Thousands of demonstrators joined a general strike in the capital of Puerto Rico
On his last day in office, President Obama granted 330 commutations. This will allow many drug offenders a lesser sentence. During the last eight years, Obama shortened 1,715 sentences, including 568 of whom were sentenced to life.
In a letter to the recipients the outgoing President said he believed they had the opportunity right now to do what is right.
"I am granting your application because you have demonstrated the potential to turn your life around. Now it is up to you to make the most of this opportunity. It will not be easy and you will confront many who doubt people with criminal records can change... remember that you have the capacity to make good decisions."
According to officials at the White House, this was the most commutations done in a single day by a sitting President. White House counsel Neil Eggleston said this comes as Obama worked on lessening harsh sentences.
"The vast majority of these men and women are serving unduly long sentences for drug crimes... He has a strong view that people deserve a second chance." For an inmate to be considered under Obama, they needed to demonstrate good behavior, already served 10 years, have a nonviolent offense. However, some exceptions were made for the 10-year-rule and there were some firearm violations in relation to the drug crimes.
During his final press conference Wednesday afternoon, Obama discussed the role of voting and how the United States should make it easier to vote. He blames the Jim Crow era, saying the reason for the low turnout is because many Americans are eligible to vote who don't go to the polls. "It became sort of acceptable to restrict the franchise... The idea that we put in place a whole bunch of barriers to people voting doesn't make sense."
You can read his entire last speech here.
President-Elect Donald Trump will be inaugurated at noon on Friday, January 20th. Close to 60 Democrats will be boycotting the event for Trump's word to Civil Rights Icon and Representative John Lewis.
Trump has been having close door meetings with a number of people ahead of his inauguration including Steve Harvey and Martin Luther King III.
What do you take away from Obama's final gesture in office? Comment below and tell us.
Maine's Republican Governor, Paul LePage told a radio station that Representative John Lewis should be "grateful for all Republicans have done for black people." LePage said Lewis needs to be brushed up on how Abraham Lincoln freed slaves and how Ulysses S. Grant and Rutherford B. Hayes fought against Jim Crow laws.
The comment comes as words were exchanged between Rep. Lewis and President-Elect Donald Trump over Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. The Democrat congressman from Georgia said he doesn't think Trump is a legit president. Trump fired back on Twitter saying Lewis was "all talk, talk, talk - no action or results." Trump also described Lewis' district i.e. the Atlanta metro area as "crime-infested."
Of course Lewis is not completely all talk, he along with 24 other Democratic congressmen and women are boycotting the President-Elect's Inauguration. Lewis, the son of sharecroppers, attended segregated public schools in Alabama. He went on to attend Fisk University, was a Freedom Rider, the Chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), received over 50 honorary degrees and was the architect and keynote speaker at the March in Washington in 1963 at just 23.
(Rep. Lewis isn't the only who is anti the Trump Administration. Read: Coretta Scott King Criticized Trump's Attorney General Pick Back in 1986)
However according to history, Jim Crows laws were not around during the Grant Administration. Trump begins his term as President when he is inaugurated on Friday, January 20th.
The historical sign marking where Emmett Till’s body was found in the Tallahatchie River in 1955 has been riddled with bullets. According to the New York Daily News, since the Emmett Till Memorial Commission put eight markers in place surrounding the Tallahatchie County it has been subjected to vandalism over the years. The 14-year-old from the south side of Chicago was visiting family when he was abducted and killed for allegedly whistling at a white woman.
The murder was rocked by protests and helped the civil rights movement. According to the reports, many of the bullet holes found near the river site are not new.
A photo posted shows that the sign had been shot quite a few times from different angles at that time.
“It shows that there’s still people who do not want to remember or talk about Emmett Till,” Patrick Weems, project coordinator for the Emmett Till Memorial Commission, told the Daily News.
Weems told the Daily News that the organization, which is financially struggling, cannot afford to replace the vandalized sign at the moment and that it has instead launched a virtual tour of the sites in the form of the Emmett Till Memory Project The project, which is a site and smartphone app, virtually guides users to 51 different sites in and around the Mississippi Delta that are linked to the teen’s murder and trial.
According to the Daily News, the Emmett Till Interpretive Center is currently trying to raise money to fund the project and replace the vandalized sign; so far it’s raised $4,00 0f the original 15,000 goal.