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Trailblazers Portrayed In 'Hidden Figures' To Receive Congressional Gold Medals

Engineers Mary Jackson and Christine Darden, mathematician Katherine Johnson and computer programmer Dorothy Vaughn are being honored with the highest U.S. civilian award.

The four trailblazers, three of whom were depicted in the film Hidden Figures, will receive Congressional Gold Medal, ABC News reports. U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) helped introduce the Hidden Figures Congressional Gold Medal Act, a bipartisan bill signed by President Donald Trump last Friday (Nov. 8).

As the highest civilian award in the U.S., the Congressional Gold Medal recognizes those who have performed an achievement that has had a lasting impact on American history and culture.

Johnson, who celebrated her 101st birthday last summer, calculated trajectories for numerous NASA space missions beginning in the early 1950s. Vaughn, who died in 2008, led the West Area Computing unit for nine years, and was the first black supervisors at the national Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, which later became NASA.

Jackson, who died in 2005, was NASA’s first black engineer. Darden became an engineer at NASA 16 years after Jackson and went on to “revolutionize aeronautic design.” She was also the first black person to be promoted to Senior Executive at NASA's Langley Research Center, and has also authored more than 50 articles on aeronautics design.

“Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, and Dr. Christine Darden made monumental contributions to science and our nation,” said Senator Harris. “The groundbreaking accomplishments of these four women, and all of the women who contributed to the success of NASA, helped us win the space race but remained in the dark far too long. I am proud our bill to honor these remarkable women has passed Congress. These pioneers remain a beacon for Black women across the country, both young and old.”

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Black Family Handcuffed And Held At Gunpoint By Colorado Police

Officers from the Aurora Police Department racially profiled, handcuffed and detained an innocent Black family at gun point after allegedly mistaking their SUV for a stolen motorcycle. The Aurora Police Department issued an apology on Monday (Aug. 3) as video of the traumatic incident circulated the web.

Brittany Gilliam was taking her 6-year-old daughter, 12-year-old sister, and 14 and 17-year-old nieces to get their nails done on Sunday (Aug. 2), when police pulled up behind them with weapons drawn and demanded that they get out of the car. Video footage shows Gilliam and the girls on the ground in handcuffs. The children are heard screaming and crying during the incident.

Aurora PD terrorized a Black family at gun point after they "mistook" their car for a stolen one.

They had no reason to run the plate in the first place. This is racial profiling.pic.twitter.com/uvJz4q9haE

— A Black Socialist 🌹🏴‍☠️ (@SonOfAssata) August 4, 2020

Police allege that Gilliam’s car matched the description and license plate of a stolen vehicle. Her vehicle had been stolen in February but was found and returned by police within a day. In an interview with CNN, Gilliam stated that she offered to show cops her registration and insurance paperwork to prove that the car was not stolen.

APD released a statement explaining the apparent mix up. “We first want to offer our apologies to the family involved in a police stop of their vehicle yesterday, “the department said detailing how police were “notified of a stolen vehicle” in the area and found Gilliam’s vehicle matched the license plate number and the vehicle description. “The people in the car were ordered out onto the ground, and some were placed in handcuffs. Shortly after that, Officers determined that the car was not stolen.

“There is a stolen vehicle with the same plate information, but from a different state,” the statement continues. “The confusion may have been due, in part, to the fact that the stopped car was reported stolen earlier in the year. After realizing the mistake, officers immediately unhand cuffed everyone involved, explained what happened and apologized. An internal investigation has been opened, and an examination of training and procedures is underway.”

APD’s newly-appointed police Chief Vanessa Wilson said that she had been in contact with the family to personally apologize. “I have called (Gilliam's) family to apologize and to offer any help we can provide, especially for the children who may have been traumatized by yesterday's events. I have reached out to our victim advocates so we can offer age-appropriate therapy that the city will cover.”

The department has come under fire for racial profiling, excessive force and police brutality, most notably after the death of Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old massage therapist who died after an encounter with police last year while he was walking home from the store. McClain was placed in two chokeholds after police confronted him. Officer body cam footage recorded McClain telling the officers that he couldn’t breathe. He later suffered cardiac arrest and died three days after the fatal run-in. In contrast, Colorado police safely apprehended white  gunman James Holmes after he brutally murdered a dozen people at an Aurora movie theater in 2012.

More than a full year after McClain’s death, the case is being re-examined amid ongoing demands for justice and an online petition that has received more than 4.9 million signatures and counting. In June, four Aurora police officers were fired after photos surfaced of them mocking the deadly chokehold used on McClain.

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Michigan Judge Refuses To Release Black Teen Jailed For Not Doing School Work

A Michigan judge has refused to release a 15-year-old Black girl who was jailed for failing to complete her online school work. On Monday (July 20), Judge Mary Brennan denied a motion to release the teen who has been locked up at a juvenile facility since May.

According to Pro Publica, the teen’s lawyer argued that she hasn't received adequate education and proper support while in the facility. Judge Brennan believes that the girl has a ways to go before she can be released.

“I think you are exactly where you are supposed to be,” Brennan said. “You are blooming there, but there’s more work to be done.”

During the hourlong hearing, the girl and her mother were allowed to embrace for the first time in months due to COVID-19 restrictions.

“This morning for you, respectfully, it is going to get worse before it gets better,” Judge Brennan told the high school sophomore before going through her reported history of bad behavior. “Because I am about over all the crap, all the negative, all the prior attempts at helping I am going through it all.”

Judge Brennan’s husband, attorney Ed Lennon, defended her decision. Lennon claims that the public is being “misled” about why the girl is in juvenile detention, and implied that she is a danger to her mother.

The teen, who has ADHD, was previously arrested for assault and theft after reportedly biting her mother and pulling her hair, along with stealing a fellow student’s cell phone. She was taken into custody after it was determined that she violated her probation by not completing her school work.

In March, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive order temporarily suspending juvenile confinement unless the person poses a “substantial and immediate” risk to others.

As many students around the globe are adjusting to at-home learning in wake of the pandemic, some are falling behind in their studies. According to a new report, at least 800,000 students lack access to reliable internet, making it difficult to access to learning materials.

 

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Hanging Death Of Robert Fuller Ruled A Suicide

The hanging death of Robert Fuller has been ruled a suicide, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department announced last Thursday (July 9).

The conclusion was based on evidence at the scene, physical logistics, information from family, lack of evidence ruling out a suicide, and “clinically-documented statements of suicidal intent” made by Fuller years earlier, per a news release from the LASD.

Jason Hicks, an attorney representing Fuller’s family affirmed the results of the investigation. “I don’t have any evidence found to contradict the ruling that his death was a suicide,” Hicks told the press last week.

Members of Fuller’s family  previously alluded to a racist message found beneath his feet, but Hicks reiterated that the incident was not a hate crime. “There were no racist sentiments, no symbols or anything in the area, so we don’t have any information to suggest that it was a hate crime.”

Fuller, 24, was found hanging from a tree outside of City Hall in Palmdale, Calif., last month. His death sparked outrage and protests, and was one of several recent hanging deaths of Black males, including a teen found hanging in front of a Texas elementary school. The Harris County Sheriff's Office said that the death was believed to be a  suicide.

Malcolm Harsch, whose death was confirmed to be a suicide, was found hanging from a tree in Victorville, Calif. in May. Another Black man, 27-year-old Dominique Alexander, was found hanging from a tree in the Bronx on June 9. A petition  has been launched calling for a federal investigation into Alexander's death.

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