PODCAST: Biden signs bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday (BCNN1 06.18.21)

This is the Black Christian News Network One podcast. Here are the top stories you need to know about today.

According to the Associated Press, Black Americans rejoiced Thursday after President Joe Biden made Juneteenth a federal holiday, but some said that, while they appreciated the recognition at a time of racial reckoning in America, more is needed to change policies that disadvantage too many of their brethren. “It’s great, but it’s not enough,” said Gwen Grant, president and CEO of the Urban League of Kansas City. Grant said she was delighted by the quick vote this week by Congress to make Juneteenth a national holiday because “it’s been a long time coming.” But she added that “we need Congress to protect voting rights, and that needs to happen right now so we don’t regress any further. That is the most important thing Congress can be addressing at this time.” At a jubilant White House bill-signing ceremony, Biden agreed that more than a commemoration of the events of June 19, 1865, is needed. That’s when Union soldiers brought the news of freedom to enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas — some 2 1/2 years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation had freed slaves in Southern states. “This day doesn’t just celebrate the past. It calls for action today,” Biden said before he established Juneteenth National Independence Day. His audience included scores of members of Congress and Opal Lee, a 94-year-old Texas woman who campaigned for the holiday. Biden singled out voting rights as an area for action.

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According to the Associated Press, The Southern Baptist Convention tamped down a push from the right at its largest meeting in decades on Tuesday, electing a new president who has worked to bridge racial divides in the church and defeating an effort to make an issue of critical race theory. The more than 15,000 delegates in attendance picked as their next leader Ed Litton, a white pastor from Alabama who was nominated by Fred Luter, the only Black pastor to serve as president of the United States’ largest Protestant denomination. Luter praised Litton’s commitment to racial reconciliation and said he has dealt compassionately with the issue of sexual abuse within SBC churches, another hot-button subject at the gathering. In the second round of voting, Litton defeated Mike Stone, a Georgia pastor backed by a new group called the Conservative Baptist Network, which encouraged supporters to come to the meeting as voting delegates. Stone had campaigned aggressively, including speaking at churches across the country and even appearing on Fox & Friends on Tuesday before the vote. In the end the message that Stone — who supported a motion to repudiate critical race theory — was a divisive choice, seemed to resonate with voters.

According to Reuters, The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a Republican bid backed by former President Donald Trump’s administration to invalidate Obamacare, preserving the landmark healthcare law for the third time since its 2010 enactment. The 7-2 ruling declared that Texas and other challengers had no legal standing to file their lawsuit seeking to nullify a law, formally called the Affordable Care Act, that has enabled millions of Americans to obtain medical coverage either through public programs or private insurers. The decision was authored by liberal Justice Stephen Breyer. The justices did not decide broader legal questions raised in the case about whether a key Obamacare provision was unconstitutional and, if so, whether the rest of the statute should be struck down. The provision, called the “individual mandate,” originally required Americans to obtain health insurance or pay a financial penalty. “Today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision is a major victory for all Americans benefiting from this groundbreaking and life-changing law,” said Democratic President Joe Biden, whose administration opposed the lawsuit. With three major challenges to Obamacare now having been resolved by the justices, Biden added, “it is time to move forward and keeping building on this landmark law.” Biden also encouraged more Americans to use Obamacare to obtain coverage. Polling data has shown that Obamacare has become increasing popular among Americans, including Republicans. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican who led the challenge, vowed to continue to fight Obamacare. The individual mandate, Paxton wrote on Twitter, “was unconstitutional when it was enacted and it is still unconstitutional.” The law was the signature domestic policy achievement of Democratic former President Barack Obama, who Biden served with as vice president. “This ruling reaffirms what we have long known to be true: the Affordable Care Act is here to stay,” Obama said.

According to the Associated Press, Three years after workplace misconduct allegations cost veteran TV and radio talk-show host Tavis Smiley his job and a national forum, he’s ending his silence. Smiley, who continues to deny the claims of unwanted sexual behavior that led PBS to drop his long-running show, is attempting to rebound with the purchase of a Los Angeles radio station that will offer a Black and progressive perspective on the city and nation. Sidelined during a period of landmark racial upheaval, Smiley decided to make his own opportunity with reformatted station KBLA Talk 1580 Los Angeles. It debuts with a preview on Saturday, the Juneteenth holiday commemorating when the last enslaved African Americans learned they were free. “While I was watching this racial reckoning last summer, it was so clear to me that people were being heard to some degree, but there were no African American-owned platforms where people had their voice on a regular basis,” Smiley said. The media can lose interest when protests stop, he said, but the issues “that matter to us don’t go away.” He was also chafing at the isolation. “It’s frustrating when you’re used to being on the air every day somewhere, (and) people are hearing your voice in this country, seeing your face, for as many years I’ve been doing this,” he told The Associated Press. But there was an upside: introspection, and “a lot” of it, as he put it. “It allows for growth. It allows for strengthening relationships with family and friends,” Smiley said. “So in some ways, I think I’m probably a different person than I was four years ago.” He said he’s received offers of work since his firing, but decided to amplify Black voices in America through a path that his late friend, Prince, touted: Controlling content and its distribution. Smiley is the majority owner of KBLA, which he and investment partners bought from New York-based Multicultural Radio Broadcasting in a deal valued at $7.5 million. The station will fill a void that he said shouldn’t exist in one of the most, if not the most, ethnically and culturally diverse city in the country. “The opportunity to have a Black-owned and Black-operated talk radio station in this city, where talk radio for too long has been all day, all night, all white, is an opportunity that is begging for someone to take advantage of it. So I’m dumb enough to try,” Smiley said. Asked if anyone has expressed reservations about working with him and the station, he said it was the contrary and that bookings for celebrities, authors and newsmakers are “lining up fast and furious” although guest names weren’t provided. Does he see the new venture as a step toward rehabilitating his public image? “I don’t believe that I am in control of rehabilitating any image. That’s not my concern. My concern is to do the work that I’ve always done,” Smiley said. “At the end of the day, all I’ve ever tried to do was to love and serve people. For me, that’s the definition of leadership.”

According to the Daily Beast, A long-haul trucker pleaded guilty Thursday to randomly stabbing a Black man who was sitting alone in an Arby’s in Ontario, Oregon. Nolan Levi Strauss, a 27-year-old from Colorado, was charged with a federal hate crime involving an attempt to kill for the December 2019 attack on 48-year-old Ronnell Tyrone Hughes. Hughes was waiting in a booth for the restaurant manager because he was applying for a job. Strauss walked in, came up behind Hughes, and stabbed him in the neck, unprovoked, according to prosecutors. A maintenance worker managed to subdue Strauss, and hold him for police. As they waited for the cops, the employee asked Strauss why he stabbed Hughes. “Because he was Black, and I don’t like Black people,” Strauss reportedly replied. Strauss will be sentenced on Sept. 9. He faces a maximum of life in prison.

According to Entertainment Tonight, Oprah Winfrey and Sterling K. Brown are celebrating Black fathers and the universal joy of fatherhood. Ahead of her new OWN special, Honoring Our Kings: Celebrating Black Fatherhood, the media mogul opened up to ET about why now is the perfect time to elevate the conversation. “Why now? Because timing is always right, God is always on time,” Winfrey shared with ET’s Kevin Frazier. “I had this idea for several years. I wanted to elevate, lift up and show the other side of the narrative that we always hear about Black fathers not participating in their kids’ lives and Black fathers not being there.” “I am the product of a Black father. Had my father not stepped in and taken responsibility for me, I certainly would not be sitting here talking to you, or have the life that I have,” she continued. “So I wanted the rest of the world to see that, to know that, to hear it, to feel it and to have Black fathers validated.” Winfrey said that, as the idea came to fruition, she thought of Brown — who is the father of two sons — as the perfect co-host for the special. “So I asked Sterling K. Brown, ‘Would you join me in honoring Black fathers?’ And he said, “Whoa, Oprah, I am so happy to do that,’” she recalled. “And I am telling you, he cried. I mean, he cried. He is such a wonderful, sensitive man.” Winfrey explained that filming the special was particularly emotional for all involved, recalling, “Sterling cried three times, I cried four or five times just in the taping of the special… I felt so proud of these men!”

According to Flowers Communications Group, The biggest gospel celebration of the year, the 36th Annual Stellar Awards, is excited to announce that gospel megastar, Tye Tribbett and contemporary artist, Jekalyn Carr will host this year’s celebration. After going virtual in 2020 due to the pandemic, the duo is excited to return to the main-stage to uplift gospel music and the artists behind it, with inspirational performances and moments. “I’m so hyped to return to the Stellar stage this year as a host alongside my sis, Jekalyn Carr,” said Tribbett. “This is the biggest night in gospel! I can’t wait to see and hear all the amazing music that has blessed us this year! LET’S GO!” Taking place on July 10th at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center in Nashville, TN, the celebration will feature performances by gospel greats like Jonathan McReynolds, J.J. Hairston, Maverick City Music, Pastor Mike Jr., Tamela Mann, The Clark Sisters, and hosts Tribbett and Carr.

You can read these stories and more at BlackChristianNews.com .

In closing, remember, God loves you. He always has and He always will. John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” If you don’t know Jesus as your Saviour, today is a good day to get to know Him. Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died, was buried, and rose from the dead for you. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Thanks so much for listening and may God bless your day!

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