read more.
Vincent Harding, scholar, historian, theologian, civil rights activist, and occasional speechwriter for Martin Luther King, Jr., died at 82, according to Democracy Now. Harding was involved with the civil rights movement for most of his life and is well-known for drafting King Jr.’s iconic anti-Vietnam War speech, “A Time to Break Silence,” which was delivered at New York City’s Riverside Church exactly one year before King’s assassination. Read more.