Featured Section

People: Madonna Buys The Weeknd’s Los Angeles Mansion for $19.3 Million

The Weeknd previously bought the 12,547-square-foot estate in 2017 for $18.2 million. (Getty Images)

People Magazine

Madonna has a new home on the West Coast!

The “Material Girl” singer, 62, has put down roots in Los Angeles, purchasing The Weeknd’s Hidden Hills mansion for $19.3 million.

The Weeknd previously bought the 12,547-square-foot estate in 2017 for $18.2 million.

Situated on three acres of land in a private gated community, the house boasts a seven-bedroom main house and a two-bedroom guest house. Lifestyle amenities in the main house include a living and dining rooms, an expansive chefs kitchen and an entertainer’s bar.

The landscaped front driveway leads to an entrance hall with double-height ceilings and a two-story window wall, which brighten up the interior of the home. The brilliant white walls are warmed by wood and stone accents.

Pocket doors open to a backyard with several terraces, a pool, spa and a cabana with a living room. The property, which is lined with redwood trees, also includes a spacious barn, a five-car garage with LED flooring and a full basketball court.

The community is near Calabasas and the Malibu coast.

The “Blinding Lights” singer, né Abel Tesfaye, first listed the property last summer for just under $25 million. By December, the price had dropped to $22 million before Madonna closed for another $2.7 million less.

The Weeknd was represented by Angel Salvador at The Agency and Madonna was represented by Trevor Wright at The Beverly Hills Estates.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

In Virginia, Ethio-American Meronne Teklu Launches Campaign for Alexandria City Council

“A lot of my family, a lot of my community in terms of the Ethiopian American diaspora that lives here — it’s really a hub for us and for our small businesses that I frequent often,” Meronne Teklu, whose immigrant parents moved to Alexandria following the downfall of Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie in 1974, said. “I’m excited to be a part of it, and I’m excited to do what I can to help our local economy.” (Alextimes)

The Alexandria Times

Candidate profile: Meronne Teklu enters council race

At 25, Meronne Teklu has worked as a tech consultant, nonprofit manager and advisory board member. She’s also launched her first campaign for Alexandria City Council.

Teklu said she doesn’t view her age as a drawback but rather as an opportunity to bring a fresh, multigenerational lens to the council.

“As residents of this community, we have an opportunity to serve at all levels. I don’t think it matters what your age is, gender identification, race identification, class — we all have that opportunity,” Teklu said. “I definitely don’t think [my age] is a negative thing; it’s more so ensuring that we have varying representation and perspectives that we bring.”

Although she was born in Alexandria and currently lives in the West End, Teklu grew up down the road in Springfield, having graduated from West Springfield High School. She said that, despite this, Alexandria always felt like home.

“A lot of my family, a lot of my community in terms of the Ethiopian American diaspora that lives here — it’s really a hub for us and for our small businesses that I frequent often,” Teklu, whose immigrant parents moved to Alexandria following the downfall of Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie in 1974, said. “I’m excited to be a part of it, and I’m excited to do what I can to help our local economy.”

Teklu currently works as a technology management consultant in Northern Virginia, where she aids clients from the public service to government sectors in designing and launching digital products. Teklu said this technology background helps her bring an innovative, “future-forward lens” to the table — something she feels is a principal ingredient in moving the needle toward data-driven, long-term change.

Her experience also includes mentoring students of immigrant backgrounds at the D.C. nonprofit IEA Councils on Higher Education as well as an advisory position on the Wegene Ethiopian Foundation, a nonprofit organization cofounded by her mother that focuses on poverty alleviation support in Ethiopia through fundraising and identification of vulnerable populations.

Teklu received a bachelor’s degree in Africana studies with a focus on computer science from the College of William & Mary. During her time there, Teklu and several peers created a media project called The Real William & Mary that published videos tackling issues related to inclusion on campus and centering minority student voices. The project’s aim was to foster conversations about ways to develop a diverse office and support programs like Pacific Islander and Asian studies.

The project spread through social media like wildfire, eventually capturing the attention of the community race relations task force and culminating in a newly implemented freshman year required course at William & Mary that examines social inequities in America.

“That only happens when you’re able to show others who are not part of your immediate community issue that, ‘Here are the perspectives. Here’s what we can do.’ And maybe that doesn’t happen immediately, maybe that’s a one month or two month or five year effort, but I think it’s amazing,” Teklu said.

Teklu said this experience not only played a role in demonstrating how perseverance leads to tangible social change — “I live and breathe the intersections of race, class and gender on policy and our general American history,” she said — but also in igniting her passion for equity.

Teklu said her primary goal is to connect Alexandria’s marginalized and underrepresented communities with city leadership. For Teklu, this demographic ranges from the voices of minority, low income and young people.

“I’m here to elevate those communities [through an] emphasis on equity,” Teklu said. “I’m approaching things from the lens of, ‘How can we be better for all of our communities, not just one particular one?’ How we can elevate diverse minority perspectives within that is something I’m very passionate about.”

According to Teklu, one crucial issue plaguing the city is its longstanding housing affordability crisis. With equity placed squarely at the heart of her campaign, Teklu said she always wants to support minority and immigrant tenants – especially during COVID-19 when many “disproportionately affected communities of color” cannot pay rent and need city support in eviction protection.

And it’s not just housing that COVID-19 has impacted, Teklu said. Another topic of interest for Teklu is lifting up the city’s youth, not only from an educational standpoint in schools but also through emotional and social support during the pandemic.

“We know it’s been quite isolating, so ensuring that they’re set up to thrive will be equally as important for council to work [on] with the School Board and the private school community as well,” Teklu said.

Although Teklu acknowledged that she plans to do “more digging” regarding the controversial proposed stream restoration at Taylor Run, she emphasized the importance of listening to grassroots organizations and environmental advocacy groups regarding the best path forward.

She also noted that while many arguments surrounding flooding in Alexandria are pointed at over-densification and development, she believes the root is more of an environmental issue.

“We know that we have a ways to go in ensuring that the city of Alexandria meets our environmental sustainability goals, and I think investing in long-term mitigation strategies against flooding will be key,” Teklu said.

Whether it’s rebuilding the local economy, supporting environmental justice, providing COVID-19 relief or investing in public modernization efforts, Teklu said the notion of equity for all should serve as a “north star” in every action City Council takes.

“I really do feel like Alexandria coming out of this pandemic has an opportunity to reimagine what it is to be a community and to be advocates of change,” Teklu said. “We have a lot of momentum to reimagine what it looks like to operate as a city, to incorporate technology and incorporate the perspective of young people in that – and to push for equity for all. That’s something that is very exciting to me.”

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Video: Tadias Conversation With Tigist Kebede of Habeshaview

Tigist Kebede, Co-Founder & Operations Director of Habeshaview and Journalist Tsedey Aragie. (Photo: Tadias Magazine)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: April 3rd, 2021

New York (TADIAS) — Tadias recently had a conversation with Tigist Kebede, Co-Founder and Operations Director of Habeshaview — the first international Ethiopian film distribution and online streaming company.

As Tigist explains, Habeshaview works with filmmakers both in Ethiopia and the Diaspora to curate, produce, screen and distribute high-quality original Ethiopian films. Their current offerings include the feature film Enkopa, which is based on the true story of a young Ethiopian migrant at the mercy of unscrupulous traffickers; as well as Enchained, an award-winning movie that reflects on Ethiopia’s ancient and culturally-rooted legal system.

The interview was conducted by journalist Tsedey Aragie for Tadias.

Watch: Tadias Conversation with Tigist Kebede of Habeshaview

You can access the Habeshaview App at user.habeshaview.com.

Related:

WATCH: Q&A with Cast and Crew of “Enchained (ቁራኛዬ) Live From Ethiopia

Spotlight on ‘Enkopa’: New Ethiopian Movie Based on True Story of a Young Migrant

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Three Ethiopian Films Featured at New African Film Festival in U.S.

According to organizers the annual film festival, which is usually held at AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in downtown Silver Spring, Maryland, will be held online this year (April 1–18) highlighting 33 films from 26 Countries including Ethiopian movies "Running Against The Wind, Finding Sally and Min Alesh [ምን አለሽ. (Courtesy photos)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: March 30th, 2021

New York (TADIAS) — This year’s U.S.-based New African Film Festival features three award-winning Ethiopian films including the 2020 Oscar Selection Running Against The Wind; filmmaker Tamara Dawit’s timely documentary Finding Sally and the inspiring new film Min Alesh [ምን አለሽ], a story set in Merkato about a young woman who overcomes adversity through athletics.

According to organizers the annual film festival, which is usually held at AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in downtown Silver Spring, Maryland, will be held online this year (April 1–18) highlighting 33 films from 26 Countries.

The 2021 New African Film Festival “showcases the vibrancy of African filmmaking from all corners of the
continent and across the diaspora,” the announcement stated. “This year, for its 17th edition, the festival goes virtual, presenting a lineup of outstanding contemporary African cinema online for audiences in the Washington, DC, area and beyond.”

Below are descriptions and trailers of the Ethiopian films courtesy of AFI Silver Theatre.

Special Presentation

2020 Oscar® Selection, Ethiopia

RUNNING AGAINST THE WIND

Available starting Friday, April 2

Ethiopia’s 2020 Oscar® submission traces the lives of two brothers pursuing big dreams along very different paths. As children, Abdi (Ashenafi Nigusu) wants to become a long-distance runner, while Solomon (Mikias Wolde) desires nothing more than to become a professional photographer. Early in their childhood, the brothers part ways. Solomon escapes his remote hometown to seek his fortune as a photographer in Addis Ababa, eventually ending up on the streets in the city’s vast slums. Abdi remains in his village, training to become an Olympian in the hopes of following in the footsteps of Ethiopian legend and gold medalist Haile Gebrselassie (who has a cameo in the film). When fate reunites the brothers as adults in Addis Ababa, can the distance that has grown between them be bridged? DIR/SCR/PROD Jan Philipp Weyl; SCR Michael Wogh; PROD Samerawit Seid Kekebo, Chris Naumann, Andreas Seck. Ethiopia/Germany, 2019, color, 116 min. In Amharic with English subtitles. NOT RATED

Special Presentation

FINDING SALLY

Available starting Thursday, April 8

Followed by a recorded Q&A with filmmaker Tamara Mariam Dawit

FINDING SALLY tells the incredible story of a 23-year-old woman from an upper-class family who became a communist rebel with the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Party in the 1970s. Idealistic and in love, Sally got caught up in her country’s revolutionary fervor and landed on the military government’s most wanted list. She went underground and her family never saw her again. Four decades after Sally’s disappearance, filmmaker Tamara Mariam Dawit pieces together the mysterious life of her aunt Sally. She revisits the Ethiopian Revolution and the terrible massacre that followed, which resulted in nearly every Ethiopian family losing a loved one. Her quest leads her to question notions of belonging, personal convictions and political ideals at a time when Ethiopia is going through important political changes once again. (Note adapted from Catbird Productions.) Official Selection, 2020 Göteborg Film Festival, African Diaspora International Film Festival and Film Africa; 2021 Pan African Film Festival. DIR/SCR Tamara Mariam Dawit; PROD Isabelle Couture. Canada, 2020, color, 78 min. In English and Amharic with English subtitles. NOT RATED

MIN ALESH? [ምን አለሽ]

Available starting Thursday, April 8

Set in Merkato, a sprawling, open-air market in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, MIN ALESH? tells the inspiring story of 21-year-old Selam (Amleset Muchie, who also wrote and directed), whose perseverance transforms her life for the better. Having grown up amid poverty and hardships, Selam is determined to change her own and her family’s circumstances through her passion for running. An international race offers her a chance to achieve her dream. (Note adapted from New York African Film Festival.) DIR/SCR Amleset Muchie; PROD Selamawit Mare. Ethiopia, 2019, color, 84 min. In Amharic with English subtitles. NOT RATED

Learn more at AFI.com and get festival access at https://naff.eventive.org/.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Spotlight: In Minnesota Abenezer Ayana Wins St. Thomas Business Plan Competition

Coming from Ethiopia, Abenezer Ayana couldn’t find a quality platform that allowed him to watch movies from his home country. [So he] started designing Fendesha [the Ethiopian film streaming service] and connected with producers in the Ethiopian community through LinkedIn. “I’m a computer science student, so the coding was easy for me” Ayana said. (Photo courtesy of Abenezer Ayana)

Tommie Media

St. Thomas senior Abenezer Ayana won the undergraduate student track of the St. Thomas Business Plan Competition [last month] with Fendesha, a streaming platform for Ethiopian movies and shows.

Coming from Ethiopia, Ayana couldn’t find a quality platform that allowed him to watch movies and shows from his home country.

“Whenever I wanted to watch an Ethiopean movie, I would find it on YouTube, and as a watcher, that’s disheartening because you have a lot of advertisements, the quality is not as good as you want it to be, and the Ethiopean producers weren’t making as much revenue as they would if they had a streaming service like Netflix,” Ayana said.

Ayana then started designing Fendesha and connected with producers in the Ethiopian community through LinkedIn.

With the approval and encouragement of Ethiopian producers, Ayana started coding the platform.

“I’m a computer science student, so the coding was easy for me to grasp even though I was new to coding on an app,” Ayana said.

Ayana used his computer skills to add viewing features onto Fendesha.

“It was a fun project for me, and I was adding a lot of features like seeing where the movie stopped and playing it from there, downloading it for offline viewing, and all the things you can see on Netflix,” Ayana said.


The team behind Fendesha, the Ethiopian streaming service. (Photo courtesy of Abenezer Ayana)


Fendesha’s main streaming page. (Photo courtesy of Abenezer Ayana)

Ayana took his business plan of Fendesha and competed in the St. Thomas Business Plan Competition, which hosted undergraduate students, graduate students and recent alumni. The undergraduate students competed in one competition and the graduate students and recent alumni competed in another competition.

“In each track, the competition brought in five judges, people who are experienced entrepreneurs, investors, business folk, who are working in innovation and understand how to evaluate an opportunity,” St. Thomas Schulze School of Entrepreneurship Associate Dean Laura Dunham said.

Participants pitched their business plans for 10 minutes virtually this year, due to COVID-19, and had about eight minutes of Q&A afterward. The judges then had the difficult task of determining the winner.

The entrepreneurs competed for a total of $38,000 in cash prizes, and Ayana took $10,000 with his first-place win.

Ayana looks forward to using the prize money to start putting movies on his platform.

“We created the platform, and it is fully built on the cloud, so we can easily add movies in from different producers and update it for the users,” Ayana said. “But right now, there are no licensed movies in Fendesha, so the money would help us get licensing for the movies.”

The prize money will also be used to help the team advertise Fendesha to the Ethiopian community, both abroad and in Ethiopia.

“Fendesha itself will be free for those in Ethiopia with advertisements, but for those abroad, it would be like Netflix where you pay around an $8 subscription fee every month,” Ayana said.

Along with Fendesha, Ayana has competed in business competitions in the past, including coming in second place in the 2019 Fowler Business Concept Challenge with BraillEasy.

“BraillEasy was an idea of a smartphone case that teaches Braille. It’s very novel that you don’t have to move your fingertips, the case does the Braille by itself, so that gained a lot of traction,” Ayana said.

Dunham worked with Ayana both during the 2019 Fowler Business Concept Challenge and the 2021 Business Plan Competition.

“He’s done a fantastic job taking advantage of everything. He is studying computer science, and he is also a creative guy, always wanting to solve problems,” Dunham said.

Ayana expresses his gratitude to St. Thomas and the business school for the resources provided.

“I’m not even an entrepreneurship major, so I was a complete outsider to these competitions, but everyone was super helpful,” Ayana said. “St. Thomas has all of these resources, and so many people that were happy to help out with projects, and I’m very fortunate to be at St. Thomas.”

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Meet Hana Getachew: The Textile Designer Bringing Ethiopian Craft to New Audience

NYC-based Textile designer and owner of Bolé Road Textiles Hana Getachew collaborates with artisans living and working in Ethiopia. (Courtesy of Bolé Road Textiles)

Business of Home

The textile designer bringing Ethiopian craft to a new audience

It might not seem ideal to split a small business across two continents—but for textile designer Hana Getachew it’s essential. To produce her collections of ethically sourced handwoven pillows, throws and linens, the Kingston, New York–based owner of Bolé Road Textiles collaborates with artisans living and working in Ethiopia. For Getachew, the thread has always been there.

Her family left their home in Ethiopia when she was 3, relocating first to Canada for a few years before settling in New York. It wasn’t until Getachew was in college that she returned to her home country to visit family and experienced a deeper cultural immersion. “It ended up being this pretty powerful homecoming that I didn’t anticipate,” she tells Business of Home. “It was seeing all that in its original form, in its undiluted and un-Americanized form, that was really powerful—to go to the source.”

After graduating from Cornell University with a degree in interior design, Getachew spent 11 years at an architecture firm designing commercial interiors and office spaces. Still, she couldn’t shake the impression her trip to Ethiopia had made on her. In 2014, she quit her job and took the plunge—traveling down Bolé Road in her birthplace of Addis Ababa, she hit the pavement to find the partners with whom she would launch her textile business.

“Here I am, I don’t have any credentials, I don’t have a business, and I don’t have a lot of funds. … In retrospect, it’s kind of comical,” she says. “I stuck with the people who were curious and interested and didn’t brush me away.”

Those same artisans and vendors Getachew encountered on that trip are still working with Bolé Road Textiles today. The decision to partner with artisans based in Ethiopia was partly a matter of quality—the weaving looms there differ from those commonly used in the West, requiring a high skill level to create the intricate geometric patterns featured on many of the brand’s pillows. Plus, there’s no formal training for this method—the weavers and artisans, who are predominantly male, are taught by their fathers and grandfathers. Women more frequently serve as the business owners of textile workshops, many of which are formed as collectives that divide labor and share profits equally—including Bolé Road’s partner company.

In most cases, Getachew’s design process begins with a place. Take, for example, the Harar collection, inspired by a city in eastern Ethiopia. The vibrancy of the town’s bustling markets and colorful dress is juxtaposed with the centuries-old walls surrounding it. “How would I create a collection that tells the story of Harar?” says Getachew. “It became these geometric forms from the rigid architecture, to a lot of bold, bright colors from the streetscape.” The result is a striking collection of textiles in vibrant, deeply saturated hues—think fuchsia, cobalt and maroon—marked with lively patterns of intersecting lines.

Since Bolé Road made its debut at the Brooklyn Designs show in 2015, the company’s growth has varied from year to year. However, according to Getachew, that changed this summer—largely due to the push to support Black-owned businesses in the wake of George Floyd’s death and the racial reckoning that followed. She experienced such an outpouring of press inquiries, orders, and requests for partnerships beginning in June 2020 that she began to have frank conversations with those reaching out to her about issues of equity and representation.

“My response has evolved,” she says. “At first, I was just overwhelmed. I came to the conclusion that it will start to feel manageable and digestible if the cards were out on the table—if we were more transparent [in] talking about the bigger context about why this person was across the screen from me.”


Textile designer Hana Getachew in her studio. (Courtesy of Bolé Road Textiles)

Getachew also began to reflect on her own experiences—including the lack of representation during her early years in corporate architecture. She called some of her old colleagues and clients and began a series of conversations that would form the basis of the International Interior Design Association of New York’s newly founded Equity Council, whose mission is “to achieve equity and accountability toward increased diversity and inclusion in the design industry.” Though still in its early stages, the group recently brought on consultants from Racial Equity Partners. It also plans to distribute a pledge later this year, which Getachew says will borrow inspiration from the 15 Percent Pledge (a commitment by retailers to buy 15 percent of their merchandise from Black-owned businesses), while also including steps companies can take to create a more equitable workplace.

Read more »

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Spotlight: College Friends Ephrem Abebe & Steve Chu, Co-founders of Ekiben in Baltimore

College friends Ephrem Abebe & Steve Chu are Co-founders of Ekiben, an up-and-coming Asian fusion restaurant in Baltimore, Maryland. Their business "has become known, not only for its legendary steamed buns, but also for uniting the community." (Baltimore Magazine)

Baltimore Magazine

How Ekiben Went From a Modest Start-Up to the Toast of the Town

As the pounding beat from a hip-hop heavy playlist fills the room, the Ekiben team gets to work: Chicken gets dropped in the deep fryer, broccoli is battered, and the kitchen staff hustles at the line, piling pork shoulder and mango-papaya slaw into cardboard containers scrawled with a handdrawn heart and the words, “Thank you! Ekiben Fam.” The pulsing music sets the tone, and the air is electric with energy, as the mostly young staff steadily works to fill orders for steamed bun sandwiches and rice bowls brimming with Thai chicken meatballs or tofu in spicy peanut sauce.

By nightfall, beneath the black-and-white awning at the Hampden eatery’s entrance, the line continues to grow, and not just because COVID-19 has forced the spot to allow only one customer inside at a time. Beginning at 11 a.m., when the lunch shift starts, the joint is jumping. And by night’s end, some hundreds of Neighborhood Bird sandwiches—that is, Ekiben’s legendary Taiwanese curried chicken on a steamed bun—will fly past the vestibule plastered with manga and out the double glass doors. Of course, an equivalent scene is also unfolding at the Ekiben in Fells Point, the first brick-and-mortar location of this Asian-fusion street food spot that opened on Eastern Avenue in 2016.

This second location of Ekiben opened in February 2020, on a scrappy, off-the-beaten-path alley in Hampden just weeks before the pandemic hit, though that hasn’t stopped patrons from finding it. And while the past year has led to a major loss of revenue from their sizeable events business—some 172 catering gigs were canceled in 2020 alone—the nightly takeout grind at both locations has largely stayed steady, in part because Ekiben was already geared toward grab-and-go.

“It took eight months to build in Hampden what took us five years to build in Fells Point,” says Steve Chu, who co-owns Ekiben with his college friend Ephrem Abebe. “It’s kind of crazy.”

Since the opening of the original space, the restaurant has earned praise from Travel & Leisure, Vogue, and Eater, in addition to landing a spot on Yelp’s coveted list of top 100 restaurants in the United States and being named a Rising Star by StarChefs D.C.-Chesapeake. And while Chu says the national recognition is great, it’s the locals who keep the place going. “I’ve come here once a week since it opened,” says Hampden resident Jeff Crumb. “Every time we get it, the food is consistently great.”

“This all comes from the support of the city and the people who live here,” says Abebe, 31, who oversees operations, while Chu serves as chef/CFO/marketing maven—“basically, everything else,” says Chu. “Baltimore is a true blue-collar city and likes seeing the success of small-time businesses and people growing and grinding it out. We get tourists coming in, but it’s the people two doors down who are sustaining us. The community has allowed us to get to this point.”

Case in point: Baltimore resident Tony Trapp was a customer long before he started working at the Ekiben in Fells Point three years ago. “I loved the food,” says Trapp, who is now a manager at the Hampden location. “But I also love working here—everyone here is like family.”

In fact, the culturally diverse staff, hailing from all over the world—the Philippines, Mexico, Honduras, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, China, Korea, Taiwan—refers to Chu and Abebe as “mom” and “dad,” respectively. “I guess I’m dad because my jokes are like dad jokes,” says Abebe, who is a dad to a toddler boy. “And Steve is super nurturing and helpful. He’s always there for you and gives good advice.”

Chu’s own dad, who immigrated from Taiwan in the ’70s and opened Pikesville’s Jumbo Seafood in 1993, practically raised his only son in the Chinese food restaurant, though, Chu, whose parents were divorced by the time he was 2, hated hanging out there.

“When you’re an immigrant running a restaurant, you definitely can’t afford childcare,” says Chu, whose uncle also owns a restaurant, Sonny Lee’s in Reisterstown. “I hated going to the restaurant because I didn’t have anything to do. I would roll glasses off the table until a busser told me to stop or my dad would stick me in his office, which is smaller than Harry Potter’s closet. During dinner service, my dad would tell me to lay down and go to sleep and I’d have a tablecloth as blankets, which were starched and very cold. And, once in a while, he’d open the door and all of this light would come rushing in and he’d drop this big plate of food that no 4-year-old could ever finish, and I’d eat in the dark because I couldn’t reach the light switch.”

But reading Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential at the ripe old age of 13 gave him a new perspective. “I was like, ‘I think I can do this, minus the hard drugs,’” cracks the 30-year-old Chu. “That book convinced me that it was going to be a fun ride.”

In the meantime, Chu’s dad put his growing son to work at Jumbo Seafood, running paper ticket orders to the kitchen, working the register, and answering the phones throughout his teen years. “At 14, I was awkward and chubby, and shy,” says Chu. “I didn’t want to be talking to people. I hated it, because I wasn’t learning anything. I was like, ‘I don’t f**king want to be here.’ It was awful.”

When Chu reminisces about his past, it’s clear that those years spent at Jumbo were formative. And though he tells it with a sense of humor, and peppers his stories with expletives, the pain is still palpable, as he recounts facing an age-old issue—the tug between putting family first versus the desire to chase one’s own dreams.

By the time he attended University of Maryland Baltimore County in 2008, he was majoring in economics and contemplating a career in law or teaching economics. Instead, he had an epiphany. “I realized that I loved restaurants,” he says. “I love going to them. That’s kind of like my theater. Running a restaurant is like putting on a show for your clientele. This business is so labor-intensive, I figured I’d do it while I still had the energy.”

It was also at UMBC where he met Abebe and Nick Yesupriya, a third Ekiben founder who has since left the business, while working for Habitat for Humanity. The trio shared a dream about opening a restaurant together, though it was Chu who really put himself on the path to pursue a career in hospitality.

“It pissed my family off so much,” says Chu, who landed a job as a line cook at Chipotle Mexican Grill his junior year. “The whole idea behind going to college is you are learning skills to take you to a higher-paying job. In our family, if you’re studying economics, you’d better go into banking or doing something white collar, not graduating with college debt and making nine dollars an hour at Chipotle, which is what I did—they were so mad.”

While still at UMBC, he became obsessed with not only working at Chipotle, but reflecting on why it was such a success story. “It was just all the flavor profiles. The rice was delicious, the smokiness of the chicken, how the sour cream balances out all the heaviness but still adds fat to it, having that romaine lettuce in there instead of iceberg—all the things they did there was pretty life-changing,” says Chu. “What Chipotle showed me was that Americans are ready for this food culture revolution. I don’t have to go get prime rib if I want a good meal.”

By his senior year, Chu had landed a job at ShopHouse, a Southeast Asian spinoff concept by Chipotle founder Steve Ells. At ShopHouse, he worked alongside luminary chefs such as the Michelin-starred Kyle Connaughton and James Beard Award-winning Nate Appleman. “I was head toilet-scrubber and mop lord,” he says with a laugh. “Eventually, they brought me up to management.” But the killer commute from his dad’s home in Reisterstown to D.C. led him to quit after a year.

In 2013, Chu was working as a server at Petit Louis, which he says was one of the most formative restaurant experiences he’s ever had. From the maître d’ Patrick Del Valle, he learned “intense attention to detail and taking care of every guest who walks in the door,” he says. “Patrick and [then] sommelier John Kelley also taught me how to taste.”


Photography by Matt Roth

At Louis, Chu also learned that not every chef communicated by screaming. “Every chef I ever worked for prior to going to Louis was fire and brimstone,” he says. “My dad was fiery—if the delivery guys were late, he’d shout obscene things. But Ben Lefenfeld [the chef at the time, who is now the owner of La Cuchara] was the calmest chef I’ve ever met. I never saw him yell at anyone, and if he got really mad, he’d get really quiet and you could see it on his face. I had a lot of respect for that.”

After only a few months, Chu reluctantly quit when his father’s manager fell ill and he was needed back at Jumbo. Once the crisis was resolved, he applied for restaurant jobs in New York and got a coveted gig as a line cook at Kin Shop, a Greenwich Village restaurant owned by Harold Dieterle, a Top Chef winner from season one. It was his dream job, but once again, family duty beckoned when his grandparents both got sick and he came back to Maryland to help his father with the business. When things settled down, he had the itch to pursue his own dreams.

“I wanted to have a creative outlet, but Jumbo wasn’t the right place for that.” He reached out to Abebe and Yesupriya to see if they were still interested in opening a restaurant. “I was like, ‘I know that we talk about this all the time. Are you guys in?’ And they were like, ‘Let’s do it.’”

Abebe, an Ethiopian immigrant who had studied IT at UMBC, was eager to join forces with his friend whose early lessons of watching his father work at Jumbo served him well. “Steve is a hard worker,” says Abebe. “He will outwork anyone, and I appreciate that in people. Going into business with him was a no-brainer for me.”

Initially, they set out to get a food truck. “But a food truck is like $80,000,” says Chu. “I did some research and found a hot-dog cart. That was $3,000 and we didn’t have the money. Still, we had to work and save up for it and asked our friends for micro loans. We’d be like, ‘Can we borrow 50 bucks?’ and they’re like, ‘What the f**k? Just take it.’”

The concept for steamed buns came about organically because Chu says he’s always loved steamed bun sandwiches. “The buns themselves are a staple of my childhood,” he says. “My grandparents ate them every morning. I just felt like they were underutilized in America. You have a lot of really bad steamed bun sandwiches here. I thought that it was a disservice to our culture. I was like, ‘I’m going to make this a lot better.’”

In the early days at the Fells Point Farmers Market, using the kitchen at Jumbo Seafood to test recipes during off hours and a hot-dog cart they ended up building themselves, business got off to a slow start.

“Day one was awful,” recalls Chu, who continued to work at Jumbo six days a week while running the cart on the weekends. “On paper, we had the best spot right by the Inner Harbor water taxis where 16,000 tourists a day would walk by. And we were like, ‘Hey, would you like some of our Asian steamed bun sandwiches filled with chicken meatballs, mango-papaya slaw, and roasted garlic aromatics?’ And they’d be like, ‘Do you have crabcakes?’”

But over time, thanks to exposure at local events like Artscape and the Emporiyum, word traveled locally that their buns were a must-try.

By March 2016, close to a year after the Baltimore Uprising, they opened Ekiben in Fells Point, a speck of a spot with a counter, a closet-sized kitchen, and a bunch of barstools on the site of a former Mexican restaurant.

“We realized that the city was super divided at that time,” says Chu. “But when you travel a lot, you realize that people are just people. We all want the same thing. We all want to be happy. We all want to be taken care of and be heard. In America, you can have a very divided culture, and if you just sat down and talked to someone for five minutes, you’d realize we are not very different. We built this space around the idea that everyone listens to the same music and everyone eats the same food.”

One look at the community board in Hampden plastered with photos, picture everything from catering gigs for the Ravens to photos of Ekiben staff members feeding the health care heroes at area hospitals, and it’s clear that the eatery has, in fact, been a unifier.

“It’s been amazing to see the growth,” says Ekiben Hampden’s general manager, Mary Ann Delano, who is also a friend from the UMBC days. “I remember when this was just an idea. I was an environmental science major in college, and I wasn’t sure I was going to stick with this, but they’ve put so much trust in me and we’re like family here in our own little world.”

“Steve is just one of the most genuine people I’ve ever worked with,” says Lefenfeld. “He’s always trying to bring the people up around him, which is really important in this industry and at this time. He’s a great representation of the cooking scene in Baltimore.”

Though he’s finally broken out on his own, for Chu, who still works the dinner shift at Jumbo Seafood on Christmas—the restaurant’s busiest day of the year—all roads lead back to family.

“As a kid, riding around in the backseat of my dad’s car, one of the first lessons he ever taught me was ‘whatever you do, you have to be the best,’” recounts Chu. “At the time, I was like, ‘Okay, whatever, I’m like 3 years old.’”

Decades later, the throngs outside the restaurant’s doors are living proof that he’s done just that.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

UPDATE: How Timnit Gebru’s Exit Shook Google and the AI Industry

Timnit Gebru’s exit from Google's ethical AI team kickstarted a months-long crisis for the tech giant's AI division, including employee departures, a leadership shuffle, and widening distrust of the company's historically well-regarded scholarship in the larger AI community. (Getty Images)

CNN Business

How one employee’s exit shook Google and the AI industry

In September, Timnit Gebru, then co-leader of the ethical AI team at Google, sent a private message on Twitter to Emily Bender, a computational linguistics professor at the University of Washington.

“Hi Emily, I’m wondering if you’ve written something regarding ethical considerations of large language models or something you could recommend from others?” she asked, referring to a buzzy kind of artificial intelligence software trained on text from an enormous number of webpages.

The question may sound unassuming but it touched on something central to the future of Google’s foundational product: search. This kind of AI has become increasingly capable and popular in the last couple years, driven largely by language models from Google and research lab OpenAI. Such AI can generate text, mimicking everything from news articles and recipes to poetry, and it has quickly become key to Google Search, which the company said responds to trillions of queries each year. In late 2019, the company started relying on such AI to help answer one in 10 English-language queries from US users; nearly a year later, the company said it was handling nearly all English queries and is also being used to answer queries in dozens of other languages.

“Sorry, I haven’t!” Bender quickly replied to Gebru, according to messages viewed by CNN Business. But Bender, who at the time mostly knew Gebru from her presence on Twitter, was intrigued by the question. Within minutes she fired back several ideas about the ethical implications of such state-of-the-art AI models, including the “Carbon cost of creating the damn things” and “AI hype/people claiming it’s understanding when it isn’t,” and cited some relevant academic papers.

Gebru, a prominent Black woman in AI — a field that’s largely White and male — is known for her research into bias and inequality in AI. It’s a relatively new area of study that explores how the technology, which is made by humans, soaks up our biases. The research scientist is also cofounder of Black in AI, a group focused on getting more Black people into the field. She responded to Bender that she was trying to get Google to consider the ethical implications of large language models.

Bender suggested co-authoring an academic paper looking at these AI models and related ethical pitfalls. Within two days, Bender sent Gebru an outline for a paper. A month later, the women had written that paper (helped by other coauthors, including Gebru’s co-team leader at Google, Margaret Mitchell) and submitted it to the ACM Conference on Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency, or FAccT. The paper’s title was “On the Dangers of Stochastic Parrots: Can Language Models Be Too Big?” and it included a tiny parrot emoji after the question mark. (The phrase “stochastic parrots” refers to the idea that these enormous AI models are pulling together words without truly understanding what they mean, similar to how a parrot learns to repeat things it hears.)

The paper considers the risks of building ever-larger AI language models trained on huge swaths of the internet, such as the environmental costs and the perpetuation of biases, as well as what can be done to diminish those risks. It turned out to be a much bigger deal than Gebru or Bender could have anticipated.
Timnit Gebru said she was fired by Google after criticizing its approach to minority hiring and the biases built into today's artificial intelligence systems.

Before they were even notified in December about whether it had been accepted by the conference, Gebru abruptly left Google. On Wednesday, December 2, she tweeted that she had been “immediately fired” for an email she sent to an internal mailing list. In the email she expressed dismay over the ongoing lack of diversity at the company and frustration over an internal process related to the review of that not-yet-public research paper. (Google said it had accepted Gebru’s resignation over a list of demands she had sent via email that needed to be met for her to continue working at the company.)

Gebru’s exit from Google’s ethical AI team kickstarted a months-long crisis for the tech giant’s AI division, including employee departures, a leadership shuffle, and widening distrust of the company’s historically well-regarded scholarship in the larger AI community. The conflict quickly escalated to the top of Google’s leadership, forcing CEO Sundar Pichai to announce the company would investigate what happened and to apologize for how the circumstances of Gebru’s departure caused some employees to question their place at the company. The company finished its months-long review in February.

Academics should be able to critique these companies without repercussion.

—TIMNIT GEBRU, FORMER CO-LEADER OF GOOGLE’S ETHICAL AI TEAM

But her ousting, and the fallout from it, reignites concerns about an issue with implications beyond Google: how tech companies attempt to police themselves. With very few laws regulating AI in the United States, companies and academic institutions often make their own rules about what is and isn’t okay when developing increasingly powerful software. Ethical AI teams, such as the one Gebru co-led at Google, can help with that accountability. But the crisis at Google shows the tensions that can arise when academic research is conducted within a company whose future depends on the same technology that’s under examination.

“Academics should be able to critique these companies without repercussion,” Gebru told CNN Business.
Google declined to make anyone available to interview for this piece. In a statement, Google said it has hundreds of people working on responsible AI, and has produced more than 200 publications related to building responsible AI in the past year. “This research is incredibly important and we’re continuing to expand our work in this area in keeping with our AI Principles,” a company spokesperson said.
“A constant battle from day one”

Gebru joined Google in September 2018, at Mitchell’s urging, as the co-leader of the Ethical AI team. According to those who have worked on it, the team was a small, diverse group of about a dozen employees including research and social scientists and software engineers — and it was initially brought together by Mitchell about three years ago. It researches the ethical repercussions of AI and advises the company on AI policies and products.

Gebru, who earned her doctorate degree in computer vision at Stanford and held a postdoctoral position at Microsoft Research, said she was initially unsure about joining the company.

Read more »

Related:

Spotlight: The Media Firestorm Concerning AI Researcher Timnit Gebru & Google

Timnit Gebru: Among Incredible Women Advancing A.I. Research

Spotlight: Blacks in AI Co-Founders Timnit Gebru & Rediet Abebe

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Profile: Ethiopia’s Segenet Kelemu Among Breakthrough Scientists You Need to Know

After watching a near-biblical swarm of locusts destroy the crops in her Ethiopian village, Segenet Kelemu turned to science and changed the world. Segenet, who studied plant pathology and genetics at Montana State, Kansas State and Cornell University in the U.S. now leads the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology in Nairobi, which is at the forefront of global efforts to defeat food insecurity. (OZY Media)

OZY

BREAKTHROUGH SCIENTISTS YOU NEED TO KNOW

WHY YOU SHOULD CARE

Because great science is about more than fighting COVID-19.

Scientists have rarely played such a pivotal and public role in society, and certainly never before in the digital age. But the centrality of science is about much more than the pandemic. Today’s Daily Dose explores scientists who do more than just keep us alive, from the climatologist who could become a president to researchers rectifying racial disparities and discovering the tunes that make sharks shout “That’s my jam!” OK, so sharks don’t really shout; they communicate with body language. We know this because, well, science.

Segenet Kelemu. You know you’re doing something right when Bill Gates calls you one of his heroes. After watching a near-biblical swarm of locusts destroy the crops in her Ethiopian village, Kelemu turned to science and changed the world. First as the first woman from her region to get a college degree, which she earned from Addis Ababa University, then, while studying plant pathology and genetics at Montana State, Kansas State and Cornell University in the U.S. She returned to Africa in 2007, determined to keep farmers from devastating losses by better understanding the symbiotic relationship between plants and insects. The 63-year-old now leads the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology in Nairobi, which is at the forefront of global efforts to defeat food insecurity.

Read more »

Related:

Scientific American: You Should Know: Segenet Kelemu, Plant Pathologist


Dr. Segenet Kelemu. (Courtesy photo)

INTRODUCING… DR. SEGENET KELEMU

Dr. Segenet Kelemu has a very impressive CV that includes many well deserved accolades from colleagues from around the world. In 2014 was named Director General of the International Center for Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) in Nairobi and was also awarded L’Oréal-UNESCO Awards for Women in Science in 2014.

She studies the microorganisms that live inside of plains plants. This research helps us understand how these plants endure so many challenges – drought, herbivores, pests, and climate change. With this information we can understand how to use biotechnology to aid the region – East Africa to feed its people and perserve its ecosystems.

I especially love how Dr. Kelemu embraces her entire experience and her affinity for her home region to inspire her research. It is something I write about often — who we are and our relationships with places and events shapes our scientific interests and missions.

In her own words:

“I’d observed how the people around me spent their time concerned with how to feed themselves. So I felt a calling to do something to help. I saw how two university students had made a direct difference in a village they had been sent to teach by helping the people improve their farming practices, and I decided to study agriculture.” from an interview with her published in The East African, May 30, 2014, Dr Kelemu’s rise: From climbing trees in rural Ethiopia to excelling in science

She earned her graduate degrees in the United States and also completed a post doctoral research assignment at Cornell University (I’m convinced that everyone has a Cornell connection). From there, Dr. Kelemu has been on a stellar trajectory. She has served as Vice President for Programs at the Alliance for Green Revolution African, Director of Biosciences at the International Livestock Research Instirture. She was a Senior Scientist, then later named Leader of Cropr and Agroecosystem Health Management the International Center for Tropical Agriculture.

Learn more about the Amazing Dr. Kelemu by visiting her wiki page.

Director General, International Center for Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE)


After twenty-five years of studying and successfully applying cutting-edge science outside of Africa, Dr. Kelemu returned from the diaspora to contribute to Africa’s development. (Photo: Wikimedia)

Dr. Segenet Kelemu is the Director General of the International Center for Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) Nairobi, Kenya. She is the fourth Chief Executive Officer, and the first woman to lead ICIPE.

Dr. Kelemu (a native of Ethiopia) is a molecular plant pathologist with emphasis on elucidation of molecular determinants of host-pathogen interactions, development of novel plant disease control strategies including biopesticides, pathogen population genetics and dynamics, endophytic microbes and their role in plant development. She has experienced the challenges and successes associated with African agriculture first-hand, from tending the field to directing a world-class laboratories.

Following her post-doctoral work at Cornell University, USA, Segenet joined the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) as a Senior Scientist in 1992. She was later appointed Leader of Crop and Agroecosystem Health Management at CIAT until her departure in August, 2007, to become Director of BecA. CIAT recognized her numerous contributions to the centre and its mission with the Outstanding Senior Scientist Award.

After twenty-five years of studying and successfully applying cutting-edge science outside of Africa, Dr. Kelemu returned from the diaspora to contribute to Africa’s development. In 2007, she became the Director of the Biosciences eastern and central Africa (BecA) Hub at the International Livestock Research Institute, Nairobi, Kenya. Under her leadership, the BecA initiative has transformed from a contentious idea into a driving force that is changing the face of African biosciences. BecA’s research capacity, staff, facilities, funding, partners and training programs have expanded at an ever accelerating pace. She has assembled and inspired a scientific and technical team bound by a common passion for using science to enhance Africa’s biosciences development.

Prior to becoming the Director General of icipe, she has been the Vice President for Programs at the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) for about a year.

She is one of the five Laureates of the 2014 L’Oréal-UNESCO for Women in Science Awards. She is also one of the 2013 elected Fellows of the African Academy of Sciences. She has also received other awards, including the prestigious Friendship Award granted by the People’s Republic of China. The award is granted to foreign experts who have made outstanding contributions to China’s economic and social development. The Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS) is awarding the 2011 TWAS Prize for Agricultural Sciences. She is the first African to win the prize for Agricultural Sciences since its inception. TWAS Prizes are awarded to individual scientists in developing countries in recognition of an outstanding contribution to knowledge in eight fields of science: agricultural sciences, biology, chemistry, earth sciences, engineering sciences, mathematics, medical sciences and physics.

Segenet has published widely in refereed journals, book chapters, manuals, conference/workshop papers, working documents, and others. Segenet has served on a number of Governing Boards, Technical Advisory Panels and Steering Committees of key organizations and major science and technology initiatives. Segenet is also an innate teacher and has supervised and mentored a number of BSc, MSc, and Ph.D. students.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Economist Review: Jessica Beshir’s Mesmerising Ethiopia Film “Faya Dayi”

NYC-based Ethiopian-American filmmaker Jessica Beshir's new movie “Faya Dayi” about life in Ethiopia’s eastern highlands "is less a documentary than a poem," the Economist observes in a review published this week. "The experience is as intoxicating as qat, but beneath the surface is a sombre evocation of the boredom, frustration and anger which afflict a generation of Ethiopian youth." (Photo courtesy Jessica Beshir)

The Economist

Qat and conflict: “Faya Dayi” evokes what it means to be young in Ethiopia

CHILDREN BATHING in a shrinking lake. Incense wafting through an open door. The wet slap of mud against a wall. Two boys lying on the ground, staring wistfully at the sky. Like snatches of memory, the images are displayed one after the other.

“Faya Dayi”, a hypnotic new film about life in Ethiopia’s eastern highlands, is less a documentary than a poem, its lyrics set against a sequence of monochrome pictures which languidly unfurl across the screen. The experience is as intoxicating as the leaves of qat, a mild stimulant native to this part of Africa, which is a recurring motif. But beneath the luscious surface is a sombre evocation of the boredom, frustration and anger which afflict a generation of Ethiopian youth.

Read more »

Related:

IndieWire Review: ‘Faya Dayi,’ Jessica Beshir’s Ethiopia Docu-Drama About Legend of Khat

IndieWire

‘Faya Dayi’ Review: A Hallucinatory Documentary About Ethiopia’s Most Lucrative Cash Crop

Updated: Jan 30, 2021

Ethiopian legend has it that khat, a stimulant leaf, was found by Sufi Imams in search of eternity. Inspired by this myth, Jessica Beshir’s “Faya Dayi” is a spiritual journey into the highlands of the walled city of Harar, a place immersed in the rituals surrounding this plant, Ethiopia’s most lucrative cash crop today. Through the prism of the khat trade, the film weaves a tapestry of intimate stories of people caught between government repression, khat-induced reverie, and treacherous journeys across the Red Sea, and offers a window into the dreams of the youth who long for better lives elsewhere.

For centuries in Ethiopia, the Sufi Muslims of Harar have chewed the khat leaf for the purposes of religious meditation. Over the past three decades, khat consumption has broken out of Sufi circles and entered the mainstream to become a daily ritual among people of all ages, religions and ethnicities, for whom chewing khat is a means to achieve Merkhana — a term that describes the high one gets from what is effectively a psychoactive drug not all that different from Cannabis. It has various mental and physical effects, which include euphoria and altered states of mind. For many, Merkhana is provides an escape from everyday realities, and the only place where their hopes, and dreams can actually exist.

Khat, for most unemployed youth, has become a way to overcome the sense of hopelessness, a way to tune out reality. They are all searching for a seemingly elusive sense of agency, as well as living with the contradictions of loving a land that makes it difficult for them to live in peace.

In the last decade, the crops that Ethiopia primarily exported — teff, sorghum, and coffee — have been replaced by the leafy green. With social significance, it has sustained so many who have worked in the fields for generations. However familiar the work is, some young people who have grown up in its shadow want more for themselves — life away from the fields; life without khat; life entirely elsewhere. They consider leaving home and all they have ever known for something new, far away, and, while perhaps more economically beneficial, lonelier and more isolating.

Shot entirely in stunning black and white, “Faya Dayi” opens with a long shot of a somewhat amorphous, barren landscape, nighttime, dark, crickets providing the only soundtrack, and in the distance a lone figure running playfully, starts to come into view. We see that it’s a child, as he or she runs past the camera. Cut to bewitching shots of elders indoors, some faceless, some not, chanting, giving thanks to God, separating khat leaves from their stems, and, in some cases, pounding them, as incense burns in a pot, the smoke it emits, thick and intense.

And then a lengthy shot of an open doorway, on the other side, an ambiguous view — smoky, cavernous, vast, dark depths — a haunting score providing an exclamation mark. It’s interrupted by a meek female voiceover, almost like that of a child, beginning a story about the Harari legend of a man named Azuekherlaini, who was tasked by God to find the Maoul Hayat (water of eternal life). The fable stretches the length of the film, as the voiceover interrupts intermittently to continue where she previously ended.

But that’s just the dressing on this striking, if enigmatic, transgenerational journey into the highlands of Harar, immersed in the rituals of khat, weaving a tapestry of hallucinatory stories that offer a window into the dreams of youth.

Unfolding more like a hybrid scripted narrative and documentary, the central story of “Faya Dayi” doesn’t follow a straight line, as it occasionally checks in on Mohammed, a 14-year-old, and the film’s presumed primary character, who works as an errand boy for the khat users in Harar. He lives with his father who, like so many in town, chews khat daily and often fights with Mohammed due to the mood swings caused by his addiction. Mohammed becomes anxious for a better life, but to have it, he must make a treacherous journey across the Red Sea to Saudi Arabia.

Read more »

Related:

Ethiopia: Director Jessica Beshir’s ‘Hairat’ Selected for Sundance Film Festival 2017

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Spotlight: Saron Simon Mechale, Founder and CEO of goTeff

Ethiopian American entrepreneur Saron Simon Mechale is the founder and CEO of goTeff, a Providence, Rhode Island-based startup that makes and sells a nutritious snack crisp made from teff. (The Providence Journal)

The Providence Journal

Saron Simon Mechale is an accidental entrepreneur.

The 26-year old from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, is founder and CEO of goTeff, a deliciously nutritious crisp made from an ancient supergrain called teff. Mechale doesn’t have a background in business. She’s never studied culinary arts. But her unwavering conviction to reshape the West’s perceptions of her home country was incentive enough to launch her own startup.

“When it comes to Ethiopia or Africa, we are not the ones telling our story,” she said.

That reality became crystal clear to Mechale when she first came to the United States in 2013 to study at Brown University. Her knowledge of the U.S. was largely drawn from the movies and television shows she had grown up watching.

America is known as the best country in the world,” she said. “Its brand is very powerful.”

But just as the Hollywood version didn’t tell the whole story (she was shocked to learn that homelessness and poverty exist in this country), she also became acutely aware of the stereotypical way that Western media portray Ethiopia, and Africa at large.

“It was very one-sided storytelling,” she said. “I felt I wanted to tell an authentic, contemporary story for Ethiopia.”

Ironically, Mechale’s more modern messaging about her homeland centers on a supergrain that’s been cultivated in Ethiopia for thousands of years. Teff is an integral part of the Ethiopian diet. Rich in protein, fiber, iron and calcium, it has long fueled the country’s famous long-distance runners. From Mechale’s perspective, each tiny grain of teff packs the power and promise of a new Ethiopia.

“When I started this, it was almost like a social-justice project in my head,” she said. “I know that Ethiopia is sometimes known for two things: famine and malnourished kids, or freakishly good endurance athletes. The Ethiopian athlete angle is super powerful. That was strongly connected to teff.”

What was equally imperative to Mechale was making sure her country would benefit financially from teff, beyond just exporting the grain. While 95% of the world’s teff is grown in Ethiopia, it was a Dutch company that for years held a patent on products made with teff flour.

“I looked at it as secondhand colonization,” she said of the practice of Africa exporting raw materials cheaply to richer nations that transform them into consumer products with higher profit margins.

“Cocoa comes from Ghana or West African countries, but chocolate is associated with Switzerland. Why can’t West Africans produce chocolate and be part of the market in a stronger way that returns more value to farmers and to the economy of the country?”

From vision to startup

With her vision for a rebranded Ethiopia, Mechale started taking more entrepreneurship courses at Brown, learning important lessons about starting a business. Slowly, goTeff began taking shape. In 2019, she competed in Brown’s Venture Prize, hosted by the Jonathan M. Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship; goTeff came in second place.

“I was privileged to start this idea at a place like Brown,” Mechale said. “The university created a great ecosystem for me when I first started this company.”

goTeff’s trajectory continued to rise. The startup also won the 2019 MassChallenge Rhode Island and became a two-time finalist for the Rhode Island Business Plan competition. At every turn, Mechale was making significant connections to networks of entrepreneurs who would become valuable mentors.

“Rhode Island does an amazing job of supporting small businesses and getting young people to stay here and start new things,” she said.

Mechale had her vision. She also had her star ingredient. But she still needed to come up with a recipe that would prove irresistible to customers. One of her first stops was Hope & Main, an incubator for food businesses, located in Warren. It would take years of trial and error for Mechale to develop the crunchy snack food she sells today.

“She’s the quintessential entrepreneur,” said Lisa Raiola, president and founder of Hope & Main. “She iterates. She learns. For her to have transformed this ancient grain in a way that’s very accessible to us, and build this brand, is pretty remarkable. She’s a powerhouse.”


Saron’s goTeff snak products come in a variety of flavors. (The Providence Journal)

Joe Loberti is equally impressed. A longtime businessman and entrepreneur himself, Loberti has mentored Mechale since 2019 through the RIHub Venture Mentoring Service. The nonprofit relies on industry veterans who volunteer to mentor entrepreneurs who want to launch startups in the Ocean State.

“She really is a remarkable individual,” he said about Mechale. “At the first meeting, we were wowed by her communication skills and knowledge of the product.”

With the help of the mentoring sessions, Mechale expanded her target customer beyond the purely athletic to the health-conscious. She made sure that her goTeff snacks — which can also be used as a cereal, granola or topping for yogurt or salad — were not only gluten-, dairy- and nut-free, but they only contained a handful of healthy ingredients.

She perfected her logo and packaging to “communicate the joy and essence of Ethiopian culture.” The company’s tagline: go long, go strong, goTeff!

Empowering girls in Ethiopia

And staying true to her focus on social impact, she is partnering with Girls Gotta Run, an organization in Ethiopia that uses sports to empower girls and keep them in school.

For now, Mechale has moved production to an industrial kitchen in Providence. She’s streamlined the production process and is focusing more on sales.

“Before COVID, we’d let customers [at farmers markets and events] sample it,” she said. “We know that once people try our product, they buy it. But because most people don’t know what teff is, they’re more cautious.”


Saron Simon Mechale breaks up sheets of baked teff products into snack-size portions. Now working in an industrial kitchen in Providence, she dreams of one day moving production to her native Ethiopia to boost its economy. (The Providence Journal)

Mechale has been selling her teff crisps at farmers markets, at Plant City (a vegan restaurant in Providence) and on the goTeff website. She just joined WhatsGood, an online “market” that connects local growers and food businesses to customers. And, she’s hoping to get a big boost from renowned “superfoods hunter” Darin Olien. The wellness author recently recorded an interview with Mechale about goTeff for an upcoming episode of his podcast, “The Darin Olien Show.”

For the foreseeable future, Mechale plans to keep working 80-hour weeks to grow goTeff in the American marketplace. Her dream is to one day move production to Ethiopia and help lift the local economy.

“In a lot of ways, I’ve looked up to Saron,” said Mary Magdalene Langat, a close friend from Brown who helps Mechale with goTeff. “She’s very brave, and she goes for what she wants. When someone believes in themselves and their vision so much, they take you in with them.”


Brown University graduate Saron Simon Mechale says she sees goTeff as a way to help rebrand and lift the economy of her native Ethiopia, while empowering women. (The Providence Journal)

Not everyone is born knowing what they’re passionate about or what they want to do,” Mechale said. “I think passion comes after you invest a significant amount of time in something. For me, I am passionate about rebranding Ethiopia. I’m passionate about empowering women. And, I’m passionate about making teff and healthy food options accessible to people.”

Go long, go strong, go Saron Mechale!

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Academy Museum to Honor Sophia Loren, Haile Gerima at Gala

Screen legend Sophia Loren and independent filmmaker Haile Gerima will be honored with special awards by the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures during its opening gala in September in Los Angeles, California. (AP)

The Associated Press

The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures is assembling a star-studded cast for its opening gala in September. Italian screen legend Sophia Loren and independent filmmaker Haile Gerima will be honored with special awards, and Tom Hanks, Annette Bening and Bob Iger are being saluted for their efforts to raise $388 million for the long gestating museum, the organization said Monday.

The gala will be held on Sept. 25 as the kick-off to a week of celebrations leading up to the museum’s opening to the public on Sept. 30.

Bill Kramer, the director and president of the Academy Museum, said in a statement that the museum is “committed to celebrating and championing the work of film artists, scholars and professions through our exhibitions, screenings, programs, collections and now, through our annual gala.”

Gerima is acclaimed for his portraits of Black urban life in films like “Bush Mama” and “Ashes & Embers.” The Ethiopian-born filmmaker will be receiving the inaugural Vantage Award, recognizing artists who have contextualized or challenged dominant narratives in film. Loren will be getting the Visionary Award for artists whose work has advanced the art of cinema.

Gala co-chairs include Ava DuVernay, Ryan Murphy and Jason Blum.

Designed by architect Renzo Piano, The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures is located at the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue in the historic Saban Building. Inaugural attractions include an exhibit celebrating legendary Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki, and Bruce, the 1,208 pound, 25-foot-long, 45-year-old fiberglass shark made from the “Jaws” mold.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

ART TALK: Julie Mehretu Makes Art Big Enough to Get Lost In

Starting March 25, Julie Mehretu’s paintings, drawings and prints will be on view in a midcareer retrospective at New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art, before moving to the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. (PHOTO: JULIE MEHRETU)

Wall Street Journal

The abstract painter uses architectural drawings and photographs to create works on a grand scale

The artist Julie Mehretu, 51, likes to work on a grand scale. A silent short film by the British artist Tacita Dean shows Ms. Mehretu at work on her monumental painting “Mural” at the New York headquarters of Goldman Sachs in 2009, high up on a cherry picker as she grapples with a canvas 80 feet long and 23 feet high. “The scale of the Goldman Sachs painting was the reason why I decided to take that challenge on,” Ms Mehretu says. “It was scary, but exhilarating and wonderful to do.”

Starting March 25, Ms. Mehretu’s paintings, drawings and prints will be on view in a midcareer retrospective at New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art, before moving to the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. The show includes one of her best-known paintings, “Retopistics: A Renegade Excavation,” which at nearly 20 feet wide was Ms. Mehretu’s largest painting when she made it in 2001. The multilayered work reflects on the transitory nature of a global existence, with an initial layer of architectural drawings of airports around the world almost obscured by painted motifs, drips, lines and colorful streamers, in a precise yet cartoon-like dynamic.

Ms. Mehretu says that she wanted people “to not see the edges and get lost in the minutiae of the drawing and then be able to move back to see the whole picture.” As she explains, “That’s why my paintings became bigger, so you couldn’t see both [aspects] at the same time.” “Retopistics,” which is being lent to the Whitney by Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, fetched a record auction price for the artist in 2013 when it was sold by Christie’s New York for $4.6 million.

As a child growing up in East Lansing, Mich., Ms. Mehretu often accompanied her father, a geography teacher, to the Detroit Institute of Arts Museum. It was there that she discovered Diego Rivera’s 27-painting fresco known as the “Detroit Industry Murals,” depicting workers at the Ford Motor Company. The large-scale work is a touchstone: “Seeing it again is always better than the memory of it,” Ms. Mehretu says. “Every time it’s more than whatever I remembered it to be.”

But Ms. Mehretu was never enchanted with the idea of becoming a figurative artist like Rivera. Abstraction provided her with a creative space to make sense of her place in the world as an Ethiopian-American who arrived in the U.S. at the age of six. “It’s in this complex, contradictory and rich mix of the two that I find myself,” Ms. Mehretu says. “It’s one reason why abstraction has always been more interesting to me, because you can invent that in-between place and this other way of being rather than trying to call on just a particular set of cultural imagery and signifiers.”

Read more »

Related:

Ethiopian-American Artist Julie Mehretu’s First Career Survey to Open in Atlanta


The Ethiopian-American artist’s first career survey arrives at Atlanta’s High Museum of Art this month, before traveling to the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York next year. (Photo: Julie Mehretu’s Mogamma [A Painting in Four Parts], 2012 © JULIE MEHRETU, PHOTOGRAPH BY RYSZARD KASIEWICZ, COURTESY OF THE ARTIST, MARIAN GOODMAN GALLERY, NEW YORK, AND WHITE CUBE.

Harper’s BAZAAR

JULIE MEHRETU AT THE HIGH MUSEUM OF ART
(OPENING OCTOBER 24)

Julie Mehretu’s richly layered paintings, often formed through the accretion of colorful lines and brushstrokes over architectural plans and drawings, have explored themes such as race, history, migration, revolution, global capitalism, and technology for more than two decades.

Now, the Ethiopian-American artist’s first career survey arrives at Atlanta’s High Museum of Art this month, before traveling to the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York next year. It showcases the evolution of Mehretu’s abstract style through a selection of works, including a reunited cycle of monumental ink-and-acrylic canvases from 2012 called “Mogamma (A Painting in Four Parts),” each of which stands 15 feet tall.

Read more »

Related:

Julie Mehretu’s Mid-Career Survey at LA County Museum of Art


Julie Mehretu – Stadia II, 2004. Ink and acrylic on canvas, 108 x 144 in. Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, gift of Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn and Nicolas Rohatyn and A. W. Mellon Acquisition Endowment Fund 2004.50. © Julie Mehretu, photograph courtesy of the Carnegie Museum of Art

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

October 31st, 2019

New York (TADIAS) — This weekend the highly anticipated traveling exhibition — featuring a mid-career survey of Ethiopian-American artist Julie Mehretu’s work dating back to 1996 to the present — will open at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) in California.

“The first-ever comprehensive retrospective of Mehretu’s career, it covers over two decades of her examination of history, colonialism, capitalism, geopolitics, war, global uprising, diaspora, and displacement through the artistic strategies of abstraction, architecture, landscape, movement, and, most recently, figuration. Mehretu’s play with scale, as evident in her intimate drawings and large canvases and complex techniques in printmaking, will be explored in depth,” LACMA stated in its announcement, noting that the show brings together about “40 works on paper with 35 paintings along with a print by Rembrandt and a film on Mehretu by the artist Tacita Dean.”

The traveling exhibition, which is co-organized by the LACMA and The Whitney Museum of American Art, will subsequently come to New York for a display at the Whitney from June 26th to September 20, 2020, before moving to Atlanta at the High Museum of Art from October 24th 2020 to January 31, 2021, and finally the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis from March 13–July 11, 2021.

Julie lives and works in New York. She was born in Addis Ababa in 1970 and immigrated to the United States with her family in 1977. As LACMA notes: “Mehretu received her MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design, and, among many awards and honors, is a recipient of a MacArthur Foundation “Genius Grant” (2005) and a U.S. State Department National Medal of Arts (2015).”


Julie Mehretu, Untitled 2, 2001, ink and acrylic on canvas, 60 × 84 in., private collection, courtesy of Salon 94, New York, © Julie Mehretu, photograph by Tom Powel Imaging. (Courtesy Los Angeles County Museum of Art)


Julie Mehretu, Black City, 2007, ink and acrylic on canvas, 120 × 192 in., Pinault Collection, © Julie Mehretu, photograph by Tim Thayer. (Courtesy Los Angeles County Museum of Art)


Julie Mehretu, Haka (and Riot), 2019, ink and acrylic on canvas, 144 × 180 in., courtesy of the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery, New York, © Julie Mehretu, photograph by Tom Powel Imaging.


Related:

Julie Mehretu’s Mid-Career Survey To Open at LACMA

Julie Mehretu at Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), November 3, 2019 – March 22, 2020 (Level 1) and May 17, 2020 (Level 3)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Theater: Weyni Mengesha Directs New Play Inspired by Meghan, Duchess of Sussex

Weyni Mengesha is the director of the show “Duchess! Duchess! Duchess!,” which is produced by Chicago’s renowned Steppenwolf Theatre Company. The play starts streaming online this week at steppenwolf.org/now. According to Leelai Demoz, Steppenwolf’s associate artistic director and the project's lead producer: "Scripts as short as [this] aren’t staples at major U.S. theaters. But Steppenwolf Now [their newly launched digital platform], a response to the pandemic, allowed for format inventiveness." (WaPo)

The Washington Post

Images of two duchesses linger in playwright Vivian J.O. Barnes’s mind: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, standing at a lectern, with a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II looming behind her. Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, looking glamorous soon after giving birth. The appearances by Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton — as the titled women are better known — intrigued Barnes all the more because, at least in memory, they were voiceless.

“I can remember how they looked, but I can never remember anything I’ve heard them say,” she says.

Reflecting on those missing words — and on Meghan’s experience as a biracial woman joining a hidebound, traditionally White institution — Barnes wrote “Duchess! Duchess! Duchess!,” a short play that imagines a private conversation between a Black royal and a Black royal-to-be. The play, which was filmed in a no-contact shoot by Chicago’s renowned Steppenwolf Theatre Company, begins streaming Wednesday at steppenwolf.org/now, the Steppenwolf Now virtual stage.

Its paparazzi-lens inspirations notwithstanding, “Duchess! Duchess! Duchess!” is no piece of gossipy fluff. For one thing, the characters are not Kate and Meghan, but fictional figures. For another, the play speaks to deep issues around inclusion, equity and society’s resistance to change.

Prince Harry and Meghan lose their patronages, won’t return as ‘working royals’

“It’s a relatable investigation into how many women feel high up in institutions, specifically if you are in a historically White institution as a Black woman,” says Weyni Mengesha, the show’s director and artistic director of Toronto’s Soulpepper Theatre Company.

Awareness of Meghan’s significance for the British monarchy infused the play, Barnes says. “To see this person — who looks like no one else who’s been in that institution so far — enter it, that to me is a fascinating story and entry point,” the playwright says.

Barnes, 26, caught the performing-arts bug during the lively, dance-infused evangelical church services she attended as a child in Stafford, Va. Later, while enrolled at the University of Richmond, she would study in London, where she binged on theater — a revelation.

A few years ago, the duchess of Cambridge’s soigné appearance right after childbirth — hinting at stringent expectations for her looks and behavior — inspired Barnes to write a monologue for a fictional duchess. Later, Meghan’s marriage to Prince Harry spurred further thought. What if a future Meghan-like figure, after adjusting to oppressive palace norms, were to welcome another woman who looked like her into the royal clan? How would that conversation go? For an assignment at University of California at San Diego, where she is now a third-year MFA student, Barnes turned her monologue into a two-hander.

For research, she delved into scandal-sheet journalism about Britain’s royal women, not so much to fact-find as to understand the reporting’s tone and approach. She was struck by a shift after Harry’s engagement. With Meghan, says Barnes, “the coverage is very different and very racist and invasive in a very different kind of way.”

“Duchess! Duchess! Duchess!” arrives in a culture much besotted with the House of Windsor, as evidenced by Netflix series “The Crown,” as well as the Broadway musical “Diana,” shut down by the pandemic last March. (A Netflix version of “Diana” has been announced.) But Barnes stresses that her characters are merely inspired by the wives of Princes William and Harry. The idea of writing about the real clickbait fixtures, she says, “wasn’t very interesting.”

Instead, Barnes dreamed up the unsettling encounter between her Duchess and Soon-to-Be-Duchess, who spar and commune over the merciless rules, scrutiny and conformism that their rank requires.

Scripts as short as “Duchess! Duchess! Duchess!” (about 35 minutes) aren’t staples at major U.S. theaters. But Steppenwolf Now, a response to the pandemic, allowed for format inventiveness, says Leelai Demoz, Steppenwolf’s associate artistic director and the initiative’s lead producer. Already premiered, for example, and still available to stream with a Steppenwolf Now membership, is “Red Folder,” a 10-minute animated monologue written, directed and illustrated by Rajiv Joseph (“Guards at the Taj”) and voiced by Carrie Coon (FX series ­“Fargo”).

Succinct as it was, Barnes’s one-act appealed to Mengesha, who admired its imaginative vision and felt a personal connection. Mengesha, of Ethiopian heritage, is among the leaders of color who have added diversity to the top ranks of North American theater in recent years. The director says she identifies with Barnes’s characters, who are “trying to bring themselves to their new position, but also fit into the mold that has been around for centuries but that never looked like them.”

Performers Sydney Charles (the Duchess) and Celeste M. Cooper (the Soon-to-Be-Duchess) also say they understand the pressures the characters feel — to fit in, to toe the line, to self-censor as necessary and even to establish automatic mutual camaraderie.

“Theater spaces, most of them are run by non-Black individuals. How comfortable can I be — how Black can I be — in this space? If there is another Black person, are they going to be like me?” Charles asks. “Vivian did a great job in touching on the emotions wrapped up in that specific experience, which translates across the board for any Black American, and Black women specifically.”

“As I came up in this career, there was a lot of silence,” Cooper recalls. “There was a lot of not wanting to ruffle feathers.” Barnes’s play, she adds, asks really hard questions about that kind of quandary.

Read more »

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Spotlight: Zion Taddese Introduces Teff to California’s Famous Farm Industry

Zion Taddese, owner of the Queen Sheeba Ethiopian restaurant in Sacramento, California, is introducing Teff to California's internationally renowned agriculture industry. The restaurant owner started a new organization called Sheba Farms that will bring jobs to Sacramento. “Creating the processing center where we can mill it, clean it and distribute it,” says Zion Taddese. (Photo: ABC10)

ABC10

This Ethiopian grain could be California’s new superfood

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The people who make Northern California Strong are those who inspire us and make our communities a great place to live. ABC10 wants to highlight their strength by recognizing what they do. This week we want to introduce you to Zion Taddese.

California is the Nation’s leader in food production, a third of the fruits and two-thirds of all vegetables are grown here, but there is one plant that golden state grows very little of until now. It’s called Teff and it’s a Gluten-free gain, high in iron and fiber. It’s also the main ingredient that Zion Taddese uses at her restaurant, Queen Sheeba Ethiopian Food in Sacramento.

“We use it in our injera, all gluten-free made from Teff,” said Taddese. “This is Teff growing in California for the first time.”

Teff is an African grain that Taddese grew up eating in Ethiopia, but after migrating to Sacramento and starting her restaurant she found that Teff was difficult to buy in the US.

“There is a high demand for Teff, but there is not enough supply,” explained Taddese.

To remedy her supply problem, Zion enlisted the help of UC Davis to find a strain of Teff that would grow in California.

“I am working with UC Davis to create the knowledge, the training, the technology to share with farmers,” said Zion.

The technology is well on its way. UC Davis researchers had a successful crop last year and now farmers William and John Gilbert are preparing to plant Teff in their vacant Walnut orchard in Wheatland.

“We are interested in Healthy food. The incentive to grow it is the healthier the food the more people buy it,” says William Gilbert.

Taddese is on a mission to make Teff California’s new Super Grain. The restaurant owner started a new organization called Sheba Farms that will bring jobs to Sacramento. “Creating the processing center where we can mill it, clean it and distribute it,” says Taddese

Through Teff, Taddese wants to make her community Northern California strong and someday share that strength with her homeland of Ethiopia.

“I hope to feed the world through Sheba Farms because no child should be left behind when it comes to food and nutrition.”

Helping to diversify California agriculture and create new jobs, Zion Taddese is NorCal Strong. If you want to nominate a strong Northern Californian send a text (916) 321-3310 and put NorCal Strong in the text. Feel free to send pictures and or web links in the submission.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Q&A: Raie Gessesse – Born in Minnesota, a Child of Immigrants: ‘The Story of My Life is the Product of My Parents’ Dreams’

Raie Gessesse, a Minnesota social justice advocate who served as a member of her state's first-ever Young Women's Cabinet, is the first in the Star Tribune's 'Inspired Conversations' dialogue about race. Her story begins with her parents, born and raised in Ethiopia. (Star Tribune)

Star Tribune

At 22, Raie Gessesse isn’t waiting to inspire change. Appointed by former Gov. Mark Dayton, she served as a member of the first-ever Young Women’s Cabinet, working to elevate the voices of future female leaders, and received a $2,500 microgrant to invest in her vision as a Women’s Foundation of Minnesota Innovator. She currently trains young women to run for office as Midwest Program Manager for IGNITE National, and aspires to run for office herself someday. She graduated in May from Hamline University with a double major in public health and political science, and hopes to begin law and public policy school this fall. Gessesse is Minnesota-born, but her story begins in a different place.

Q: Let’s start at the beginning. How would you describe your childhood?

A: I was born in Minnesota, but I like to start with my parents’ story. My parents were born and raised in Ethiopia. When my mother was pregnant with me, they received notice that they had won a diversity visa; this is a lottery program that allows people to gain permanent residency in the United States. They first came to Boston in 1998 but heard Minnesota was the place to be to start a job. They arrived here with nothing but a vision and a dream and a baby.

Q: Your lovely name certainly attests to that dream.

A: Raie (pronounced Rah-EE) means “God’s vision.”

Q: I’m guessing that in 1998, your parents faced challenges as emigrants. What have they told you?

A: We have a thriving community now but when my parents came, they were among few Ethiopians. For seven years, they lived in St. Paul in the heart of the Ethiopian community. Growing up, I felt surrounded by my extended family. Then we moved to Cottage Grove, where we’ve been ever since.

Q: Is this when you got an inkling that you were different from your classmates?

A: I grew up believing that this is the land of opportunity. Moving to the suburbs, I still didn’t know I was different until I was made to feel that way because of my braids, complexion, traditional foods. In elementary school, I got pulled out for English Language Learners (ELL). But I spoke fluent English, along with Amharic. My parents had to fight to get me out of ELL. As the only Black girl, I started to feel lonely, isolated, awkward. My household was my safe harbor. I was a smart kid but it was always, “How did you get to be so smart?” Up to college, there was always skepticism about what I could accomplish, always the question, “Are you sure?”

Q: How did your parents comfort you, mitigate that?

A: I remember one conversation with my mom. I was telling her how lonely and isolated I was. She said, “Your identity is your gift.” That was a shattering moment for me. Why am I sacrificing my story and experiences for folks who don’t matter? The story of my life is the product of my parents’ dreams. For four years, I had been straightening my hair every single day. In 10th grade, I let my hair be natural for the first time. I said, no more! I need to re-center myself to when I was 4 or 6, feeling like I could be anyone I wanted.

Q: And?

A: I signed up for a talent show doing traditional dance. I joined the step team. And I founded my high school’s first Students for Justice club, becoming its inaugural president. Shortly after graduating, I was appointed to the first Young Women’s Cabinet.

Q: Tell us about a Cabinet project you spearheaded.

A: In 2019, we championed the Women of Color Opportunity Act at the state Legislature. I wrote and introduced an amendment for paid job internship opportunities; so many internships are offered but I, and many others like me, can’t afford to take on an unpaid position. These are pipelines to future jobs. The act didn’t pass but we’re advocating again this year. No more unpaid internships!

Q: Where were you when you heard that George Floyd had been killed?

A: A friend texted me and I was so overwhelmed. This is in a part of Minneapolis that a lot of us are very familiar with. I was feeling grief, but also was very angry. The Minneapolis Police Department has a history of misconduct. I just couldn’t believe it had to get to this point. For the next few days, I posted to social media e-mails and phone numbers for senators, City Council members, the mayors, attorney general, governor. I saw my role as sharing resources to make sure that everyone knows this is not OK.

Q: Why do you think race is such a fraught topic? Do tragedies such as the death of George Floyd make it easier or more difficult to begin conversations?

A: Those who are not racially oppressed say, “Since I haven’t experienced it, I don’t know what to do with this information.” Yes, this is a land of opportunity and a place of refuge for my family, but it has also not acknowledged an ugly past. That’s hard for a white person — to be part of centuries-long oppression. On the other hand, when we finally get to a place where we can acknowledge the truth, we can move forward. My mom always said, the truth shall set you free. That speaks so profoundly to the moment we’re in right now.

Q: How might you help us engage in this essential conversation in a productive way?

A: Learning is so important. Make sure you’re reading books by authors of color. I’d recommend “How To Be An Antiracist,” by Ibram X. Kendi, and “Hood Feminism: Notes From the Women That a Movement Forgot,” by Mikki Kendall. In your organizations, be conscious about how many people of color are present. Where are they in the leadership line? In meetings, are they participating or hesitant? If it’s the latter, that might mean that it’s not a safe space for them to talk. Create change where you’re at.

Q: Would you share your story about your pre-COVID encounter on a plane? It’s a good lesson.

A: I was on a plane from Chicago to Minneapolis, chatting with a woman. She asked me what my name was. I told her “Raie,” and she said, “That’s more American than I thought.” Like, boom! She couldn’t even see me as a person born and raised in America. I took this as an educational opportunity. I told her all about my childhood.

Q: Did she catch on?

A: She was mortified. She later apologized and realized how her comments were misguided and harmful. As a movement-builder, we need as many allies as we can get. If someone makes a mistake, I can respond in a graceful way that brings her into the conversation. We ended up having this great conversation.

About this series

Beginning today and continuing throughout the year, the Star Tribune’s Inspired section will engage in regular conversations with a variety of Minnesotans on the topic of race.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Smithsonian: Two Black Aviators & Ethiopia

Left: Hubert Julian poses on the wheel of his plane named "Abyssinia" at Floyd Bennett Field, Long Island, New York, circa September 1933. Right: John C. Robinson in Addis Ababa, circa 1935-6. (Smithsonian)

Smithsonian Air and Space Museum

By: Elizabeth Borja

Archives Division

On October 3, 1935 the forces of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini began their advance upon Ethiopia, known in earlier times as Abyssinia. Italy had long coveted the territory to expand their colonial influence in East Africa. In 1896, Ethiopians had turned back an Italian invasion at Adwa, serving as an example of a Black-led country’s defiance of Europe. Taking inspiration from Ethiopia’s long history as an independent Black nation, two Black aviators—Hubert Julian and John C. Robinson—were drawn to Ethiopia by the events of 1935.

Hubert Julian

Hubert Fauntleroy Julian was born in Trinidad a year after the Ethiopian victory at Adwa. He moved to Canada after World War I, where he claims he learned to fly. In 1921, Julian traveled to New York where he found many references to Ethiopia. The Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York City was formed in 1808 by a group of Black members of the First Baptist Church who refused to accept segregated seating. The Mayor of Addis Ababa was among a party of Ethiopian dignitaries welcomed to Harlem in 1919. After Julian met Marcus Garvey, another Caribbean émigré, he joined the Universal Negro Improvement Association. Garvey often used Ethiopia as a metonym for Africa and the official anthem of the UNIA was entitled, “Ethiopia, Thou Land of Our Fathers.”

Julian adopted the title of “Lieutenant Julian of the Royal Canadian Air Force” as he performed parachute stunts, which learning to better fly an airplane from Clarence Chamberlin. Boasting a new nickname, “The Black Eagle of Harlem,” he announced a daring project on January 10, 1924—he would become the first man (Black or White) to fly solo to Africa, a much more dangerous route that than the northern Atlantic flights previously completed. The goal was to leave New York in his Boeing seaplane (acquired with Chamberlin’s assistance) and head south to Brazil. From there he would fly the aspirationally titled Ethiopia I to Liberia (another independent Black nation) with the final destination being Ethiopia.

Julian encountered nothing but trouble on the way to his July 4th flight. He failed to gain the support of the NAACP. His advertisements for funding in Black newspapers attracted the attention of the US government, accusing him of fraud. His investors only released the aircraft to him after additional funds were raised on the spot in the name of Marcus Garvey. The flight itself was a spectacular failure, lasting only five minutes before Julian and Ethiopia I crashed into Flushing Bay.

Julian survived the flight but his transatlantic efforts were soon overshadowed by Charles Lindbergh and Julian’s own legal troubles. But his actions were noted by Ras Tafari, who was to be crowned Emperor of Ethiopia. In April 1930, Tafari sent his cousin, studying at Howard University, a historically Black institution, to request that Julian perform at the Emperor’s coronation. Within a week, Julian was on a ship across the Atlantic.

Tafari had been building an Ethiopian Imperial Air Force with French pilots, paid by the French government; two German Junkers; and a British Gypsy Moth, the newly assembled unflown prize of the collection, a coronation gift from the owners of Selfridge’s department store. Amid tensions with the white pilots, Julian demonstrated his abilities in a Junkers and was rewarded with a commission as a colonel in the air force and the Emperor’s private pilot.

After a trip to New York to drum up American support for Ethiopia with mixed results, Julian returned to Ethiopia for the coronation. During a dress rehearsal for the ceremony, Ethiopian-trained pilots successfully demonstrated their flying abilities in the Junkers planes. Then Julian took to the air in the Emperor’s off-limits prized Gypsy Moth. The crash destroyed not only the plane but Julian’s relationship with Ras Tafari. Julian was already banished and out of the country when Tarafi was crowned Haile Selassie I.

Unbowed, Julian returned to the United States, where he earned his government pilot’s license and formed a Black barnstorming troupe “The Five Black Birds.” He also developed a relationship with aircraft manufacturer Giuseppe M. Bellanca, who refitted a Bellanca J-2 (registration NR-782W). The aircraft had been used by Walter Lees and Frederick Bossy in 1931 to set a new world endurance record for non-refueled flight—84 hours and 32 minutes (not to be broken until the Rutan Voyager in 1986). The aircraft proudly boasted its heritage under the front windows.


Aviator Hubert Julian poses for photographers in front of his Bellanca J-2 at Floyd Bennett Field, Long Island, New York. The aircraft’s propeller is draped with an American flag. Peggy Harding Shannon, holding a bouquet of roses and a bottle of champagne, stands behind Julian on a second chair as a crowd looks on from either side. Date is presumed to be September 29, 1933, when the aircraft was christened “Abyssinia” at a press conference. NASM-XRA-8234

On September 29, 1933 Julian held a press conference at Floyd Bennett Field, New York, christening the plane Abyssinia, Emperor Haile Salassi [sic] I King of Kings and announcing his intentions for another transatlantic flight. But he still needed to pay off the airplane and travelled across the United States and even to London with Amy Ashwood Garvey (Marcus Garvey’s ex-wife) to raise additional funds. By the end of 1934, it did not appear that Julian would attempt his flight anytime soon. (As a footnote, the airplane itself was later sold to the Portuguese Monteverde brothers who wrecked it at Floyd Bennett Field during their June 1935 transatlantic attempt.)


Hubert Julian poses with his Bellanca J-2 “Abyssinia” (“Emperor Haile Salassi I King of Kings”, r/n 782W) on the ground at Floyd Bennett Field, Long Island, New York, 1934. NASM-XRA-3274

John C. Robinson

In 1934, John C. Robinson was contemplating visiting his alma mater, the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, for his 10th reunion and to propose an aviation school there for Black pilots. Robinson, born in Florida and raised in Mississippi, had been one of the first Black pilots to complete his training at the Curtiss-Wright Aeronautical University in Chicago. He and Cornelius Coffey formed the Challenger Air Pilots Association, opened their own airfield, and created an aviation school to support Black pilots.


John C. Robinson’s Chicago business card. Text reads: “J.C. Robinson, U.S. Government Licensed Pilot and Mechanic. Instructor for Aeronautical University, Founded by Curtiss-Wright Flying Service.” NASM-9A16697-018C

Italy made incursions into Ethiopia in late 1934, clearly announcing its intentions. The League of Nations did not act upon Ethiopian appeals in a way that discouraged Italy at all. David Robinson, editor of the Black newspaper the Chicago Defender, wrote in an April 6, 1935 editorial, “News about the dispute between Ethiopia and Italy as published in your neswaper [sic] and also the white papers should bring to our hearts a feeling of sympathy for the last monarchy of our race….Men of our race who are more acquainted with the international sea are faced with a responsibility which stares us in our faces this very hour…we are responsible for the future of our boys and girls who will grow up to find out that they have no chance of existing in a purely dominant white world.”

John C. Robinson’s efforts in Chicago on behalf of Black citizens impressed Haile Selassie’s nephew. After Julian’s time in Africa, the Ethiopians were wary of another American-based pilot, but Robinson’s reputation won them over and he was asked to go to Ethiopia to serve in the Imperial Ethiopian Air Force. Robinson accepted, wanting to prove the mettle of Black pilots, both American and Ethiopian. He stated in a 1936 interview: “I am glad to know that they realize that Ethiopia is fighting not only for herself, but also for black men in every part of the world and that Americans, especially black Americans are willing to anything to help us to carry on and to win.”

In May 1935, Robinson was on his way to Ethiopia. In their first meeting, Haile Selassie offered the American the rank of Colonel in the Imperial Ethiopian Air Force. Robinson also accepted Ethiopian citizenship, so that he could claim dual citizenship and not run afoul of a 19th century law forbidding American citizens to serve in a foreign army when the United States is at peace. He was quickly dubbed “The Brown Condor of Ethiopia.” Robinson found the 1935 Ethiopian Air Force with a few more airplanes and trained pilots than Julian in 1930, but not many. Akaki Field, just outside Addis Ababa, housed a few Potez 25s, a Farman F.192, a couple of Junkers (the same as flown by Julian), and a Fokker F.VII. There were only a few Ethiopian pilots; most of the experienced pilots were still French and would be discouraged from directly supporting war efforts (a 1936 Pittsburgh Courier article even mentioned a Ethiopian woman pilot named Mobin Gretta).


Business card for John C. Robinson, circa 1935. “Col J. C. Robinson, Imperiale Ethiopienne Air Force. Addis Ababa, (Ethiopia).” Imperial standard of Emperor Haile Selassie I, featuring the Lion of Judah, appears in the upper left hand corner. Handwritten inscription to fellow Chicago pilot Dale L. White on lower half of card reads, “To Dale / Say How is the old Chrysler / Hope to get a ride in it again — If I don’t go West / Johnny.” NASM-9A16697-014B

Robinson also found Hubert Julian, who had returned to Ethiopia in April, hoping still to serve Haile Selassie. The Emperor would not permit Julian to rejoin the Air Force, but he restored Julian’s rank of Colonel and assigned him to train employees of the Ministry of Public Works. Julian also appointed himself as a press liaison. Things came to a head on August 9 when Robinson and Julian came to blows in a hotel lobby. The incident was even covered in white newspapers and Julian was immediately stripped of his military command (though he was quietly reinstated and assigned to a far-off outpost). Julian left Ethiopia for good in November 1935, bitter after the loss of stature and additional court intrigue named him in a possible assassination plan against the Emperor.

Robinson continued to serve with the Air Force. His exploits were closely followed by his fellow Black pilots back in Chicago via Black newspapers. According to clippings in Dale White’s Challenger Air Pilots Association scrapbook, six Black aviators began the process to join him in Ethiopia, but were not granted passports. The Pittsburgh Courier published a list of licensed Black fighters acquired from the Negro Affairs Division of the Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce. A photo feature on Willa Brown was headlined “Wants to Fight for Ethiopia.”

John Robinson was in the air on October 3, 1935 when the Italians crossed the Mareb River to begin their ground assault on Ethiopia. He was on the ground in Adwa when Italian Capronis bombed the town into rubble, returning to Addis Ababa to report. Italy took the town on October 6, claiming what they could not in 1896.

An October 12, 1935 article in the Baltimore Afro-American quoted a letter from Robinson to his fellow Chicago pilots cautioning them to stay where they were: “If we have to face the Italians in our present planes, airworthy though they are, it will be no less than murder….It will be better for you to remain in America and carry on the good work which we have begun in interesting our people in aviation.” He was resolved to stay himself. He was gassed and wounded several times, but continued to fly orders between locations, observe troop movements, and guide Red Cross missions.

Towards the end of April 1936, Robinson took Haile Selassie in a Beech Staggerwing for one last aerial look at Ethiopia. Emperor Haile Selassie fled Addis Ababa on May 2 via train. Robinson flew the Staggerwing to Djibouti where it was impounded. He returned to the United States to acclaim and immediately began his work to develop the aviation school at Tuskegee.

Postscript

Hubert Julian did not return to Ethiopia, but he lived a long life, becoming an arms dealer in Central American and Pakistan under the company name “Black Eagle Associates.” He kept in touch with Giuseppe Bellanca, requesting price quotes for airplanes and sending location updates. Julian ran afoul of the United Nations in the Congo in the 1960s. Although he moved out of the spotlight, he continued to rack up a large file in FBI headquarters until his death in New York in 1983. Although Hubert Julian gained a reputation for self-aggrandizement and empty showmanship, the fact remains that he promoted Ethiopia and supported its continued existence as a Black-ruled sovereign nation.

Emperor Haile Selassie returned to Ethiopia in May 1941. He asked John C. Robinson to join him in rebuilding the Ethiopian Air Force. In 1944, Robinson and five Black pilots and mechanics made their way across war-torn seas to Addis Ababa where they established an aviation training school. Robinson continued to draw on his Chicago aviation ties, helping Ethiopian students attend school in the United States, recommending many to Janet Waterford Bragg. Robinson believed that he was being pushed out by an influx of white Swedish support and was arrested for attacking a Swedish representative. He resigned his commission in 1948. He remained in Ethiopia to work to build Ethiopian Airlines, as he had been instrumental establishing a relationship between Ethiopia and TWA Airlines to send a fleet of DC-3 aircraft and personnel in 1946.

John C. Robinson died in 1954, when he crashed a Stinson L-5 outside of Addis Ababa. His name survives in Ethiopia, including the John C. Robinson American Center at the National Archives and Library Agency in Addis Ababa.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

UPDATE: Motown Promotes Ethiopia Habtemariam to Chair & CEO

After six years as president of Motown Records, Ethiopia Habtemariam has been promoted to chairman/CEO of the iconic label. (Billboard)

Billboard

Ethiopia Habtemariam joins a small circle of women currently holding the title of chairman at a major label.

After six years as president of Motown Records, Ethiopia Habtemariam has been promoted to chairman/CEO of the iconic label.

Habtemariam now reports directly to Universal Music Group chairman/CEO Sir Lucian Grainge as Motown becomes a standalone label.

In a release announcing Habtemariam’s appointment, Grainge said, “Motown is such an important voice and, just as when it was founded by Berry Gordy, its impact continues to be felt around the world. Motown’s resurgence and powerful partnerships under Ethiopia’s leadership has advanced the label’s legacy as home to some of today’s biggest hitmakers and most meaningful voices in music.”

Since overseeing Motown’s move from New York to Los Angeles in 2014, Habtemariam has orchestrated creative and entrepreneurial ventures with various partners including Quality Control Music. In addition to Migos, City Girls, Lil Yachty and Layton Greene, QC’s roster includes Lil Baby whose second album My Turn closed out 2020 as the most popular album of the year in the U.S. with 2.63 million equivalent album units, according to MRC Data.

Motown is also home to Blacksmith Records (Ted When, Vince Staples) and Since the 80s (Asiahn, Njomza) as well as Erykah Badu, Kem and Tiana Major9, among other artists. Both Major9 and Lil Baby are current Grammy Award nominees. “Collide” by Major9 with Earthgang, featured on the Queen & Slim soundtrack, is up for best R&B song. Lil Baby’s “The Bigger Picture” received nominations in two categories: best rap song and best rap performance.

Calling it an “incredible honor to represent and define what Motown is today,” Habtemariam thanked Grainge “for his constant support and guidance over the years; my Motown team for all they have done and continue to do; the Capitol team for their help in building Motown over these past six years; Clarence Avant who has always taught me about the power of responsibility; and Mr. Berry Gordy, for his faith in me to carry on his legacy.”

With her promotion, Habtemariam joins the small circle of women currently holding the title of chairman at a major label including Julie Greenwald, chairman/COO of Atlantic Records, and Sylvia Rhone, chairman/CEO of Epic Records. Jody Gerson is chairman/CEO of Universal Music Publishing Group, while Desiree Perez is CEO of Roc Nation.

“I’m so grateful for this huge opportunity,” Habtemariam tells Billboard, “because there’s been a lot of incredible hard work put in to allow me to get to this space. Coming into this industry, there were so many incredible women that I looked up to within its various business sectors. They gave me confidence and never made me question what I would be able to achieve. And I’m thankful I got to see that. This opportunity is really me standing on their shoulders.

Habtemariam adds, “My goal and my hope is that there’ll be a lot more women that look like me in leadership positions going forward.”

Noting also that Motown “will be a standalone label going forward with some shared services,” Habtemariam says the imprint’s upcoming release slate includes new music from Migos, Tiana Major9, Tiwa Savage, Ne-Yo, Kem, new signee Bree Runway and Erykah Badu, “who has some interesting things that are lining up.” Motown also established Motown U.K. last summer and recently relaunched its Black Forum label, beginning with the Feb. 26 reissue of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1971 Grammy-winning album for best spoken word, Why I Oppose the War in Vietnam.

Before joining Motown and being named president of the label as well as executive vp of Capitol Music Group, Habtemariam served as president of urban music & co-head of creative at Universal Music Publishing Group.

Related:

TIME: Motown President Ethiopia Habtemariam on Steering the Legendary Label Through the Pandemic


Ethiopia Habtemariam, the president of Motown Records, has spent the past year assisting her artists in navigating the painful reality of life offstage while retooling album-release plans. Below is Time Magazine’s interview with Ethiopia. (Photo: Camera Press/Redux)

TIME

Updated: February 7th, 2021

The pandemic rocked the music industry. Live performances, which are such a critical part of driving the business (and making fans euphoric) were quickly shut down last year. Concerts are going to be slow to return. (Who’s up for crowding next to sweaty strangers, yelling at the top of their lungs?) Ethiopia Habtemariam, the president of Motown Records, has spent the past year assisting her artists in navigating the painful reality of life offstage while retooling album-release plans. She helped one artist cope with depression when a much anticipated record was postponed and, in the outbreak’s early days, counseled another to take the virus more seriously. “There was a lot of misinformation about COVID and communities that it was hitting,” she said. Habtemariam remembers one young artist who was still going out on the town telling her, “Oh no, that’s a rich-people thing.”

While live shows floundered, music delivered comfort to people stuck in their homes and apartments. Total audio consumption, which includes streaming and album sales, was up 11.6 % in 2020, according to MRC Data. And for Habtemariam, 41, the past year helped her ongoing mission to make the legendary Motown brand relevant in today’s culture. Back in 2015, she signed a joint venture with Quality Control Music, an influential hip-hop label based in Atlanta, leading to a string of megahits from hot young artists including the Migos, Lil Yachty and Lil Baby. Lil Baby, an Atlanta rapper, singer and songwriter, had the best-selling album of 2020, according to MRC Data, beating out Taylor Swift and the Weeknd. And Lil Baby’s single “The Bigger Picture,” released after the murder of George Floyd, became an unofficial protest anthem played at marches and rallies throughout the country. It has more than 112 million views on YouTube.

Habtemariam, who started her music career as an unpaid intern at 14, recently joined TIME for a video conversation on the pressures of taking over a storied label, the perils of social media for artists and her favorite live venues.

(This interview with Motown Records president Ethiopia Habtemariam has been condensed and edited for clarity.)

So, what have you been listening to, to get through the pandemic?

I went through a phase around April, May, when I was like going down memory lane of my childhood, reminiscing on songs that I grew up on. Middle school, high school years. And it was actually therapeutic in many ways. It kind of helped me get through a lot of the different emotions and feelings that I was having, and also it reminded me of why I fell in love with music.

Rumor has it that you were a big TLC fan.

I still think that they don’t get the credit they deserve because they were so huge! TLC, Aaliyah, Missy [Elliott], Lauryn Hill—I was a massive Janet Jackson fan as well.

I’m a huge fan of music, period. I’m a daughter of immigrants. My parents are both Ethiopian, and I’m Ethiopian American. I grew up in the South. So here I am, this young girl, with a name like Ethiopia; I was a bit of an alien, but music was my salvation. It was my escape, but it was also a bridge for me to connect and build friendships.

How did the pandemic disrupt your release schedule? You still managed to have one of the biggest albums of the year, with Lil Baby’s My Turn.

I remember it vividly because we scheduled some in-stores for him. I remember coming to Atlanta and making sure everyone had hand sanitizer. And then everything shut down, and we had to really come together to figure out how we were going to move forward.

We put it out Feb. 28, and it was massive. The response was incredible; everything was great. And two weeks later, the world shuts down. One of the things that was in the plan was, of course, a huge tour.

Read more »

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Spotlight: Girmay Zahilay, King County Councilman From District 2 in Seattle

Girmay Hadish Zahilay is a Sudan-born Ethiopian-American attorney who serves as a member of the King County Council from District 2 in Seattle, Washington. The following is a spotlight on Girmay by The South Seattle Emerald in honor of Black History Month. (Photo: Girmay Zahilay speaks at the opening of a pop-up resource center in the Skyway neighborhood, south of Seattle/by Susan Fried)

South Seattle Emerald

By Marcus Harden

BLACK HISTORY TODAY: GIRMAY ZAHILAY, A DREAM MANIFESTED

“One voice can change a room, and if one voice can change a room, then it can change a city, and if it can change a city, it can change a state, and if it change a state, it can change a nation, and if it can change a nation, it can change the world. Your voice can change the world.”

—Barack Obama

As I’ve grown older, I’ve become more and more fascinated by the African Diaspora and the connection to the African American experience. I’ve especially been fascinated with learning more about the countries in Africa such as Ethiopia, as it stands as one of the only countries to not be colonized by European “settlers.” It’s begged the question: What lay in the culture of those people? What portions of that culture permeate from generation to generation and how do they show up today?

The answer is complex, yet if I had to take a personal wager, I’d bet that ancestral depth lives in people like Girmay Zahilay. Girmay is the “American Dream” personified, in that he’s uniquely bridged the gap of culture from continent to continent and has become a possibility for so many on both sides of that bridge.

Born in Sudan and of Ethiopian descent, his parents Ethiopian Refugees who themselves escaped military conflict, he arrived in the United States at the tender age of 3. Girmay’s family settled in the historic Rainier Valley of Seattle, and it was here that he learned about the world and came to understand others, turning his family’s trials into triumphs. Whether moving from the International District to Skyway, getting by temporarily without stable housing, living in shelters in downtown Seattle, or finally settling in the Rainier Vista, his humility and leadership were being crafted at every step.

Girmay graduated from Franklin High School before going on to Stanford University and the University of Pennsylvania, where his natural instincts in fighting for justice would be sharpened into the skill of understanding and interpreting the law. Girmay’s journey took him to Washington D.C. and New York City, yet no matter where he surfaced on the map, his spirit of bridging the gap and liberating people would never change.

His return home to Seattle saw more of the same, as he founded a nonprofit that created opportunities for young people to practice their innate leadership skills. The spirit and culture of leadership and liberation never left him, beating steady like a drum, speaking louder and louder as he saw the needs of the community through the eyes of the youth who looked like him. Soon those voices were crying out louder and louder throughout the Rainier Vista and other communities whose fight for public housing deserved to finally be heard.

In 2019, Girmay decided to become that megaphone that resonated change.

It wasn’t an easy path, of course. Girmay chose to pursue a coveted city council seat held by Larry Gossett, a local legend who blazed the trail for Girmay and many others. What was most notable about Girmay’s approach was that it was rooted in the culture of class and respect, never diminishing the accomplishments of Gossett and his place in history, yet as he had times before, wanting to be the bridge to and for the next generation that would stand on the shoulders of those before him.

Before he was a councilman, to me Girmay was just “Lull’s little big cousin.” Lull Mengesha, a close friend of mine, told me I just had to meet his cousin. It happened one day at Empire Espresso in South Seattle, and I talked for hours with Girmay about education and social change. I learned that he wanted to utilize his passion for law to support youth — specifically those disenfranchised and trapped in the System in the Rainier Valley and Skyway. Even over great coffee and greater waffles, Girmay’s purpose shined through.

Girmay’s commitment to public service shows up in the small details, like his social media that ensures people from all walks of life can celebrate, or through continuing to demystify public service for cultures and people who traditionally haven’t gotten an inside look. In constantly honoring those throughout the Diaspora in word and actions, Girmay embodies the spirit of liberation his ancestors passed down. He is a humble servant with the ear to listen to the past and the voice that changes the future. He is the dream manifested. Girmay Zahilay is undoubtedly Black History Today!

Related:

Ethiopian American Girmay Zahilay, a New Councilman in King County, Washington

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Virginia Furniture with Ethiopian Roots: Garden & Gun Magazine on Jomo Tariku

Raised in Ethiopia, Jomo Tariku came to the United States in 1987. After studying industrial design at the University of Kansas, he eventually moved to the suburbs of D.C., where he works as a data scientist. He based his earliest furniture designs on the three-legged Jimma stools of Ethiopia that he remembered from childhood. (Garden & Gun Magazine)

Garden & Gun Magazine

Two and a half hours south of Washington, D.C., outside of Columbia, Virginia, in a former three-car garage on the north side of the James River, the designer Jomo Tariku and the woodworker David Bohnhoff are redefining contemporary African furniture. In the studio, African mahogany shavings cover a section of the floor as they collaborate on museum-worthy chairs and stools, and the smell the wood casts off as the day heats up permeates the space.

Born in Kenya and raised in Ethiopia, Tariku came to the United States in 1987. After studying industrial design at the University of Kansas, he eventually moved to the suburbs of D.C., where he works as a data scientist. He based his earliest furniture designs on the three-legged Jimma stools of Ethiopia that he remembered from childhood. All of his pieces tie back to the African diaspora in some way, and many center on his East African upbringing. “When people define African art,” he says, “they think of masks and handcrafts, and old things. There is no space for people like me.”

Tariku bucks against the modern definition of African furniture, usually relegated to pieces with a Eurocentric aesthetic with a twist, such as colorful batik upholstery. Instead, the large spiral horns of the male mountain antelope found in Ethiopia’s Bale region, for instance, inspired his Nyala chair. Highly sculptural in nature, the curving wooden back of the chair seems to defy gravity, serving as a functional marvel. And his MeQuamya chair riffs on the T-shaped prayer staffs used in Ethiopian Orthodox ceremonies, found in rock-hewn churches in the region that date back to the sixteenth century. “I love history,” Tariku explains. “Ethiopia is the only African country that was never colonized. So, my perspective is a little different. Our religious art is still there. So are our old manuscripts in our language, in our handwriting. All of that informs my ideas.”

Tariku had all of these designs in his mind but could not find someone with the skills to build them—he had trouble bringing them to fruition with his own hands. For several years, he sent out emails, hundreds of them, to woodworkers up and down the East Coast, searching for someone to collaborate with who had the talent to build the graceful, elegant minimalist designs that have become his signature. In 2017, Bohnhoff, a regionally renowned furniture maker and woodworker based in Columbia, received Tariku’s email, and the pair decided to meet at a furniture show in Richmond.

When Bohnhoff saw Tariku’s sketch of the Nyala chair, he knew he had to try to build it. Quickly, Tariku saw that Bohnhoff understood the intentions behind his designs, and could take them from two-dimensional renderings to pieces that fine furniture lovers would be proud to have in their living rooms. “I saw the challenge in it,” Bohnhoff says. “I saw the beauty in it. I’m always pulling from nautical culture in my work, and every region has its own seafaring aesthetic. I appreciate learning the details of Jomo’s culture and how it helps him generate ideas.”

Bohnhoff’s own creative journey began at a potter’s wheel in middle school. Struggling with academics, he found solace in using his hands to create beautiful and unusual shapes. When he finished high school, he took to boatbuilding, eventually earning a BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University, and started a career as a boatbuilder, working in shipyards along the way from Maine to North Carolina, studying the art of the curve. Eventually he returned to Virginia, intent on transferring his skills to furniture, freeing complicated pieces from cherry, mahogany, and ash. In his workshop, maple burl logs become masterpieces. The draketail hull of a boat inspired a chair. The interior framework of a canoe transformed into a steam-bent throne.

Designers like Tariku need highly skilled craftsmen like Bohnhoff. The designer works with a few others on certain furniture pieces, but boatbuilding gave Bohnhoff an intimate knowledge of a variety of wood species, and how to bend them to his will without breaking. That technical skill serves him well as his artisanship dovetails with Tariku’s more intricate, curving chair designs, and as they go back and forth on prototypes to refine until form and function perfectly align. While COVID-19 has halted Tariku’s access to furniture shows and showrooms, the duo is currently making each chair to order for interested clients and interior designers—who can inquire at jomofurniture.com—and Tariku is preparing new designs for 2021.

A change in the tide—what they see as the younger generation’s lack of access to apprenticeships and opportunities—has both men worried that relationships like theirs, forged out of mutual admiration for art and a respect for technical skills, are fading. For now, they find solace in creating heirlooms that tell a global story—of Ethiopia, of the Atlantic, and of Virginia. —

Related:

Spotlight: New York Times Features Jomo Tariku

Opening the Doors of Design (The New York Times)

Contemporary Design Africa Book Features Jomo Tariku’s Ethiopia Furniture

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Music Diplomacy: Artists From Ethiopia Among Eligible to Apply for US Exchange Program ‘OneBeat’

International music exchange platform OneBeat [sponsored by the U.S. State Department] is calling on artists to apply for its 2021 virtual cross-cultural collaborative program. (Photo: Brilliant-ethiopia.com)

Music in Africa

Call for applications: 2021 OneBeat virtual exchange program in the US

The program is sponsored by the US State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and produced by Bang on a Can’s Found Sound Nation. It celebrates musical collaboration and social engagement.

This year’s virtual edition is in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Fellows will receive a $1 500 honorarium as well as a small subsidy for purchasing necessary audio equipment and enhanced internet connectivity tools.

OneBeat is looking for applicants who excel in the following areas:

  • Musical proficiency and innovation.
  • Performance, composition, improvisational, production and/or technological skill.
  • Social engagement – musicians who have used music to serve their communities or greater societies. This might consist of guiding young people in music education, addressing social-political issues, reviving dying musical traditions, etc.
  • Collaboration – applicants’ willingness to reach across cultural and musical divides in creating original music or re-interpreting traditional music, while respecting the essence of each tradition.

    OneBeat will convene 70 musicians (aged from 19 to 35) from up to 44 countries and territories in two separate virtual exchanges, which will take place as follows: 12 July to 6 September and 20 September to 17 November.

    Musicians from the following African countries are eligible to apply:

  • Algeria
  • Egypt
  • Ethiopia
  • Madagascar
  • Mali
  • Morocco
  • Nigeria
  • Senegal
  • South Africa
  • Tanzania
  • Tunisia
  • Zimbabwe

    Read more about eligibility here. Interested artists can apply here. Successful applicants will be notified by 21 May.

    The submission deadline is 10 March.

    “These projects will address a particular community and focus on community engagement,” OneBeat said. “We encourage the development of projects that explore innovations within a particular field of arts engagement, digital media or technology.”

    Each program will offer a virtual residency and exchange program with musicians from around the globe. OneBeat virtual fellows will investigate new forms of virtual collaboration, form ensembles, produce and perform genre-defying work, attend virtual masterclasses, lead online workshops and produce a streaming concert for the public. Fellows will also have the opportunity to pursue self-directed projects during the fellowship.

    View the original call here.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

  • ART TALK: Awol Erizku’s Photos on Display at New York City’s Bus Stops

    These photographs are part of “New Visions for Iris,” the first public art exhibition by the Los Angeles–based, Ethiopian American artist Awol Erizku. Commissioned by Public Art Fund, the exhibition appears on over 200 bus shelters across New York City (and over 150 in Chicago). Erizku dedicated it to his 1-year-old daughter, Iris. (Photo: Nicholas Knight, Courtesy of Public Art Fund, NY and the artist)

    Curbed

    If you pass by a bus shelter between now and June 20, take a closer look at it. You might spy the image of a Muslim man in a Kobe jersey kneeling in prayer next to a motorcycle, or a still life with a toy cart, irises, a light meter, and magnetic letters from the Amharic alphabet. These photographs are part of “New Visions for Iris,” the first public art exhibition by the Los Angeles–based, Ethiopian American artist Awol Erizku. Commissioned by Public Art Fund, the exhibition appears on over 200 bus shelters across New York City (and over 150 in Chicago). Erizku dedicated it to his 1-year-old daughter, Iris.

    “[Iris’s] influence on this work is possibility,” Erizku says. “She’s American, she’s Ethiopian, and because I wasn’t able to see these kinds of images growing up, I wanted to make sure she did.” The kind of images he’s referring to include modern representations of Muslim men, African symbols, and his own personal history. “To be honest, I am ashamed I don’t know as much about my culture as I would like, and I wanted to give her these [references] early on.”


    (Photo: Courtesy of Public Art Fund, NY and the artist)

    The references are also entry points to conversations about religion, spirituality, race, identity, and personal history — conversations that many of us are having since the Black Lives Matter protests, the increase in hate crimes against Asian Americans, and the general upheaval the city has experienced in the past year.

    “This exhibition is about coming to terms with fatherhood and having a daughter that’s coming into this world at a very tumultuous year, and finding ways to elicit certain conversations as she’s growing up,” Erizku says.

    Erizku first became famous for work that subverted European masterpieces with Afrocentric references, like his 2009 Girl With a Bamboo Earring portrait, which riffs on Vermeer’s Girl With a Pearl Earring painting, and his 2013 portrait series of sex workers in Addis Ababa posed in the manner of Ingres’s odalisques and Manet’s Olympia. His 2015 short film “Serendipity,” which screened at MoMA, featured him smashing a bust of David and replacing it with one of Nefertiti. The 2017 maternity photos he took of Beyoncé — which referenced Madonna-and-child motifs and included original artwork he made the year before in collaboration with the floral designer Sarah Lineberger — nearly broke Instagram. But lately, he’s felt strongly about moving away from the Western philosophies and references he’s been indoctrinated with and creating his own canon. In 2017, his anti-Trump “Make America Great Again” exhibition explored the power of Emory Douglas’s Black Panther logo. This has led him to develop a new visual language he’s calling “Afro-esotericism” — an index of objects, symbols, and people that are meaningful and influential to him: Cowrie shells, African masks and statues, musical instruments, the Qur’an, flowers, and more. This reinvention is also partly a response to how popular his older work has become. His style has been copied time and time again, to the point where he feels like he’s lost ownership of it and it’s no longer associated with him.

    Now Erizku’s photographs appropriate the dramatic lighting and saturated colors of commercial advertising, which is designed to stop you in your tracks. He uses it as a kind of bait and switch. Instead of selling you sneakers, he’s inviting you into his cultural universe.

    He walked us through a few of the images in the series.

    Read more »

    Related:

    Spotlight: Ethiopian-American Artist Awol Erizku’s Photo of Poet Amanda Gorman on TIME Magazine‘s New Cover


    TIME Magazine‘s new cover features American poet Amanda Gorman, photographed by Ethiopian-American artist Awol Erizku. (Photo of ​Awol Erizku by Jeff Vespa)

    Fad Magazine

    Updated: February 12th, 2021

    AMANDA GORMAN, PHOTOGRAPHED BY ARTIST AWOL ERIZKU FOR TIME COVER.

    TIME Magazine‘s new cover features American poet Amanda Gorman, photographed by Ethiopian-American artist Awol Erizku. Erizku is quickly becoming one of the most iconic photographers of our time.

    Erizku is a multidisciplinary artist working in photography, film, sculpture and installation, creating a new vernacular that bridges the gap between African and African American visual culture, referencing art history, hip hop and spirituality, amongst other subjects, in his work.

    “I was interested in allowing her to own the space that she’s in right now,” Erizku says. “We were going for timelessness, something that felt classical” and tied in to the “resurgence of a Black renaissance.”

    It was a special moment for him, too. “Like many who witnessed the recent presidential Inauguration, I was captivated by her poem and her exquisite delivery,” says Erizku, who is based in Los Angeles and has exhibited at institutions including New York City’s Museum of Modern Art and the Studio Museum in Harlem. “For TIME, I wanted to extricate her from the political dimension and immerse it in a more cosmic atmosphere to add to the weight of her words.”

    In a separate image featured inside the magazine, Gorman holds a white birdcage in a nod to the birdcage ring she wore on inauguration day. (That ring was a gift from Oprah, referring to previous inauguration poet Maya Angelou’s poem, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.”)

    “It needed a layer of depth that only poetry can explain,” Erizku says of the image.

    A team of Black creative professionals prepared Gorman for the portraits: Jason Bolden styled her, Autumn Moultrie did her makeup, Khiry provided jewellery and the dress was from Greta Constantine.

    The issue features Michelle Obama in conversation with American poet Amanda Gorman, whose poem ‘The Hill We Climb’ read at Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony touched hearts and minds all over the world. The article, which covers issues such as the role of art in activism and the pressures Black women face in the spotlight, is also accompanied by a video shot and directed by Erizku.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Profile: Dr. Rahel Nardos, Meet the Voice of University of Minnesota’s New Global Focus on Women’s Health

    Dr. Rahel Nardos is connecting the University of Minnesota with low-resource locations to improve healthcare access. (Courtesy photo)

    Minnesota Monthly Magazine

    What do Minnesota’s Indigenous, immigrant, African American, and refugee communities have in common with women in low-resource countries around the world? They’re all chronically underserved by healthcare providers. So says Rahel Nardos, MD, the new director of global women’s health at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Global Health and Social Responsibility (CGHSR). And she aims to change that.

    Nardos was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She came to the U.S. for college on a scholarship, then attended Yale Medical School, where she met her husband, Damien Fair, who was pursuing his PhD in neuroscience. They moved to Addis Ababa after completing their studies, where Nardos cared for women with obstetric fistulas, a devastating condition in which a hole forms in the birth canal following childbirth.

    “Having grown up there and seen the scarce situation, where the quality of medical care and education was compromised, that planted the seed for me to want to figure out ways we can create better health systems and build capacities in low-resource settings,” says Nardos.

    In Ethiopia, Nardos worked with victims of some of the world’s worst health inequities—including women ostracized from their communities due to a medical condition that was itself a result of inadequate obstetric and gynecological care. “That got me interested in specializing in urogynecology,” says Nardos, who pursued fellowship training and a master’s degree in clinical research at the same time. “I’m very interested in improving care through research.”

    She went on to work with Kaiser Permanente and Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, where she founded Footsteps to Healing, a program that supports surgical care for women with injuries after childbirth.

    In 2020, amid a global pandemic and widespread civil unrest, Nardos and Fair were jointly recruited by the University of Minnesota and made a new home in the Twin Cities. While Fair leads the U’s Masonic Institute for the Developing Brain, Nardos is bringing her trusted global partnerships to the table to help CGHSR form stronger and more effective relationships with healthcare programs and providers around the world.

    “I’m also looking at how we can leverage our collective passion and experience in underserved care right here in our communities,” she adds. “We have people right here who don’t have access to quality care, such as immigrants and people with cultural practices that may compromise their health. We want to create programs that tap into our collective experiences, talents, passions, and partnership models to do meaningful work both globally and locally.”

    Nardos is drawing on the U’s resources and expertise in areas spanning preventive care, health policy, leadership building, clinical capacity building, and advances in telehealth to improve care for women in low-resource settings. The goal? “To help support our partners and train our residents and fellows so they become providers who care about health equity and disparities, and are actively working to address it in their own communities,” says Nardos.

    She’s even taking a mindfulness course at the U’s Center for Spirituality and Healing, and thinking about how to translate what she’s learning into cognitive strategies to help manage pain and irritative bladder symptoms in patients with urogynecological conditions.

    Though she’s mining and connecting resources across a wide range of university programs, Nardos is crystal clear on her mission: to have a tangible impact in the lives of real, underserved women, far from the halls of academia. “How do we define success? We have to be careful not to define it academically—how many papers you publish or grants you get,” she notes. “How is it translating into improving health outcomes on the ground?”

    Learn more about Dr. Nardos and the Center for Global Health and Social Responsibility at globalhealthcenter.umn.edu

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Spotlight: Ethiopian Startup Gebeya Launches New Mobile App To Connect Freelancers To Employers

    Ethiopia's tech startup Gebeya Inc., an online marketplace for jobs, has announced the launch of its latest mobile App called Gebeya Talent, a new platform through which it is expanding access to its network across Africa and around the globe. (Photo: Gebeya Inc)

    Digital Times Africa

    Gebeya, an Ethiopian startup has launched its new app, Gebeya Talent, a portal through which it is expanding access to its network across the continent and around the globe.

    Gebeya is an online talent marketplace focused on cultivating the potentials of African youth, training them with technical skills, and helping them find jobs.

    The app bridges the gap between African talents and employers through its easy application process, automatic matching, and a no-bidding process where they get paid.

    “We strive to be the most-referenced freelance African talent company. Having fast, reliable, seamless digital tools at the heart of our marketplace is a must,” said Amadou Daffe, chief executive officer (CEO) and co-founder of Gebeya.

    “Currently, the process for talents wanting to join our marketplace takes anywhere from one to two weeks. Our objective is that, with the Gebeya Talent app, we will be able to onboard a talent within 24 hours after they submit their application.”

    Founded in 2016, the startup formerly leveraged on manual processes but has now scaled to automation and improved processes. Gebeya says it would be adding new features to the platform and further optimize the process throughout the year.

    Ethiopia’s Gebeya launches app to help freelancers access work opportunities


    (Image courtesy of Gebeya Talent)

    Disrupt Africa

    Ethiopian startup Gebeya, a pan-African online talent marketplace, has launched Gebeya Talent, a new app through which it is expanding access to its network across the continent and around the globe.

    Gebeya focuses on cultivating the untapped tech potential of African youth to prepare them for the demands of the global market, training young people with technical skills and helping them find jobs.

    Its new app, Gebeya Talent, provides African talent seeking their next freelance work opportunity with access to a quick and easy application process, automatic matching, and a no-bidding process where they get paid at rates that represent their capabilities and experience.

    Prior to the release of the Gebeya Talent app, the process to apply to join Gebeya’s talent network was largely manual, requiring intensive human involvement. Now, leveraging improved processes and automation, the process has greatly improved, and Gebeya said it will be adding additional features to streamline and further optimise the process throughout the year.

    “We strive to be the most-referenced freelance African talent company. Having fast, reliable, seamless digital tools at the heart of our marketplace is a must,” said Amadou Daffe, chief executive officer (CEO) and co-founder of Gebeya.

    “Currently, the process for talents wanting to join our marketplace takes anywhere from one to two weeks. Our objective is that, with the Gebeya Talent app, we will be able to onboard a talent within 24 hours after they submit their application.”

    Below is the full press release from Gebeya Inc. shared on linkedin by Becky Tsadik, Director of Marketing at Gebeya Inc: “I’m so excited to share that Gebeya Inc. has just launched a mobile app that will transform the landscape for freelance talent in Africa. Our development team has been hard at work building a sleek, sophisticated app to connect talent with opportunities on the continent and beyond.”

    Gebeya Inc. Launches Gebeya Talent App to Transform African Talent Acquisition

    Gebeya Inc. announced today the launch of its new app: Gebeya Talent. With this, the Pan-African online talent marketplace will expand access to its network across the continent and around the globe.

    African talent seeking their next freelance work opportunity will now have access to these features:

  • A quick and easy application process
  • Save time with automatic matching with exciting projects inline with their skill sets
  • No bidding; get paid at rates that represent their capabilities and experience level; get paid in multiple currencies
  • Being part of an engaging, growing community with exclusive professional networking, events, free upskilling, and mentorship
  • Showcase their best work via custom portfolio and profile


    Gebeya team members. (Photo: Gebeya Inc.)

    Prior to the release of the Gebeya Talent app, the process to apply to join our talent network was largely manual, requiring intensive human involvement.

    Now, leveraging improved processes and automation, the process has greatly improved. Throughout the year, additional features will be added to streamline and further optimize the process, and leverage the full power of artificial intelligence and automation. From application, to testing, from interview to onboarding, potential candidates can expect to enjoy a seamless experience.

    “We strive to be THE most-referenced freelance African Talent company. Having fast, reliable, seamless digital tools at the heart of our marketplace is a MUST,” said Amadou Daffe, CEO and Co-founder of Gebeya. “Currently, the process for talents wanting to join our marketplace takes anywhere from 1 to 2 weeks. “Our objective is that, with the Gebeya Talent app, we will be able to onboard a talent within 24 hours after they submit their application.”

    The year 2020 was abuzz with phrases like “future of work,” “gig economy,” and “remote work.” The release of the Gebeya Talent app proves that this bold, new future predicted has arrived. Access to opportunities for talent has expanded, as they are no longer restricted to their immediate geographic location; we follow a remote-first work model. And: anyone can download the app.

    “This is only the beginning,” said Thierno Niang, Chief Platform Officer at Gebeya. “We launched a mobile app before a web application, because all of our talent have access to a phone. As we add features to the product, we will also expand to include a web app.”

    The most in-demand talent for startups and corporations include: software development, graphics & design, project management, digital marketing, product management, cybersecurity, and artificial intelligence. But, as market needs evolve, so will the Gebeya Talent pool.

    The Gebeya Talent app grants access for talented professionals in Africa and its diaspora to join a community built with them in mind. Rather than bid against millions of freelancers in an anonymous pool of talent, they can be assured that every opportunity caters to their skill set and agreed-upon rate. No more underbidding, missed payments, or ghosted clients. Because Gebeya manages the entire process of matching, plus administrative and finance processes, talents are ensured timely and fair delivery of payment in exchange for their work.

    Within the next three-to-five years, we anticipate identifying and vetting the top 100,000 talent. From that, we expect to onboard the top 20,000 best. If you’re a talent from Africa or of African descent, seeking to join a community that will care about you, download the Gebeya Talent app and apply today.

    A web-based application to connect clients of all sizes, including individual entrepreneurs, startups, and large enterprises with talent, will launch later this month. This will be for clients that are seeking to: diversify their workforce, augment their existing team, or expand into new markets without the hassle of opening a physical office. Our goal is that clients will be matched with talent within seconds, and within 24-to-48 hours of contract-signing, begin the work.

  • Related:

    Spotlight: Ethiopia’s Debo Engineering, A Jimma Based Agritech Startup


    Boaz Berhanu and Jermia Bayisa are founders of Debo Engineering, part of a burgeoning technology startup scene in Ethiopia that’s blazing a trail in various fields. Debo Engineering has announced that it has developed an app that automatically detects and classifies plant disease through image detection. (Courtesy photo)

    Tech in Africa

    Ethiopia Agritech startup develops an App that detects plant disease

    Debo Engineering, a startup based in Jimma has developed an app that automatically detects then classifies plant diseases through image detection once it runs the image through an algorithm.

    Debo engineering designs and develops smart engineering solutions for the agricultural sector. The startup banks on applied engineering centering on newly evolved technologies such as ML, artificial intelligence, IoT, image processing, mobile computing, and big data.

    Debo has a desktop application connecting commercial farms and research institutes in making farm analysis and drone rental services in the case of large rental farms. Most of the startup’s customers are urban farmers operating in Jimma city. Debo served over 300 customers in the last year.

    Boaz Berhanu and Jermia Bayisa are founders of Debo Engineering. They both have engineering backgrounds and have received several recognitions to date. The team clinched the Green Innovation and Agritech Slam 2019 Business Competition and MEST Africa’s Ethiopia Competition. This has helped them raise initial funding to begin the implementation of their business ideas.

    Meet This Jimma Based Agritech Startup That Developed An App That Detects Plant Disease

    Shega

    Debo Engineering, A Jimma based agritech startup, developed an algorithm that automatically detects and classifies plant disease through image detection.

    Debo engineering is a startup that design and develop smart business applications solution in the agriculture sector. The startup uses applied engineering discipline centered on newly evolving technologies such as artificial intelligence, ML, IOT, image processing, big data, and mobile computing.

    Debo developed an algorithm that automatically detects and classifies plant disease through image detection. The solution is available via a monthly subscription on the web and mobile application. It provides a recommendation to be taken for the user after detect plant disease.

    Debo also provides a desktop application that helps commercials farms and research institutes to make farm analysis as well as drone renting services for large commercial farms.

    Even though most of their customers are urban farmers that operate in Jimma city and nearby, Debo has been able to serve more than 300 customers last year.

    Boaz Berhanu and Jermia Bayisa are founders of Debo Engineering. They both have engineering backgrounds. The startup has received many recognitions so far. The team was the winner of the Green Innovation and Agritech Slam 2019 business competition and MEST Africa’s Ethiopia Competition.

    These recognitions have helped them in raising the initial fund to start implementing their business idea.

    Debo plans to add more features and use wireless sensor networks and the Internet of Things (IoT) that can be easily deployed in farm fields and continuously send data.

    Related:

    Spotlight: Ethiopia’s Qene Tech, Creators of Kukulu & Gebeta Video Games


    Dawit Abraham, Qene Technologies Co-founder and CEO. (Photo: Qene Tech)

    Ventures Africa

    DAWIT ABRAHAM AND HIRUY AMANUEL DISCUSS THE FUTURE OF AWARD-WINNING MOBILE GAMING STUDIO, QENE GAMES

    As one of the top gaming studios in Africa, Qene Games already has a 2018 Apps Africa Award for Best Media and Entertainment App under its belt, along with a bright future ahead.

    A part of this Ethiopian company’s vision is to incorporate African roots into the games created. Qene Games launched its first mobile 3D game in 2018 called Kukulu. The firm then spent almost a year problem-solving to establish a global friendly African game brand for the international market. The original African game set expectations high after winning the 2018 Apps Africa Award for Best Media and Entertainment App and Qene Games is set to launch the iOS version in 2021 behind their latest release of Gebeta.

    Kukulu is a 3D runner game similar to the global hit Subway Surfers but has a plot twist of African culture integrated into the game as it takes place in a fairy-tale land type of setting. Kukulu is the name of the main character in the game, a brave chicken that finds freedom from her farmer. Gamers are taken through the African terrain as they help Kukulu journey and run for her life through levels and challenging obstacles.

    Recently, Qene Games proudly entered into a global, multi-year partnership with Carry1st. These two companies worked together to publish Gebeta, a free-to-play mobile board game that is a modern take on the traditional African and South Asian game of mancala. The game’s features include new mechanics, boosters, and tricks as it is intended to make the game more engaging with modern players as they grow in mastery.

    Qene Games also has plans to launch another addition to its ever-growing portfolio with the launch of Feta slated for 2021. Feta is a puzzle slider game with fun and challenging characteristics. Ethiopian culture is highlighted in the game, along with the country’s tradition and food. The game is a way for all audiences who play to see the beauty that Ethiopian culture brings to the world.

    Qene Games will launch the App Store version of the Kukulu game, as it is currently only available on Google Play. The company also plans to launch “Feta” and eventually become its own game publisher after closing a quiet pre-seed round of $250,000 in 2021 said the company CEO and co-founder, Dawit Abraham.

    “The software development firm, Qene Games, is excited for what the next few years and beyond holds after being the leader in raising the bar and popularity of African gaming in the technology industry. Experts at the company are generating more global content to add to future game releases,” said Hiruy Amanuel.

    About Hiruy Amanuel

    Hiruy Amanuel is a dedicated philanthropist who has invested in several educational and technological initiatives in East Africa. By increasing access to quality education and technological resources, he hopes to drive the rapid development of groundbreaking technologies throughout the Horn of Africa.

    About Dawit Abraham

    Dawit is a Senior game developer and co-founder of Qene Games which is a gaming company creating premium African mobile games for the international market. Dawit believes that Africa has a strong capacity to compete with international software industries and his goal is to make Qene Technologies one of the leading gaming companies in Africa, and eventually, the world.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Interview: Meklit Hadero on Role of Music & Culture Amid Conflict in Ethiopia

    As part of "Movement,” an ongoing series from The World [a US public radio news magazine] about the lives and work of immigrant musicians, Ethiopian American musician Meklit Hadero recounts conversations with fellow musicians in Ethiopia about the unifying role of music and culture amid the conflict in Tigray. (Photo: Ethiopian-born singer Meklit Hadero shows off her guitar chops/via WAMU)

    PRI

    Ethiopian American musician Meklit Hadero: ‘We use music to talk about the things that are hard to talk about’

    As the conflict unfolds, some in the Ethiopian diaspora around the world try to make sense of it and their personal stories of migration and belonging to the country. Among them, Ethiopian American musician and cultural activist Meklit Hadero.

    “It’s a time of heartbreak for many Ethiopians,” Hadero told The World. “Hearing these stories of suffering is just absolutely tragic.”

    Hadero, who left Ethiopia for the US with her family when she was just under 2 years old, last visited Ethiopia in 2019 — before the conflict in Tigray broke out.

    She spoke with Ethiopian saxophonist Jorga Mesfin about the sense of optimism and desire for political and economic reform with the government and yet, palpable risk of ethnic violence.

    As part of “Movement,” an ongoing series from The World about the lives and work of immigrant musicians, Hadero recounts her conversations with Mesfin and other fellow artists during that 2019 trip — and discusses the role of music and culture in the country amid the Tigray conflict.

    “Calls for unity can feel impossible when history has not been reconciled, but the cost of not looking each other in the eye also feels too heavy to bear. How do we move through this? Like George [Mesfin], I often find it easier to face these impossible questions as an artist with music rather than with words,” Meklit said. “We use music to talk about the things that are hard to talk about.”

    Audio: Meklit Hadero on the Role of Music & Culture Amid the Conflict in Ethiopia

    Related:

    Review: ‘Meklit Hadero’s Nourishing Music & Lecture’ at University of Washington


    The following is a review of Meklit Hadero’s recent on screen performance and lecture at the University of Washington’s Meany Hall courtesy of the University’s student newspaper, The Daily. (Photo by Tessa Shimizu)

    The Daily

    Updated: February 14th, 2021

    Meklit nourishes us through her music in Meany Center performance and lecture

    Ethiopian-American singer-songwriter Meklit Hadero’s joy is infectious. Listeners are enveloped in her warmth, even with the barrier of an electronic screen, and can’t help but feel a sense of peace while she talks and sings. Meklit invites us into her culture, and we never feel like an outsider. She is a natural storyteller who shared intimate cultural traditions in her Meany on Screen performance and lecture: “How Music Connects Us: Belonging, Wellbeing, and Sonic Lineage.”

    Meklit’s art synthesizes jazz, folk, and East African inspirations. She is the co-founder of the Nile Project, which is described as an “initiative bringing together musicians from all 11 Nile Basin countries to create music together, to tour the river and source lakes, and tour the world.” “When the People Move, The Music Moves Too,” her most recent album, was at the top of the iTunes World Music Chart.

    The multitalented artist and activist is also a National Geographic Explorer, a TED Fellow, and the chief of program at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, where she works to uplift BIPoC artists who in turn support the health and wellbeing of their communities.

    Meklit is often placed in the category of “world music,” however, she explained in her lecture that this term can contribute to division and othering. She prefers to view the phrase as relating to “open-armed sense of curiosity,” listening, and learning. Meklit thinks of music as a “gift of life” and global connector.

    “Every single culture in the world has music,” Meklit said during the lecture. “All music is world music.”

    Meklit hoped to nourish listeners with “kitchen table songs” in her Meany on Screen performance, recorded from San Francisco at the vibrant Studio 124. The show began with “Abbay Mado,” an Amharic praise song that describes a farmer, his life on the Blue Nile River, and the nourishing food he brings to tables. When singing this folk song, Meklit said she is reminded of the millions of people who have sung it in the past. For her, the power of folk music comes from the many voices that are contained in one piece.


    (The Daily University of Washington)

    In her performance, Meklit serenaded listeners with “Yesterday is a Tizita,” an Ethiopian song form meaning “songs of nostalgia.” The tizita holds two meanings — yesterday is a memory, and the popular Beatles song “Yesterday,” which fits into the tizita genre. According to Meklit, double entendres are an important part of the poetry and traditions of Ethiopia.

    “Kemekem (I Like your Afro)” is a traditional song from Northern Ethiopia. The phrase means freshly cut grass, but is also considered an idiom for the perfect afro, which Meklit described as the “stand tall” pride and swagger that comes from this hairstyle. In a piece from the performance, she sings: “Future is a woman // with her head held high // and an afro on her shoulders // reaching up for the sky // and the knowledge of her people // is filling up her mind // She understand manipulation // won’t fall for it this time.”

    The musician also gushed about the story behind her krar (Ethiopian harp), given to her by Dawit Seyoum, who toured with Meklit for the Nile Project.

    “It feels like a living being,” Meklit said. “It reacts to the temperature, and the air quality, and the room, and it tells me its moods, and it tells me how it’s feeling, and how exactly it needs to be played that day.”

    Traditional instruments, which are handmade, are magical. There is a specificity in which instrument you choose — each krar has its own personality. Meklit said she sees this as a metaphor for having to become connected with a specific soul in order to touch something universal.

    Meklit noted that researchers are finding out how music brings us together. A study published in the Journal of Cognitive Science found that after people listened to rhythmic music together, they performed coordinated tasks better than control groups did. With the help of music, the participants improved at sensing what was happening with their peers.

    Meklit also cited a Swedish study that shows that when people sing together, their heartbeats synchronize, in part because they are all breathing together as one entity. Music is “who we are,” Meklit said. She then discussed an MIT study which had participants listen to 150 sounds of all kinds. Per the study, there are six sets of neural clusters that process sound, but one set of neural clusters responds only to music. Meklit interprets these findings as people being “hardwired” for music.

    Meklit expressed in her lecture that she would love to see applications of these findings in our everyday lives.

    “Why can’t we play songs at the start of Zoom meetings that everyone in the call knows … imagine if everyone was singing from their respective computer screens before a meeting starts,” Meklit said. “What if we could attune better to each other?”

    Currently, Meklit is working on a new project in her capacity as a Mellon Creative Research Fellow. In collaboration with the Meany Center, “Movement” is designed as a live concert experience, with storytelling and multimedia aspects “creating a meditation on what it means to be American,” according to the Meany Center website.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Artist Spotlight: Mekdelawit of University of Massachusetts

    Mekdelawit Fissehazion's ardor for live shows began on stages in Ethiopia, long before University of Massachusetts. Mekdelawit was raised in Silver Spring, Maryland. When she was 10 years old, [she] moved to Ethiopia, where she lived until coming to UMass for college. Ethiopia is where she began performing, and it influenced how she interacted with people while making music. (Daily Collegian)

    The Massachusetts Daily Collegian

    Isolation can be lonely, leaving one disconnected and uninspired without people to bounce off of. As humans we feed off of one another, we look forward to interacting, even setting up dates to do so. With quarantine and strict restrictions at the University of Massachusetts, this ability has been stripped of us, leaving a sense of mundaneness for many.

    Yet, for others, isolation can be incredibly cathartic, especially for creative introverts. Sophomore Mekdelawit Fissehazion released her first EP, “We Can Stay Here,” last April, in the midst of quarantine. While everyone else was losing their minds trying to figure out a way to spend their time alone, Fissehazion found peace.

    “That period of my life was a really big time for healing. It was after I got out of some really bad relationship stuff. That EP reflects it a lot — I just needed to get it out into the world,” she said. “For example, ‘We Can Stay Here’ is about a new person, but you have so many walls up because you don’t want to get hurt like last time. And then ‘Better Know’ was just straight up being like, bro, I miss you. But what can I do about it? You did me wrong. It’s really just exploring the emotions after heartbreak.”

    Through the release of her first project, she was able to find a release within herself. The EP itself is mostly freestyles, making her pain feel genuine and stories that much more remarkable.

    This sense of such raw realness, especially for a newer artist, did not fall on deaf ears. Her social media was flooded with Instagram reposts and hundreds of shares. The fact is the UMass community was truly rocking with her.

    “I really am so grateful that anybody listens to my music, it makes me so happy,” Fissehazion said. “I don’t think people realize how nerve wracking it is to put all your thoughts and emotions into a song and give it to people. The fact that they receive it and actually mess with it enough to post it and tell their friends about it means a lot to me.”

    Yet, unfortunately, because the EP was released during quarantine, Fissehazion couldn’t feel the tangible love from her audience that comes with release parties and live shows, something that is important to her as an artist.

    “I thrive off of performing, I really love it,” she said. “It’s a different feeling because recording music is a very tedious process, and I love it. But at the same time, singing, being in front of people and interacting with the audience, is very nice.”

    Before UMass students were sent home in March, the young artist performed at the Black History Month Showcase, an event hosted by the UMass Black Student Union. Yet, her ardor for live shows began on stages in Ethiopia, long before UMass.

    Fissehazion was raised in Silver Spring, Maryland, where her parents’ taste in music was affected by their shift to American culture. This in turn influenced the music she listened to growing up.

    “Maryland is where I first started listening to R&B and singing with my cousins,” Fissehazion said. She recalled some of the artists that inspired her in her adolescence being Rihanna, Lil Wayne, Keri Hilson, T-Pain and Beyoncé.

    Audio: Mekdelawit · We Can Stay Here

    “I was obsessed with Beyoncé when I was really young,” she said. “I would beg my mom to buy me the World Tour CDs, watch them and learn every single rendition of every single song so I could sing exactly like her. When I really got into ‘Yoncé, that changed my life as a young kid. And my music taste. That was really where it began.”

    When she was 10 years old, Fissehazion moved to Ethiopia, where she lived until coming to UMass for college. Ethiopia is where she began performing, and it influenced how she interacted with people while making music.

    Her cousin, Adonis, served as a mentor-like figure for her when she first started out. She began experimenting with GarageBand and singing over her own production, yet it wasn’t until she and Adonis began working together that she began taking her craft to the next level and releasing music.

    “He produced and rapped, then I would write and hop on the song, and we would just release like that,” she said.

    The two have a few songs together and plan on releasing more collaborative music in the future. But for now, Fissehazion has been focusing on her solo career and trying to sharpen it as much as possible.

    “I’m just trying to make sure I’m really focused on quality right now,” she said, regarding a project in the works. “My previous project was mostly just freestyles, so now I’m actually taking my time and writing songs.”

    The songwriting process for the artist comes in waves of poetry — or pure spontaneous inspiration.

    “I’ll take certain lines from previous poetry and put them in where they fit sometimes,” she said. “Especially like the second verses, they always take me longer to write than the first ones because the first ones are just an outpour of ideas.”

    She refers to “Better Know”as the song she is most proud of because of the lyrics. Now, since she has more familiarity in terms of mixing and mastering, Fissehazion would like to work on it again for a re-release.

    Last April, she was able to use her heartbreak from previous semesters as fuel to create beautiful art. “We Can Stay Here” is dreamy, smooth and something you would listen to in a bubble bath while lighting a eucalyptus scented candle — knowing that at the end of the day, you have yourself and that’s all that matters.


    Mekdelawit (Daily Collegian)

    Now, her motivation to create comes in letting out those last bits of frustration and painting a fuller picture of her story.

    “I guess quarantine really made it hard because musicians and artists in general thrive on going through things to write music. And even though it is good sometimes to make sad music, I feel like a lot of the music that I made during quarantine… was more sad,” she said. “I don’t want people to feel that way from my music all the time. I’m really trying to pick the things that are more relatable, that are gonna touch different parts of people’s hearts, instead of depression.”

    With the release of “We Can Stay Here,” she did not have as many eyes on her because it was her first project. But now the stress of releasing a project under a larger audience is all too real, paired with the inevitable self-doubt that comes with being an artist.

    “I’m in my head a lot, self-doubt is a killer,” Fissehazion said. “For real, it’ll beat you down and everything. I’m starting to be more patient with myself and finding the joy in creating again, because it comes with a lot of pressure. You put pressure on yourself, because you want to be so great.”

    Conquering something as vicious as your own brain can lead to magnificent outcomes, such as a new single, “Motions” that is merely weeks away from release. Keep your eyes peeled for that and future projects from the 19-year-old R&B artist.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    ART TALK: Tenbeete Solomon, DC Muralist Shares Her Favorite Spots on U Street

    Tenbeete Solomon paints a mural outside of K Street shop &pizza in Washington, D.C. As the daughter of Ethiopian immigrants, Tenbeete Solomon has long been surrounded by art. Her dad was an accomplished artist who went to Parsons on a full ride. “Art was in my life before I knew I was an artist,” she says. | PHOTO BY SHAUGHN COOPER

    Thrillist

    DC Muralist Shares Her Favorite Spots in the Historic U Street Neighborhood

    If you’ve ever taken a walk around downtown DC, public art practically jumps out at you from the walls. That’s certainly the case with the bold and beautiful work of Tenbeete Solomon, aka Trap Bob, whose art can be seen in U Street, NOMA, and Takoma Park, just to name a few spots. Her vibrant, stylized art usually comes with a message whether it’s obvious—like “Fight The Power” or “Know Your Rights”—or merely symbolized in the powerful Black figures she depicts.

    As the daughter of Ethiopian immigrants, Solomon has long been surrounded by art. Her dad was an accomplished artist who went to Parsons on a full ride. Ironically, it was something she never considered for herself until the end of her college career studying marketing at University of Maryland. “Art was in my life before I knew I was an artist and then marketing came in before I knew I needed that,” she says. “If you’re creative, having a business education is really important.”

    Soon, she put that education and skill to good use when she started getting her work into DC galleries. “When I started out, I was obsessed with painting hands, so I was able to have a series with some consistency,” she says, adding that she was influenced early on by the bright and whimsical images of Lisa Frank. “My first year I was showing in DC, I did about 50 shows. Yeah, a show like every weekend.”


    PHOTO COURTESY OF TRAP BOB

    DC businesses small and large came calling and she was commissioned to paint a mural for BET promoting Lena Waithe’s show Twenties outside of Cloak & Dagger. Plus, her work can be found in Alethia Tanner Park in NOMA, outside K Street shop &pizza, on Takoma Park picnic tables, and on the exterior wall of Hotel Zena on 14th Street.

    This ever-present public art is one of the reasons Solomon loves DC, which she says is vastly different from its tourist reputation. “The cultural and creative scene doesn’t have anything to do with Capitol Hill and politics,” she says. “It’s very colorful, bold, and loud. Everyone is doing art, hosting live shows, and Go-Go is playing somewhere multiple times a day.”

    The U Street area specifically speaks to Solomon—not only because some of her work can be found there, but because of its historical significance and feeling of community. Known in the 1920s as “Black Broadway,” U Street was the center of DC’s cultural, artistic, and activist scenes.

    “It feels like a gathering hub for people in the city,” she says, mentioning iconic spots like Ben’s Chili Bowl and the T-Mobile store, famous for blasting Go-Go beats. “Everyone seems to end up at U Street and Shaw and there’s just always something to do no matter the time of day.”

    Next time you visit U Street, be sure to pop by some of Solomon’s favorite places for live music and vegan eats, snap a photo with one of her murals, and appreciate the significant role the neighborhood has played in shaping DC.

    Read more »

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Spotlight: Ethiopia’s Debo Engineering, A Jimma Based Agritech Startup

    Boaz Berhanu and Jermia Bayisa are founders of Debo Engineering, part of a burgeoning technology startup scene in Ethiopia that's blazing a trail in various fields. Debo Engineering has announced that it has developed an app that automatically detects and classifies plant disease through image detection. (Courtesy photo)

    Tech in Africa

    Ethiopia Agritech startup develops an App that detects plant disease

    Debo Engineering, a startup based in Jimma has developed an app that automatically detects then classifies plant diseases through image detection once it runs the image through an algorithm.

    Debo engineering designs and develops smart engineering solutions for the agricultural sector. The startup banks on applied engineering centering on newly evolved technologies such as ML, artificial intelligence, IoT, image processing, mobile computing, and big data.

    Debo has a desktop application connecting commercial farms and research institutes in making farm analysis and drone rental services in the case of large rental farms. Most of the startup’s customers are urban farmers operating in Jimma city. Debo served over 300 customers in the last year.

    Boaz Berhanu and Jermia Bayisa are founders of Debo Engineering. They both have engineering backgrounds and have received several recognitions to date. The team clinched the Green Innovation and Agritech Slam 2019 Business Competition and MEST Africa’s Ethiopia Competition. This has helped them raise initial funding to begin the implementation of their business ideas.

    Meet This Jimma Based Agritech Startup That Developed An App That Detects Plant Disease

    Shega

    Debo Engineering, A Jimma based agritech startup, developed an algorithm that automatically detects and classifies plant disease through image detection.

    Debo engineering is a startup that design and develop smart business applications solution in the agriculture sector. The startup uses applied engineering discipline centered on newly evolving technologies such as artificial intelligence, ML, IOT, image processing, big data, and mobile computing.

    Debo developed an algorithm that automatically detects and classifies plant disease through image detection. The solution is available via a monthly subscription on the web and mobile application. It provides a recommendation to be taken for the user after detect plant disease.

    Debo also provides a desktop application that helps commercials farms and research institutes to make farm analysis as well as drone renting services for large commercial farms.

    Even though most of their customers are urban farmers that operate in Jimma city and nearby, Debo has been able to serve more than 300 customers last year.

    Boaz Berhanu and Jermia Bayisa are founders of Debo Engineering. They both have engineering backgrounds. The startup has received many recognitions so far. The team was the winner of the Green Innovation and Agritech Slam 2019 business competition and MEST Africa’s Ethiopia Competition.

    These recognitions have helped them in raising the initial fund to start implementing their business idea.

    Debo plans to add more features and use wireless sensor networks and the Internet of Things (IoT) that can be easily deployed in farm fields and continuously send data.

    Related:

    Spotlight: Ethiopia’s Qene Tech, Creators of Kukulu & Gebeta Video Games


    Dawit Abraham, Qene Technologies Co-founder and CEO. (Photo: Qene Tech)

    Ventures Africa

    DAWIT ABRAHAM AND HIRUY AMANUEL DISCUSS THE FUTURE OF AWARD-WINNING MOBILE GAMING STUDIO, QENE GAMES

    As one of the top gaming studios in Africa, Qene Games already has a 2018 Apps Africa Award for Best Media and Entertainment App under its belt, along with a bright future ahead.

    A part of this Ethiopian company’s vision is to incorporate African roots into the games created. Qene Games launched its first mobile 3D game in 2018 called Kukulu. The firm then spent almost a year problem-solving to establish a global friendly African game brand for the international market. The original African game set expectations high after winning the 2018 Apps Africa Award for Best Media and Entertainment App and Qene Games is set to launch the iOS version in 2021 behind their latest release of Gebeta.

    Kukulu is a 3D runner game similar to the global hit Subway Surfers but has a plot twist of African culture integrated into the game as it takes place in a fairy-tale land type of setting. Kukulu is the name of the main character in the game, a brave chicken that finds freedom from her farmer. Gamers are taken through the African terrain as they help Kukulu journey and run for her life through levels and challenging obstacles.

    Recently, Qene Games proudly entered into a global, multi-year partnership with Carry1st. These two companies worked together to publish Gebeta, a free-to-play mobile board game that is a modern take on the traditional African and South Asian game of mancala. The game’s features include new mechanics, boosters, and tricks as it is intended to make the game more engaging with modern players as they grow in mastery.

    Qene Games also has plans to launch another addition to its ever-growing portfolio with the launch of Feta slated for 2021. Feta is a puzzle slider game with fun and challenging characteristics. Ethiopian culture is highlighted in the game, along with the country’s tradition and food. The game is a way for all audiences who play to see the beauty that Ethiopian culture brings to the world.

    Qene Games will launch the App Store version of the Kukulu game, as it is currently only available on Google Play. The company also plans to launch “Feta” and eventually become its own game publisher after closing a quiet pre-seed round of $250,000 in 2021 said the company CEO and co-founder, Dawit Abraham.

    “The software development firm, Qene Games, is excited for what the next few years and beyond holds after being the leader in raising the bar and popularity of African gaming in the technology industry. Experts at the company are generating more global content to add to future game releases,” said Hiruy Amanuel.

    About Hiruy Amanuel

    Hiruy Amanuel is a dedicated philanthropist who has invested in several educational and technological initiatives in East Africa. By increasing access to quality education and technological resources, he hopes to drive the rapid development of groundbreaking technologies throughout the Horn of Africa.

    About Dawit Abraham

    Dawit is a Senior game developer and co-founder of Qene Games which is a gaming company creating premium African mobile games for the international market. Dawit believes that Africa has a strong capacity to compete with international software industries and his goal is to make Qene Technologies one of the leading gaming companies in Africa, and eventually, the world.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Spotlight: Ethiopia’s Qene Tech, Creators of Kukulu & Gebeta Video Games

    Dawit Abraham, Qene Technologies Co-founder and CEO. (Photo: Qene Tech)

    Ventures Africa

    DAWIT ABRAHAM AND HIRUY AMANUEL DISCUSS THE FUTURE OF AWARD-WINNING MOBILE GAMING STUDIO, QENE GAMES

    As one of the top gaming studios in Africa, Qene Games already has a 2018 Apps Africa Award for Best Media and Entertainment App under its belt, along with a bright future ahead.

    A part of this Ethiopian company’s vision is to incorporate African roots into the games created. Qene Games launched its first mobile 3D game in 2018 called Kukulu. The firm then spent almost a year problem-solving to establish a global friendly African game brand for the international market. The original African game set expectations high after winning the 2018 Apps Africa Award for Best Media and Entertainment App and Qene Games is set to launch the iOS version in 2021 behind their latest release of Gebeta.

    Kukulu is a 3D runner game similar to the global hit Subway Surfers but has a plot twist of African culture integrated into the game as it takes place in a fairy-tale land type of setting. Kukulu is the name of the main character in the game, a brave chicken that finds freedom from her farmer. Gamers are taken through the African terrain as they help Kukulu journey and run for her life through levels and challenging obstacles.

    Recently, Qene Games proudly entered into a global, multi-year partnership with Carry1st. These two companies worked together to publish Gebeta, a free-to-play mobile board game that is a modern take on the traditional African and South Asian game of mancala. The game’s features include new mechanics, boosters, and tricks as it is intended to make the game more engaging with modern players as they grow in mastery.

    Qene Games also has plans to launch another addition to its ever-growing portfolio with the launch of Feta slated for 2021. Feta is a puzzle slider game with fun and challenging characteristics. Ethiopian culture is highlighted in the game, along with the country’s tradition and food. The game is a way for all audiences who play to see the beauty that Ethiopian culture brings to the world.

    Qene Games will launch the App Store version of the Kukulu game, as it is currently only available on Google Play. The company also plans to launch “Feta” and eventually become its own game publisher after closing a quiet pre-seed round of $250,000 in 2021 said the company CEO and co-founder, Dawit Abraham.

    “The software development firm, Qene Games, is excited for what the next few years and beyond holds after being the leader in raising the bar and popularity of African gaming in the technology industry. Experts at the company are generating more global content to add to future game releases,” said Hiruy Amanuel.

    About Hiruy Amanuel

    Hiruy Amanuel is a dedicated philanthropist who has invested in several educational and technological initiatives in East Africa. By increasing access to quality education and technological resources, he hopes to drive the rapid development of groundbreaking technologies throughout the Horn of Africa.

    About Dawit Abraham

    Dawit is a Senior game developer and co-founder of Qene Games which is a gaming company creating premium African mobile games for the international market. Dawit believes that Africa has a strong capacity to compete with international software industries and his goal is to make Qene Technologies one of the leading gaming companies in Africa, and eventually, the world.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Spotlight: Ruth Negga To Play Josephine Baker In ABC Limited Series

    Ruth Negga, the Ethiopian-Irish actress, is set to play the legendary Josephine Baker, an American-born French Jazz Age performer and civil rights activist, in an upcoming Limited Series At ABC Signature. (Photo: Ruth Negga and Josephine Baker/AP)

    Deadline

    Ruth Negga To Star In Josephine Baker Limited Series At ABC Signature From Dee Harris-Lawrence, Millicent Shelton & LeBron James’ SpringHill Company

    EXCLUSIVE: The remarkable story of Josephine Baker, one of the most influential female entertainers of the 20th century, will be the subject of Josephine, a limited drama series in development at ABC Signature, with Ruth Negga attached to star as the legendary Jazz Age performer and civil rights activist.

    Negga also executive produces the project, which hails from David Makes Man showrunner Dee Harris-Lawrence, Emmy-nominated director Millicent Shelton (30 Rock), LeBron James and Maverick Carter’s The Springhill Company and ABC Signature. Josephine stems from The Springhill Company’s overall deal with ABC Signature.

    Written by Harris-Lawrence and to be directed by Shelton, Josephine is a raw and unflinching look at the force of nature that was Josephine Baker, the biggest Black female artist of her time. From international superstar and decorated WWII spy, to civil rights activist and flawed mother, Josephine delves into the raw talent, sexual fluidity, struggles and bold life of an icon.

    Negga, Harris-Lawrence and Shelton executive produce with The Springhill Company.

    Born in Missouri in 1906, Baker started her career at 15 when she appeared onstage in several New York shows. At 19, she moved to France, which would become her adopted home country.

    There, she almost immediately found success as one of Europe’s most popular and highest-paid performers. Early on, she was renowned as a dancer, and was among the most celebrated performers to headline the revues of the Folies Bergère in Paris. She won admiration of cultural figures such as Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway and E.E. Cummings, earning herself nicknames like “Black Venus” and “Black Pearl.” Baker sang professionally for the first time in 1930, and several years later landed film roles as a singer in Zou-Zou and Princesse Tam-Tam.

    Baker worked for the French Resistance during World War II, and during the 1950s and ’60s devoted herself to fighting segregation and racism in the United States. Baker refused to perform for segregated audiences in the U.S. and had an active role in the civil rights movement. She was a speaker at the 1963 March on Washington, and in 1968, she was offered unofficial leadership in the movement in the U.S. by Coretta Scott King, following Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, but declined the offer out of concern for the welfare of her children. Just two years after making a comeback to the stage, Baker died of a cerebral hemorrhage on April 12, 1975, and was buried with military honors.

    Decades later, Baker’s life and work continues to influence top entertainment figures such as Beyoncé, who has portrayed her on various occasions. Baker also was portrayed by Diana Ross on Broadway and television in An Evening with Diana Ross, by Karine Plantadit in the biopic Frida and by Cush Jumbo in her debut play Josephine and I. In HBO’s 1991 biopic, The Josephine Baker Story, Baker was played by Lynn Whitfield, who won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Special, becoming the first Black actress to win the category.

    Baker was recently discovered by a new generation through HBO’s very influential 2020 series Lovecraft Country, which featured the American-born French entertainer, played by Carra Patterson. Also last year, Studiocanal, CPB Films and Leyland Films announced that they are developing an English-language drama series about Baker.

    Negga, best known for her starring roles in the film Loving and the AMC series Preacher, is repped by ICM Partners, Principal Entertainment and Markham Froggat and Irwin.

    For Harris-Lawrence, Josephine falls outside of the big overall deal she recently signed with Warner Bros. TV, where she serves an exec producer/co-showrunner on All Rise and exec producer/showrunner on David Makes Man. Prior to that, she was co-executive producer on Unsolved: The Murders of Tupac and the Notorious B.I.G., Shots Fired and Star as well as Zoo, the ABC Signature-produced Detroit 1-8-7 and Saving Grace. She is repped by Rain Management Group and Gordon M. Bobb at Del Shaw Moonves.

    Shelton, who has played a key role in putting Josephine together, landed an Emmy nomination for 30 Rock, becoming the first African-American woman to be nominated in the directing for a comedy series category. The prolific music video and TV helmer has been one of ABC Signature’s go-to directors for Black-ish. She has also directed episodes of P-Valley, Insecure, The Walking Dead, Titans and the Starz comedy pilot Run the World, which was picked up to series. Shelton’s has TV directing work has earned her 10 NAACP Image Award nominations and three wins. She recently signed on to direct Netflix’s feature thriller End of the Road starring Queen Latifah. Shelton is repped by ICM Partners, Rain Management Group and Del Shaw Moonves.

    Related:

    Spotlight: Ruth Negga as ‘Hamlet’ American Premiere

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Spotlight: Ethiopian-American Artist Awol Erizku’s Photo of Poet Amanda Gorman on TIME Magazine‘s New Cover

    TIME Magazine‘s new cover features American poet Amanda Gorman, photographed by Ethiopian-American artist Awol Erizku. (Photo of ​Awol Erizku by Jeff Vespa)

    Fad Magazine

    AMANDA GORMAN, PHOTOGRAPHED BY ARTIST AWOL ERIZKU FOR TIME COVER.

    TIME Magazine‘s new cover features American poet Amanda Gorman, photographed by Ethiopian-American artist Awol Erizku. Erizku is quickly becoming one of the most iconic photographers of our time.

    Erizku is a multidisciplinary artist working in photography, film, sculpture and installation, creating a new vernacular that bridges the gap between African and African American visual culture, referencing art history, hip hop and spirituality, amongst other subjects, in his work.

    “I was interested in allowing her to own the space that she’s in right now,” Erizku says. “We were going for timelessness, something that felt classical” and tied in to the “resurgence of a Black renaissance.”

    It was a special moment for him, too. “Like many who witnessed the recent presidential Inauguration, I was captivated by her poem and her exquisite delivery,” says Erizku, who is based in Los Angeles and has exhibited at institutions including New York City’s Museum of Modern Art and the Studio Museum in Harlem. “For TIME, I wanted to extricate her from the political dimension and immerse it in a more cosmic atmosphere to add to the weight of her words.”

    In a separate image featured inside the magazine, Gorman holds a white birdcage in a nod to the birdcage ring she wore on inauguration day. (That ring was a gift from Oprah, referring to previous inauguration poet Maya Angelou’s poem, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.”)

    “It needed a layer of depth that only poetry can explain,” Erizku says of the image.

    A team of Black creative professionals prepared Gorman for the portraits: Jason Bolden styled her, Autumn Moultrie did her makeup, Khiry provided jewellery and the dress was from Greta Constantine.

    The issue features Michelle Obama in conversation with American poet Amanda Gorman, whose poem ‘The Hill We Climb’ read at Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony touched hearts and minds all over the world. The article, which covers issues such as the role of art in activism and the pressures Black women face in the spotlight, is also accompanied by a video shot and directed by Erizku.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Spotlight: NYT & Yahoo Interview with Sara Menker, CEO of Gro Intelligence

    Last month The New York Times highlighted Sara Menker's company Gro Intelligence as a start-up raising money "in a bid to create business benchmarks for climate risk." This week Yahoo Finance is featuring the Ethiopian-born former Wall Street commodities trader as part of its 'Influencers' series discussing "the challenges of food security, how Covid exposed the world’s agriculture system, and why [Sara] says we may be a few years away from a global food crisis." Below are excerpts and links to both stories. (Photo by Gabriela Celeste, via Gro Intelligence)

    Yahoo Finance

    Sara Menker spoke to Yahoo Finance Editor-in-Chief Andy Serwer in an episode of “Influencers with Andy Serwer,” a weekly interview series with leaders in business, politics, and entertainment.

    Born and raised in Ethiopia, Menker moved to the United States for college at Mt. Holyoke and later received a master’s degree in business administration from Columbia University. She worked as a commodities trader at Morgan Stanley for eight years, but left in 2012 to improve the quality and accessibility of data in the agricultural sector.

    Two years later, she launched Gro Intelligence, which aggregates thousands of data sources to model conditions that affect global agricultural output, such as drought and floods.

    Speaking with Yahoo Finance, Menker said the protectionist policies last year that rocked the food supply chain will likely worsen as climate change exacerbates global instability.

    “More uncertainty means more protectionism,” she says.

    Read the full article and watch the video at finance.yahoo.com »

    A start-up raises money in a bid to create business benchmarks for climate risk.


    Sara Menker, the chief executive of Gro Intelligence. Credit…Gabriela Celeste, via Gro Intelligence

    The New York Times

    As companies and regulators increasingly see climate change as a business threat, the data company Gro Intelligence is devising indexes that it says can track climate risks in a granular way — and could create a new class of financial investments.

    The company is developing indexes to measure conditions like drought, floods, temperature and more, according to Sara Menker, its founder and chief executive. For example, its software aggregates 46 variables into a single measure of drought severity on a scale from zero to five.

    These indexes, along with a new $85 million fund-raising round that Gro will announce on Friday, the DealBook newsletter reports, are the latest signs of the financial industry’s efforts to generate money from environmental initiatives.

    Read more »

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    WATCH: Ethiopia’s Gudaf Tsegay Smashes 1500m World Record

    Gudaf Tsegay (left) celebrates winning the women’s 1500m in Liévin, France and setting an indoor world record time of 3min 53.09sec. The 24-year-old’s time not only broke the previous best set by Genzebe Dibaba in 2014 but – understandably – the resolve of Britain’s Laura Muir. (Reuters photo)

    The Guardian

    Ethiopian records 3min 53.09sec to shatter record

    Gudaf Tsegay of Ethiopia demolished the women’s 1500m indoor world record by more than two seconds on an astonishing night that will fuel yet more talk about how new track spike technology has become a gamechanger for the sport.

    The 24-year-old’s time of 3min 53.09sec at the World Indoor Tour meeting in Liévin, France not only broke the previous best set by Genzebe Dibaba in 2014 but – understandably – the resolve of Britain’s Laura Muir.

    Muir is one of the world’s finest middle-distance runners, but she was unable to keep up with Tsegay as the pacemaker led the field through the first 400m in a lightning quick 58.97.

    The gap only grew and Muir could do little as she finished more than six seconds back in 3:59.58. Her time was still good enough to break the British record.

    “My training did that,” said Tsegay, the 2019 world bronze medallist, who was running in new Adidas spikes. “The pace is my friend. I have been training really hard and I am so happy.”

    Two world records that have stood for a generation almost fell during an incredible two hours. The 20-year-old Ethiopian Getnet Wale – who is better known as a steeplechaser – produced an astonishing final kilometre to come within 0.31sec of the indoor 3,000m record that has been held by Daniel Komen since 1998.

    Read more »

    Watch: Guduf Tsegay Sets WORLD RECORD 1500m 3:53.09

    Related:

    Another Ethiopian Victory at 2021 World Indoor Tour As Getnet Wale Wins 3000m

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Video: The Weeknd Rocks Tampa with Super Bowl Halftime Show

    Abel rocked Raymond James Stadium Sunday in between halves, headlining the Pepsi Halftime Show solo ... as promised. For starters, almost 80% of his set was done on an elevated platform from high up in the bleachers -- away from pretty much everyone below. (TMZ)

    TMZ

    The Weeknd came, he saw, and he conquered his Super Bowl halftime performance … and, boy, was this one different in the midst of a pandemic.

    Abel rocked Raymond James Stadium Sunday in between halves, headlining the Pepsi Halftime Show solo … as promised. For starters, almost 80% of his set was done on an elevated platform from high up in the bleachers — away from pretty much everyone below.

    They built an elaborate stage for the guy — complete with a makeshift cityscape made in the fashion of Las Vegas and kinda NYC too. Weeknd was surrounded by a bunch of would-be clones that changed costumes throughout, but started out with masks and glowing red eyes.

    Of course, TW was in his signature red blazer, black gloves and MJ-esque shoes. He ran through a few of his hits, including ‘Starboy,’ ‘The Hills’ and ‘Can’t Feel My Face.’ He then ran backstage into a house of mirrors type of set, reminiscent of his ‘Blinding Lights’ music vid.

    Weeknd continued to sing snippets of ‘I Feel It Coming,’ ‘Save Your Tears,’ and ‘Earned It’ — that’s when the party got on the move … down to the field level where he kept the show going.

    Almost the entire gridiron was flooded with Abel lookalikes, but all of them had their faces bandaged … with the OG eventually joining them as they wrapped a choreographed dance routine. He then led them into a march down field, and went on to sing ‘BL,’ which was capped off with a crazy firework show and the so-called clones running around him in elaborate circles before falling to the ground and lying still, with only Weeknd left standing.

    It was pretty neat — but perhaps most noteworthy … the fact fans couldn’t come on down and join in on the fun. Still, Weeknd made the most of it … and the crowd seemed to love every minute, as they could be heard screaming from the stands.

    The whole thing ran about 14 minutes, and seemed to go off without a hitch. Well done, all!

    Related:

    Spotlight: 5 Things to Know About The Weeknd


    It’s Super Bowl Weeknd (not a typo). Canadian singer The Weeknd (Abel Tesfaye) will be on the biggest stage of his career when he performs the Super Bowl halftime show on Sunday, February 7, 2021 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida., and he’s taking no chances on its success. (AP photo)

    WUSA9

    From The Weeknd’s unusual stage name to his musical influences, here are a few things you may not know about the Super Bowl halftime performer.

    It’s Super Bowl Weeknd (not a typo). Canadian singer The Weeknd will be on the biggest stage of his career when he performs the halftime show at Super Bowl LV between the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and he’s taking no chances on its success.

    “We all grow up watching the world’s biggest acts playing the Super Bowl and one can only dream of being in that position,” the singer said when it was announced in November. “I’m humbled, honored and ecstatic to be the center of that infamous stage.”

    How honored? The Weeknd told Billboard last week that he’s put up $7 million of his own money to “make this halftime show be what he envisioned.”

    The Weeknd broke though into mainstream with his smash hit “Can’t Feel My Face” that was featured on his second studio album, “Beauty Behind the Madness,” which topped the Billboard 200 in 2015 and won a Grammy. He’s had three other chart-topping albums including his recent offering “After Hours,” which was released in March 2020.

    The Weeknd’s 2020 hit single “Blinding Lights” became his fifth song to peak at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. He’s also won Grammys for his album “Starboy” and the song “Earned It.” That song also earned him an Oscar nomination after it appeared in the movie “Fifty Shades Of Grey.”

    If you’re unfamiliar with The Weeknd, an artist known for being somewhat press averse, here are five things to know before he takes the field in Tampa.

    What is The Weeknd’s real name?

    Abel Tesfaye. He was born in Toronto, Canada, on February 16, 1990.

    Why is he The Weeknd and not The Weekend?

    Tesfaye wanted to call himself The Weekend, according to E!, but an Ontario band already had dibs on the name. So, he just dropped a vowel.

    He did crossword puzzles to improve his vocabulary

    Tesfaye was a high school dropout, according to a 2015 Rolling Stone interview. He did crossword puzzles to up his vocabulary. He said then he wished he was a more eloquent speaker. “Me not finishing school — in my head, I still have this insecurity when I’m talking to someone educated,” he said.

    Michael Jackson was a huge influence due to The Weeknd’s heritage

    Tesfaye said Michael Jackson was an influence on his career not only for the King of Pop’s music, but due to Tesfaye’s family roots. Although he was born in Toronto, his parents were from Ethiopia.

    “People forget — ‘We Are the World’ is for Ethiopia,” he told Rolling Stone, referencing the 1985 song Jackson wrote with Lionel Richie to raise money to combat famine in Africa. “At home, if it wasn’t Ethiopian music, it was Michael. He was our icon.” He told Vanity Fair that Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ‘til You Get Enough” helped him find his voice.

    A run-in with police helped him ‘smarten up’

    In a 2016 interview with The Guardian, Tesfaye said he had a “near-miss” with the law that he described as “bad enough for me to smarten up, to focus.” While he didn’t elaborate, he said he knew he was given a second chance. “And you either take the experience and think, ‘This is it, final straw’, or you don’t. And the next move after that? It’s your entire life. You become who you become because of the next move you make.”

    Tesfaye joins a list of celebrated musicians who have played during Super Bowl halftime shows, including Madonna, Beyoncé, Coldplay, Katy Perry, U2, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Lady Gaga, Michael Jackson and last year’s duo of Shakira and Jennifer Lopez.

    Jay-Z’s Roc Nation company is executive producing the halftime show for a second year. Jesse Collins, who has produced the BET Awards and is working on this year’s Grammys and Oscars telecasts, will serve as an executive producer.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    TIME: Motown President Ethiopia Habtemariam on Steering the Legendary Label Through the Pandemic

    Ethiopia Habtemariam, the president of Motown Records, has spent the past year assisting her artists in navigating the painful reality of life offstage while retooling album-release plans. Below is Time Magazine's interview with Ethiopia. (Photo: Camera Press/Redux)

    TIME

    The pandemic rocked the music industry. Live performances, which are such a critical part of driving the business (and making fans euphoric) were quickly shut down last year. Concerts are going to be slow to return. (Who’s up for crowding next to sweaty strangers, yelling at the top of their lungs?) Ethiopia Habtemariam, the president of Motown Records, has spent the past year assisting her artists in navigating the painful reality of life offstage while retooling album-release plans. She helped one artist cope with depression when a much anticipated record was postponed and, in the outbreak’s early days, counseled another to take the virus more seriously. “There was a lot of misinformation about COVID and communities that it was hitting,” she said. Habtemariam remembers one young artist who was still going out on the town telling her, “Oh no, that’s a rich-people thing.”

    While live shows floundered, music delivered comfort to people stuck in their homes and apartments. Total audio consumption, which includes streaming and album sales, was up 11.6 % in 2020, according to MRC Data. And for Habtemariam, 41, the past year helped her ongoing mission to make the legendary Motown brand relevant in today’s culture. Back in 2015, she signed a joint venture with Quality Control Music, an influential hip-hop label based in Atlanta, leading to a string of megahits from hot young artists including the Migos, Lil Yachty and Lil Baby. Lil Baby, an Atlanta rapper, singer and songwriter, had the best-selling album of 2020, according to MRC Data, beating out Taylor Swift and the Weeknd. And Lil Baby’s single “The Bigger Picture,” released after the murder of George Floyd, became an unofficial protest anthem played at marches and rallies throughout the country. It has more than 112 million views on YouTube.

    Habtemariam, who started her music career as an unpaid intern at 14, recently joined TIME for a video conversation on the pressures of taking over a storied label, the perils of social media for artists and her favorite live venues.

    (This interview with Motown Records president Ethiopia Habtemariam has been condensed and edited for clarity.)

    So, what have you been listening to, to get through the pandemic?

    I went through a phase around April, May, when I was like going down memory lane of my childhood, reminiscing on songs that I grew up on. Middle school, high school years. And it was actually therapeutic in many ways. It kind of helped me get through a lot of the different emotions and feelings that I was having, and also it reminded me of why I fell in love with music.

    Rumor has it that you were a big TLC fan.

    I still think that they don’t get the credit they deserve because they were so huge! TLC, Aaliyah, Missy [Elliott], Lauryn Hill—I was a massive Janet Jackson fan as well.

    I’m a huge fan of music, period. I’m a daughter of immigrants. My parents are both Ethiopian, and I’m Ethiopian American. I grew up in the South. So here I am, this young girl, with a name like Ethiopia; I was a bit of an alien, but music was my salvation. It was my escape, but it was also a bridge for me to connect and build friendships.

    How did the pandemic disrupt your release schedule? You still managed to have one of the biggest albums of the year, with Lil Baby’s My Turn.

    I remember it vividly because we scheduled some in-stores for him. I remember coming to Atlanta and making sure everyone had hand sanitizer. And then everything shut down, and we had to really come together to figure out how we were going to move forward.

    We put it out Feb. 28, and it was massive. The response was incredible; everything was great. And two weeks later, the world shuts down. One of the things that was in the plan was, of course, a huge tour.

    Read more »

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    SPOTLIGHT: Dr. Menna Demessie Appointed Senior Vice President at Universal Music Group

    Universal Music Group (UMG) has appointed Dr. Menna Demessie as Senior Vice President and Executive Director of the company’s global Task Force for Meaningful Change (TFMC), effective immediately. (Photo credit: Duane Prokop)

    Press Release

    UNIVERSAL MUSIC GROUP APPOINTS DR. MENNA DEMESSIE SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF TASK FORCE FOR MEANINGFUL CHANGE

    SANTA MONICA – Universal Music Group (UMG), the world leader in music-based entertainment, announced today that Dr. Menna Demessie has been appointed Senior Vice President and Executive Director of the company’s global Task Force for Meaningful Change (TFMC), effective immediately. TFMC was established in June 2020 by UMG’s Chairman and CEO, Sir Lucian Grainge, as a force for social justice in the music industry and beyond.

    Dr. Demessie, a political scientist and social justice advocate with a deep track record of civic and educational empowerment, will manage the TFMC and its activities. The company also announced UMG’s EVP, Chief People and Inclusion Officer, Eric Hutcherson, will join Jeff Harleston, General Counsel and EVP Business & Legal Affairs, UMG and interim CEO, Def Jam Records, and Ethiopia Habtemariam, President, Motown Records, as a co-chair of the TFMC.

    In making this announcement, Ethiopia Habtemariam said, “From the start, we’ve been energized by the commitment and passion of the TFMC – an organization powered by UMG executives from across the company who volunteer their time for this important work. We’re excited to welcome Dr. Demessie to the UMG family and to have the benefit of her experience in social justice work and as a leader at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, to help advance the ongoing efforts of the TFMC to drive meaningful, long-term change.”

    “Over the past year we have seen the best of humanity rise up to deal with the worst of ongoing racial and social injustices around the world. It was out of this need that the TFMC was created and we’re proud of what we have accomplished in our first seven months. Having Dr. Demessie join UMG and oversee the TFMC’s efforts is a further statement of our commitment to the fight for equality and social justice,” said Jeff Harleston.

    “Dr. Demessie has demonstrated over the course of her illustrious career her commitment to social justice and a studied understanding of diversity and inclusion, public policy and government, human rights and international relations. Her perspective will enhance the reach of what the TFMC can accomplish and we’re excited to have her join us in our efforts,” said Eric Hutcherson.

    Dr. Demessie said, “It’s been incredible watching what UMG’s TFMC has accomplished over the past seven months. From the voter initiatives, civic engagement and community support through charitable giving to new internal programs, UMG has demonstrated a commitment to real, lasting change and I couldn’t be more thrilled to be part of this organization. I want to thank Sir Lucian, Jeff, Eric and Ethiopia for this opportunity and their support as we continue the important work of the TFMC.”

    Prior to joining UMG, Dr. Demessie served as Senior Vice President of Policy Analysis and Research; and the Leadership Institute at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc. where she led the foundation’s research and policy initiatives affecting African Americans and the global Black community in areas including education, criminal justice, economic opportunity, voting rights and public health among many others for the past nine years. Dr. Demessie has spearheaded several partnerships with the White House, the U.S. Congress and recently led CBCF efforts to establish the National Racial Equity Initiative for Social Justice, established critical research, social justice scholarships for HBCUs, and Congressman John Lewis Social Justice Fellows to work in Congress and continue the pipeline for African Americans to be leaders in public policy.

    Dr. Demessie is a published race and ethnic politics expert and one of five U.S. scholars to receive the prestigious American Political Science Congressional Fellowship in 2010. She also served on Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s legislative staff working on federal unemployment legislation, antipoverty initiatives, and foreign affairs. She is a twice-elected alumni board member of the University of Michigan’s Ford School of Public Policy and currently serves on the American Political Science Association Council and the Board of Trustees at Western Reserve Academy. She is also a member of the National Conference of Black Political Scientists.

    As an Adjunct Professor for the University of California Washington Center, Dr. Demessie teaches courses on race and ethnic politics, Black Lives Matter and social movements, and public opinion and public policy. She holds a dual B.A. in economics and law & society from Oberlin College and a joint PhD in public policy and political science from the University of Michigan.

    About Universal Music Group

    Universal Music Group (UMG) is the world leader in music-based entertainment, with a broad array of businesses engaged in recorded music, music publishing, merchandising and audiovisual content in more than 60 countries. Featuring the most comprehensive catalog of recordings and songs across every musical genre, UMG identifies and develops artists and produces and distributes the most critically acclaimed and commercially successful music in the world. Committed to artistry, innovation and entrepreneurship, UMG fosters the development of services, platforms and business models in order to broaden artistic and commercial opportunities for our artists and create new experiences for fans. Universal Music Group is a Vivendi company.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Meet Prof. Hirut Woldemariam of Ethiopia Vying To Become Africa’s Next Education & Science Leader

    Professor Hirut Woldemariam, Ethiopia's candidate to become the next African Union Commissioner of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation. (Photo: MOSHE)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: February 6th, 2021

    New York (TADIAS) – This weekend African Union (AU) leaders are meeting virtually for their “34th Ordinary Session of the Assembly” that under normal circumstances would have been held at the organization’s headquarters in Addis Ababa if it was not for the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

    The AU gathering is also taking place as the continental body has announced a high-level job opening based in Ethiopia’s capital for Commissioner of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation.

    Among those who have applied for the position and is now considered a top candidate for the post is Ethiopia’s Hirut Woldemariam, the first female professor at Addis Ababa University’s Colleges of Social Science and Humanities and the first woman Vice President of the University. Professor Hirut, who was also more recently the founding Minister of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education in Ethiopia, is currently an Advisor to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.


    Prof. Hirut Woldemariam. (Photo via twitter @ProfHirutWM)

    In her departing message last summer Prof. Hirut told employees of Ethiopia’s Ministry of Science and Higher Education that “it was a joy for me to work tirelessly with you to build the Ministry of Science and Higher Education from the ground up. Together we have reformed the higher education sector as never before. For the first time in the history of Ethiopian higher education, the 46 public universities are designated into three categories: Research, Applied Sciences, and Comprehensive Universities. Conditions are now ripe for each university to build centers of excellence and blossom using its human resource and leadership capabilities, and comparative local advantages.”

    Prof. Hirut argues that her extensive managerial experiences perfectly qualifies her for the African Union position, which according to the job description requires a “demonstrated intellectual leadership, creativity and proven ability to propose new ideas and lead on new ways of working across silos in a complementary and synergistic way for a prosperous and peaceful Africa.”

    In a recent interview with a local publication in Ethiopia, Abyssinia Business Network, Prof. Hirut noted:

    My vision is to enable inclusive, relevant, high-quality education and foster Africa-centric science and a deep culture of innovation that will unleash the potential of Africa’s youth for the continent’s rightful and timely advancement as aspired in Agenda 2063. We have to make a paradigm shift to do things differently to unlock Africa’s indigenous knowledge of our ancestors; to make the best out of Africa’s talent, wisdom, and vibrant energy of the youth. We have to invest in the youth, on the next generation through Africa-relevant quality education, advancement of science, technology and innovation. Otherwise, we cannot ensure to have a prosperous and globally influential continent that we always aspire to see.

    In an enthusiastic support of her candidacy Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed tweeted:

    I am pleased to endorse Prof. Hirut Woldemariam, Ethiopia’s Candidate for AU Commissioner of Education, Science, Technology & Innovation. Having served in my Cabinet as Minister and currently serving as my Social Sector Advisor, Prof Hirut is an exceptional candidate.”

    For his part Ethiopia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Demeke Mekonnen added:

    I am honored to support the candidacy of Prof. Hirut Woldemariam to AU Commissioner of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation. I hope pertinent organs will be mindful of her outstanding professional caliber and ethical behavior, a perfect resume for the post.

    In her twitter feed Prof. Hirut Woldemariam also shared another coveted endorsement from Kenyan Professor of Linguistics Kumbo Sure who sent the following video recommending the Ethiopian candidate.

    Below is an excerpt and a link to a profile of Prof. Hirut Woldemariam via awib.org:

    Professor Hirut Woldemariam: Fearless Woman Still on The Rise

    Hirut Woldemariam (PhD) is the Social Advisor for Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed Ali with a Ministerial rank. She is a candidate for the position of a Commissioner of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation of the African Union.

    Hirut was born in Debre Markos, Gojjam, and is the first of four to her mother of Debre Markos and father, a teacher from the South—Kambata community. When Hirut was about four years old her father got a scholarship to major in History and the family moved to Addis Ababa. The children attended public school. Hirut joined Addis Ababa University (AAU) and was assigned a dorm with senior Linguistic students whose heated discussions about language and what it constitutes influenced her to join the field.


    Prof. Hirut Woldemariam. (awib.org)

    After graduation, Hirut joined the Academy of Ethiopian Languages and Culture as a Researcher. Her role in the organization involved developing a language policy, creating words for new ideas and concepts, and developing acronyms usage guidelines. She also earned a master’s degree. Later, she joined AAU’s Linguistic and Philology Department as a lecturer. After serving the university for a year, Hirut was awarded a PhD scholarship for a joint program given by AAU and the University of Cologne. Her thesis focused on analyzing and identifying the relation of an endangered language of the Gedicho with other Omotic languages. When she returned, Hirut was appointed Head of the Linguistic Department. Initially, she was hesitant to accept the offer but then asked herself, “Why not?” This marked her first leadership position, and she was the only young woman to hold such a position at a university.

    Heading the department, Hirut engaged in intensive research projects in collaboration with the Norwegian Development Agency-NORAD. In the effort to prove herself and fellow young women, she engaged in: organizing international conferences; launching the first PhD program in Ge’ez philology, Arabic, and ancient manuscripts; and starting a bachelor degree program in sign language. In a couple of years, the President of the university, Professor Andreas Eshete, who witnessed her braveness and hard work, picked her for the position of Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, making her the first woman to hold the position. She was responsible for staff promotion, curriculum development, and handling student affairs. Aligning with her belief that “hard work always pays back” and “one opportunity leads to the next,” it was not too long when she was promoted as Vice President for International Affairs. She was responsible for AAU’s international partnership and strategic planning programs.

    The Ministry of Education used to organize an annual conference for all public universities’ presidents and vice presidents. Professor Hirut found herself to be the only woman in the crowd. She submitted to the Minister and the rest of the participants that had it been in other parts of the world, any decision made during the conference would have been disqualified as it is being made in the absence of representatives of half of the population. The move triggered the consciousness of the academic leadership and led to the appointment of women to at least vice presidency positions.

    Hirut recalls in several instances she had felt out of place for being the only woman. When she started being conscious of her situation, she challenged herself to be “deaf” to any negative voice either coming from colleagues, the community, or herself. She focused on her target and gave no room for fault. Living in a society that gives women small chances to assume leadership positions and to break the glass ceiling, one must stay focused on goals. “The more you keep on focusing on the bigger picture—through time and experience—you will develop confidence and also be conscious of the fact that pressure makes diamonds,” Hirut said.

    Besides her role at the university, Dr. Hirut became part of the Ethiopian Public Diplomacy Delegation. She participated in missions to Cairo to conduct public diplomacy in relation to the GERD. She was put in the spotlight for engaging the President of Egypt, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, in an emotional dialogue on the importance of building the dam to tremendously change the livelihood of the Ethiopian people—especially women. By the end of the mission President al-Sisi told the Ethiopian Public Diplomacy team that with a new government in the country, “Egypt does not refuse the development of Ethiopia and the GERD.”

    During the premiership of Hailemariam Desalegn—a time the government was looking for technocrats for ministerial positions—Hirut was selected among the six runners; she was the only woman. That was also the time the AAU was considering her for a full professorship position. She succeeded in attaining the ministerial post preceding the professorship. Her first ministerial position was Minister of Culture and Tourism.

    In 2018, when Abiy Ahmed became the prime minister and reshuffled his cabinet, Hirut became his pick for Minister of Labor and Social Affairs. Later that year, the prime minister appointed her to lead the newly created Ministry of Science and Higher Education.

    Read more »

    Click here to learn more and follow Prof. Hirut Woldemariam’s progress on social media.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Q & A: Rebecca Haile on the Opening of the Haile-Manas Academy in Ethiopia

    "Opening day was simply magical," says Rebecca Haile, co-founder and executive director of the U.S.-based non-profit organization Ethiopia Education Initiatives, Inc., which manages the school located in Debre Birhan, Ethiopia. "After nearly five years of hard work, it was wonderful to welcome the students, Ethiopia’s future leaders—they are the reason we took this on!" (Courtesy photo)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: February 8th, 2021

    New York (TADIAS) – Last month the Haile-Manas Academy (HMA), located in Debre Birhan, Ethiopia, officially welcomed its first students becoming among the top high schools in Ethiopia offering international-standard curriculum and a brand new and state-of-the-art campus.

    The project is also a successful example of how Ethiopian Americans are investing in the future of their ancestral homeland. Rebecca, who lives in New York City, is a Lawyer, Mother, Author, Entrepreneur and Philanthropist who was also recently elected as Board Chair of EMILY’s List, one of the largest women associations in the United States.

    “Ethiopian Americans can support us by spreading the word and making sure everyone in their network here and in Ethiopia knows about this ambitious new school,” Rebecca says regarding HMA. “And I invite everyone to join us in investing in Ethiopia’s future.”

    Below is our Q & A with Rebecca Haile about the inauguration of the Haile-Manas Academy in Ethiopia.

    TADIAS: You did it Rebecca! Congratulations on the opening of HMA! Please tell us about the
    class of 2024 and how it feels to welcome the school’s first students?

    Rebecca Haile: Thank you! Opening day was simply magical. After nearly five years of hard work, it was wonderful to welcome the students, Ethiopia’s future leaders—they are the reason we took this on! Our inaugural group, the Class of 2024, is made up of 35 incredible kids coming from different regions/linguistic backgrounds. They are already leaning into their new environment and I cannot wait to watch them take off.

    TADIAS: The last time we featured HMA it was a few months after the ground-breaking ceremony to build the school from scratch in 2019. Please tell us about some of the major works that were done in between that culminated with the inauguration of the academy in January 2021?

    Rebecca: I can put our work in three categories. First, we built an entire campus from the ground up, and it is just beautiful. Second, we hired extraordinary school leaders—our head of school and deputy head—who have in turn recruited an exceptional founding faculty and staff. And third, we’ve worked to spread the word in order to recruit students and to start building the network of supporters and donors we need to keep admitting deserving kids without regard to their ability to pay.

    TADIAS: How was the project impacted by the pandemic and how are you managing the challenges so far?

    Rebecca: It would be easier if you asked me how it wasn’t impacted! I’ve joked about needing Plans B, C, and D…We had construction delays, for example right how we have a temporary kitchen and dining hall set up while we wait for the permanent kitchen to be completed. Our student recruiting process was cut short in the spring as we could not travel to or around Ethiopia after February 2020, which is why we have a smaller class of 35 rather than of 100, as initially intended. Most significantly the start of school was delayed, from September 2020 to January 2021, and faculty now have the challenge of providing students what they need in a truncated academic year. Of course we are not alone here, as the problem of lost learning time due to the pandemic is a global phenomenon.

    TADIAS: And what are the plans to mitigate COVID-19 for this academic year?

    Rebecca: We are fortunate to be living and learning on a campus designed for many more people, so have enough space for social distancing in the dorms and classrooms. We have established a comprehensive set of COVID-19 protocols, such as monthly testing, vigilant mask-wearing and hand hygiene, and keeping students and their faculty advisors grouped in small “families” of 10-12 who eat all meals together. We are also limiting trips off campus and limiting visits from outsiders.

    TADIAS: In addition to being housed in a brand-new, state-of-the-art building and campus the Haile-Manas Academy also offers an international-standard curriculum. Please share with us about the school’s management and teaching staff as well as some of the student programs?
     
    Rebecca: A main theme for us is partnership. Our school leaders are Head of School Kari Ostrem, a Princeton trained engineer, and Tesfaye Kifle, who joined us from ICS in Addis. Both are extraordinary educators with years of experience and complementary skills. They have recruited a group of Ethiopian and international faculty who will teach their subjects in teams—our faculty will learn from each other and be more effective as a result.

    In terms of teaching and programs, we have three organizing principles: rigor, relevance and relationships. Our courses cover the rigorous Ethiopian National Curriculum while building 21st Century skills such as creativity and collaboration. Our residential curriculum, which includes student-developed clubs, gives students the structure to be leaders in areas that are relevant to them. Finally, our advisory program, the on-campus family, gives every student the opportunity to build relationships with adults and students from across the country.

    TADIAS: Please tell us about the application process for those students who want to join HMA next year. What are the academic and financial requirements?

    Rebecca: Admission to HMA is merit based. Interested students are asked to submit a short letter of interest along with their middle school transcripts to info@ethiopiaed.org. Students who meet our minimum requirements will be invited to sit for the HMA admissions exams, which we hope to administer in several large cities, and top performers will then be invited for interviews after which we will extend offers of admission to finalists. Fees for tuition, room and board are around $10,000USD/year, and our desire is to admit students without regard to their ability to pay, to the extent possible. This first year, thanks to the support of generous donors, all 35 members of HMA’s Class of 2024 are receiving full scholarships.

    The exact dates and locations of our admission events and entrance exams will be on our website as soon as they are confirmed, so all interested families should check in mid-February for details and the closest location for events and exams.

    TADIAS: How can Ethiopians in America contribute and get involved with the Ethiopia Education Initiatives?

    Rebecca: Ethiopian Americans can support us by spreading the word and making sure everyone in their network here and in Ethiopia knows about this ambitious new school. I hope everyone will sign up to receive our newsletters. And I invite everyone to join us in investing in Ethiopia’s future by making a contribution of any amount so we can admit deserving students without regard to their ability to pay. It is easy to make a one-time donation and/or sign up to be a monthly donor on our website here.

    TADIAS: Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?

    Rebecca: I’d like to thank the many individuals who have helped us reach this milestone. It’s been so gratifying to see people embrace this model school as “our” collective project, for the benefit of Ethiopia. Tadias has been a part of that, thank you so much for being an advocate.

    Also, since this is a magazine for Ethiopian Americans many of whom grew up in the US like me, I’ll share a small point of personal pride, which is that on opening day I gave my entire welcome speech in Amharic. I could not have done that three years ago—my Amharic has really improved! I know I made lots of mistakes, but I accomplished my goal of communicating with students and their families. It makes me really happy to think that I could model for our students–who will now be working hard to perfect their English—the importance of being a life-long learner, of taking risks and of not being afraid to make mistakes.

    TADIAS: Thank you, Rebecca, and congrats again! We wish you all the best in 2021!

    You can learn more about The Haile-Manas Academy and support the Ethiopia Education Initiatives at ethiopiaeducationinitiatives.org

    Related:

    Spotlight: The Haile-Manas Academy, A New World Class School in Ethiopia

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook

    Unrealized Victory of the Battle of Adwa: By Professor Ayele Bekerie

    February is Black History Month and below is Professor Ayele Bekerie's reflection on the 125th anniversary of Ethiopia's victory at the Battle of Adwa, which is considered "a turning point in modern African history." (Photo: War Veterans heading to Adwa hand-in-hand to celebrate the victory at the Battle of Adwa in March 1896. By Ayele Bekerie)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Ayele Bekerie, PhD

    February 1st, 2021

    Unrealized Victory of the Battle of Adwa: Unity Then for Freedom and Unity Now for Transformation

    Mekelle University, Ethiopia (TADIAS) — The Ethiopians, 125 years ago, reversed the course of colonial history. At the Battle of Adwa, on March 1, 1896, they successfully unsettled the colonizers and paved the way for anti-colonial resistance in Africa. They charted a new strategy to ultimately defeat colonialism in Africa and elsewhere. The united and highly disciplined Ethiopian force achieved irreversible victory at the battlefield and obliged the Italians to retreat and return back to their native land. To be concise, at Adwa, Africa defeated Europe. Simply put, Adwa became a turning point in modern African history.

    The Italians call the Battle of Adwa, the Battle of Aba Gerima, a mountain top location that was used as a command center for the Ethiopian military leadership. It was next to Aba Gerima, at the foot of Mount Kidane Mehret, the first and by far the most decisive battle took place. Later, the battle site was named mindibdib, which means total annihilation. The Italians’ ambition for colonial expansion came to a halt at the foot of the majestic mountains of Abba Gerima, as well as Mount Kidane Mehret and Mount Gesseso. These mountains, including Mount Belah, Mount Raeyo, Mount Enda Kidane Mehret, Mount Solado and Mount Zubin Daero, form not only spectacular landscape of Adwa and its surroundings, but they also remain as mountains of natural fortress for Ethiopian fighters. They are remarkable landmarks of Adwa. Ethiopians fought the Italians at sites of their choosing.


    The mountains of Adwa, Permanent Landmarks of Victory. (Photo by Chester Higgins of the New York
    Times)

    Imminent historians and other scholars have written extensively about the Battle. One of the most comprehensive and scientific historical narratives on the Battle of Adwa is Raymond Jonas’s The Battle of Adwa: African Victory in the Age of Empire in 2011. Jonas’s widely praised book for its fair treatment of all the key players and deeds of the Battle, is a second book on the subject. The first book on the Battle was written by a British Journalist August Wilde, who witnessed the Battle and wrote the first book entitled Modern Abyssinia in 1903. Contrary to Jonas, Wylde wrote the book ‘to prevent another white failure in Ethiopia.’

    The major newspapers and magazines of the world placed the victory in their cover pages. Afro-Brazilian newspaper, which is recently revived, named itself ‘O Menelick.’ Parents were quick to name their offspring, from Hungary to France, Menelik, Taitu, Balcha, and Allula. The European Press reported the victory favorably. Vanity Fair, for instance, published in its cover page, a colored lithograph of Emperor Menelik II. Le Petit Journal also had the victory in its front page. Even the victory at Amba Alage triggered Italian students from Rome University to march on the streets of Rome shouting ‘Viva Menelik!’

    Pan-Africanist Benito Sylvain travelled to Addis Ababa from Paris to congratulate Emperor Menelik on his victory. He later served as a delegate to the first Pan-African Congress in 1900 in London representing Ethiopia and Haiti. The Haitian Dr. Sylvain had a chance to celebrate the centennial anniversary of the Haitian Revolution of 1804 in Addis Ababa.

    The National Archive and Library Agency (NALA) has a large collection of manuscripts and documents in Amharic on the Battle of Adwa. Among the Ethiopian scholars who documented and written about the Battle are: Belata Mersea Hazen Wolde Qirqos, Dejazmach Doctor Zewde Gebre Selassie, Dejazemach Kebede Tesema, Aleqa Taye Gebre Mariam, Fitawrari Tekle Hawariat Tekle Mariam and Dejazemach Zewde Reta as well as Paulos Gnogno. A useful source of the Battle also includes Tsehafe Tezaz Gebre Selassie’s Tarike Zemen Ze Dagmawi Menelik Nehuse Negest Ze Ethiopia (Historical Period of Emperor Menelik II of Ethiopia) published in Amharic in 1967.

    Abuna Gerima’s summit was the command center in which the commander of the Ethiopian force (foot soldiers and cavalry), Ras Mekonnen Wolde Mikael monitored troop movements of the enemy. He had the height advantage to survey and give orders to his lieutenants. The Italians gathered at their fortress at Sawrya not far from the final battle fields and headed to Adwa. They marched at night with the intent of surprise attack at the break of day. The fateful night was rainy and the Italians got lost in the many mountains of Adwa. By the time, they made their way to the first battlefield, the Ethiopians were ready to encircle and defeat them within hours. The Ethiopians were aided by spies who provided the latest information regarding the movement of the Italians.

    Ras Mekonnen’s memorial statue in Harar, eastern Ethiopia, was sadly destroyed by a mob following the assassination of Artist Hachalu Hundesa in 2019. Ras Mekonnen served his country both as diplomat and military commander. He was by far the most trusted advisor to the Emperor. His army from eastern Ethiopia fought battles at Amba Alage, Mekelle and Adwa. In all the three cases, they were victorious, given that they made priceless sacrifices to achieve their goal. Fighters from Harar sustained heavy losses in an attempt to dislodge the Italians from their fortress at Endayesus in Mekelle. The freedom we enjoy and the country we love was made possible because of the sacrifices of our gallant fighting traditions of our ancestors. Erecting and keeping monuments to our heroes are the least we can do to ascertain our Ethiopian identity and nationhood ascertained by historical deeds.

    Abuna Gerima is the site of one of the oldest Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church monasteries. It houses a rare collection of religious manuscripts. It is now famous worldwide, for it is home to the earliest illuminated parchment bible in the world. The Bible (Old and New Testaments) is carbon-dated in a laboratory at Oxford University to circa 6th century of the Common Era. The manuscript was written in Ge’ez, which literally means free, is the ancient and classical language of Ethiopia. Abune Gerima. given its multiple historic relevance, ought to be preferred destination for visit and spiritual fulfillment. Besides, the great general Ras Alula Aba Nega, who started resisting the Italian colonizers long before the Battle of Adwa during the reign of Emperor Yohannes IV and continued at Adwa, buried at the monastery. His cemetery is built few years ago and is standing intact.

    The Italian colonization strategy was based on exploitation of ethnic and religious differences in Ethiopia. They tried to play one regional king against another. They also attempted to draw Muslim Ethiopians to their side. Often the colonizers strategy rests upon the introduction of Christianity to the so-called natives. That was a trick that cannot be duplicated in Ethiopia. Ethiopians embraced Christianity almost since the beginning of the faith. Christianity was perhaps introduced here earlier than Rome. Simply, Christianity has deeper roots in Ethiopia and therefore cannot be used as a tool of colonization. Furthermore, divide and rule strategy was decisively countered when Ethiopians were able to set aside their differences and fought the enemy as one. Besides, Menelik and Taitu as leaders and partners were harmonious and understanding with each other. They both vigorously campaigned for the unification of the empire. They were also endowed with strategic acumen.

    Their exemplary joint campaign did not stop at Adwa. In post-Adwa Ethiopia, the co-leaders were engaged in establishing, for the first time, the instruments of modern state. The co-leaders introduced electricity, automobile, telephone, photography, and railway. In addition, bank, hospitals, hotel service, piped water and police force.

    In the last three decades, systematic campaign was carried out by the enemy from within in an attempt to diminish the significance of the victory at the Battle of Adwa. Some said the Battle was not necessary, others lament that the victory did not result in unity, and the rest from the enemy camp resorted to raw insults of the heroic leaders. It is one thing to conduct constructive criticism of the execution of the Battle and historical journeys of the post-Adwa Ethiopia. That was not the case. Recent events in the north clearly showed that the enemy from within was aiming to dismember the country. Scramble for Africa may have begun in 1884 and left behind a colonial legacy that will take years to fully undress and undo. What we have witnessed in the last few years was an attempt to restore the scramble for Africa with the intent of settling accounts in Ethiopia, the only country that has never been colonized. Enemies from within and without collude to write what they thought would be the final chapter of the scramble for Africa. This time it is planned but failed to be executed in Ethiopia by covertly engaging in destabilizing the state. It is clear from the remarkable unity displayed by Ethiopians in supporting the Ethiopian National Defense Forces when attacked in the north. The Ethiopians are saying no to scramble for Ethiopia.

    Apart from wanton destruction of Ras Mekonnen Wolde Mikael’s statue in Harar, these past years, we have witnessed additional physical assaults on memorials of our heroines. The cemetery-monument of Ras Abate BwaYalew, the young and skillful gunner, at Debre Libanos Monastery, was dismantled in the name of development. The monument was built by his family members. Since they have saved the monument in picture forms, heritage guardians should mobilize forces to rebuild the Ras Abate’s memorial at the chosen site.

    Two years ago, Ethiopians in the diaspora and at home, sought to lay a foundation stone to build a memorial park for Empress Taitu in Adwa Bridge Park in Addis Ababa. Announcement was made and guests were invited to undertake the event. Alemtsehay Wodajo, who runs Taitu Cultural Center, an institution named after Empress Taitu in Washington D.C., was a co-host of the event together with the Addis Ababa City administration. Unfortunately, the event was unexpectedly cancelled without any explanation. Empress Taitu made significant contribution to the building of modern Ethiopia. She led her own specialized forces at the Battle. She also organized 10,000 women logisticians to provide water for the army at the battlefields. She certainly deserves a statue in Addis Ababa she found.

    While we are at it, it is important to remember that the first hotel in Addis Ababa, Taitu Hotel was damaged by fire. To this date, it is not fully restored. Tadias did a story on the damaged caused to the historic building at the time of the incident.

    Another disappointment regarding Adwa is the unfulfilled dream to establish Adwa Pan-African University (APAU). The foundation stone is laid in the presence of the former Prime Minister Haile Mariam Desalegn and some African leaders, including President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda in April 2018. Land is endowed. Concept paper is written. Local and international conferences conducted on the subject. Architectural design is completed. And yet APAU still remains a dream deferred.

    While the implementation of APAU in Adwa is on hold, the Addis Ababa City Administration is constructing a massive cultural and commercial center at ground zero, the center-most of Addis Ababa, not far from the statue of Emperor Menelik II and St George Church in Arada sub-city. The complex structure displays the letter A for Adwa on its roof. The Center once completed will have a museum, shopping centers, cafes and entertainment units.

    Contrary to the popular and misleading notion, the Ethiopians were well-armed and prepared to confront the invading Italian army. For instance, the Ethiopians acquired artillery that was by far superior to the Italians. While the Ethiopian artillery hit range was 4,500 meters, the Italians counterpart was limited to 3,800 hit range. The Ethiopian army had 70,000 modern rifles and 5 million rounds of ammunition. The Battle was not fought with spears and shields alone. The cavalry unit may have used spears and shields extensively. And yet, historians have recorded the agility and the speed with which the horses manage the hills up or down during battle engagements. In short, as one observer puts it, “Emperor Menelik II built an army that is reasonably comparable to the European colonizers in weaponry and personnel.”


    Children playing with an abandoned artillery left at Mindibdib, the site of the first decisive battle. Ethiopians routed the Italian battalion within hours of the engagement. (Photo by Ayele Bekerie)

    One-hundred-and-a-quarter century passed since the Ethiopian army defeated the Italian colonial invaders at the Battle of Adwa. As if to compensate for the gallant but unsuccessful resistance against the colonial encroachment of the 18 th and 19 centuries in Africa, the Ethiopians decisively affirmed with their victory the beginning of the end of colonialism. The Italians were assigned the Horn of Africa at the 1884/85 Berlin Conference where 14 European countries were in attendance. Once Austrian-occupied Italy expected a quick victory for their almost 20,000 strong invasion forces.

    As one observer puts it, given Italy’s fractured nature of nation-state building and imperial ambition, they were not capable of challenging the Menelik’s war-tested and united force and diplomatically sophisticated Ethiopian state. Emperor Menelik engaged Europe diplomatically to acquire modern weapons. He successfully played one European colonial power against another in order to keep Ethiopia free of their colonial encroachments. Local or European diplomats like Alfred Ilg conducted effective public relation campaign in Europe.

    The Ethiopians also excelled the Italians in intelligence gatherings and effective use. The Ethiopians had the latest information, thanks to the works of Basha Awalom and Ato Gebre Hiwot, who chose to serve and remain loyal to the national agenda of. As a result, their intelligence gathering and sharing information regarding the movement of the Italian battalions with the Ethiopian military leadership at Adwa, made a critical difference in tilting the victory to the home front.

    Instead of enhancing historical achievements thereby addressing peaceable co-existence, we expend a great deal of resources to narrow and stultify our sense of who we are. Ethnic identity seems to have absolute priority over our Ethiopian identity. Our approach to ethnicity is so dangerous that we are willing to carry out the most heinous violent crimes against those who are conveniently labeled outsiders.

    In the last thirty years, identity gravitated to extreme and divisive positions. Identity is defined by negative legitimacy. That means, one defines his or her identity by mere sense of victimhood and by blaming and hating others.

    I argue that the full meaning and relevance of the victory at Adwa has yet to be realized within Ethiopia, as Maimre Mennsemay also noted. It was the power of multiple and united voices that enabled Ethiopians to be victorious. That that formula of unity should be repeated now to counter the large-scale displacements and violence encountered by our fellow Ethiopians throughout the country to this date.

    Killel is a killer. Killel discriminates. Killel hast turned into fatal division of us versus them. Killel is a thriving ground for political opportunists and ethno-racists. Killel appears to be a sure way to let ethno-nationalists, driven by selfishness, continuously make attempts to dismember the country. Killel or what has evolved to be self-governing mechanism is in actuality an instrument to displace and kill those who are labeled outsiders. The maxim of Adwa is to respect geographical and cultural diversity and to strive in unison as one country and people to build a better and stronger nation. Most historians also agree that Adwa paved the way for the ultimate demise of colonialism in Africa and elsewhere.

    About the author:

    Ayele Bekerie is an Associate Professor and Coordinator of PhD Program in Heritage Studies and Coordinator of International Affairs at Mekelle University’s Institute of Paleo-Environment and Heritage Conservation. Previously, he was an Assistant Professor at the Africana Studies and Research Center at Cornell University in the United States. Ayele Bekerie is a contributing author in the acclaimed book, “One House: The Battle of Adwa 1896 -100 Years.” He is also the author of the award-winning book “Ethiopic, An African Writing System: Its History and Principles” — among many other published works.

    Related:

    The Making of Global Adwa: By Professor Ayele Bekerie
    The Concept Behind the Adwa Pan-African University: Interview with Dr. Ayele Bekerie
    Ethiopia: The Victory of Adwa, An Exemplary Triumph to the Rest of Africa
    Adwa: Genesis of Unscrambled Africa
    119 Years Anniversary of Ethiopia’s Victory at the Battle of Adwa on March 1st, 1896
    Reflection on 118th Anniversary of Ethiopia’s Victory at Adwa
    The Significance of the 1896 Battle of Adwa
    Call for the Registry of Adwa as UNESCO World Heritage Site

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Film Review: ‘Faya Dayi,’ Jessica Beshir’s Ethiopia Docu-Drama About Legend of Khat

    Sundance: Jessica Beshir's striking, black and white hybrid docu-drama meditates on the legend of khat, a stimulant leaf, which was found by Sufi Imams in search of eternity. (Photo: Courtesy photo)

    IndieWire

    ‘Faya Dayi’ Review: A Hallucinatory Documentary About Ethiopia’s Most Lucrative Cash Crop

    Ethiopian legend has it that khat, a stimulant leaf, was found by Sufi Imams in search of eternity. Inspired by this myth, Jessica Beshir’s “Faya Dayi” is a spiritual journey into the highlands of the walled city of Harar, a place immersed in the rituals surrounding this plant, Ethiopia’s most lucrative cash crop today. Through the prism of the khat trade, the film weaves a tapestry of intimate stories of people caught between government repression, khat-induced reverie, and treacherous journeys across the Red Sea, and offers a window into the dreams of the youth who long for better lives elsewhere.

    For centuries in Ethiopia, the Sufi Muslims of Harar have chewed the khat leaf for the purposes of religious meditation. Over the past three decades, khat consumption has broken out of Sufi circles and entered the mainstream to become a daily ritual among people of all ages, religions and ethnicities, for whom chewing khat is a means to achieve Merkhana — a term that describes the high one gets from what is effectively a psychoactive drug not all that different from Cannabis. It has various mental and physical effects, which include euphoria and altered states of mind. For many, Merkhana is provides an escape from everyday realities, and the only place where their hopes, and dreams can actually exist.

    Khat, for most unemployed youth, has become a way to overcome the sense of hopelessness, a way to tune out reality. They are all searching for a seemingly elusive sense of agency, as well as living with the contradictions of loving a land that makes it difficult for them to live in peace.

    In the last decade, the crops that Ethiopia primarily exported — teff, sorghum, and coffee — have been replaced by the leafy green. With social significance, it has sustained so many who have worked in the fields for generations. However familiar the work is, some young people who have grown up in its shadow want more for themselves — life away from the fields; life without khat; life entirely elsewhere. They consider leaving home and all they have ever known for something new, far away, and, while perhaps more economically beneficial, lonelier and more isolating.

    Shot entirely in stunning black and white, “Faya Dayi” opens with a long shot of a somewhat amorphous, barren landscape, nighttime, dark, crickets providing the only soundtrack, and in the distance a lone figure running playfully, starts to come into view. We see that it’s a child, as he or she runs past the camera. Cut to bewitching shots of elders indoors, some faceless, some not, chanting, giving thanks to God, separating khat leaves from their stems, and, in some cases, pounding them, as incense burns in a pot, the smoke it emits, thick and intense.

    And then a lengthy shot of an open doorway, on the other side, an ambiguous view — smoky, cavernous, vast, dark depths — a haunting score providing an exclamation mark. It’s interrupted by a meek female voiceover, almost like that of a child, beginning a story about the Harari legend of a man named Azuekherlaini, who was tasked by God to find the Maoul Hayat (water of eternal life). The fable stretches the length of the film, as the voiceover interrupts intermittently to continue where she previously ended.

    But that’s just the dressing on this striking, if enigmatic, transgenerational journey into the highlands of Harar, immersed in the rituals of khat, weaving a tapestry of hallucinatory stories that offer a window into the dreams of youth.

    Unfolding more like a hybrid scripted narrative and documentary, the central story of “Faya Dayi” doesn’t follow a straight line, as it occasionally checks in on Mohammed, a 14-year-old, and the film’s presumed primary character, who works as an errand boy for the khat users in Harar. He lives with his father who, like so many in town, chews khat daily and often fights with Mohammed due to the mood swings caused by his addiction. Mohammed becomes anxious for a better life, but to have it, he must make a treacherous journey across the Red Sea to Saudi Arabia.

    Read more »

    Related:

    Ethiopia: Director Jessica Beshir’s ‘Hairat’ Selected for Sundance Film Festival 2017

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Video: Eden Alene’s ‘Set Me Free’: Israel Picks Eurovision Song Entry for 2021

    Eden Alene, 20, the first singer of Ethiopian descent to represent Israel in the annual international extravaganza, will perform the song in the first semifinal of the 2021 Eurovision Song Contest in Rotterdam on May 18. If it finishes among the top 10, she will sing it again in the May 22 final. (Photo: Eurovisionworld)

    The Times of Israel

    Eden Alene to become first Israeli of Ethiopian descent to represent Jewish state at international singing contest in May; last year’s event was canceled by pandemic

    Israel’s entry to the 2021 Eurovision song contest is “Set me free,” the Kan public broadcaster announced on Monday.

    Eden Alene, 20, the first singer of Ethiopian descent to represent Israel in the annual international extravaganza, will perform the song in the first semifinal of the 2021 Eurovision Song Contest in Rotterdam on May 18. If it finishes among the top 10, she will sing it again in the May 22 final.

    “Set me free” was chosen by Israeli audiences, edging out two other options: “La La Love” and “Ue La La.”

    Get The Times of Israel’s Daily Edition by email and never miss our top storiesFREE SIGN UP
    The song is mostly in English, with a smattering of Hebrew lyrics.

    Eden was Israel’s candidate for the 2020 contest, which was called off last year due to the coronavirus pandemic. The song chosen for her 2020 entry was “Feker Libi,” sung in four languages — English, Hebrew, Amharic and Arabic.

    The Eurovision Song Contest has a major following in Israel. Israel hosted the 2019 contest in Tel Aviv after Israeli singer Netta Barzilai carried off the top prize with her spunky pop anthem “Toy” in 2018.

    Eden Alene, of Ethiopian Descent, Will Represent Israel at Eurovision


    Eden Alene will represent Israel at Eurovision. (photo credit: ORTAL DAHAN / COURTESY OF KESHET)

    The Jerusalem Post

    Eden Alene became the first Israeli of Ethiopian descent chosen to represent the country at Eurovision when she won Hakokhav Haba (The Next Star) for Eurovision 2020 on Tuesday night.

    “I’m so happy and incredibly emotional, I wanted this so much,” she said in an interview with Channel 12’s Nadav Bornstein following her victory. “It is a great honor for me. This is my country, and it is amazing that an Ethiopian will represent the country for the first time.”

    Alene was raised in Jerusalem’s Katamon neighborhood by a single mother who immigrated from Ethiopia, and later moved with her family to Kiryat Gat.

    “My poor mother, she had a hard time taking it in. She collapsed in my arms,” Alene, 19, said on the Hadshot Haboker (The Morning News) show.

    Following a particularly competitive final round, Alene defeated Orr Amrami-Brockman, Gaya Shaki and Ella Lee Lahav. Eurovision, the international singing competition where Israel has won four times, will be held in Rotterdam in May. Israel’s last win came in 2018, when Netta Barzilai won with the song “Toy.”

    Read more »

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Spotlight: How Ethiopian Soccer Referee Lidya Tafesse Made African History

    Ethiopian Soccer Referee Lidya Tafesse Abebe. (Getty Images)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: January 29th, 2021

    New York (TADIAS) — Last week Ethiopian Soccer Referee Lidya Tafesse Abebe made African history when she led the first ever all-female officiating team refereeing the men’s African Nations Championship quarter-finals game in Cameroon between Namibia and Tanzania.

    Lidya, who is a former professional basketball player, “gave a flawless performance as Tanzania edged Namibia 1-0 in Cameroon city Limbe,” AFP reported, noting that Lidya was joined by her assistants, Malawian Bernadettar Kwimbira and Nigerian Mimisen Iyorhe, during the landmark match that was fully controlled by women referees.


    Lidya Tafesse was also the first ever woman FIFA centre referee from Ethiopia. (Photo via cafonline)

    According to AFP:

    Tafesse exuded confidence in every decision she made, was extremely fit and tolerated no foul play as she yellow-carded three Tanzanians within 10 minutes during the second half.

    African male footballers often dispute decisions against them, but most accepted without hesitation the rulings of Tafesse at the Stade Omnisport in the southwestern coastal resort.

    CAF referees manager Eddy Maillet from the Seychelles was overjoyed as the trio created history eight days into the sixth edition of the Nations Championship.

    Below is a profile of Lidya Tafesse courtesy of CAFOnline.com, the official website of the governing body of African Soccer, Confederation of African Football:

    From basketball to top level refereeing


    “It was very difficult when I started because sometimes, some people would ask why I decided to go into refereeing as a woman when there were no any other women doing the same” — Lidya Tafesse (cafonline)

    Starting off as a professional basketball player, not many thought Lidya Tafesse Abebe would trade the rims and bounces for the whistle, and not in basketball, but football. The 40-year old has been on a 20 -year journey of refereeing, becoming the first ever woman to officiate a men’s top flight game in Ethiopia.

    She was also the first ever woman FIFA centre referee in the East African nation.

    “I started off in Jimma while still playing basketball. I played football in school but basketball was my first sport. I was interested when I met one of the instructors doing some courses and some of us from the basketball team were invited. I liked how he was teaching and I got interested more,” Tafesse says.

    The seed planted in her soul by the FIFA/CAF instructor Shiferaw Eshetu continued to germinate and grow as the days went on.

    When she moved to the capital Addis Ababa to continue her basketball career and pursue a course in Pharmacy, the interest continued and soon, she started building on with more courses and when it became apparent that she had found some new love, dumped the old one; basketball.

    “I was part of the female referees project and I started off by doing the Under-15, 17 games, the local tournaments as well as some Federation tournaments. I got more certification and I started doing the Men’s Premier League as an assistant referee and in 2005, I became a centre referee,” narrates Tafesse.

    The journey, though satisfying hasn’t been easy for the mother of one. When she started, there were no women referees and when she officiated men’s games, there was even more difficulty.

    But her resilience and desire to make a mark in Ethiopian football drover her passion.

    “It was very difficult when I started because sometimes, some people would ask why I decided to go into refereeing as a woman when there were no any other women doing the same. But my family supported me and I am grateful for them,”

    “Also, I came from a sports background and the fact that while playing basketball we trained and played against some men teams gave me confidence and it wasn’t so difficult for me at times, even when I did men’s games,” explains Tafesse.


    Lidya Tafesse (cafonline)

    She also remains grateful to the Ethiopian Football Federation who gave her and her colleagues confidence to continue and even handed them Premier League matches to boost their confidence. She vividly remembers the influence former vice president Tihaye Egziaber had on her.

    “He would talk to us as women referees and really encouraged us. He gave us so much support,” she states.

    Her impressive performances earned her a first ever international assignment in 2006 when she officiated an Under-20 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier between Nigeria and Liberia in Abuja and that opened the floodgates for her to grow.

    “I will not forget that match because it was so different. The stadium was bigger than what we are used to here in Ethiopia, the crowd was amazing and the level was definitely good,” Tafesse remembers.


    (cafonline)

    She has gone on to progress, doing the All Africa Games in 2007 and 2011, before going on to do the Total Africa Women’s Cup of Nations (AWCON) four times in a row in 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2018.

    On top of that, she has officiated at the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2015 and 2019, did the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in 2016 as well as the Under-20 in 2018.

    But in between all those wonderful assignments, she faced a challenge that nearly slowed down her sailing career. In 2013, she conceived her first born child who will be turning seven years old in October. But, the aftermath of her return seven months later was full of challenges.

    “Physiologically as women, we have so many body changes after pregnancy and I was not different. I gained so much weight and I had to work very hard to get back in shape. I worked a lot and eventually I was better and in 2014, I got a chance to go for the Cup of Nations,”

    “But while training there, I got injured and in my mind, it was all over for me. I tried to do some tests and see whether I could go on but I had decided I would go home. However, the director came and told me ‘Lydia you are not going. Just try and see whether you can recover’. I started treating the sprain on my ankle everyday and ultimately, I got better,”

    “I did a match in the semi-final, Cameroon vs Côte d’Ivoire which went up to extra time. Surprisingly, I was stronger and fitter than both teams when the game went to 120 minutes. I was so pleased,” Tafesse remembers.

    This is one of her most memorable matches. The other one was in 2012 when she officiated another semi-final pitting Nigeria and South Africa, a match that the Banyana Banyana won 1-0.

    “It was such a great game to officiate because both of them are brilliant teams. Also, it was very hot and I remembered hoping it would not go to extra time,” jokes Tafesse.


    (cafonline)

    Despite the stoppages caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Tafesse has continued to train on her own and has also use the time off competitions to give back to the community.

    She is using her background as a pharmacist and knowledge in medicine to raise awareness on the virus and help the community keep themselves safe from contracting and spreading the virus.

    “I have been doing education on social media and in radio and TV stations just trying to tell people on the dangers of the virus. I also go to the communities and teach them how to wash hands and keep hygiene. Also, I have been giving back to the community by helping the vulnerable who have not had a chance to get food and basic commodities,” she states.

    On her training, Tafesse admits that it has been tough but notes she has not had a reason to put the feet off the gas. “I train outside three times a week and also indoors where I have tried to put up my own small gym. We have a system where we have to make reports daily as well as GPS trackers to ensure we are training.”


    Lidya Tafesse (cafonline)

    As a woman, Tafesse says it has been great balancing between her family and refereeing, a career she has given her full attention to. The support from her husband and the motivation of her seven-year old keeps her going, Tafesse says.

    And now, she hopes she can influence the next generation of women referees in Ethiopia and the continent at large to take up the career. She hopes that after her active years, apart from continuing with her profession as a pharmacist, she will switch to become an instructor as she looks to get more and more following her path.

    Her hopes to continue getting high profile games and getting the chance to officiate at a CAF men’s tournament for the first time finally became true in the Total African Nations Championship (CHAN), Cameroon 2020.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Spotlight: 10 Year-Old Soliyana Gizaw From Ethiopia Wins 2020 African Code Challenge

    According to organizers Soliyana's submission called "Mathstainement" won the Pan-African prize topping participants from 54 countries. (Courtesy photo)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: January 27th, 2021

    New York (TADIAS) — 10 years old Soliyana Gizaw from Ethiopia has been named the winner of the 2020 African Code Challenge, a newly launched continent-wide tech competition where young people were asked to create an educational computer game.

    According to organizers Soliyana’s submission called “Mathstainement” won the Pan-African prize leading participants from 54 countries.

    “After a rigorous round of judging for this year’s AfriCAN Code Challenge, SAP Africa Code Week’s top 10 winners were announced and special highlights include the top 3 being all-female, aged 10 – 16 years, with Soliyana, 10 years old from Ethiopia as the Pan-African winner of the competition,” the press release stated.

    Africa Code Week’s Global Coordinator Olajide Ademola Ajayi said: “Despite the COVID disruption for schools which impacted hundreds of millions of youth across Africa, children from more than 54 countries stepped-up to share their vision of the future of education.”

    The announcement notes that “the AfriCAN Code Challenge is a pan-African coding competition where youth aged 8 – 16 were tasked with coding a game using the Scratch programming language to answer the question: “How will your tech change the future of education?”

    In her video presentation Soliyana explains that her app “is not only a game,” but also “creates awareness about COVID-19.”

    Watch: An app called MATHSTAINMENT made with SCRATCH_ Educational game_ African Code Challenge_ Ethiopia by Soliyana Gizaw

    The press release adds:

    During the AfriCAN Code Challenge youth were able to enter alone or in teams of up to five people, and entries featured a two-minute YouTube clip showcasing how their game works and why it should be considered a winning entry. The unique initiative and entry mechanism called upon the children’s ability to design a project that would solve a community-issue, code it, and communicate it.

    During the opening rounds of the challenge, participation reached across 40 countries and featured 100 project video clips, only the top three entries from 36 countries made it into the continental final, followed by 22 countries in the final judging stage.

    Selected by a high-level jury composed of key Africa Code Week delegates and STEM education experts, the top three of the AfriCAN Code Challenge is: Ethiopia – Mathstainement (Soliyana, 10 years old); South Africa-Space Quest (Kayla, 15 years old); Algeria-Welcome to the Best School (Sarah, 16 years old)

    Followed by:
    4th: Mauritius – Mr. E-Bin
    5th: Nigeria – I-Learn
    6th: Tunisia – Warrior
    7th: Morocco – Abdelilah Hashas
    8th: Zimbabwe – HeadStart Game
    9th: Rwanda – Math Puzzles for Kids
    10th: Ivory Coast – Easy Preterit

    You can learn more about the competition at africacodeweek.org.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Hosanna Yemiru for Dallas City Council

    Born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Hosanna Yemiru was 11 when her family [both former journalists in Ethiopia] moved to the Dallas area, where she grew up and has made a name for herself as a political campaign organizer. Now, she’s decided to step out from behind the scenes and into the spotlight as a candidate for District 11. (Photo: courtesy Hosanna Yemiru)

    Dallas Observer

    District 11 Council Candidate Hosanna Yemiru Wants to Defend Programs for Working Stiffs

    District 11 City Council candidate Hosanna Yemiru is moving from helping other candidates’ campaigns to mounting her own.courtesy Hosanna Yemiru

    Hosanna Yemiru is not a typical Dallas City Council candidate, and she doesn’t plan on running a typical Dallas-style campaign, either.

    Born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, she was 11 when her family moved to the Dallas area, where she grew up and has made a name for herself as a political campaign organizer. Now, she’s decided to step out from behind the scenes and into the spotlight as a candidate for District 11.

    Yemiru’s upbringing is a representation of the working-class immigrant experience. Her parents, both former journalists in Ethiopia, had to work multiple low-paying jobs to make ends meet after immigrating to Dallas.

    “When we moved here it was a really big adjustment. People warn you about culture shock … but nothing really prepares you for what kind of adjustment you have to make,” Yemiru says.

    Growing up, Yemiru had to rely on public libraries for access to books she couldn’t afford and DART to get around town. She attended public schools in RISD and eventually made her way to the University of Texas at Dallas, where she majored in American studies.

    Professionally, Yemiru is a veteran political organizer. She has worked on several campaigns, starting on U.S. Rep. Colin Allred’s campaign as an organizer and eventually as a canvassing director focusing on communities of color. She went on to become the field director for Scott Griggs when he ran for Dallas mayor in 2019 and managed Tom Ervin’s primary campaign for the Texas House in 2020.

    Before working on political campaigns, she worked in various positions in retail and as a legal assistant. “I just did odd jobs here and there because I needed to,” Yemiru says.

    As a working-class immigrant growing up in Dallas, Yemiru experienced first hand how difficult it can be to rely on the patchwork of public services that many Dallasites rely on every day.

    “Whether it was utility payment assistance or food banks that we relied on, as I started growing up I started to see that they were the first ones on the chopping block when it comes to our City Council,” Yemiru says.

    Indeed, DART faced budget cuts in 2020 while funding for homeless services remained flat despite continued growth in the homeless population.

    Yemiru, a self-described progressive, believes the city government of Dallas can do more for people who can identify with her experience.

    “In the wake of COVID, we need strong progressive voices on council fighting for everyday Dallasites,” Yemiru says.

    The manner in which Dallas has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic is central to Yemiru’s decision to run. She believes that much more could have been and could still be done to provide critical relief to struggling people in Dallas. “I’m very disappointed with the way we have handled COVID in the city, and I think we could do better,” Yemiru says.

    I think it’s the fact that we run municipal candidates that don’t speak to the larger electorate. They don’t run on issues that matter to anyone other than like your very active homeowners.” – Hosanna Yemiru, District 11 council candidate

    Yemiru cites the city government’s inability to distribute millions in mortgage and rental assistance as one major failure. In 2020, Yemiru tried to help a neighbor identify which assistance programs they could apply for after the passage of the CARES act.

    “It was so difficult to figure out … and in the end, we ended up applying, and he didn’t receive any aid, and of course we know now that one in four people who applied for rental assistance to the city of Dallas didn’t receive it,” Yemiru says.

    She said Dallas has failed to implement creative programs that connect the health of the community with the health of local businesses, such as the Meal Assistance Program in New Orleans that utilizes federal funding to partner with restaurants and delivery services to provide food to qualifying residents.

    “Why are we not doing something like that in Dallas? I would like to see some political urgency, some political will,” Yemiru says.

    Part of the problem, in Yemiru’s mind, is that voter turnout is low when it comes to City Council. It is not an irregular occurrence for fewer than 10% of eligible voters to participate in municipal elections.

    “I don’t think that that is the fault of voters at all. I think it’s the fact that we run municipal candidates that don’t speak to the larger electorate. They don’t run on issues that matter to anyone other than like your very active homeowners,” Yemiru says.

    This is something Yemiru hopes to change with her campaign, which is aimed to expand the electorate by amplifying the voices of minorities and working people in the city.

    “I’m really excited to be able to run a campaign that’s really going to focus on that, on organizing and investing into our communities and not just talking to the same 5,000 people that we rely on to decide everything that happens in our city,” Yemiru says.

    To do that, Yemiru intends on doing it the old-fashioned way: knocking on doors, making phone calls and sending postcards. “We’re going to try every single avenue possible to reach as many voters as possible,” Yemiru says.

    She also intends to focus on priorities that she believes will resonate with average voters, such as public health, public safety, infrastructure, environmental and energy issues and homelessness, to name a few.

    “These issues don’t just stop at the federal level or state level. There’s tons that we can do on the local level to ensure that we are protecting and investing in our communities. All politics is local,” Yemiru says.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Yene Damtew: Meet the Ethiopian Woman Behind Michelle Obama’s Famous Hairstyles

    Yene Damtew has been Michelle Obama's hairstylist since 2008. Regarding the former first lady's recent look at Joe Biden's inauguration this week that has attracted international attention, Yene says: “I personally loved her look and was very happy to see how it came together, but did not expect it to resonate with viewers the way it has." (Photos: Courtesy of Yene Damtew and Getty Images)

    The Washington Post

    The woman behind Michelle Obama’s instantly iconic hair

    It was a moment watch parties and group chats are made for: former first lady Michelle Obama, hand in hand with former President Barack Obama, emerging from the U.S. Capitol in a regal, floor-length plum coat and statement belt, her voluminous curls bouncing with each step.

    The monochromatic pantsuit designed by Sergio Hudson was striking, but the star of the show was Obama’s hair: a silk press so perfect, it launched thousands of social media shares. In the middle of the inauguration ceremony, “laid” — a reference to the flawlessness of Obama’s hair — began trending.

    Obama’s coif came courtesy of her longtime hairstylist, Yene Damtew, who has been part of the former first lady’s glam squad since 2008. For her, Wednesday began as a “typical day at work.” It wasn’t until a client tagged her in a tweet about Obama’s hair that she got a sense of how much the style had resonated with people, particularly Black women.

    “I personally loved her look and was very happy to see how it came together, but did not expect it to resonate with viewers the way it has,” Damtew wrote in an email.

    She has helped craft memorable looks for Obama before.

    Damtew picked up her passion for hair from watching her mother get ready for church, enamored with her hot rollers and the full, bouncy hair they produced. As a teenager, she became the go-to person in her Orange County, Calif., neighborhood when someone wanted their hair done.

    “I did everyone’s hair from football players to the kids, and then my high school classmates,” she told Allure.

    At 21, she began working alongside Obama’s hairstylist Johnny Wright, whom she met while completing an assignment for cosmetology school. Damtew started doing Malia and Sasha Obama’s hair, as well as styling Obama’s mother, Marian Robinson. At the 2016 Democratic National Convention, when Obama delivered her famous “When they go low, we go high” line, Damtew was behind Obama’s striking, chestnut brown color that she custom-created and hand-painted onto Obama’s hair, according to Elle. In 2017, when Damtew opened her own business, Aesthetics salon in Arlington, Va., Obama attended the opening.

    To create Obama’s inauguration look, Damtew consulted with Obama’s wardrobe stylist Meredith Koop and makeup artist Carl Ray. Since Obama was going for a monochromatic look, Damtew says she knew “the hair would stand out a lot on its own.”

    “As I thought about the hairstyle that would complement her outfit and suit the weather, these bouncy curls came to life,” she said.

    But Damtew couldn’t predict just how much life they would give to viewers of the inauguration, many of whom wanted to know who was behind the look. Within hours of Damtew revealing herself as Obama’s hairstylist on Twitter, thousands of compliments and requests for tips starting pouring in.

    “The support of Black Women Twitter has been amazing,” said Damtew, who is Ethiopian American. “As a salon owner who caters to women with textured hair, I know the importance that hair holds, particularly to Black women and the crowns that they wear. Black women hold their hair in high regard.”

    She noted that it was important to continue showing versatility with Obama’s looks because “representation matters.” To celebrate her 57th birthday this week, Obama posted a selfie rocking her natural hair.

    But Obama’s hair was about more than just serving a look. It was celebratory, “showing out” hair — a stark contrast not just to the modest bun Obama wore at Donald Trump’s inauguration ceremony four years ago, but to the scenes at the Capitol earlier this month. During an inauguration ceremony that needed to acknowledge the deep divisions that remain in this country, as well as the hundreds of thousands of lives lost to the coronavirus in the United States, being able to gush over a coat or a blowout felt like a brief respite.

    This is not lost on Damtew.

    “The truth is we are still very much in a hard time in this nation,” she said. “But if, for a few minutes, people found joy in seeing a former first lady supporting her friends and wearing a beautiful coat and bouncy curls — I’m OK with that. We all need something to give us hope and make us smile.”

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Q&A: Ethiopian-American Novelist Dinaw Mengestu

    Dinaw Mengestu is an Ethiopian-American novelist, freelance journalist and professor of creative writing. This week Dinaw was the keynote speaker at MLK commemorative event held via Zoom at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. The following is a Q&A with Dinaw by the University's main student newspaper The Vanderbilt Hustler. (Getty Images)

    The Vanderbilt Hustler

    Ethiopian-American novelist Dinaw Mengestu speaks to The Hustler about his experiences as a writer and immigrant

    Vanderbilt Hustler: Your novels tell very unique immigrant narratives, how do you intend for your novels to speak to your readers?

    Dinaw Mengestu: I do not know who my readers are, and I never want to underestimate them. Your readers are always a slightly-amorphous body of people. The audience that I am most concerned with, strangely enough, are my fictional characters. I feel the most obligation to my characters. That obligation can be thought of as a respect for them and their desire for the complexity and depth of experience that I think people deserve.

    I am never thinking about the characters under any category or label, but I am definitely thinking about them as people who have lost a lot. As immigrants, they are people who have lost their homes, their families and in many cases, are struggling to rebuild their lives in America.

    That movement away from the things they had to leave behind to the construction of a new identity, a new home, trying to make sure that experience isn’t defamiliarized and contains as many layers of meaning as I have seen in my own families and witnessed in my own life—that is the kind of experience I hope will be born out of the page.

    The reader on the other end of it is hopefully present and engaged by it. Hopefully, they feel that they are reading an experience that actually is complicated. I think they can connect to the complexity because the person they are reading about is actually fully alive. It is not because it is familiar to their own experiences, but because it actually has the emotional complexity of a real, living person.

    How do you think underrepresented voices in fiction can be more widely represented?

    I think there are a lot of systemic problems, and I think one is making sure underrepresented voices actually feel and believe that there is a world that will represent them accurately. I think so many potential artists and voices actually count themselves out of that conversation long before anything else even happens.

    Once we get a number of South Asian writers or African American or Black writers, then we have diverse writers. Why do we need another one? We have Toni Morrison—how many more of those voices do we need? There is a sense that we only need to occupy so much space. We only need to give so much room to those voices because those voices are important, but they are not really valued. They are important in the way in which they can be pointed to and signified, so we need to move further still in a cultural embrace of what it means to have a real diversity of voices.

    It is not about making sure we have that experience checked off, which is oftentimes where we still are. We want to make sure that we have certain narrative trends blocked off, and once we have them blocked off, it is really easy to feel that that work is done. I think that the creators of those stories, especially the younger generations, are aware of that.

    I remember the first time I tried writing my first novel, being told no one is going to care about a bunch of African immigrants in Washington D.C. I think that sense is still pervasive. I think people still feel like there is not much attention or care about who they are. So, I think we need to make sure that we are actively encouraging and inviting people to start making stories and know that there is a world of people who care about them and those narratives.

    What does the American Dream mean to you?

    America is very distinct in that it is the only country that has this espoused Dream. I remember writing my first novel, and people thought I was being critical of the American Dream. The characters in it do not acquire the usual trapping of American success. There is this idea that if your characters are not going around declaring how wonderful it is to be an American, they are opposed to this American Dream or this American value system. That is kind of ridiculous.

    I think that this American Dream is being honest about what America is while still believing you can be a part of it. That is the radical nature of that Dream. We were talking about Dr. Martin Luther King’s Dream speech on the Capitol. The fact that MLK still continued to believe in the possibility of this fight, having experienced this full-scale American violence and oppression—to still believe in something positive and better on the other side is something remarkable and a radical notion.

    It is not one that is connected or tied to a material wealth. It is tied to the possibility of worth and collectively to somewhere other than where we are right now. That is a remarkable thing to believe in.

    I think it is why immigrants continue to come to America. They do not believe that America is going to be a wonderful, perfect land. This idea that immigrants arrive in America delusional about the nature of America is ridiculous. They arrive fully aware of how problematic America is and yet still persist in coming and bringing their children, raising their children here and pushing America a bit forward, toward something fuller and more complicated than what it already is. That is the Dream for me. The ability to believe in it when it is giving you so many reasons not to.

    What insights do you have about the turbulent events of this past week?

    As people have noted, this isn’t a surprise. What we have witnessed is actually just a punctuation of four years. It is like the groundwork has been laid for years for us to get to this point. My curiosity has been: how has this been possible, and how have they created this narrative of this movement and these supporters as being somehow decent and law-abiding people? How have they managed to get away with that rhetoric when clearly what we witnessed is the exact opposite?

    It is violent and unfair. But the ability to continue to present themselves as this party of law and order, of people who believe in the Constitution and are supporting democracy—that is the thing that I am most fascinated by because it is the construction of a narrative, and it is a narrative that has a lot of political power and weight. It is a narrative that to some degree exists far more on the right in its ability to assert that whatever they do is good.

    Read the full interview at vanderbilthustler.com »

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    UPDATE: Biden Sworn in as America’s 46th President

    Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th president of the United States by Chief Justice John Roberts as Jill Biden holds the Bible during the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. (Photo via AP)

    The Associated Press

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Joe Biden has officially become the 46th president of the United States.

    Biden took the oath of office just before noon Wednesday during a ceremony at the U.S. Capitol. The presidential oath was administered by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.

    Biden was sworn in using a Bible that has been in his family since 1893 and was used during his swearing-in as vice president in 2009 and 2013. The 5-inch thick Bible, which could be seen on a table next to Biden’s chair on the dais, has a Celtic cross on its cover and was also used each time he was sworn- n as a U.S. senator.

    Biden’s late son, Beau, also used the Bible for his own swearing-in ceremony as attorney general of Delaware and helped carry the Bible to his father’s 2013 ceremony.

    Inauguration Live Updates: Biden Takes Power as Trump Leaves White House

    Facing crush of crises, Biden will take helm as president

    The Associated Press

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Joe Biden swears the oath of office at noon Wednesday to become the 46th president of the United States, taking the helm of a deeply divided nation and inheriting a confluence of crises arguably greater than any faced by his predecessors.

    The very ceremony in which presidential power is transferred, a hallowed American democratic tradition, will serve as a jarring reminder of the challenges Biden faces: The inauguration unfolds at a U.S. Capitol battered by an insurrectionist siege just two weeks ago, encircled by security forces evocative of those in a war zone, and devoid of crowds because of the threat of the coronavirus pandemic.

    Stay home, Americans were exhorted, to prevent further spread of a surging virus that has claimed more than 400,000 lives in the United States. Biden will look out over a capital city dotted with empty storefronts that attest to the pandemic’s deep economic toll and where summer protests laid bare the nation’s renewed reckoning on racial injustice.

    He will not be applauded — or likely even acknowledged — by his predecessor.

    Flouting tradition, Donald Trump planned to depart Washington on Wednesday morning ahead of the inauguration rather than accompany his successor to the Capitol. Trump, awaiting his second impeachment trial, stoked grievance among his supporters with the lie that Biden’s win was illegitimate.

    Biden, in his third run for the presidency, staked his candidacy less on any distinctive political ideology than on galvanizing a broad coalition of voters around the notion that Trump posed an existential threat to American democracy. On his first day, Biden will take a series of executive actions — on the pandemic, climate, immigration and more — to undo the heart of Trump’s agenda. The Democrat takes office with the bonds of the republic strained and the nation reeling from challenges that rival those faced by Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt.

    “Biden will face a series of urgent, burning crises like we have not seen before, and they all have to be solved at once. It is very hard to find a parallel in history,” said presidential historian Michael Beschloss. “I think we have been through a near-death experience as a democracy. Americans who will watch the new president be sworn in are now acutely aware of how fragile our democracy is and how much it needs to be protected.”

    Biden will come to office with a well of empathy and resolve born by personal tragedy as well as a depth of experience forged from more than four decades in Washington. At age 78, he will be the oldest president inaugurated.

    More history will be made at his side, as Kamala Harris becomes the first woman to be vice president. The former U.S. senator from California is also the first Black person and the first person of South Asian descent elected to the vice presidency and will become the highest-ranking woman ever to serve in government.

    The two will be sworn in during an inauguration ceremony with few parallels in history.

    Tens of thousands of troops are on the streets to provide security precisely two weeks after a violent mob of Trump supporters, incited by the Republican president, stormed the Capitol in an attempt to prevent the certification of Biden’s victory.

    The tense atmosphere evoked the 1861 inauguration of Lincoln, who was secretly transported to Washington to avoid assassins on the eve of the Civil War, or Roosevelt’s inaugural in 1945, when he opted for a small, secure ceremony at the White House in the waning months of World War II.

    Despite security warnings, Biden declined to move the ceremony indoors and instead will address a small, socially distant crowd on the West Front of the Capitol. Some of the traditional trappings of the quadrennial ceremony will remain.

    The day will begin with a reach across the aisle after four years of bitter partisan battles under Trump. Biden invited Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy, the Republican leaders of the Senate and House, to join him at a morning Mass, along with Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leaders.

    Once at the Capitol, Biden will be administered the oath by Chief Justice John Roberts; Harris will be sworn in by Justice Sonia Sotomayor. The theme of Biden’s approximately 30-minute speech will be “America United,” and aides said it would be a call to set aside differences during a moment of national trial.

    Biden will then oversee a “Pass in Review,” a military tradition that honors the peaceful transfer of power to a new commander in chief. Then, Biden, Harris and their spouses will be joined by a bipartisan trio of former presidents — Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama — to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Ceremony.

    Full Coverage: Biden’s inauguration
    Later, Biden will join the end of a slimmed-down inaugural parade as he moves into the White House. Because of the pandemic, much of this year’s parade will be a virtual affair featuring performances from around the nation.

    In the evening, in lieu of the traditional glitzy balls that welcome a new president to Washington, Biden will take part in a televised concert that also marks the return of A-list celebrities to the White House orbit after they largely eschewed Trump. Among those in the lineup: Bruce Springsteen, Justin Timberlake and Lin-Manuel Miranda. Lady Gaga will sing the national anthem at the Capitol earlier in the day.

    Trump will be the first president in more than a century to skip the inauguration of his successor. He planned his own farewell celebration at nearby Joint Base Andrews before boarding Air Force One for the final time as president for the flight to his Florida estate.

    Trump will nonetheless shadow Biden’s first days in office.

    Trump’s second impeachment trial could start as early as this week. That could test the ability of the Senate, poised to come under Democratic control, to balance impeachment proceedings with confirmation hearings and votes on Biden’s Cabinet choices.

    Biden was eager to go big early, with an ambitious first 100 days that includes a push to speed up the distribution of COVID-19 vaccinations to anxious Americans and pass a $1.9 trillion virus relief package. On Day One, he’ll also send an immigration proposal to Capitol Hill that would create an eight-year path to citizenship for immigrants living in the country illegally.

    He also planned a 10-day blitz of executive orders on matters that don’t require congressional approval — a mix of substantive and symbolic steps to unwind the Trump years. Among the planned steps: rescinding travel restrictions on people from several predominantly Muslim countries; rejoining the Paris climate accord; issuing a mask mandate for those on federal property; and ordering agencies to figure out how to reunite children separated from their families after crossing the border.

    The difficulties he faces are immense, to be mentioned in the same breath as Roosevelt taking office during the Great Depression or Obama, under whom Biden served eight years as vice president, during the economic collapse. And the solution may be similar.

    “There is now, as there was in 1933, a vital need for leadership,” said presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, “for every national resource to be brought to bear to get the virus under control, to help produce and distribute the vaccines, to get vaccines into the arms of the people, to spur the economy to recover and get people back to work and to school.”

    ___

    UPDATE: Biden Outlines ‘Day One’ Agenda of Executive Actions


    President-elect Joe Biden speaks during an event at The Queen theater, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo)

    The Associated Press

    WASHINGTON (AP) — In his first hours as president, Joe Biden plans to take executive action to roll back some of the most controversial decisions of his predecessor and to address the raging coronavirus pandemic, his incoming chief of staff said Saturday.

    The opening salvo would herald a 10-day blitz of executive actions as Biden seeks to act swiftly to redirect the country in the wake of Donald Trump’s presidency without waiting for Congress.

    On Wednesday, following his inauguration, Biden will end Trump’s restriction on immigration to the U.S. from some Muslim-majority countries, move to rejoin the Paris climate accord and mandate mask-wearing on federal property and during interstate travel. Those are among roughly a dozen actions Biden will take on his first day in the White House, his incoming chief of staff, Ron Klain, said in a memo to senior staff.

    Other actions include extending the pause on student loan payments and actions meant to prevent evictions and foreclosures for those struggling during the pandemic.

    “These executive actions will deliver relief to the millions of Americans that are struggling in the face of these crises,” Klain said in the memo. “President-elect Biden will take action — not just to reverse the gravest damages of the Trump administration — but also to start moving our country forward.”

    “Full achievement” of Biden’s goals will require Congress to act, Klain wrote, including the $1.9 trillion virus relief bill he outlined on Thursday. Klain said that Biden would also propose a comprehensive immigration reform bill to lawmakers on his first day in office.

    Providing a path to citizenship for millions of immigrants in the U.S. illegally will be part of Biden’s agenda, according to people briefed on his plans. Ali Noorani, president of the National Immigration Forum and among those briefed, said immigrants would be put on an eight-year path. There would be a faster track for those in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which shields people from deportation who came to the U.S. as children, and for those from strife-torn countries with temporary status.

    On Thursday, the new president’s second day in office, Biden would sign orders related to the COVID-19 outbreak aimed at reopening schools and businesses and expanding virus testing, Klain said. The following day, Friday, will see action on providing economic relief to those suffering the economic costs of the pandemic.

    In the following week, Klain said, Biden would take additional actions relating to criminal justice reform, climate change and immigration — including a directive to speed the reuniting of families separated at the U.S.-Mexico border under Trump’s policies.

    More actions will be added, Klain said, once they clear legal review.

    Incoming presidents traditionally move swiftly to sign an array of executive actions when they take office. Trump did the same, but he found many of his orders challenged and even rejected by courts.

    Klain maintained that Biden should not suffer similar issues, saying “the legal theory behind them is well-founded and represents a restoration of an appropriate, constitutional role for the President.”

    UPDATE: Biden Unveils $1.9 Trillion COVID-19 & Economic Plan


    President-elect Joe Biden speaks about the COVID-19 pandemic during an event at The Queen theater, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, in Wilmington, Del. (AP photo)

    The Associated Press

    Updated: January 15th, 2021

    Biden unveils $1.9 Trillion plan to stem COVID-19 and steady economy

    WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — President-elect Joe Biden has unveiled a $1.9 trillion coronavirus plan to end “a crisis of deep human suffering” by speeding up vaccines and pumping out financial help to those struggling with the pandemic’s prolonged economic fallout.

    Called the “American Rescue Plan,” the legislative proposal would meet Biden’s goal of administering 100 million vaccines by the 100th day of his administration, and advance his objective of reopening most schools by the spring. On a parallel track, it delivers another round of aid to stabilize the economy while the public health effort seeks the upper hand on the pandemic.

    “We not only have an economic imperative to act now — I believe we have a moral obligation,” Biden said in a nationwide address Thursday. At the same time, he acknowledged that his plan “does not come cheaply.”

    Biden proposed $1,400 checks for most Americans, which on top of $600 provided in the most recent COVID-19 bill would bring the total to the $2,000 that Biden has called for. It would also extend a temporary boost in unemployment benefits and a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures through September.

    And it shoehorns in long-term Democratic policy aims such as increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour, expanding paid leave for workers, and increasing tax credits for families with children. The last item would make it easier for women to go back to work, which in turn would help the economy recover.

    The political outlook for the legislation remained unclear. In a joint statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer praised Biden for including liberal priorities, saying they would move quickly to pass it after Biden takes office next Wednesday. But Democrats have narrow margins in both chambers of Congress, and Republicans will push back on issues that range from increasing the minimum wage to providing more money for states, while demanding inclusion of their priorities, such as liability protection for businesses.

    “Remember that a bipartisan $900 billion #COVID19 relief bill became law just 18 days ago,” tweeted Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas. But Biden says that was only a down payment, and he promised more major legislation next month, focused on rebuilding the economy.

    “The crisis of deep human suffering is in plain sight, and there’s not time to waste,” Biden said. “We have to act and we have to act now.”

    Still, he sought to manage expectations. “We’re better equipped to do this than any nation in the world,” he said. “But even with all these small steps, it’s going to take time.”

    His relief bill would be paid for with borrowed money, adding to trillions in debt the government has already incurred to confront the pandemic. Aides said Biden will make the case that the additional spending and borrowing is necessary to prevent the economy from sliding into an even deeper hole. Interest rates are low, making debt more manageable.

    Biden has long held that economic recovery is inextricably linked with controlling the coronavirus.

    That squares with the judgment of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the most powerful business lobbying group and traditionally an adversary of Democrats. “We must defeat COVID before we can restore our economy and that requires turbocharging our vaccination efforts,” the Chamber said in a statement Thursday night that welcomed Biden’s plan but stopped short of endorsing it.

    The plan comes as a divided nation is in the grip of the pandemic’s most dangerous wave yet. So far, more than 385,000 people have died of COVID-19 in the U.S. And government numbers out Thursday reported a jump in weekly unemployment claims, to 965,000, a sign that rising infections are forcing businesses to cut back and lay off workers.

    Under Biden’s multipronged strategy, about $400 billion would go directly to combating the pandemic, while the rest is focused on economic relief and aid to states and localities.

    About $20 billion would be allocated for a more disciplined focus on vaccination, on top of some $8 billion already approved by Congress. Biden has called for setting up mass vaccination centers and sending mobile units to hard-to-reach areas.

    With the backing of Congress and the expertise of private and government scientists, the Trump administration delivered two highly effective vaccines and more are on the way. Yet a month after the first shots were given, the nation’s vaccination campaign is off to a slow start with about 11 million people getting the first of two shots, although more than 30 million doses have been delivered.

    Biden called the vaccine rollout “a dismal failure so far” and said he would provide more details about his vaccination campaign on Friday.

    The plan also provides $50 billion to expand testing, which is seen as key to reopening most schools by the end of the new administration’s first 100 days. About $130 billion would be allocated to help schools reopen without risking further contagion.

    The plan would fund the hiring of 100,000 public health workers, to focus on encouraging people to get vaccinated and on tracing the contacts of those infected with the coronavirus.

    There’s also a proposal to boost investment in genetic sequencing, to help track new virus strains including the more contagious variants identified in the United Kingdom and South Africa.

    Throughout the plan, there’s a focus on ensuring that minority communities that have borne the brunt of the pandemic are not shortchanged on vaccines and treatments, aides said.

    With the new proposals comes a call to redouble efforts on the basics.

    Biden is asking Americans to override their sense of pandemic fatigue and recommit to wearing masks, practicing social distancing and avoiding indoor gatherings, particularly larger ones. It’s still the surest way to slow the COVID-19 wave, with more than 4,400 deaths reported just on Tuesday.

    Biden’s biggest challenge will be to “win the hearts and minds of the American people to follow his lead,” said Dr. Leana Wen, a public health expert and emergency physician.

    The pace of vaccination in the U.S. is approaching 1 million shots a day, but 1.8 million a day would be needed to reach widespread or “herd” immunity by the summer, according to a recent estimate by the American Hospital Association. Wen says the pace should be even higher — closer to 3 million a day.

    Biden believes the key to speeding that up lies not only in delivering more vaccine but also in working closely with states and local communities to get shots into the arms of more people. The Trump administration provided the vaccine to states and set guidelines for who should get priority for shots, but largely left it up to state and local officials to organize their vaccination campaigns.

    It’s still unclear how the new administration will address the issue of vaccine hesitancy, the doubts and suspicions that keep many people from getting a shot. Polls show it’s particularly a problem among Black Americans.

    “We will have to move heaven and earth to get more people vaccinated,” Biden said.

    Next Wednesday, when Biden is sworn in as president, marks the anniversary of the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the United States.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Spotlight: Ethiopia-born Naya Ali Among Winners of Inaugural Black Canadian Music Awards

    Naya Ali, who was born in Ethiopia, came to Montreal as a preschooler and grew up in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce. Naya says the Ethiopian roots of her family has a defining influence on her art. According to the Canadian Postmedia Network: "Those songs rooted in Ethiopian culture will make up the second half of her debut album" that set to be released this year. “That’s where I’m from, those are my roots, those are my foundations,” Naya explains. “There’s a lot of history there.” (Photo: Montreal Gazette)

    Post Media

    Naya Ali is proud to be the only artist not from Ontario to win one of the five prizes at the inaugural Black Canadian Music Awards. The SOCAN Foundation announced Monday that the Montreal rap artist had won an award at the Toronto-based event, along with Ontario artists TOBi, RAAHiim, Hunnah and Dylan Sinclair. More than 300 artists from across Canada were competing for the awards.

    It means a lot to Ali, she says, because it’s a sign her music is gaining recognition outside Montreal. Francophone hip hop in Quebec has made big progress commercially in recent years, but she feels more isolated as an anglophone rapper here, which is why it felt so good to win this prize at a Toronto-based event.

    “It’s recognition,” said Ali, who was born in Ethiopia, came to Montreal as a preschooler and grew up in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce. “To get an award from (songwriters group) SOCAN, it enables me to get on people’s radars, of people who haven’t heard of me before, in Toronto and across Canada. It’s going to facilitate more connections with key people, and that’s one of the greatest things about this prize.

    “I never thought it was a problem being an English artist from here, being a Black woman from Montreal who raps. It kind of looks like on paper, ‘Ugh, what are the odds of this working?’ But at the end of the day, it gives me my edge.”

    The stars seemed to be aligning for Ali early in 2020. She launched the first half of her debut album, Godspeed: Baptism (Prelude), in March, garnering much buzz, and she was set to launch the project at the prestigious South by Southwest festival in Austin, Tex. She was also booked to be on the same bill as hip-hop superstar Travis Scott at the Metro Metro fest in Montreal in May.

    Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit hard, and everything was cancelled. Like every other musical artist, Ali was stuck at home wondering what to do next, with most revenue streams shut down and little opportunity to promote her album.

    But Ali isn’t one to stay down for long. The distinctive blend of gritty rapping and radio-friendly pop sounds on the eight songs on Godspeed: Baptism (Prelude) continued to win over folks in the industry. It was one of the nominees at the ADISQ gala, the Quebec music awards ceremony, as anglophone album of the year, a prize ultimately won by Patrick Watson’s Wave. Ali also had the chance to perform at the top-rated gala, delivering an intense version of Get It Right, belting it out standing on top of a giant freight container under the Jacques-Cartier Bridge.

    For the ADISQ performance, she wore a hoodie with names on the back of Black women killed as a result of police brutality. It also included the name of Joyce Echaquan, the Indigenous woman who died in a Joliette hospital last year as staff made degrading comments about her.

    “The whole Black Lives Matter movement became more mainstream because people had a lot more time on their hands,” said Ali. “Because of confinement, they were not so distracted. Which is great. But at the end of the day, Black lives matter yesterday, today and tomorrow. It’s not a trend or a wave. If you actually believe in it, then it’s something you embody every day in your actions.”

    Ali says N.D.G. helped form her musical persona. “It played a great part in me becoming the person I am today. When I was a teenager, rap music was really in the streets. It opened my ears to a whole culture and community.”

    Another defining influence was the Ethiopian roots of her family, and she says that’s having a greater impact on the music she’s making now. Those songs rooted in Ethiopian culture will make up the second half of her debut album, which will launch this year.

    “That’s where I’m from, those are my roots, those are my foundations,” said Ali. “There’s a lot of history there.”

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    ህብር (Hēbēr): Exhibition by Tizta Berhan at Addis Fine Art in Ethiopia

    The art show, which is also available to view online at Addis Fine Art's website during the pandemic, features Tizta's oil paintings portraying "scenes of affection, intimacy, and closeness.” (Photo: Addis Fine Art)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: January 15th, 2021

    New York (TADIAS) — If you’re in Addis Ababa you can catch a timely and aptly titled art exhibition by Ethiopian painter Tizta Berhanu called ህብር (Hēbēr) at Addis Fine Art gallery in the capital.

    “Hēbēr, meaning unity and togetherness, showcases new works by the artist and marks the opening of the gallery’s second exhibition space in the Noah Centrum building, Addis Ababa,” the announcement states, noting that the display is also the artist’s debut solo exhibition at their space.

    The art show is also currently available to view online at Addis Fine Art’s website, and features Tizta’s oil paintings portraying “scenes of affection, intimacy, and closeness.. From moments of melancholy to elation, Tizta’s bold use of colors provides each painting with its own distinctive emotional tone; her luminescent red paintings, for instance, conjure images of love and passion, while the oceanic blue works convey a sense of despondency.”


    From top: Tizta Berhanu, Siblings, 2020, Oil on Canvas, 140 x 140 cm; Tizta Berhanu Reassurance, 2020, Oil on Canvas, 140 x 140 cm; Tizta Berhanu, Discontent, 2020, Oil on Canvas, 150 x 180 cm; Tizta Berhanu Stability, 2020 Oil on canvas, 140 x 140 cm. (Addis Fine Art)

    According to the press release:

    Trained as a figurative painter at the Alle School of Fine Art and Design in Addis Ababa, Tizta uses oil paintings to interrogate every facet of human emotions. From moments of melancholy to elation, the full litany of our emotional life is on display. The protagonists in Tizta’s canvases can be found seeking comfort in the bosom of a sympathetic listener or brooding, flanked by apparently concerned loved ones. The artist captures outpourings of vulnerability, love, excitement and sadness, and immortalises them in powerful images.

    The scenes depicting affection, intimacy and closeness are hallmarks of Tizta’s work, which take on a particular poignancy in our new context of social distancing, increasing polarization and conflicts between communities. The paintings in this show evoke a certain nostalgia for the times when expressing our emotions physically and supporting each other with care was the norm – and remind us of the importance of such acts.

    If You Attend:

    You can learn more about the exhibition at addisfineart.com.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Feleg Tsegaye of ‘Deliver Addis’

    Feleg Tsegaye, founder of Deliver Addis. (Photo: Howwemadeitinafrica)

    Face 2 Face Africa

    The man behind Ethiopia’s first online restaurant delivery service changing how people dine

    Feleg Tsegaye was born to exiled Ethiopian parents in the United States. When he was 24 years old, he moved to Ethiopia to start the country’s first-ever online restaurant delivery service. Prior to leaving the U.S, he worked at the US Federal Reserve Bank.

    In 2015, he launched Deliver Addis, an online restaurant delivery service in Ethiopia which allows customers to place orders from their favorite restaurants and also discover new ones. For Tsegaye, it was his own way of not only creating jobs in his country of origin but to change the way Ethiopians dine.

    “What really prompted me to pursue this was the fact that we were creating a completely new industry that did not exist in Ethiopia,” Tsegaye told How We Made It In Africa. “It’s about getting customers what they want in the convenience of their homes and offices. It’s also about generating business for small and medium enterprises – like restaurants that cannot afford space or a good location – and creating jobs for young people as back-office staff or drivers.”

    Across Africa, businesses being operated solely online are fast gaining popularity on the continent. This has been largely due to the spread of internet connectivity across the continent. While in some countries internet usage is low, it is high in other states.

    Playing a pioneering role in Ethiopia’s e-commerce sector didn’t come easy for Tsegaye. At the time, internet penetration was low and was largely a platform not known to many in the country. Nonetheless, he persisted and now controls a big share of the market.

    He was also confronted with other challenges such as the absence of addresses, power outages and inadequate internet connection.

    “Our first internet shutdown was when I was on a flight to the US,” he recalled. In 2016, Ethiopia declared a state of emergency due to political instability, resulting in the shutdown of internet connectivity in the country.

    “As an e-commerce business, that’s pretty much the worst possible thing that can happen – and I wasn’t even there when it happened,” he said. Although the business was unprepared for the internet shutdown, Tsegaye took advantage of the situation to do some intensive servicing and maintenance of his delivery bikes.

    While at it, he took steps to keep the business afloat by designing offline processes for ordering – by phone, or SMS, when available. This saw order volumes go up. In June 2020, he secured funding from the Impact Angel Network to increase its capacity and efficiency to bring on new products and services and expand market share.

    Following growing demand due to COVID-19, he expanded his services to include an online marketplace that enables Ethiopian consumers to shop for groceries and other essential goods online.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Spotlight: Biden-Harris Name Yohannes Abraham NSC Chief of Staff

    Yohannes Abraham has been named Chief of Staff and Executive Secretary of the White House National Security Council in the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. (Photos: Harvard and Transition website)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: January 10th, 2021

    New York (TADIAS) — The Transition Office of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris continue to release a diverse list of appointments “that looks like America” to serve in their incoming administration. The latest hires include Ethiopian American Yohannes Abraham, who has been named Chief of Staff and Executive Secretary of the White House National Security Council.

    As the press release highlighted:

    Yohannes Abraham currently serves as the Executive Director of the Biden-Harris Transition, overseeing preparation for the implementation of Biden-Harris policy, personnel, and management priorities. He is also on the faculty of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, where he lectures on management. During the Obama-Biden administration, Abraham served as Deputy Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor to the National Economic Council. He also worked as Chief of Staff of the White House Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs, where his team partnered with cities, states, and other key stakeholders to manage crises and support domestic and national security policy priorities. Abraham has also served on the leadership team of the Vanguard Group’s global investment unit and as a Senior Advisor at the Obama Foundation. A native of Springfield, Virginia, Abraham holds a BA from Yale College and an MBA from Harvard Business School, where he was a Baker Scholar.

    In a statement President-elect Joe Biden said: “The National Security Council plays a critical role in keeping our nation safe and secure. These crisis-tested, deeply experienced public servants will work tirelessly to protect the American people and restore America’s leadership in the world. They will ensure that the needs of working Americans are front and center in our national security policymaking, and our country will be better for it.”

    Vice President-elect Kamala Harris added: “This outstanding team of dedicated public servants will be ready to hit the ground running on day one to address the transnational challenges facing the American people — from climate to cyber. They reflect the very best of our nation and they have the knowledge and experience to help build our nation back better for all Americans.”

    And incoming White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain said: “I am proud to announce that these incredibly accomplished individuals will be joining the National Security Council. They will bring a wide range of perspectives to tackling the defining challenges of our time, and I thank them for their willingness to serve their country.”

    Below are the biographies of the NSC appointees named in alphabetical order as provided in the press release of the Biden-Harris Transition team:

    Yohannes Abraham, Chief of Staff and Executive Secretary

    Yohannes Abraham currently serves as the Executive Director of the Biden-Harris Transition, overseeing preparation for the implementation of Biden-Harris policy, personnel, and management priorities. He is also on the faculty of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, where he lectures on management. During the Obama-Biden administration, Abraham served as Deputy Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor to the National Economic Council. He also worked as Chief of Staff of the White House Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs, where his team partnered with cities, states, and other key stakeholders to manage crises and support domestic and national security policy priorities. Abraham has also served on the leadership team of the Vanguard Group’s global investment unit and as a Senior Advisor at the Obama Foundation. A native of Springfield, Virginia, Abraham holds a BA from Yale College and an MBA from Harvard Business School, where he was a Baker Scholar.

    Sasha Baker, Senior Director for Strategic Planning

    Sasha Baker was most recently national security advisor to Senator Elizabeth Warren and served as a Deputy Policy Director for her presidential campaign. Previously, she served as Deputy Chief of Staff to Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter. Baker was a career budget analyst at the Office of Management and Budget, joining as a Presidential Management Fellow and serving in homeland and national security roles and as a Special Assistant to the OMB Director. She began her government career as a research assistant for the House Armed Services Committee. Originally from New Jersey, Baker is a graduate of Dartmouth College and received an MPP from the Harvard Kennedy School.

    Ariana Berengaut, Senior Advisor to the National Security Advisor

    Ariana Berengaut currently serves on the NSC Agency Review Team with the Biden-Harris Transition and held the COVID-19 policy portfolio as a volunteer on the Biden-Harris Campaign. She previously was a founding director at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement. She served in the Obama Administration as speechwriter and counselor to then-Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken and, prior to that, as chief speechwriter and senior advisor to USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah. She started her career as a researcher at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and worked on the 2008 Obama campaign. Born in Washington, D.C., she attended Brandeis University and the University of Oxford, completing her graduate fieldwork in southeastern Uganda.

    Tanya Bradsher, Senior Director for Partnerships and Global Engagement

    Tanya Bradsher is the National Security Agency lead on the Biden-Harris Transition Team. Prior to her role on transition, she served as Chief of Staff for Congressman Don Beyer. Bradsher served as the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs at the Department of Homeland Security during the Obama-Biden administration, led Veteran and Military Family outreach in the Office of Public Engagement, and served as the Assistant Press Secretary on the National Security Council. Bradsher is an Iraq war veteran who served 20 years in the United States Army and retired with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Bradsher was born in Virginia, is a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., and is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and The George Washington University. She lives in Virginia with her husband and three daughters.

    Rebecca Brocato, Senior Director for Legislative Affairs

    Rebecca Brocato was Director of Strategy and Government Affairs at National Security Action. During the Obama-Biden Administration, she served in the White House as Director for Legislative Affairs on the National Security Council and as House Legislative Affairs Liaison. She worked previously on Middle East policy at the State Department and as an aide to Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD). Brocato began her career as a researcher focused on West and Central Africa. A Baltimore native, she is a graduate of Harvard and Oxford.

    Elizabeth Cameron, Senior Director for Global Health Security and Biodefense

    Elizabeth (Beth) Cameron is the Nuclear Threat Initiative’s Vice President for Global Biological Policy and Programs and a volunteer with the Biden-Harris transition team. She previously served on the White House National Security Council staff, where she stood up the Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense and helped launch the Global Health Security Agenda. She also served at the Department of Defense as an Office Director and Senior Advisor and at the Department of State where she focused on global threat reduction programs. She was a policy director with the American Cancer Society and an American Association for the Advancement of Science fellow in the health policy office of Senator Edward M. Kennedy. Cameron holds a Ph.D. in Biology from the Human Genetics and Molecular Biology Program at the Johns Hopkins University and is a graduate of the University of Virginia and member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Raised in Maryland, she lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband.

    Tarun Chhabra, Senior Director for Technology and National Security

    Tarun Chhabra is a Senior Fellow at the Center for Security and Emerging Technology at Georgetown University. He was previously a Fellow with the Project on International Order and Strategy at the Brookings Institution and a Visiting Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perry World House. During the Obama-Biden Administration, Chhabra served on the National Security Council staff as Director for Strategic Planning and Director for Human Rights and National Security Issues, and at the Pentagon as a speechwriter to the Secretary of Defense. Born in Tennessee and raised in Louisiana, Chhabra is a first-generation American and a graduate of Stanford University, Oxford University, and Harvard Law School.

    Caitlin Durkovich, Senior Director for Resilience and Response

    Caitlin Durkovich serves on the Department Homeland of Security (DHS) Agency Review Team for the Biden-Harris Transition. She is a Director at Toffler Associates and a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security. Caitlin served as Assistant Secretary for Infrastructure Protection and as Chief of Staff for the National Protection and Programs Directorate (the predecessor to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency) at DHS during the Obama-Biden Administration. Caitlin was also a member of the Mission Assurance/Business Continuity Team at Booz Allen Hamilton. She helped launch the Internet Security Alliance in partnership with Carnegie Mellon University, and iDefense, an early cyber threat intelligence service. Born in New Mexico, Caitlin is a graduate of Duke University.

    Jon Finer, Principal Deputy National Security Advisor

    Jon Finer serves as Deputy Head of Foreign and National Security Policy on the Biden-Harris Transition team. He previously served in the Obama White House and State Department, including as Middle East Advisor and Foreign Policy Speechwriter to then-Vice President Biden and as Chief of Staff and Director of Policy Planning for Secretary of State John Kerry. Finer began his career as a journalist in Asia and covered several conflicts, including the Iraq War, as a foreign correspondent for The Washington Post. Since leaving government, he has held positions in academia, at think tanks, and in the private sector. He has an A.B. from Harvard; a M.Phil from Oxford, where he was a Rhodes Scholar; and a J.D. from Yale Law School. Finer was born and raised in Vermont, where his parents still live, and has three younger siblings.

    Juan Gonzalez, Senior Director for Western Hemisphere

    Juan Sebastian Gonzalez serves on the Biden-Harris Transition Appointments Team as a Deputy for National Security Agencies. He was previously a Senior Fellow at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement. Gonzalez served in the Obama-Biden Administration as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, and in the White House as Special Advisor to Vice President Biden and National Security Council Director for Western Hemisphere Affairs. In 2017, Gonzalez was appointed by Senator Chuck Schumer to serve as a Commissioner on the bipartisan Western Hemisphere Drug Policy Commission, and represented the Biden campaign on the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force on Immigration. Born in Colombia and raised in New York, Gonzalez is a graduate of Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service and served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Guatemala. He lives in Alexandria, Virginia with his wife and son.

    Sumona Guha, Senior Director for South Asia

    Sumona Guha was co-chair of the South Asia foreign policy working group on the Biden-Harris campaign, and serves on the transition’s State Department Agency Review Team. Guha is Senior Vice President at Albright Stonebridge Group. Previously, she served in the State Department as a Foreign Service Officer and later, on the Secretary of State’s policy planning staff where she focused on South Asia. During the Obama-Biden Administration, she was Special Advisor for national security affairs to Vice President Biden. Guha is a graduate of Johns Hopkins and Georgetown University. She lives in Bethesda, Maryland with her husband and three children.

    Ryan Harper, Deputy Chief of Staff and Deputy Executive Secretary

    Ryan Harper currently serves as the Director of Planning and Staff Secretary for the Biden-Harris Transition. He previously served in a number of foreign policy and national security positions during the Obama-Biden Administration at USAID and the Office of the General Counsel at the Department of Defense. He has also held positions at the White House Office of Presidential Personnel and the U.S. Department of Justice. Prior to the transition, Harper was an Associate Partner at McKinsey & Co., where he worked with public sector defense, development, and intelligence organizations. Originally from Massachusetts, he is a graduate of Stanford Law School, the Stanford Graduate School of Business, and the College of the Holy Cross. He lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife.

    Peter Harrell, Senior Director for International Economics and Competitiveness

    Peter Evans Harrell is a member of the Biden-Harris Transition working on the State Department Agency Review Team and on international economic and trade policy. Since 2015, he has served as an Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) and as a lawyer in private practice. He has also taught international trade law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. From 2009 to 2014, he served in the Obama-Biden Administration on the State Department Policy Planning Staff and as a Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs. Earlier in his career, Harrell worked as a journalist and as a staffer on the 2008 Obama-Biden campaign. Harrell was born in Baltimore and raised in Atlanta, where he currently resides with his wife, two children, and cat. He is a graduate of Princeton University and the Yale Law School.

    Emily Horne, Senior Director for Press and NSC Spokesperson

    Emily Horne serves as a volunteer on the Biden-Harris Transition Team leading communications for several national security Cabinet nominees. She joins the Biden-Harris Administration from the Brookings Institution, where she was Vice President of Communications. Horne was previously a civil servant at the State Department, where she began as an intern and served in a number of public affairs roles including Assistant Press Secretary and Director of Strategic Communications at the National Security Council, Communications Director for the Special Presidential Envoy to the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS, and Spokesperson for South and Central Asian Affairs. She also served as head of global policy communications at Twitter. Originally from Michigan, Horne holds a B.A. and M.A. from The George Washington University. She lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband and their two sons.

    Shanthi Kalathil, Coordinator for Democracy and Human Rights

    Shanthi Kalathil is currently senior director of the International Forum for Democratic Studies at the National Endowment for Democracy, where her work focuses on emerging challenges to democracy. Previously in her career, she served as a senior democracy fellow at the US Agency for International Development, an associate with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a Hong Kong-based reporter for the Asian Wall Street Journal, and an advisor to international affairs organizations. Kalathil is the co-author of Open Networks, Closed Regimes: The Impact of the Internet on Authoritarian Rule (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2003). Originally from California, Kalathil is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley and the London School of Economics and Political Science.

    Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Senior Director for Russia and Central Asia

    Andrea Kendall-Taylor is the Russia policy lead for the Biden-Harris Transition. She previously served as a senior intelligence officer both as Deputy National Intelligence Officer for Russia and Eurasia at the National Intelligence Council in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and a senior analyst at the Central Intelligence Agency. Kendall-Taylor was also Senior Fellow and Director of the Transatlantic Security Program at the Center for a New American Security. Originally from San Diego, Kendall-Taylor is a graduate of Princeton University and received her Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California, Los Angeles. She lives in Bethesda, Maryland with her husband and three children.

    Ella Lipin, Senior Advisor to the Principal Deputy National Security Advisor

    Ella Lipin serves on the Biden-Harris Transition’s national security and foreign policy team. Prior to joining the Transition, she was national security and foreign policy advisor to Senator Catherine Cortez Masto. Lipin served as Egypt Country Director in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy and in the speechwriting office of the Secretary of Defense. Raised in Oregon, Lipin is a graduate of Duke University and received an MPA from Princeton University.

    Brett H. McGurk, Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa

    Brett H. McGurk is currently the Frank E. Payne and Arthur W. Payne Distinguished Lecturer at Stanford University’s Freeman Spogli Institute. He has held senior national security posts across the last three administrations, most recently as Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS (2015-2018). He previously served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Near East Affairs at the State Department (2012-2015), Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Near East Affairs on the National Security Council (2007-2009), and Director for Iraq on the National Security Council (2005-2007). McGurk graduated from the University of Connecticut and Columbia University School of Law, after which he served as a law clerk to Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist on the U.S. Supreme Court.

    Melanie Nakagawa, Senior Director for Climate and Energy

    Melanie Nakagawa serves on the Biden-Harris Transition focused on climate change and energy. In the Obama-Biden Administration Nakagawa was appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Transformation at the U.S. State Department and served as a strategic advisor on climate change to the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on the Policy Planning Staff. Most recently, she was Director of Climate Strategy at Princeville Capital, leading their climate and sustainability investment strategy to back technology-enabled companies delivering transformative solutions to climate change. Earlier in her career she was the Senior Energy and Environment Counsel for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and an attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council. She provides her expertise on the Board of the Advanced Energy Economy Institute, REVERB Advisory Board, and as a Loomis Council Member. Born in New Jersey, Nakagawa earned a J.D. and M.A. in International Affairs from American University’s Washington College of Law and School of International Service, and an A.B. from Brown University.

    Carlyn Reichel, Senior Director for Speechwriting and Strategic Initiatives

    Carlyn Reichel is a member of the National Security Council Agency Review Team on the Biden Transition. On the Biden-Harris Campaign, she served as both Director of Speechwriting and Foreign Policy Director. Prior to the campaign, Reichel was the founding Communications Director for the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement. Reichel joined the Department of State during the Obama-Biden Administration as a Presidential Management Fellow and went on to work as a speechwriter for foreign policy and national security officials at the State Department, the NSC, and the Office of the Vice President. Reichel grew up in Georgia, graduated from Stanford University, and earned her Master’s in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School.

    Dr. Amanda Sloat, Senior Director for Europe

    Dr. Amanda Sloat is currently serving on the policy team for the Biden-Harris Transition Team. Prior to this role, she was a Robert Bosch Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution. She was also a non-resident fellow in the Project on Europe and the Transatlantic Relationship at Harvard Kennedy School. During the Obama-Biden Administration, Sloat served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Southern Europe and Eastern Mediterranean Affairs at the State Department. She also served as senior advisor to the White House’s Middle East coordinator and as senior advisor to the Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs. She previously worked as senior professional staff with responsibility for Europe policy on the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee. Before her government service, Sloat was a senior program officer with the National Democratic Institute and a postdoctoral fellow at Queen’s University Belfast. She has written widely on European politics, including a book (Scotland in Europe: A Study of Multi-Level Governance). Originally from Michigan, Sloat is a graduate of James Madison College at Michigan State University and holds a doctorate from the University of Edinburgh.

    Related:

    Biden Selects Yohannes Abraham as Member of Transition Team (UPDATE)

    Spotlight: Meet The Trailblazing Ethiopian American Office Holders in U.S.

    Ethiopia Congratulates President-elect Joe Biden & VP-elect Kamala Harris

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Hana Getachew, the Ethiopian-American Founder of Bolé Road Textiles

    Hana Getachew, founder of the Brooklyn-based Bolé Road Textiles that sells home linens, fabric, pillows, and more, all hand-woven in Ethiopia. (Photo via Refinery29)

    Refinery29

    For Hana Getachew, the Ethiopian-American founder of Bolé Road Textiles, a love of textiles can be traced back to childhood, stemming from one garment in particular: her mother’s dress for the Mels, an Ethiopian tradition that takes place during a wedding ceremony. She remembers it in excruciating detail — from the olive green shade and the waist-cinching A-line silhouette, right down to the gilded threadwork and golden daisies.

    “We’d always take it out and play with it. We were obsessed with it,” Getachew says. There were others, too, that she loved: dresses from friends and family, brought when they visited from Ethiopia. “In Ethiopia, weavers would come up with non-traditional syncopated patterns, with elements of symmetry and diamond designs. That has stayed with me, and I put a lot of it into my work today.”

    Getachew speaks about her career as two different lives: her life as an interior designer (before she launched Bolé Road), and her life after. It’s the latter — as the mastermind behind the home decor brand inspired by her own connections to family and the African diaspora — that has granted her the liberty to experiment and express herself genuinely through a world enriched in color, shapes, textures, and patterns.
    “I knew I was a good interior designer, but I felt like anyone could do it. It wasn’t unique to me; I wanted to find something that is essential to my soul,” she says about working at an architecture firm for almost 11 years, decorating commercial interiors and offices. “One day, my coworker told me her friend quit her full-time job to work on her pillow business. And I was like, Yes, that’s what I’m gonna do.”


    Bolé Road Textiles


    Bolé Road Textiles

    The concept for Bolé Road lived in her mind for almost eight years before she found the courage to execute it. In 2008, the same year Getachew’s ideas were growing, everyone around her was losing their jobs, which led many of them to dream-chase and become entrepreneurs. “The maker movement,” she proclaims. “I’m very risk-averse, which is not a good trait as an entrepreneur. That’s why I didn’t leap into this, but when I saw a whole movement happening, I thought maybe I could do this too.”
    ADVERTISEMENT

    Getachew left her career in interior design in 2014, but spent years prior to that preparing for the transition. She took free business classes at NYC Small Business Services and scouted artisans through word of mouth, the internet, and asking around in Ethiopia. A year later, she officially launched her brand on the same day as the Brooklyn Designs annual show. (The best piece of advice she received: “Just start, don’t overthink it.”)

    “It was an amazing event, and it was an incredible way to launch, rather than hit publish on a website and wait,” she says, likening the experience to a graduation, being surrounded by family, friends, and former coworkers. “Those kinds of events are really great for understanding how people respond to [your product] and getting your first round of feedback.”

    Everything about Bolé Road revolves around intention, identity, and gratitude to the heritage and community that supported Getachew most, from the colors and patterns inspired by Ethiopian landscapes to the name of the company.

    Read more »

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Ethio-American Oballa Oballa Sworn in as Austin, Minnesota Council Member

    Ethiopian American Oballa Oballa who was elected as a city Council member in Austin, Minnesota this past November has been sworn into office. (Photo: Oballa Oballa speaking at the Austin city Council Chambers in Minnesota on Monday, January 4th, 2021 after being sworn in as council member/by Bethel Gessesse/Mshale)

    Mshale

    By Bethel Gessesse

    Oballa Oballa sworn in as Austin City Council member

    AUSTIN, Minn. – Ethiopian-born Oballa Oballa was sworn in Monday to take his seat as the new Austin City Council member representing First Ward. The city staggered the swearing in of new council members and the mayor throughout the day to adhere to coronavirus pandemic social distancing guidelines with Oballa taking his oath of office shortly after 2PM.

    Oballa, who was elected in November, is the first person of color elected to the Austin City Council. The city, a 15-minute drive from the Iowa-Minnesota border is named after Austin R. Nichols, the city’s first European settler.

    Following the oath of office – administered by City Administrative Services Director Tom Dankert – Oballa outlined his priorities for his next four years on the council.


    City Administrative Services Director Tom Dankert administers the oath of office to Oballa Oballa on Monday, January 4th, 2021. (Photo by Bethel Gessesse)

    “Less than 5 years ago, I was in a refugee camp hoping and praying that I would have the opportunity at a better life. A year ago, I became a US citizen. And now, I stand before you as a council member,” Oballa said.

    “We got more work to do… For our city to thrive we have to work hard and build more housing, affordable daycare, bring more jobs, and keep people of Austin in Austin,” Oballa stated, sharing a glimpse of the platform that helped him win in November.

    The state’s Democratic Party dispatched its director of civic engagement Ian Oundo to witness the historic occasion.

    “As a party it shows that in addition to the work we are doing in the Twin Cities, we continue to work to expand our base in rural Minnesota,” Oundo said in an interview with Mshale after the brief ceremony. “We have to understand that the face of our community is changing all over the state of Minnesota and all those voices have to be represented.

    Not even the mask that city administrator Craig Clark was wearing could hide the joy he was feeling, calling the day “historic” as he spoke with Mshale. According to Clark, the moment was not an accident.

    “There is excitement out there that a new era is upon us, it is a culmination of a lot of work from a lot of people to be purposeful about being inclusive and this is a manifestation of that,” said Clark.

    Due to the pandemic, only a few people could be allowed into the council chambers to witness the occasion but they made it clear they understood the significance of the moment.

    Oballa’s Aunt, Adalg Ojullu, was ecstatic. She drove almost 200 miles from the neighboring state of South Dakota to witness his nephew taking the oath of office.

    “His picture will remain in this building forever, I am so proud of him and the people of Austin that elected him,” said Ojullu.

    Echoing her sentiments were two Austin community leaders, Ojoye Akane and Santino Deng. Both said Oballa’s election will help them in their on-going efforts to encourage more civic engagement from the African immigrant community.

    Mike Dean is the executive director of LEADMN, a statewide community college association where Oballa honed some of his leadership skills.

    Dean spoke to Mshale after the swearing in and said: “If you look out there and you see the pictures of the former city council members, they are all white, so this represents a sea change within the City of Austin and greater Minnesota, it’s amazing what Oballa has done here.”

    Watch: Oballa Oballa Swearing-in Ceremony in Austin, Minnesota

    Oballa Oballa: Ethiopian Refugee Wins City Council Election in Austin, Minnesota


    Soon after moving to Austin, Minnesota, Oballa Oballa [whose family fled Gambella, Ethiopia, in 2003] walked into the mayor’s office and asked if there was anything he could do for the city. He just became Austin’s first Black city council member. (Photo: Courtesy of Oballa Oballa)

    Sahan Journal

    November 7th, 2020

    Oballa Oballa, a refugee from Ethiopia, wins historic city council election in Austin; becomes city’s first Black elected official.

    Oballa Oballa, a former refugee from Ethiopia who became a naturalized citizen less than one year ago, made history this election by winning a city council seat in the southeast Minnesota city of Austin.

    As of Wednesday afternoon, Oballa, 27, held a 14 percent lead over candidate Helen Jahr and declared victory. Oballa, who had been campaigning for the seat since the beginning of the year, said he is the first person of color to win elected office in Austin.

    On the campaign trail and in interviews, Oballa described a dramatic personal history. His family fled Gambella, Ethiopia, in 2003, following what he describes as a genocidal attack on his community. They spent the next 10 years living in Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camp. In 2013, the family moved to the U.S., and by 2015, Oballa had settled in Austin.

    Oballa is just one example of how immigrant communities are shaping Minnesota politics well beyond the Twin Cities, and are now starting to win seats for public office. Oballa said his record of civic engagement earned him voters’ support.

    “This makes me feel great, it makes me feel really happy and proud,” he said. “My work, I think, will still give hope to refugees who think the American dream is dead.”

    He added, “Just seven years ago, [I] was living in a refugee camp and now am officially elected. I think that will give them hope that one day, when they come to America here, they will accomplish whatever they put their mind to.”

    Read more »

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    TADIAS Year in Review: 2020 in Pictures

    Dr. Tsion Firew is Doctor of Emergency Medicine and Assistant Professor at Columbia University. She is also Special Advisor to the Ministry of Health in Ethiopia. (Courtesy photo)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Liben Eabisa

    Updated: December 31st, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — Our cover picture of Dr. Tsion Firew — who was one of the many brave healthcare workers who were on the frontline of the fight against COVID-19 during the height of the pandemic earlier this year in New York City — captures the kernel of the year that was 2020. COVID-19 has claimed the lives of over 300,000 people across America.

    Beyond the ongoing global health and social crisis, there were some optimistic moments in 2020 including the swift development of a vaccine as well as the outcome of the 2020 U.S. election.

    Some of the inspiring news stories we highlighted on our website this year include the recent naming of Naomi Girma, the captain of the U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team and a student at Stanford University, who was voted “the 2020 U.S. Soccer Young Female Player of the Year.”

    Equally exciting was the announcement in September that Ethiopian-American author Maaza Mengiste’s blockbusters new novel The Shadow King was shortlisted for the 2020 Booker Prize, one of the most prestigious literary awards in the world.

    Similarly two Ethiopians, Adom Getachew and Elizabeth Giorgis, were named winners of the 2020 African Studies Book Prize.

    In the art world there was our feature of Free Art Felega, a virtual Ethiopia exhibition organized by German-based Ethiopian artist Yenatfenta Abate, bringing together artists from Ethiopia and the Diaspora. As the announcement stated: The basic concept was “based on the focus of life and work of the participating artists in times of COVID-19 and the reflection of joint work in the context of the social challenge caused by the changing environment.”

    We wish our readers around the world a healthier and more prosperous 2021! Below are some of the top stories we’ve shared on Tadias this past year.

    Happy New Year!

    Naomi Girma Voted 2020 U.S. Soccer Young Female Player of the Year


    Naomi Girma, the captain of the U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team and a student at Stanford University, has been voted the 2020 U.S. Soccer Young Female Player of the Year. (Photo: Us Soccer)

    This year U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team captain Naomi Girma was voted the 2020 U.S. Soccer Young Female Player of the Year. According to the sports news website U.S. Soccer, Naomi, “who played a major part in helping Stanford win the NCAA Championship in 2019 as the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, was the leader of the U.S. defense during the 2020 CONCACAF U-20 Women’s Championship. As a team captain, Girma started six games during the World Cup qualifying tournament to help the USA earn a berth to the since-cancelled 2020 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup and win the regional title, defeating Mexico, 4-1 in the championship game. She finished third on the team in minutes played while marshaling a back line that played an instrumental part in allowing just one goal. The USA went 545 shutout minutes in the tournament before allowing that score.” U.S. Soccer added that Naomi, a daughter of Ethiopian immigrants and a first generation Ethiopian American, was “only the second pure defender to win the award in its 23-year existence. Fifteen U.S. Soccer Young Female Players of the Year have gone on to play in a senior level Women’s World Cup for the USA. The first winner, back in 1998, was current U.S. Soccer President Cindy Parlow Cone. Read more »

    Maaza Mengiste on Booker Prize Shortlist


    Maaza Mengiste is an Ethiopian-American writer and author of the novels Beneath the Lion’s Gaze and The Shadow King, the latter of which was shortlisted for the 2020 Booker Prize. (Courtesy photo)

    She did it again! In 2020 Ethiopian-American author Maaza Mengiste, who released her best-selling book The Shadow King the previous year, was named one of the final candidates for the prestigious Booker Prize. The New York-based writer was among the six authors shortlisted for the esteemed Booker Prize. The shortlist was chosen out of 162 books and as organizers noted Maaza, who was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, is “a Fulbright Scholar and professor in the MFA in Creative Writing & Literary Translation programme at Queens College, she is the author of The Shadow King and Beneath the Lion’s Gaze, named one of the Guardian’s Ten Best Contemporary African Books. Her work can be found in the New Yorker, Granta, and the New York Times, among other publications. She lives in New York City.” Read more »

    Two Ethiopians, Adom Getachew & Elizabeth Giorgis, Win the 2020 African Studies Book Prize


    The award, which was announced on November 21st, 2020 during the African Studies Association’s virtual annual meeting, “recognizes the most important scholarly work in African studies published in English and distributed in the United States during the preceding year.” (Photos: Elizabeth W. Giorgis/@AsiaArtArchive & Adom Getachew/Princeton University Press)

    Adom Getachew and Elizabeth W. Giorgis were declared winners in separate categories of the 2020 African Studies Association (ASA) book prize in November during the organization’s virtual annual meeting. Adom, the author of Worldmaking after Empire, was awarded the ASA Best Book Prize, while Elizabeth, the writer of Modernist Art in Ethiopia, was given the East African Bethwell A. Ogot Book Prize, which recognizes the best book on East African studies published in the previous calendar. Read more »

    Dr. Wuleta Lemma Among Top 20 Africa’s Business Heroes


    Dr. Wuleta Lemma is the CEO and Founder of Lalibela Global-Networks, an Ethiopia-based startup “leading the digital transformation of the health sector in Africa.” (Photo: BIA)

    Dr. Wuleta Lemma, an Ethiopian American health care entrepreneur representing Ethiopia, was among the top 20 Africa’s Business Heroes announced this past summer by the Jack Ma Foundation’s Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative. Dr Wuleta, who is the CEO and Founder of Lalibela Global-Networks — an Ethiopia-based startup “leading the digital transformation of the health sector in Africa’ – was chosen from a pool of 22,000 candidates across the continent. According to her bio shared with Tadias: “Dr. Wuleta is a Tropical Medicine expert working for the last 25 years mostly on HIV/AIDS, Malaria, MNCH and Communicable Diseases. In the last number of years, Dr. Lemma has been involved in health projects in more than 20 countries in Africa, The Caribbean and Europe. During the past couple years, She had conducted research/evaluations on endemic health problems, Human Resource for Health (HRH), Innovative Medical Education, Behavioral Surveillance on high risk populations in a number of countries; contributed to research on Health outcomes of countries of the Horn of Africa and Health System Strengthen in Ethiopia.” Read more »

    Ethio-American Scientist Sossina Haile Awarded 2020 David Turnbull Lectureship


    The Materials Research Society (MRS), which gives out the annual award, said it’s honoring Dr. Sossina Haile for her “fundamental contributions to the electrochemical and thermochemical materials science that advance sustainable energy, for her commitment to the broader international materials community, and for being an inspiring colleague and passionate mentor.” (Photo: ETHIOPIA 2050 – Keynote Address/YouTube)

    In December Sossina M. Haile, a Professor of materials science and engineering at Northwestern University, was awarded the 2020 David Turnbull Lectureship, a prestigious accolade that recognizes the career contributions of scientists in her field. The Materials Research Society (MRS), which gives out the annual award, said it’s honoring Dr. Sossina for her “fundamental contributions to the electrochemical and thermochemical materials science that advance sustainable energy, for her commitment to the broader international materials community, and for being an inspiring colleague and passionate mentor.” Dr. Sossina received the award on December 3rd during the 2020 Virtual MRS Spring/Fall Meeting, where she also delivered her lecture, Superprotonic Solid Acids for Sustainable Energy Technologies. Most recently Dr. Sossina and her team were behind a new discovery that converts ammonia to green hydrogen that’s being hailed as “a major step forward for enabling a zero-pollution, hydrogen-fueled economy.” Read more »

    Rebecca Haile Elected Board Chair of EMILY’s List


    Rebecca Haile, co-founder and executive director of the U.S.-based non-profit organization Ethiopia Education Initiatives, Inc., has been elected as Board Chair of EMILY’s List, one of the largest women associations in the United States. (Photo: Rebecca Haile speaking at The Haile-Manas Academy Groundbreaking Ceremony & Luncheon in Debre Birhan, Ethiopia on December 30th, 2018/Tadias File)

    Also in December, entrepreneur and philanthropist Rebecca Haile was elected Board Chair of EMILY’s List, America’s largest resource for women in politics that helps to elect Democratic female candidates into public office. The press release added: “This change in leadership comes as EMILY’s List is at its strongest position yet, following two record cycles and the incredible growth of Democratic women running for office.” The organization noted that EMILY’s List’s new Board Chair Rebecca Haile is an entrepreneur in business and philanthropy. “She is the co-founder and executive director of Ethiopia Education Initiatives, Inc., that seeks to provide world-class educational opportunities for talented Ethiopian students and has already started its first school in central Ethiopia. Rebecca is also a Senior Advisor at Foros, an independent strategic and M&A advisory boutique firm she helped establish in 2009. Rebecca is a graduate of Williams College and Harvard Law School, where she was an editor of the Harvard Law Review. She is the author of Held at a Distance: My Rediscovery of Ethiopia, a memoir of her return to Ethiopia after her family’s forced exile following the 1974 revolution and 25 years in the United States. Rebecca is a board member of the Brearley School, an independent K-12 girls’ school in New York City and a former Trustee of Freedom House, a human rights organization.” In a statement Rebecca said: “I look forward to working with the staff, the board, and our next president to change the face of American politics for generations to come.” Read more »

    Marcus Samuelsson Named Guest Editor of Bon Appétit Magazine


    Marcus Samuelsson visits SiriusXM Studios on February 26, 2020 in New York City. (Getty Images)

    Celebrity chef, author and businessman Marcus Samuelsson, whose latest book The Rise was released in 2020, was also named guest editor of the holiday edition of Bon Appétit magazine, America’s leading food and entertainment publication since it was launched in 1956. The Editor-in-Chief of Vogue and Artistic Director of Condé Nast — the parent company of Bon Appétit — Anna Wintour said in a statement: “It’s an honor to welcome such a bold and brilliant culinary force like Marcus to the Bon Appétit team. He is a visionary and inspiration to so many in the food world and beyond, from aspiring entrepreneurs and home cooks to today’s most renowned chefs. We can’t wait for our audience to get cooking with him.” Marcus Samuelsson added: “Now is a time of seismic change not only within our culinary world but in our communities at large and we have a responsibility and opportunity to come together to show how food is a reflection of our cultures, our societal values, and our individuality. I learned from working in restaurants at a young age that you’re nobody without your crew. To make a meaningful impact means both empowering the incredible talents around you and enlisting those you admire to share their stories and lend their voice. l’m looking forward to joining forces with Sonia and the team to work toward this greater goal.” Read more »

    Interview With Addisu Demissie: Senior Adviser to Joe Biden


    Addisu Demissie who served as a Senior Advisor to then U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden, was responsible for organizing the nominating convention for the Democratic Party that took place in August of 2020. (Photo: 50+1 Strategies)

    One of the most widely circulated and quoted stories that we did in 2020 was our interview with Addisu Demissie, who served as a Senior Advisor to the Biden campaign, and was the lead person behind the nominating convention for the Democratic Party last summer. Addisu successfully pulled off the first-ever nominating convention held online, introducing a major party ticket to American voters across the nation. Prior to the convention Addisu told Tadias: “It’s gonna be nothing like anything anyone has ever done before, but we have a mission – and that is to present Joe Biden to the country. He is somebody who has been in public life for 40 years, but still people need a better sense of who he is and what he’s fighting for.” As it turned out it was a winning strategy. Read more »

    Tadias Panel Discussion on Civic Engagement and Voter Mobilization


    On Sunday, October 25th, 2020 Tadias Magazine hosted a timely virtual panel discussion on civic engagement and voter mobilization featuring a new generation of Ethiopian American leaders from various professions. (Photos: Tadias Magazine)

    During the closing days of the U.S. presidential election in late October 2020 Tadias hosted a well-received lively discussion on building political power through civic engagement and voter mobilization featuring a new generation of Ethiopian American leaders from various professions. You can watch the video below.

    Panelists included Henock Dory, who currently serves as Special Assistant to former President Barack Obama; Tefere Gebre, Executive Vice President of the AFL-CIO; Selam Mulugeta Washington, a former Field Organizer with Obama for America, Helen Mesfin from the Helen Show DC, Dr. Menna Demessie, Vice President of Policy Analysis & Research at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation; Helen Amelga, President of the Ethiopian Democratic Club of Los Angeles (moderator) as well as Bemnet Meshesha and Helen Eshete of the Habeshas Vote initiative. The event opened with poetry reading by Bitaniya Giday, the 2020-2021 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate.

    Meet The Trailblazing Ethiopian American Office Holders in the U.S.


    The highly competitive 2020 U.S. election saw not only an active participation by Ethiopian American voters across the country, but also the growing political power of the community as more Ethiopians were elected into office, including Samra Brouk of New York and Oballa Oballa of Austin, Minnesota. (Courtesy photos)

    The 2020 highly competitive election saw not only an active participation by Ethiopian American voters across the country, but also the growing political power of the community as more Ethiopians were elected into office including Samra Brouk, a daughter of Ethiopian immigrants, who won a seat in the New York State Senate and Oballa Oballa, a refugee from Gambella, Ethiopia who captured a City Council seat in Austin, Minnesota. Samra and Oballa — who both became the first Black candidates to win their respective races — follow in the footsteps of other trailblazers such as Assemblyman Alexander Assefa of Nevada who two years ago became the first Ethiopian American to be elected into a statewide office; Judge Nina Ashenafi Richardson of Florida, the first Ethiopian-American judge in the United States who was re-elected to a third term this year; and Girmay Zahilay, a Councilman in King County, Washington, as well as the late Mike Mekonnen who served as Councilor for the city of Chelsea, Massachusetts for more than a decade. Here are the bios of the current Ethiopian American office holders in the United States: Read more »

    Liben Eabisa is Co-Founder & Publisher of Tadias.

    Related:

    Tadias 10 Arts & Culture Stories of 2019

    2018 in Pictures

    The 10 Best Tadias Arts & Culture Stories of 2017 in Pictures

    2016 in Pictures

    15 Arts & Culture Stories of 2016 in Photos

    2015 in Pictures

    Ten Arts & Culture Stories of 2015

    2014 in Pictures

    Ten Arts & Culture Stories of 2014

    2013 in Pictures

    Top 10 Stories of 2013

    Ten Arts and Culture Stories of 2013

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    The Tragedy of Agitu Gudeta: An Ethiopian Immigrant Killed on Her Farm in Italy

    Agitu Ideo Gudeta, 42, an Ethiopian migrant who became a symbol of integration in Italy, her adopted home, has been killed on her farm where she raised goats for her cheese business, police said on Wednesday. Agitu had made her home in the mountains of Trentino’s Valle dei Mocheni, making goat’s cheese and beauty products in her farm (The Happy Goat), which was built on previously abandoned land. (Reuters)

    Reuters

    Ethiopian migrant who became symbol of integration in Italy killed on her goat farm

    ROME (Reuters) – An Ethiopian migrant who became a symbol of integration in Italy, her adopted home, has been killed on her farm where she raised goats for her cheese business, police said on Wednesday.

    A Ghanaian employee on her farm in the northern Italian region of Trentino has admitted to killing Agitu Ideo Gudeta, 42, with a hammer and raping her, Italian news agency Ansa reported. The report could not immediately be confirmed.

    Gudeta had made her home in the mountains of Trentino’s Valle dei Mocheni, making goat’s cheese and beauty products in her farm La Capra Felice (The Happy Goat), which was built on previously abandoned land.

    Her story was reported by numerous international media, including Reuters , as an example of a migrant success story in Italy at a time of rising hostility towards immigrants, fueled by the right-wing League party.

    Gudeta escaped from Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, in 2010 after her participation in protests against ‘land-grabbing’ angered local authorities. Activists accused the authorities of setting aside large swathes of farmland for foreign investors.

    On reaching Italy she was able to use common land in the northern mountains to build her new enterprise, taking advantage of permits that give farmers access to public land to prevent local territory from being reclaimed by wild nature.

    Starting off with 15 goats, she had 180 by 2018 when she became a well-known figure.

    “I created my space and made myself known, there was no resistance to me,” she told Reuters in a story that year.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Washington Post Follow-up on the Unfortunate Saga of Timnit Gebru & Google

    Timnit Gebru is one of the most high-profile Black women in her field and a powerful voice in the new field of ethical artificial intelligence (AI), which seeks to identity issues around bias, fairness, and responsibility. (Photo: Google AI research scientist Timnit Gebru speaks on Sept. 7, 2018, at TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2018 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco/Getty Images)

    The Washington Post

    By Nitasha Tiku

    Google hired Timnit Gebru to be an outspoken critic of unethical AI. Then she was fired for it.

    Two months ago, Google promoted Timnit Gebru, co-lead of a group focused on ethical artificial intelligence, after she earned a high score on her annual employee appraisal. Gebru is one of the most high-profile Black women in her field and a powerful voice in the new field of ethical AI, which seeks to identity issues around bias, fairness, and responsibility.

    In his peer review of Gebru, Jeff Dean, the head of Google Artificial Intelligence, left only one comment when asked what she could do to have a greater impact, according to documents viewed by The Washington Post: Ensure that her team helps make a promising new software tool for processing human language “consistent with our AI Principles.”

    In an email thanking Dean for his review, Gebru let him know that her team was already working on a paper about the ethical risks around the same language models, which are essential to understanding the complexity of language in search queries. On Oct. 20, Dean wrote that he wanted to see a draft, adding, “definitely not my area of expertise, but would definitely learn from reading it.”

    Six weeks later, Google fired Gebru while she was on vacation.

    “I can’t imagine anybody else who would be safer than me,” Gebru said. “I was super visible. I’m well known in the research community, but also the regulatory space. I have a lot of grass-roots support — and this is what happened.”

    Google’s star AI ethics researcher, one of a few Black women in the field, says she was fired for a critical email

    In an internal memo that he later posted online explaining Gebru’s departure, Dean told employees that the paper “didn’t meet our bar for publication” and “ignored too much relevant research” on recent positive improvements to the technology. Gebru’s superiors had insisted that she and the other Google co-authors either retract the paper or remove their names. Employees in Google Research, the department that houses the ethical AI team, say authors who make claims about the benefits of large language models have not received the same scrutiny during the approval process as those who highlight the shortcomings.

    Her abrupt firing shows that Google is pushing back on the kind of scrutiny that it claims to welcome, according to interviews with Gebru, current Google employees, and emails and documents viewed by The Post.

    It raises doubts about Silicon Valley’s ability to self-police, especially when it comes to advanced technology that is largely unregulated and being deployed in the real world despite demonstrable bias toward marginalized groups. Already, AI systems shape decision-making in law enforcement, employment opportunity and access to health care worldwide.

    That made Gebru’s perspective essential in a field that is predominantly White, Asian and male. Women comprised only 15 percent of the AI research staff at Facebook and 10 percent at Google, according to a 2018 report in Wired magazine. At Google, Black women make up 1.6 percent of the workforce.

    Although Google publicly celebrated Gebru’s work identifying problems with AI, it disenfranchised the work internally by keeping it hierarchically distinct from other AI initiatives, not heeding the group’s advice, and not creating an incentive structure to put in practice the ethical findings, Gebru and other employees said.

    Google declined to comment, but noted that in addition to the dozen or so staff members on Gebru’s team, 200 employees are focused on responsible AI.

    Google has said that it did not fire Gebru, but accepted her “resignation,” citing her request to explain who at Google demanded that the paper be retracted, according to Dean’s memo. The company also blamed an email Gebru wrote to an employee resource group for women and allies at Google working in AI as inappropriate for a manager. The message warned the group that pushing for diversity was no use until Google leadership took accountability.

    Federal study confirms racial bias of many facial-recognition systems, casts doubt on their expanding use

    Rumman Chowdhury, a former global lead for responsible AI at Accenture and chief executive of Parity, a start-up that helps companies figure out how to audit algorithms, said there is a fundamental lack of respect within the industry for work on AI ethics compared with equivalent roles in other industries, such as model risk managers in quantitative hedge funds or threat analysts in cybersecurity.

    “It’s being framed as the AI optimists and the people really building the stuff [versus] the rest of us negative Nellies, raining on their parade,” Chowdhury said. “You can’t help but notice, it’s like the boys will make the toys and then the girls will have to clean up.”

    Google, which for decades evangelized an office culture that embraced employee dissent, has fired outspoken workers in recent years and shut down forums for exchange and questioning.

    Nearly 3,000 Google employees and more than 4,000 academics, engineers and industry colleagues have signed a petition calling Gebru’s termination an act of retaliation by Google. Last week, nine Democratic lawmakers, including Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Cory Booker (N.J.) and Rep. Yvette D. Clarke (N.Y.), sponsor of the Algorithmic Accountability Act, a bill that would require companies to audit and correct race and gender bias in its algorithms, sent a letter to Google chief executive Sundar Pichai asking the company to affirm its commitment to research freedom and diversity.

    Read more »

    Related:

    Spotlight: The Media Firestorm Concerning AI Researcher Timnit Gebru & Google


    Timnit Gebru, an internationally respected Google researcher, took to Twitter last week to air her mistreatment in the hands of Google officials who sought to silence her concerning her latest research that discovered racial bias in current Artificial Intelligence technology. (Photo via @GoogleWalkout/Twitter)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: December 8th, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — Last week Ethiopian American Timnit Gebru– whom we have featured several time in Tadias including when she was a graduate student at Stanford University and was named by Forbes magazine among 21 incredible women behind artificial intelligence research that’s fueling new discoveries in the field — took to Twitter to air her mistreatment in the hands of Google officials who sought to silence her concerning her latest research that discovered racial bias in current Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) technology.

    Judging by the widely circulated media coverage of the unfortunate episode and the manner in which Google handled the rushed dismissal of one of its top scientists and an internationally renown Ethical A.I. researchers in the world, to say that the corporation made a historical mistake and long-lasting damage to its well cultivated image as a forward-looking technology company is an understatement.

    As The New York Times reported, Timnit, “a well-respected Google researcher said she was fired by the company after criticizing its approach to minority hiring and the biases built into today’s artificial intelligence systems. Timnit Gebru, who was a co-leader of Google’s Ethical A.I. team, said in a tweet on Wednesday evening that she was fired because of an email she had sent a day earlier to a group that included company employees. In the email, reviewed by The New York Times, she expressed exasperation over Google’s response to efforts by her and other employees to increase minority hiring and draw attention to bias in artificial intelligence.”


    Timnit Gebru, a respected researcher at Google, questioned biases built into artificial intelligence systems. (The New York Times)

    Wired magazine added: “Timnit Gebru’s tweets about the incident Wednesday night triggered an outpouring of support from AI researchers at Google and elsewhere, including top universities and companies such as Microsoft and chipmaker Nvidia. Many said Google had tarnished its reputation in the crucial field, which CEO Sundar Pichai says underpins the company’s business. Late Thursday, more than 200 Google employees signed an open letter calling on the company to release details of its handling of Gebru’s paper and to commit to “research integrity and academic freedom.”


    “We have been pleading for representation but there are barely any Black people in Google Research,” says Timnit Gebru, who says she was fired Wednesday. (GETTY IMAGES)

    In a scathing email to her colleagues at Google that was later published in full on the Silicon Valley news website Platformer, Timnit pointed out how top management at the company has not honored its commitment to employ more minority and woman professionals. “Your life starts getting worse when you start advocating for underrepresented people. You start making the other leaders upset,” her email stated. “There is no way more documents or more conversations will achieve anything.” She concluded: “So if you would like to change things, I suggest focusing on leadership accountability and thinking through what types of pressures can also be applied from the outside. For instance, I believe that the Congressional Black Caucus is the entity that started forcing tech companies to report their diversity numbers. Writing more documents and saying things over and over again will tire you out but no one will listen.”


    Timnit Gebru, speaking at TechCrunch disrupt in 2018. (Getty Images)

    As of today nearly 4,000 people including 1534 Google employees and 2196 academic, industry, and civil society supporters have signed an online petition titled “We stand with Timnit Gebru” and calling “on Google Research to strengthen its commitment to research integrity and to unequivocally commit to supporting research that honors the commitments made in Google’s AI Principles.”

    Below are links to the stories from The New York Times, Wired magazine, Timnit’s email as published on the Platformer website as well as the support letter signed by thousands of her professional colleagues from the around the world:

    Google Researcher Says She Was Fired Over Paper Highlighting Bias in A.I. (NYT)

    A Prominent AI Ethics Researcher Says Google Fired Her (Wired)

    The withering email that got an ethical AI researcher fired at Google (Platformer)

    We stand with Timnit Gebru (Google Walkout For Real Change)

    Related:

    Timnit Gebru: Among Incredible Women Advancing A.I. Research

    Spotlight: Blacks in AI Co-Founders Timnit Gebru & Rediet Abebe

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    SPOTLIGHT: Naomi Girma Voted 2020 U.S. Soccer Young Female Player of the Year

    Naomi Girma, the captain of the U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team and a student at Stanford University, has been voted the 2020 U.S. Soccer Young Female Player of the Year. (Photo: Us Soccer)

    U.S. Soccer

    CHICAGO — U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team captain Naomi Girma, who attended her first full U.S. Women’s National Team camp this year, has been voted the 2020 U.S. Soccer Young Female Player of the Year.

    Girma, who played a major part in helping Stanford win the NCAA Championship in 2019 as the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, was the leader of the U.S. defense during the 2020 Concacaf U-20 Women’s Championship. As a team captain, Girma started six games during the World Cup qualifying tournament to help the USA earn a berth to the since-cancelled 2020 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup and win the regional title, defeating Mexico, 4-1 in the championship game. She finished third on the team in minutes played while marshalling a back line that played an instrumental part in allowing just one goal. The USA went 545 shutout minutes in the tournament before allowing that score.

    “It’s been such a crazy year, but it’s always an honor to represent the USA and I’m proud of what our team was able to accomplish at the beginning of the year in Concacaf qualifying even though the World Cup got cancelled,” said Girma. “While the year didn’t go as planned, I’m especially thankful for the coaches and the medical staff who helped keep us playing some soccer and to be mentioned along with the past winners is very cool and humbling. Of course, my family – my parents and brother – have been so supportive, along with my Stanford family and the U-20 WNT family, so I’ll always appreciate everything they’ve contributed to me as a person and a player.”

    In her second and final U-20 cycle, Girma was the third most experienced player on the team with 31 U-20 international caps. Girma is only the second pure defender to win the award in its 23-year existence.

    Her college season for Stanford – in what would have been her junior year – was postponed to the Spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic so she did not play in a college match this Fall, but in October, Girma attended her first full U.S. Women’s National Team training camp, which took place in Colorado.

    Fifteen U.S. Soccer Young Female Players of the Year have gone on to play in a senior level Women’s World Cup for the USA. The first winner, back in 1998, was current U.S. Soccer President Cindy Parlow Cone.

    “First and foremost, Naomi Girma is a great person and a fantastic leader,” said U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team head coach Laura Harvey. “She is highly respected by her teammates and the kind of player who always puts the team first. On the field, she is smart, brave and always pushing to improve. I know it’s rare for a defender to win this award, but it’s a credit to the impact she has on the field and on the people around her.”

    Votes for U.S. Soccer Player of the Year awards are collected from respective National Team coaches, National Team players who have earned a cap in 2020, members of the U.S. Soccer Board of Directors, U.S. Soccer Athletes’ Council, National Women’s Soccer League head coaches (for the USWNT awards) and American soccer league (MLS and USL) head coaches (for the USMNT awards), select media members and former players and administrators.

    Related:

    Meet US Soccer Rising Star Naomi Girma (September 2016)


    Ethiopian American Naomi Girma is a defender in the U.S. under-17 Women’s National team. (US Soccer)

    US Soccer

    September 2016

    NAOMI GIRMA: A WORLDLY EXPERIENCE

    In 1982, Girma Aweke arrived in the United States in search of a better life and education. After spending his early years in Ethiopia, he made his way to San Jose State University, where he studied engineering.

    Seble Demissie, the second youngest of eight children, arrived in the USA in 1987 after earning her undergraduate degree in Ethiopia with the same goals. She did some short term training at the University of Pittsburgh and then earned her MBA at Long Beach State.

    It was in Northern California, among the tight-knit Ethiopian community, that the two met, fell in love, married in 1995, and settled in San Jose. Living out their version of the American dream, he as an engineer in the medical field and she working in finance and banking.

    Both became American citizens, and they had two children, son Nathaniel and daughter Naomi, who was born in 2000. Sixteen years later, the daughter of immigrants, a first generation American, is on the cusp of representing – and perhaps captaining — the United States in a youth Women’s World Cup.

    It was the Ethiopian community that first drew Naomi Girma to soccer. (In Ethiopia, the children take the first name of their father as their last name). Girma Aweke was one of the organizers of “maleda soccer” (maleda meaning “dawn” in Amharic, the official language of Ethiopia), a gathering of Ethiopian families that served to strengthen the bonds of the community.

    “I was five years old when I first started playing,” said Naomi, who heads into the 2016 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Jordan as one of the USA’s starting center backs. “Girls and boys played together and they always divided soccer games into little kids, medium kids and big kids. I always begged to play with the big kids. Eventually, my parents let me.”


    A starting center-back for the U-17 WNT, Naomi Girma has captained the USA on several occasions. (Photo: US Soccer)


    Naomi Girma. (Photo: US Soccer)

    Through these free play weekend afternoons, which also featured other sports and a big BBQ to end the day, Naomi’s love for the game was nurtured. At age nine, she started playing club soccer for the Central Valley Crossfire and grew into one of the USA’s elite female players for her age. She has committed to Stanford University for the fall of 2018 and has captained the U.S. U-17 WNT on several occasions.

    Read more at USSoccer.com »

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    SPOTLIGHT: Eden Amare, Ethiopian-Israeli Rhodes Scholar Bound for Oxford

    Eden Amare Yitbarek, one of two Israeli winners of the prestigious 2021 Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford University. (Courtesy Eden Amare Yitbarek)

    The Times of Israel

    Eden Amare: Ethiopian-Israeli one of 2 Rhodes scholars bound for Oxford University

    Eden Amare Yitbarek, 23, studied at Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya as part of special program sponsoring Ethiopian-Israeli youngsters with leadership potential for BA degrees

    An Israeli of Ethiopian background is one of two Israeli students — and the first from her community — to win a prestigious Rhodes scholarship to the University of Oxford this year.

    The Rhodes Scholarship is an international postgraduate award established in 1903 with the fortune of British businessman Cecil Rhodes. Among its most famous recipients are Bill Clinton, Cory Booker, Kris Kristofferson, Dean Rusk and Edwin Hubble.

    Eden Amare Yitbarek served in the IDF as a truck and emergency vehicle driver before enrolling at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, within the framework of Israel at Heart — an IDC program that gives Ethiopian-Israeli youngsters with high leadership potential the chance to earn an undergraduate degree at the institution. Eden studied Government, Diplomacy and Strategy.

    The 23-year-old from the southern Red Sea city of Eilat received two Dean’s List awards for outstanding students and worked as a research assistant in the American Public Opinion toward Israel (APOI) lab at the IDC’s Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy and Strategy, which studies the relationship between the US and Israel. In her final year at IDC, she was accepted to the Argov Fellows Program in Leadership and Diplomacy, which aims to prepare around 20 exceptional IDC students in their final year of BA studies for future leadership positions in Israel and in the Jewish world.

    Eden, who wants to study international development at Oxford, has volunteered as a teacher and mentor for refugee and migrant children in Tel Aviv.

    She is currently working in Tel Aviv for Eagle Point Funding, an international consulting firm that helps to match US federal support with American high-tech start-ups and companies seeking support for R&D and business development.

    Much of the Ethiopian Israeli community has had a hard time integrating into Israeli society, suffering from poverty, educational gaps and racism. Furthermore, many families have been split between those who managed to immigrate to Israel and those still waiting to do so in Gondar and Addis Ababa.

    Out of 100 Rhodes scholarships given annually worldwide, two are given to outstanding Israelis.

    The other Israeli Rhodes Scholar for next year is Eli Zuzovsky, 25, from Tel Aviv, who studies English and filmmaking at Harvard with a secondary field in theater.

    The Rhodes Trust pays all college and university fees, provides a stipend to cover necessary expenses while in residence in Oxford as well as during vacations, and takes care of transportation to and from England. The total value of the scholarship averages approximately $70,000 per year, and up to as much as approximately $250,000 for scholars who remain at Oxford for four years in certain departments.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Yohannes Abraham: “There Was No Mutually Agreed-upon Holiday Break” in Transition Cooperation

    "There was no mutually agreed-upon holiday break," Yohannes Abraham, a spokesman for Biden's transition team, told reporters Friday, rejecting the Trump administration's claim that the two sides had agreed to pause transition talks at the Pentagon. A halt in cooperation ordered by the acting Defense Secretary, a Trump loyalist, comes amid growing concern about efforts to stymie the transition. (Courtesy photo)

    U.S. News

    Biden Team Rejects Claims of ‘Mutually-Agreed Upon’ Pause in Transition Cooperation

    PRESIDENT-ELECT Joe Biden’s transition team on Friday denied that it agreed to a break in briefings and meetings at the Pentagon, despite an assertion from acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller hours earlier of a “mutually-agreed upon holiday pause,” saying the need for continuing the transition remains a top priority.

    “There was no mutually agreed-upon holiday break,” Yohannes Abraham, a spokesman for Biden’s transition team, told reporters Friday.

    “In fact, we believe it’s important” that the briefings continue, he added, “as there is no time to spare” in preparing for national security contingencies ahead of Biden’s inauguration next year.

    His comments came shortly after the Defense Department issued a statement from Miller, whom Trump appointed during the lame duck period days after the November election.

    “Our key focus in the next two weeks is supporting essential requests for information on OWS and COVID-19 information to guarantee a flawless transition. This is my major focus area,” Miller said, referring to Operation Warp Speed – the government-wide effort to develop and distribute a coronavirus vaccine. “After the mutually-agreed upon holiday pause, which begins tomorrow, we will continue with the transition and rescheduled meetings from today.”

    Axios first reported the halt in Pentagon meetings.

    The Defense Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    Miller said he remains “committed to a full and transparent transition.” His statement included figures that purport to demonstrate the Defense Department has been more cooperative with the transition team than during the period before President Donald Trump’s inauguration, including holding more briefings, releasing more documents and making more senior officials available for meetings.

    However, the news comes amid growing reports that Trump and his political loyalists are working to stymie Biden’s transition amid the president’s continued claims that he won the election.

    Abraham on Friday cited “constructive cooperation with many” federal agencies during the transition, but added, “We have met isolated resistance from some corners, including from political appointees at the Department of Defense.” He declined to provide more specifics.

    The transition team learned on Thursday about the Pentagon’s intent to reschedule meetings for next year that were originally planned for Friday and to hold off on any further contact until Jan. 1.

    “We were concerned to learn this week about an abrupt halt,” Abraham said. “We expect that decision to be reversed.”

    Defense officials’ refusal to cooperate is limited to political appointees, he added.

    “We thank the DOD career professionals who have made valiant efforts to be helpful over the course of this process,” Abraham said.

    Trump has faced criticism throughout his tenure of attempting to politicize the military and the Defense Department, routinely considered among the institutions the American public trust most. The president has faced renewed criticism in recent days for his threats to veto the military budget despite overwhelming bipartisan support in Congress.

    Related:

    Biden Selects Yohannes Abraham as Member of Transition Team (UPDATE)

    Spotlight: Meet The Trailblazing Ethiopian American Office Holders in U.S.

    Ethiopia Congratulates President-elect Joe Biden & VP-elect Kamala Harris

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Rebecca Haile Elected Chair of EMILY’s List

    Rebecca Haile, co-founder and executive director of the U.S.-based non-profit organization Ethiopia Education Initiatives, Inc., has been elected as Board Chair of EMILY’s List, one of the largest women associations in the United States. (Photo: Rebecca Haile speaking at The Haile-Manas Academy Groundbreaking Ceremony & Luncheon in Debre Birhan, Ethiopia on December 30th, 2018/Tadias File)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: December 19th, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) – EMILY’s List, America’s largest resource for women in politics that helps to elect Democratic female candidates into public office, has elected Ethiopian American entrepreneur and philanthropist Rebecca Haile as its new Board Chair.

    “After a second consecutive record-breaking cycle, EMILY’s List announced several leadership changes today, including EMILY’s List President Stephanie Schriock stepping down in spring 2021 after 11 years in charge,” the organization said in a press release. “In addition, EMILY’s List Founder and Board Chair Ellen Malcolm is becoming the Chair Emerita and EMILY’s List board member Rebecca Haile was elected Board Chair. EMILY’s List’s board also voted to form a search committee and move to the next steps in finding a new president.”

    The press release added: “This change in leadership comes as EMILY’s List is at its strongest position yet, following two record cycles and the incredible growth of Democratic women running for office.”

    In the past decade “EMILY’s List has raised more than $460 million for the organization and our candidates and spent $160 million in independent expenditures” while endorsing “more than 1,800 women, elected nearly 1,000 women up and down the ballot, and trained more than 14,000 women.”

    The organization notes that EMILY’s List’s new Board Chair Rebecca Haile is an entrepreneur in business and philanthropy. “She is the co-founder and executive director of Ethiopia Education Initiatives, Inc., that seeks to provide world-class educational opportunities for talented Ethiopian students and has already started its first school in central Ethiopia. Rebecca is also a Senior Advisor at Foros, an independent strategic and M&A advisory boutique firm she helped establish in 2009. Rebecca is a graduate of Williams College and Harvard Law School, where she was an editor of the Harvard Law Review. She is the author of Held at a Distance: My Rediscovery of Ethiopia, a memoir of her return to Ethiopia after her family’s forced exile following the 1974 revolution and 25 years in the United States. Rebecca is a board member of the Brearley School, an independent K-12 girls’ school in New York City and a former Trustee of Freedom House, a human rights organization.”

    In a statement Rebecca Haile said: “I look forward to working with the staff, the board, and our next president to change the face of American politics for generations to come.”

    According to the announcement:

    “With a grassroots community of over five million members, EMILY’s List helps Democratic women win competitive campaigns – across the country and up and down the ballot – by recruiting and training candidates, supporting and helping build strong campaigns, researching the issues that impact women and families, running nearly $50 million in independent expenditures in the last cycle alone, and turning out women voters and voters of color to the polls. Since our founding in 1985, we have helped elect the country’s first woman as vice president, 157 women to the House, 26 to the Senate, 16 governors, and more than 1,300 women to state and local office. More than 40 percent of the candidates EMILY’s List has helped elect to Congress have been women of color. After the 2016 election, more than 60,000 women reached out to EMILY’s List about running for office laying the groundwork for the next decade of candidates for local, state, and national offices. In our effort to elect more women in offices across the country, we have created our Run to Win program, expanded our training program, including a Training Center online, and trained thousands of women.”

    “I’m so glad Rebecca will be the new Chair because she has the skills, commitment, and vision to guide us through this next transition. I’m eager to stay on the board and assist her in any way possible,” said Ellen Malcolm, EMILY’s List’s founder and Chair Emerita.

    Related:

    Spotlight: The Haile-Manas Academy, A New World Class School in Ethiopia

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook

    Spotlight: ‘Free Art Felega,’ A Virtual Ethiopia Exhibition by Yenatfenta Abate

    Founded by artist Yenatfenta Abate, the 'Free Art Felega' project offers a platform for Ethiopian artists of various disciplines internationally to display their work as well as to discuss, exchange ideas and learn from each others experiences. (Courtesy photo)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: December 16th, 2020

    ‘Free Art Felega,’ A Virtual Ethiopia Exhibition by Yenatfenta Abate Bringing Artists Together

    New York (TADIAS) — There are positive and optimistic art projects growing amidst the challenges of the current COVID-19 era as a much-needed meeting space for Ethiopian artists around the world. Among them is an online exhibition that was held this week called Free Art Felega 5 Disrupt, organized by German-based Ethiopian artist Yenatfenta Abate.

    “The basic concept is based on the focus of life and work of the participating artists in times of COVID-19 and the reflection of joint work in the context of the social challenge caused by the changing environment,” the announcement notes. “Artists from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and the Diaspora with a studio in Berlin, Germany, and Vienna, Austria, are involved.” It added: “With Free Art Felega 5 – Disrupt, a virtual platform is being created for the first time, on which artists who collaborated on prior projects work together, discussing their designs and work results and showing them online in a virtual exhibition.”

    Yenatfenta, who now lives and works in Berlin and Hamburg, Germany is a graduate of the Ale School of Fine Arts and Design in Ethiopia. She staged the inaugural Free Art Felega exhibition in Ethiopia in 2004 after being awarded a scholarship by the Karl-Heinz Ditze Foundation, having started the project 8 years earlier in 1996 as an artist participating in an exchange program between Germany and Ethiopia. The program was eventually expanded into a series in partnership with the Goethe Institute Addis Ababa, which sponsored subsequent Free Art Felega shows in Ethiopia. In 2019, Free Art Felega 4 – Identity was held in collaboration with charity organizations in Addis Abeba.

    “The objective of the ongoing project is the development of the abilities and skills of Ethiopian artists, especially the “liberation” from applied art in the extensive overall context of modern visual arts,” Yenatfenta says. “The original artistic training is given special consideration and is further developed through the concept of free art. She adds: “In terms of content, “Free Art Felega” guarantees to strengthen the quality of the artistic exchange, to create artistic identities and to enable artists to have a common platform in the long term.”


    In 2019, Yenatfenta Abate decided to take the group of Free Art Felega 4 – Identity to charity organizations in Addis Abeba. There, the artists helped elderly and mentally disabled people, and children to deal with their everyday struggles by helping to express their feelings and thoughts through art. (Courtesy photo)


    So far, there have been five complex projects of the series Free Art Felega. Yenatfenta Abate has run all projects in Addis Ababa, in cooperation with institutions like the Goethe-Institute and CIM. (Courtesy photo)


    (Photo Courtesy of Free Art Felega)

    The latest exhibition, Free Art Felega 5 Disrupt, is an online show that opened via Zoom on December 10th reflecting our contemporary reality, but has also provided an opportunity for a diverse and an eclectic group of Ethiopian artists to take part from various parts of the world including Germany, Ethiopia and the United States. “I am proud of all participants and especially the fact that we intensely used our times during the last months and that we worked concentrated together in those times of CoVid19,” Yenatfenta says, noting that she is working on a follow upcoming events.

    Watch: Free Art Felega 5 – Disrupt – Virtual Exhibition (2020)


    Free Art Felega is a project series created by artist Yenatfenta Abate. Yenatfenta developed the concept “Free Art Felega” – the search for free art – from her experience of intercultural work in artistic exchange between Germany and Ethiopia. (Video: Free Art Felega YouTube page)

    Free Art Felega 5 includes several artists in two categories: “The Master Group” and the “Identity Group.”

    The former features artists such as Adugna Kassa, Engedaget Legesse, Hailemariam Dendir, Henok Getachew, Leikun Nahusenay, Leykun Girma, Mekasha Haile, Mihret Dawit, Mihret Kebede, Mulugeta Gebrekidan, Ousman Hassen, Seyoum Ayalew, Simret Mesfin, Yacob Bekele, Yordanos Wube, and Zerihun Workineh.

    Participants in the second group include: Alemayehu Bekele, Ananiya Zerihun, Bethelhem Tadele, Birhan Beyene, Brook Yeshitila, Etsubdink Legesse, Fasil Eyasu, Israel Woldemichael, Meron Ermias, Mulu Legesse, Omar Gobe, Selome Getachew, Selome Muleta, Tewodros Nigussie, and Tirsit Mulugeta.

    As Yenatfenta sums it up”: “Art is not limited by its material but by its creator. And if the creator has a free mindset with the wish to create something new, everything is possible.”

    You can learn more about the Free Art Felega project at www.freeartfelega.com.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    THE OTHER SIDE: New Film Raises Awareness About Ethiopia’s Abandoned Children Crisis

    The short film by U.S. and Ethiopian crew including Ethiopian American producer Bemnet Yemesgen (pictured above) is based on a true story of a teenager named Abel who, like thousands of other young people in Addis Ababa, finds himself on the brink of becoming a street peddler. (Courtesy photo)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: December 13th, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — The Other side, a new film from Ethiopia, released in the United States during Thanksgiving week sheds light on the crisis of abandoned children in Ethiopia.

    The short film by U.S. and Ethiopian crew led by Ethiopian American producer Bemnet Yemesgen is based on a true story of a teenager named Abel who, like thousands other young people in Addis Ababa, finds himself on the brink of becoming a street peddler. Abel is required to vacate the orphanage where he grew up when he turns 18 in a few days, leaving behind his younger brother and without any social safety net to support him as he must navigate life into adulthood as a homeless person.

    Abel’s story is the epitome of a much larger problem that personifies the lives of millions of youth across the country who grow up without parents — most of whom were deserted at birth primarily because of poverty. UNICEF estimates that there are 4.5 million orphans in Ethiopia. The non-profit organization, SOS Children’s Villages, cites government statistics, and notes that in some cities such as the university city of Jimma “unmarried mothers, many of them teenagers, abandon their babies at a rate of two to three a day. Babies are abandoned at hospitals. They are left at police stations. They are put on the side of the road.” The Guardian has recently published an article tilted “Homeless Children Struggle to Survive on the Streets of Ethiopia’s Capital,” and like Abel many of them eventually find their way to Addis Ababa.

    The Guardian adds:

    Driven from their rural homes by family problems and lack of opportunity, more and more children are making for Addis Ababa. Alone and vulnerable, they receive no state support…Children as young as six come to the city to escape rural drudgery and, in many cases, family breakdown. “The reason is always poverty – but poverty plus [something else],” says the country director of Retrak Ethiopia, an organization that rescues street children in Addis Ababa and reunites them with their families. One recent survey found that almost half the street children sampled were living with step-parents because their biological parents had died, divorced or separated. Most come from rural villages, and especially from what researchers call Ethiopia’s “southern corridor” of migrant-sending communities, where a tradition of relocation to Addis Ababa and even further afield is well established.

    In the film the The Other Side — which was developed in collaboration with NGOs including DC-based Orphan Care Ethiopia and Great Commission Ministries — Grammy-nominated Ethiopian-American recording artist Wayna plays a counselor in Abel’s orphanage called Mihret, while Abel is portrayed by American actor Ethan Herisse who is also the star of the Emmy-winning Netflix series When They See Us directed by Ava DuVernay. The film also features newcomer Adonai Girmaye Kelelom, a 15-year-old Ethiopian actor, who plays an orphan named Kiya. The filmmakers note that “though the role of Kiya stands as Kelelom’s professional debut, portraying this role has been one of ‘the best experiences [he’s] ever had,’ and has inspired him to pursue a career in acting. He aims to study acting as well as neuroscience in the United States in the near future.”


    Grammy-nominated Ethiopian-American recording artist Wayna along with producer Bemnet Yemesgen and writer and director Josh Leong during the filming process in Ethiopia. (Courtesy photo)


    The Ethiopia film crew. (Courtesy photos)

    In addition to Bemnet — an Ethiopian-American producer, writer, and director — the film’s Ethiopia crew includes Frehiwot Berhane (Casting Director), Yabsra Megersa (Unit Production Director), Daniel Belay (First Assistant Camera), Beferdu Teffera (Sound Mixer), Temima Hulala (Key Makeup Artist), Tedos Teffera (Location Manager), Yodahe Zerihun (Translator), Abdirebi Daniel (Translator) and Nahom Semunegus (Boom Operator).

    On its website the U.S. team states that “in order to allow the country to tell its own story, we wanted to collaborate with Ethiopian filmmakers in and around Addis Ababa.” They include writer and director Josh Leong, Producer and Assistant Director Sofia Bara, Director of photography Tom Ingwersen, Associated Producer Sophia Loren Heriveaux, Marketing Directors Celia Tewey and Grace Sessinghaus, Script Supervisor Olivia Bfournier, Art Director Cameron Protzman and Director of Business Development Phillip Kearney.

    In a press release the filmmakers emphasize that “The Other Side seeks to raise awareness for Ethiopia’s abandoned children crisis through narrative film, and the team is currently seeking partners for the development of a feature-length version of the film.” The media release adds: “The film has reached the eyes of Ethiopian Ambassador Fitsum Arega, as well as the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington DC. The nation’s capital is actually the second largest Ethiopian city in the world (by population), behind Addis Ababa.”

    So far “the film has been accepted into 10 major festivals (4 Academy Award®-Qualifying), winning Best Short at the Greenwich International Festival. THE OTHER SIDE enjoyed an NYC Premiere at the Urbanworld Film Festival and an LA Premiere at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, in partnership with HBO and WarnerMedia. The film was also included at the 2020 Cannes Film Festival Court Metrage.”

    You can learn more about the film at www.theothersideshortfilm.com.
    Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/theothersidefilm2020/
    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/theothersidefilm2020

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Spotlight: The Media Firestorm Concerning AI Researcher Timnit Gebru & Google

    Timnit Gebru, an internationally respected Google researcher, took to Twitter last week to air her mistreatment in the hands of Google officials who sought to silence her concerning her latest research that discovered racial bias in current Artificial Intelligence technology. (Photo via @GoogleWalkout/Twitter)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: December 8th, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — Last week Ethiopian American Timnit Gebru– whom we have featured several time in Tadias including when she was a graduate student at Stanford University and was named by Forbes magazine among 21 incredible women behind artificial intelligence research that’s fueling new discoveries in the field — took to Twitter to air her mistreatment in the hands of Google officials who sought to silence her concerning her latest research that discovered racial bias in current Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) technology.

    Judging by the widely circulated media coverage of the unfortunate episode and the manner in which Google handled the rushed dismissal of one of its top scientists and an internationally renown Ethical A.I. researchers in the world, to say that the corporation made a historical mistake and long-lasting damage to its well cultivated image as a forward-looking technology company is an understatement.

    As The New York Times reported, Timnit, “a well-respected Google researcher said she was fired by the company after criticizing its approach to minority hiring and the biases built into today’s artificial intelligence systems. Timnit Gebru, who was a co-leader of Google’s Ethical A.I. team, said in a tweet on Wednesday evening that she was fired because of an email she had sent a day earlier to a group that included company employees. In the email, reviewed by The New York Times, she expressed exasperation over Google’s response to efforts by her and other employees to increase minority hiring and draw attention to bias in artificial intelligence.”


    Timnit Gebru, a respected researcher at Google, questioned biases built into artificial intelligence systems. (The New York Times)

    Wired magazine added: “Timnit Gebru’s tweets about the incident Wednesday night triggered an outpouring of support from AI researchers at Google and elsewhere, including top universities and companies such as Microsoft and chipmaker Nvidia. Many said Google had tarnished its reputation in the crucial field, which CEO Sundar Pichai says underpins the company’s business. Late Thursday, more than 200 Google employees signed an open letter calling on the company to release details of its handling of Gebru’s paper and to commit to “research integrity and academic freedom.”


    “We have been pleading for representation but there are barely any Black people in Google Research,” says Timnit Gebru, who says she was fired Wednesday. (GETTY IMAGES)

    In a scathing email to her colleagues at Google that was later published in full on the Silicon Valley news website Platformer, Timnit pointed out how top management at the company has not honored its commitment to employ more minority and woman professionals. “Your life starts getting worse when you start advocating for underrepresented people. You start making the other leaders upset,” her email stated. “There is no way more documents or more conversations will achieve anything.” She concluded: “So if you would like to change things, I suggest focusing on leadership accountability and thinking through what types of pressures can also be applied from the outside. For instance, I believe that the Congressional Black Caucus is the entity that started forcing tech companies to report their diversity numbers. Writing more documents and saying things over and over again will tire you out but no one will listen.”


    Timnit Gebru, speaking at TechCrunch disrupt in 2018. (Getty Images)

    As of today nearly 4,000 people including 1534 Google employees and 2196 academic, industry, and civil society supporters have signed an online petition titled “We stand with Timnit Gebru” and calling “on Google Research to strengthen its commitment to research integrity and to unequivocally commit to supporting research that honors the commitments made in Google’s AI Principles.”

    Below are links to the stories from The New York Times, Wired magazine, Timnit’s email as published on the Platformer website as well as the support letter signed by thousands of her professional colleagues from around the world:

    Google Researcher Says She Was Fired Over Paper Highlighting Bias in A.I. (NYT)

    A Prominent AI Ethics Researcher Says Google Fired Her (Wired)

    The withering email that got an ethical AI researcher fired at Google (Platformer)

    We stand with Timnit Gebru (Google Walkout For Real Change)

    Related:

    Timnit Gebru: Among Incredible Women Advancing A.I. Research

    Spotlight: Blacks in AI Co-Founders Timnit Gebru & Rediet Abebe

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Ethio-American Scientist Sossina Haile Awarded 2020 David Turnbull Lectureship

    The Materials Research Society (MRS), which gives out the annual award, said it's honoring Dr. Sossina Haile for her "fundamental contributions to the electrochemical and thermochemical materials science that advance sustainable energy, for her commitment to the broader international materials community, and for being an inspiring colleague and passionate mentor." (Photo: ETHIOPIA 2050 - Keynote Address/YouTube)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: December 2nd, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — Sossina M. Haile, a Professor of materials science and engineering at Northwestern University, has been awarded the 2020 David Turnbull Lectureship, a prestigious accolade that recognizes the career contributions of scientists in her field.

    The Materials Research Society (MRS), which gives out the annual award, said it’s honoring Dr. Sossina for her “fundamental contributions to the electrochemical and thermochemical materials science that advance sustainable energy, for her commitment to the broader international materials community, and for being an inspiring colleague and passionate mentor.”

    Dr. Sossina will receive the award on Thursday, December 3rd during the 2020 Virtual MRS Spring/Fall Meeting, where she is also scheduled to present her lecture, Superprotonic Solid Acids for Sustainable Energy Technologies.

    Most recently Dr. Sossina and her team were behind a new discovery that converts ammonia to green hydrogen that’s being hailed as “a major step forward for enabling a zero-pollution, hydrogen-fueled economy.”

    Dr. Sossina, one of the leading researchers in the world in the area of renewable energy, envisions that her new finding will particularly be useful in reshaping the transportation industry. Northwestern University cites the Environmental Protection Agency noting that “in 2018, the movement of people and goods by cars, trucks, trains, ships, airplanes and other vehicles accounted for 28% of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S.–more than any other economic sector.”

    “Battery-powered vehicles are great, but there’s certainly a question of range and material supply,” Dr. Sossina said. “Converting ammonia to hydrogen on-site and in a distributed way would allow you to drive into a fueling station and get pressurized hydrogen for your car. There’s also a growing interest for hydrogen fuel cells for the aviation industry because batteries are so heavy.”


    Sossina Haile is a fellow of the Materials Research Society, the American Ceramics Society, the African Academy of Sciences, and the Ethiopian Academy of Sciences, and serves on the editorial boards of Materials Horizons, Annual Review of Materials Research and Joule. (Photo: Courtesy of Northwestern University)

    According to MRS:

    Sossina Haile assumed her role as Walter P. Murphy Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Northwestern University in 2015, after serving 18 years on the faculty of the California Institute of Technology. She earned her PhD degree in materials science and engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1992, and spent two years, 1991-1993, at the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research in Stuttgart, Germany, first as a Fulbright Fellow then as a Humboldt Fellow.

    Haile’s research broadly encompasses materials, especially oxides, for sustainable electrochemical energy technologies. Her work in fuel cell science and technology has pushed the field to new insights and record performance metrics. In parallel, she has created new avenues for harnessing sunlight to meet rising energy demands. Haile has published approximately 200 articles and holds 14 patents on these and other topics.

    Among her many awards, in 2008 Haile received an American Competitiveness and Innovation Fellowship from the U.S. National Science Foundation in recognition of “her timely and transformative research in the energy field and her dedication to inclusive mentoring, education and outreach across many levels.” In 2010, she was the recipient of the Chemical Pioneer Award (American Institute of Chemists), and in 2012, the International Ceramics Prize (World Academy of Ceramics). Haile is a fellow of the Materials Research Society, the American Ceramics Society, the African Academy of Sciences, and the Ethiopian Academy of Sciences, and serves on the editorial boards of Materials Horizons, Annual Review of Materials Research and Joule. Her professional service includes past membership on the board of the Materials Research Society, and current membership on the board of Ethiopia Education Initiatives.

    Related:

    Outstanding Women in Science: Interview with Professor Sossina Haile

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Spotlight: Ethio-American Artist Meklit Hadero’s New Radio Show “Movement”

    “Movement,” which is also a podcast and live show, is created and produced by Meklit Hadero, along with producer Ian Coss and editor Julie Caine. (Photo: Yolk Images)

    PRI

    “Movement,” a one-hour special from The World, tells stories of global migration through music. Co-hosted by The World’s host Marco Werman and Ethiopian American singer Meklit Hadero, the show blends song and narrative in a meditation on what it means to be American.

    We follow a once-undocumented singer in San Francisco on a long-awaited trip back to Mexico, reflect on the experience of exile with a Syrian DJ, and hear a Sudanese American artist play his first-ever show in Sudan — all guided by Hadero as she reflects on her own American story.

    “Movement,” which is also a podcast and live show, is created and produced by Hadero, along with producer Ian Coss and editor Julie Caine.

    For singer, composer and cultural activist Meklit Hadero, her Ethiopian identity was often expressed at home through food and language and music. Hadero left Ethiopia with her family when she was just under two years old, and they came to the United States as refugees, settling in Brooklyn, New York.

    Hadero recalls how her parents often played old, garbled tapes of Ethiopian music from legends such as Mahmoud Ahmed, Aster Aweke and Mary Armede. Inspired by these sounds, Hadero went on to pursue a music career based in Oakland, California, that has redefined the Ethiopian jazz genre.

    With an electrifying stage presence, Hadero has graced venues from New York to Nairobi and beyond. She skyrocketed to fame in 2015 for her TED talk, “The Unexpected Beauty of Everyday Sounds,” watched by more than 1.2 million viewers. Her latest album, “When the People Move, the Music Moves Too,” pays homage to her “sonic homeland,” fusing Ethiopian traditional folk and jazz with American beats.

    In 2011, Hadero manifested a long-held dream to return to Ethiopia, to play a concert with other Ethiopian American musicians in the northern city of Gondar, famous for its castles and rich history. That trip affirmed a sense of belonging for Hadero in Ethiopia. “That night, at the foot of the castles, something clicked,” she says. “You are made of the motion between two countries.”

    Read more »

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    NYT Features Anna Getaneh’s African Mosaique in Ethiopia

    Anna Getaneh, a former fashion model in Paris and New York, opened African Mosaique [in Addis Ababa] almost four years ago in a home her father had built. (NYT)

    The New York Times

    An Ethiopian Boutique Showcasing Artisanal Design

    Not far from Addis Ababa’s British Embassy, in a quiet residential enclave just off a busy thoroughfare, stands a lovely tree-shaded villa. It’s here that Anna Getaneh opened her boutique, African Mosaique, almost four years ago, in a home her father had built and where she spent some of her childhood years.

    Past the garage — now a coffee shop — and the foyer are erstwhile living and dining areas: airy showrooms for a gallery-worthy display of Ms. Getaneh’s diaphanous dresses, patterned blazers and colorful accessories, which incorporate traditional Ethiopian fabrics and craftsmanship, filtered through Ms. Getaneh’s global lens.

    “My starting point is textiles,” she said. “I grew up appreciating fabrics, and what kind of colors and what kind of motifs are worn, and their significance. I always felt that these are such great stories to share and tell.”

    Many of the designs on display incorporate shema, an Ethiopian handwoven fabric, and kitenge, the African wax print fabric popular across much of the continent. For example, a brightly colored long dress made of kitenge is priced at 4,500 Ethiopian birr, or about $120, while a white shema woven dress is 3,000 birr, or about $80.

    But the fabric is merely a starting point. “I love being able to use basic fabrics and adding value; we do embroidery, we do beading, which is really what our story is here in Africa,” Ms. Getaneh said. “You hear about artisanal work in the rest of the world, and that’s luxury — couture is all handmade, for example. Whereas here, that value has never been a given.”

    The boutique’s international sensibility makes sense, given that African Mosaique’s origins are many miles and many years removed from its current setting in Ethiopia’s capital.

    The daughter of a career diplomat and a fashion designer, Ms. Getaneh was born and raised overseas; as a model, she spent nine years working in Paris and New York. It was in New York that she founded the Ethiopian Children’s Fund to build schools in rural Ethiopia, which led to the 1996 opening of a fund-raising fashion showcase she named African Mosaique.

    “I wanted to do something different. I didn’t want to show images of dying children, of problems, of war and all the turmoil that we have in Africa,” she said. “I wanted to put the spotlight on something positive.”

    Read more »

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Biden Nominates Former Obama Official Antony Blinken as U.S. Secretary of State

    Antony Blinken (center) has weighed in publicly on notable foreign policy issues in Egypt and Ethiopia. Blinken, 58, served as deputy secretary of state and deputy national security adviser during the Obama administration and has close ties with Biden. (Photo: Biden with Tony Blinken, Susan Rice [Blinken's former boss] and John F. Kerry listen as President Barack Obama addresses reporters in November 2013. /Reuters)

    The Associated Press

    Antony Blinken has weighed in publicly on notable foreign policy issues in Egypt and Ethiopia.

    WASHINGTON (AP) — President-elect Joe Biden is expected to nominate Antony Blinken as secretary of state, according to multiple people familiar with the Biden team’s planning.

    Blinken, 58, served as deputy secretary of state and deputy national security adviser during the Obama administration and has close ties with Biden. If nominated and confirmed, he would be a leading force in the incoming administration’s bid to reframe the U.S. relationship with the rest of the world after four years in which President Donald Trump questioned longtime alliances.

    In nominating Blinken, Biden would sidestep potentially thorny issues that could have affected Senate confirmation for two other candidates on his short list to be America’s top diplomat: Susan Rice and Sen. Chris Coons.

    Rice would have faced significant GOP opposition and likely rejection in the Senate. She has long been a target of Republicans, including for statements she made after the deadly 2012 attacks on Americans in Benghazi, Libya.

    Coons’ departure from the Senate would have come as other Democratic senators are being considered for administrative posts and the party is hoping to win back the Senate. Control hangs on the result of two runoff elections in Georgia in January.

    Biden is likely to name his Cabinet picks in tranches, with groups of nominees focused on a specific top area, like the economy, national security or public health, being announced at once. Advisers to the president-elect’s transition have said they’ll make their first Cabinet announcements on Tuesday.

    If Biden focuses on national security that day, Michèle Flournoy, a veteran of Pentagon policy jobs, is a top choice to lead the Defense Department. Jake Sullivan, a longtime adviser to Biden and Hillary Clinton, is also in the mix for a top job, including White House national security adviser.

    For his part, Blinken recently participated in a national security briefing with Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and has weighed in publicly on notable foreign policy issues in Egypt and Ethiopia.

    Biden’s secretary of state would inherit a deeply demoralized and depleted career workforce at the State Department. Trump’s two secretaries of state, Rex Tillerson and Mike Pompeo, offered weak resistance to the administration’s attempts to gut the agency, which were thwarted only by congressional intervention.

    Although the department escaped massive proposed cuts of more than 30% in its budget for three consecutive years, it has seen a significant number of departures from its senior and rising mid-level ranks, from which many diplomats have opted to retire or leave the foreign service given limited prospects for advancements under an administration that they believe does not value their expertise.

    A graduate of Harvard University and Columbia Law School and a longtime Democratic foreign policy presence, Blinken has aligned himself with numerous former senior national security officials who have called for a major reinvestment in American diplomacy and renewed emphasis on global engagement.

    “Democracy is in retreat around the world, and unfortunately it’s also in retreat at home because of the president taking a two-by-four to its institutions, its values and its people every day,” Blinken told The Associated Press in September. “Our friends know that Joe Biden knows who they are. So do our adversaries. That difference would be felt on day one.”

    Blinken served on the National Security Council during the Clinton administration before becoming staff director for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when Biden was chair of the panel. In the early years of the Obama administration, Blinken returned to the NSC and was then-Vice President Biden’s national security adviser before he moved to the State Department to serve as deputy to Secretary of State John Kerry.

    Biden has pledged to build the most diverse government in modern history, and he and his team often speak about their desire for his administration to reflect America. He is being watched to see whether he will make history by nominating the first woman to lead the Pentagon, the Treasury Department or the Department of Veterans Affairs, or the first African American at the top of the Defense Department, the Interior Department or the Treasury Department.

    Ron Klain, Biden’s incoming chief of staff, said Sunday the Trump administration’s refusal to clear the way for Biden’s team to have access to key information about agencies and federal dollars for the transition is taking its toll on planning, including the Cabinet selection process. Trump’s General Services Administration has yet to acknowledge that Biden won the election — a determination that would remove those roadblocks.

    “We’re not in a position to get background checks on Cabinet nominees. And so there are definite impacts. Those impacts escalate every day,” Klain told ABC’s “This Week.”

    Even some Republicans have broken with Trump in recent days and called on him to begin the transition. Joining the growing list were Sens. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. Former Republican Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, a longtime Trump supporter, told ABC that it was time for the president to stop contesting the outcome and called Trump’s legal team seeking to overturn the election a “national embarrassment.”

    Meanwhile, planning was underway for a pandemic-modified inauguration Jan. 20. Klain said the Biden team was consulting with Democratic leadership in the House and Senate over their plans.

    “They’re going to try to have an inauguration that honors the importance and the symbolic meaning of the moment, but also does not result in the spread of the disease. That’s our goal,” Klain said.

    Related:

    Ethiopia Congratulates President-elect Joe Biden & VP-elect Kamala Harris


    In a Twitter post Prime Minster Abiy Ahmed joined other world leaders in expressing his good wishes for the newly elected leadership in the United States. (Photo: Courtesy of the Biden Campaign)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: November 9th, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopia has congratulated President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on their landmark U.S. election victory.

    In a Twitter post on Saturday Prime Minster Abiy Ahmed joined other world leaders in expressing his good wishes for the newly elected leadership in the United States.

    “My congratulations to US President-elect Joe Biden and and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris on your historic election win,” PM Abiy wrote. “Ethiopia looks forward to working closely with you.”

    Ethiopia’s ambassador to U.S. Fitsum Arega added: “Congratulations US for being a shining example of democracy in action to the world. We should all learn in Africa that in genuine democracy every vote counts, every voice must be heard!”

    As USA Today noted: “International messages of congratulation started rolling in Saturday for U.S. President-elect Joe Biden after he was projected the winner of the presidential election over President Donald Trump. International allies contemplated a new White House that has raised the prospect of resuming a form of business as usual: a more fact-driven, multilateralist American presidency that wants to build bridges, not burn them.”

    Related: ‘Welcome back, America’: World congratulates Joe Biden »

    Watch: President-elect Joe Biden’s full acceptance speech

    Ethio-American Samra Brouk Wins New York’s 55th Senate District


    Samra Brouk, a daughter of Ethiopian immigrants, defeated Republican Christopher Missick becoming the first Black woman to win the seat that’s currently held by New York State Senator Rich Funke, who announced last year that he wouldn’t run for another term. (Courtesy photo)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: November 8th, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — Democrat Samra Brouk has won the race for the New York State Senate’s 55th district, one of 63 districts in the New York State Senate.

    Samra, a daughter of Ethiopian immigrants, defeated Republican Christopher Missick becoming the first Black woman to win the seat that’s currently held by New York State Senator Rich Funke, who announced last year that he wouldn’t run for another term.

    The nonprofit organization New American Leaders, which recruits people of immigrant heritage to run for elected office in the United States, highlighted Samra in a social media post noting that “With Kamala Harris’ victory and the wins of hundreds of down-ballot New American candidates like Samra Brouk in New York, Marvin Lim in Georgia and Nida Allam in North Carolina, people like us have broken the mold of what it looks like to run, win, and lead.”

    Samra who was born and raised in Rochester New York credits her parents — a public school teacher and a civil engineer — for her decision to go into public service. “My father fled his home country of Ethiopia during the civil war, overcoming major cultural and financial barriers to earn his degrees in math and engineering here in Western New York,” Samra states on her campaign website. “From my parents, I learned the importance of education, hard work, and the need to be resourceful when faced with obstacles.”

    She adds:

    As a high school student, I spoke out against unfair testing practices. While at Williams College, where I worked three jobs to pay my tuition, I organized a group volunteer trip to Biloxi, Mississippi. We did everything from removing mold from homes damaged by Hurricane Katrina to helping community clinics navigate FEMA in order to rebuild.

    After graduating from Williams College with a Bachelors in Psychology and a minor in Spanish, I joined the U.S. Peace Corps where I volunteered in rural Guatemala as a health education specialist for two years. Upon returning home, like many of our young people, I was faced with limited job prospects. I was given an opportunity to help the Town of Brookhaven adopt a recycling education program for their population of nearly 500,000 people. I spent the following four years partnering with mayors and municipal leaders across the Northeast to adopt recycling education programs.

    Following that, I joined the largest global member organization for young people, DoSomething.org, to mobilize millions of young people as social change advocates. Later, I helped start Umbrella, a start-up that used technology to keep seniors safe in their homes by connecting them with affordable and community-driven home care. Most recently, I drove fundraising efforts for Chalkbeat, the fastest growing grassroots journalism organization, supporting their work reporting on inequities in the public school system.

    I currently live in Rochester, NY with my husband, Brian, who works with court-involved young people.

    New York’s 55th Senate District is a sprawling geography–starting down in the Finger Lakes, up through Rush, Mendon, Pittsford, Perinton, Fairport, Penfield, East Rochester, Irondequoit, and the East Side of the City of Rochester.

    My experiences around the state and the country have given me a broad perspective on what’s possible for our region. Now it’s time to bring all that I’ve learned and the relationships I’ve built to the community I love and call home.

    Together we can create a more just, sustainable and inclusive community. Western New York is my forever home. It deserves real leadership.

    Let’s do this!

    Congratulations to Samra Brouk!

    Oballa Oballa: Ethiopian Refugee Wins City Council Election in Austin, Minnesota


    Soon after moving to Austin, Minnesota, Oballa Oballa [whose family fled Gambella, Ethiopia, in 2003] walked into the mayor’s office and asked if there was anything he could do for the city. He just became Austin’s first Black city council member. (Photo: Courtesy of Oballa Oballa)

    Sahan Journal

    Oballa Oballa, a refugee from Ethiopia, wins historic city council election in Austin; becomes city’s first Black elected official.

    Oballa Oballa, a former refugee from Ethiopia who became a naturalized citizen less than one year ago, made history this election by winning a city council seat in the southeast Minnesota city of Austin.

    As of Wednesday afternoon, Oballa, 27, held a 14 percent lead over candidate Helen Jahr and declared victory. Oballa, who had been campaigning for the seat since the beginning of the year, said he is the first person of color to win elected office in Austin.

    On the campaign trail and in interviews, Oballa described a dramatic personal history. His family fled Gambella, Ethiopia, in 2003, following what he describes as a genocidal attack on his community. They spent the next 10 years living in Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camp. In 2013, the family moved to the U.S., and by 2015, Oballa had settled in Austin.

    Oballa is just one example of how immigrant communities are shaping Minnesota politics well beyond the Twin Cities, and are now starting to win seats for public office. Oballa said his record of civic engagement earned him voters’ support.

    “This makes me feel great, it makes me feel really happy and proud,” he said. “My work, I think, will still give hope to refugees who think the American dream is dead.”

    He added, “Just seven years ago, [I] was living in a refugee camp and now am officially elected. I think that will give them hope that one day, when they come to America here, they will accomplish whatever they put their mind to.”

    Read more »

    —-

    BIDEN DEFEATS TRUMP! USA CELEBRATES

    The Washington Post

    Joe Biden triumphs over Trump, prompting celebration across the U.S. and congratulations from abroad

    Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. was elected the nation’s 46th president Saturday in a repudiation of President Trump powered by legions of women and minority voters who rejected his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and his divisive, bullying conduct in office.

    Biden’s victory, the culmination of four years of struggle for Democrats, came after a hotly contested election in which it took four days for a winner to be declared after the former vice president was projected to win a series of battleground states, the latest of which was the state where he was born, Pennsylvania.

    Voters also made history in electing as vice president Kamala Devi Harris, 56, a senator from California and daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants who will become the country’s first woman, first Black person and first Asian American to hold the No. 2 job.


    Joe Biden will become the 46th president of the United States after a victory in the state where he was born (Pennsylvania) put him over the 270 electoral votes needed to win. In New York City, spontaneous block parties broke out. People ran out of their buildings, banging on pots. They danced and high-fived with strangers amid honking horns. (AP photo)

    In a statement released Saturday, Biden said he is “honored and humbled” to be the victor in an election in which “a record number of Americans voted.” He said he and Harris looked forward to working on the nation’s many challenges.

    “With the campaign over, it’s time to put the anger and the harsh rhetoric behind us and come together as a nation,” Biden said in the statement, in which his campaign referred to him as “President-elect Joe Biden” for the first time. “It’s time for America to unite. And to heal. We are the United States of America. And there’s nothing we can’t do, if we do it together.”

    WATCH LIVE: Biden’s win sparks street celebrations around the country

    Harris, in a tweet sent after the result was announced, said the election was about more than the Democratic team.

    “It’s about the soul of America and our willingness to fight for it,” she said. “We have a lot of work ahead of us. Let’s get started.”

    Read more »

    Related:

    Video: Tadias Panel Discussion on Civic Engagement and Voter Mobilization


    On Sunday, October 25th, Tadias Magazine hosted a timely virtual panel discussion on civic engagement and voter mobilization featuring a new generation of Ethiopian American leaders from various professions. You can watch the video below. (Photos: Tadias Magazine)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: October 28th, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — The U.S. presidential election is only one week away and Tadias hosted a timely and lively discussion on building political power through civic engagement and voter mobilization on Sunday, October 25th featuring a new generation of Ethiopian American leaders from various professions. You can watch the video below.

    Panelists included Henock Dory, who currently serves as Special Assistant to former President Barack Obama; Tefere Gebre, Executive Vice President of the AFL-CIO; Selam Mulugeta Washington, a former Field Organizer with Obama for America, Helen Mesfin from the Helen Show DC, Dr. Menna Demessie, Vice President of Policy Analysis & Research at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation; Helen Amelga, President of the Ethiopian Democratic Club of Los Angeles (moderator) as well as Bemnet Meshesha and Helen Eshete of the Habeshas Vote initiative. The event opened with poetry reading by Bitaniya Giday, the 2020-2021 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate.

    Ethiopian Americans are as diverse as mainstream America when it comes to our perspectives on various social and political issues, but despite our differences we are all united when it comes to the need to
    empower ourselves and participate in the democratic process through our citizenship rights to vote and run for office.

    So vote on November 3rd.

    Related:

    ‘Habeshas Vote’ Phone Banking Event This Week Aims Outreach to Ethio-Americans


    (Photo courtesy of Habesha Networks)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Published: October 19th, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — We are now almost two weeks away from the November 3rd U.S. presidential election. This week the ‘Habeshas Vote’ initiative and the non-profit organization Habesha Networks in partnership with Tadias Magazine and Abbay Media will host their first virtual phone banking event to reach out to the Ethiopian American community.

    The online event, which is set to take place on Thursday, October 22nd from 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM EDT, will feature various panel discussions, public service announcements and cultural engagements.

    Organizers note that there will be a brief training on phone banking as well as “some amazing prizes” for those that call and text the most voters.

    If You Attend:

    Click here to lean more and RSVP.

    —-

    Related:

    Ethiopian-Americans for Biden-Harris Hosts Virtual Conversation


    Ethiopian-Americans for Biden-Harris is a volunteer-led group that supports the candidacy of Former Vice-President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris. (Courtesy photo)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: October 19th, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — As the highly anticipated 2020 U.S. presidential election fast approaches on November 3rd, various Ethiopian American associations are organizing voter turnout and education events across the country.

    The latest to announce such an event is the newly formed, volunteer-led group, Ethiopian-Americans for Biden-Harris, which supports the candidacy of Former Vice-President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris and will be hosting an online conversation next week Friday, October 23 at 6:00 PM EDT/3:00 PM PDT.

    “As one of the largest African Diaspora groups in the United States, the community has historically supported causes championed by the Democratic Party, including but not limited to, immigration reform, healthcare reform, promotion of democracy, human rights and improved trade and investment between the United States and Ethiopia,” the group states in its press release. “Ethiopian-Americans believe that a Biden-Harris Administration will champion equitable access and opportunity for all Americans, restore mutually beneficial relationships with Ethiopia and improve America’s standing among the community of nations.”


    (Courtesy photo)

    The virtual event, which will be moderated by Dr. Menna Demessie, Senior Vice President of Policy Analysis & Research at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, features Congresswoman Karen Bass, who has represented California’s 37th congressional district since 2013; Representative Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas; Gayle Smith, president and CEO of the One Campaign and the former administrator of the United States Agency for International Development; and Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, a Senior Vice President at Albright Stonebridge Group (ASG) leading the firm’s Africa practice. Thomas-Greenfield was also the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs in the United States Department of State’s Bureau of African Affairs from 2013 to 2017.

    Ethiopian American speakers include Assemblyman Alexander Assefa, the first Ethiopian-American elected to public office in the United States and the first African immigrant to serve in elected office in the State of Nevada; Addisu Demissie, who served as Senior Advisor to U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden, and was responsible for organizing the nominating convention for the Democratic Party this past summer; Marcus Samuelsson, an award-winning chef, restaurateur, cookbook author, philanthropist and food activist; Mimi Alemayehou, a development finance executive who has served as Executive Vice President of the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation and as United States Executive Director of the African Development Bank.

    If You Attend

    Click here to RSVP now staring $25.

    Learn more at www.ethiopiansforbidenharris.com.

    Related:

    Ethiopian Americans: Election is Approaching, Let’s Make Sure our Voices are Heard


    In this OP-ED Helen Amelga, President of the Ethiopian Democratic Club of Los Angeles, urges Ethiopian Americans to participate in the upcoming U.S. election that will directly impact our lives for many years to come, and shares resources to help our community to get involved in the democratic process. (Courtesy photo)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Helen Amelga

    Updated: October 16th, 2020

    Los Angeles (TADIAS) — How many people of Ethiopian descent live in the United States? 300,000? 400,000? 500,000? We don’t really know for sure. But with the 2020 census, we will for the first time have the opportunity to get a truly accurate count. If you haven’t done so already, go to 2020cencus.gov and complete your census today.

    While the exact numbers are yet to be determined, it is clear that there is a significant Ethiopian-American population in the United States. Why is it then that we do not have a strong political presence?

    We know our community can organize. We have Iqub (እቁብ), mahbers (ማህበር), business associations, and our faith based groups are extremely organized. We need to use those same skills to mobilize politically.

    We must equip ourselves with the knowledge of political systems, major policies and voter rights, not only to serve as advocates for our community, but so that we ourselves can occupy positions of power and authority to be the decision makers who shape the society and world we want to live in.

    We know it’s possible because we already have trailblazers such as Assemblyman Alexander Assefa, the first Ethiopian American to be elected into office in the Nevada Legislature and the first Ethiopian American ever elected in the U.S. to a state-wide governing body as well as Judge Nina Ashenafi Richardson of Florida, who is the first Ethiopian-American judge in the United States who was re-elected to a third term his year.

    We cannot afford to give our vote away to candidates who are not serving our needs. We are ready to spring into action when there is a problem in our community, but it is not enough to go to our elected officials once we have a problem and try to convince them to help us. We need to be proactive.

    We must purposefully engage to get the right people elected in the first place. We must identify candidates who align with and will fight for our values. Then, we must do everything we can to make sure those candidates are elected.

    Here are a few steps you can take to get involved:

    1. Register to vote

    2. Request a vote by mail ballot today

    3. Reach out to 5 friends and make sure they’re registered to vote

    4. Research your candidates & ballot measures

    5. Volunteers to phone bank for a campaign

    6. Sign up to be a poll worker on election day

    The November 3rd general election is fast approaching. Let’s make sure our voices are heard.

    Related:

    Interview: Helen Amelga, Founder of Ethiopian Democratic Club of LA

    Interview With Addisu Demissie: Senior Adviser to Joe Biden

    Biden Selects Yohannes Abraham as Member of Transition Team


    Related:

    Election 2020 – The Youth Vote Event In Seattle


    Bitaniya Giday, age 17, is the 2020-2021 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate. She is a first-generation Ethiopian American residing in Seattle. Bitaniya is one of the young interviewers in a timely upcoming Zoom event on October 14th titled “The Youth Vote: A conversation about leadership, ethics and values and how they factor into choosing a candidate.” (KNKX PUBLIC RADIO)

    KNKX PUBLIC RADIO

    Young people make up a projected 37% of the 2020 electorate, yet historically they vote less than other age groups. Will it be different this time? The pandemic crisis and the call for racial justice and institutional changes are top concerns as we move closer to this high stakes election. Ethics and values also underpin our decisions. This virtual event aims to bring together first-time and new voters with older adults with a track record of civic leadership to discuss a number of issues through the lens of beliefs and values, touching on things like:

    What does it mean to be a leader?
    In thorny situations, how do you speak for a community?
    If there are three important issues facing your community and you only have enough resources to address one, how would you choose?

    Because this is leading up to the general election, we want to frame this conversation around the power to change systems for the greater good and how that ties in with being an informed voter.

    The six young interviewers will ask the four speakers questions relating to the themes of conflict/failure, challenges, accountability, transparency, priorities and representation, with the speakers drawing on their personal and professional experiences; and offering examples of how they have faced challenging situations and how that speaks to leadership and community building.

    Young Interviewers

    Bitaniya Giday, age 17, is the 2020-2021 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate. She is a first-generation Ethiopian American residing in Seattle. Her writing explores the nuances of womanhood and blackness, as she reflects upon her family’s path of immigration across the world. She hopes to restore and safeguard the past, present, and future histories of her people through traditional storytelling and poetry.

    Read more »

    Related:

    Ethiopian Americans Hold Virtual Town Hall Ahead of November Election


    The nationwide town hall event, which will be held on Thursday, September 24th, 2020 plans to emphasize the importance of exercising our citizenship right to vote and to participate in the U.S. democratic process. The gathering will feature panel discussions, PSAs, and cultural engagements. (Courtesy photos)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: September 23rd, 2020

    Los Angeles (TADIAS) — Ethiopian Americans are holding a virtual town hall this week ahead of the November 3rd U.S. election.

    The nationwide event, which will be held on Thursday, September 24th, will emphasize the importance of exercising our citizenship right to vote and to participate in the U.S. democratic process.

    According to organizers the town hall — put together by the ‘Habeshas Vote’ initiative and the non-profit organization Habesha Networks — will feature various panel discussions, public service announcements and cultural engagements.

    “We intend on discussing various subject matters related to civic engagement issues affecting our community at the moment,” the announcement notes, highlighting that by the end of the conference “participants will be able to understand the importance of taking ownership of our local communities, learn more about the voting process and gain a better [appreciation] of why we should all care about voting.”

    Speakers include Helen Amelga, President of the Ethiopian Democratic Club of Los Angeles; Dr. Menna Demissie, Senior Vice President of Policy Analysis & Research at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation; Assemblyman Alexander Assefa, the first Ethiopian American to be elected into office in the Nevada Legislature and the first Ethiopian American ever elected in the U.S. to a state-wide governing body; Judge Nina Ashenafi Richardson of Florida, who is the first Ethiopian-American judge in the United States who was re-elected to a third term this year; and Girmay Zahilay, Councilman in King County, Washington.


    (Courtesy photos)

    Additional presenters include: Andom Ghebreghiorgis. former Congressional candidate from New York; Samuel Gebru, former candidate for City Council in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and current managing director of Black Lion Strategies; as well as Hannah Joy Gebresilassie, journalist and community advocate; and Debbie Almraw, writer and poet.

    Entertainment will be provided by Elias Aragaw, the artist behind @TheFunkIsReal, and DJ Sammy Sam.

    The announcement notes that “voting is a core principle of being American, but to exercise this basic right we must be registered to vote! That’s why Habesha Networks and Habeshas Vote are proud partners of When We All Vote and supporters of National Voter Registration Day.”

    Watch: Students Interview Kamala Harris (U.S. ELECTION UPDATE)


    Fana R. Haileselassie, a student at Spelman College in Atlanta, asks Sen. Kamala Harris a question during a virtual Q&A hosted by BET featuring the Democratic nominee for Vice President and students discussing the interests of millennial voters. (Photo: BETNetworks)

    BET News Special

    HBCU Students Interview Kamala Harris

    A virtual Q&A hosted by Terrence J featuring Democratic nominee for Vice President Sen. Kamala Harris and HBCU students discussing the interests of millennial voters.

    Watch: Sen. Kamala Harris Answers HBCU Students’ Questions About Voting, Student Loan Debt & More

    Related:

    Virginia’s Era as a Swing State Appears to be Over


    President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama wave after a campaign event in May 2012 in Richmond. (Getty Images)

    The Washington Post

    Updated: September 18th, 2020

    No TV ads, no presidential visits: Virginia’s era as a swing state appears to be over

    Barack Obama held the very last rally of his 2008 campaign in Virginia, the longtime Republican stronghold he flipped on his way to the White House.

    Four years later, Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney made more visits and aired more television ads here than nearly anywhere else. And in 2016, Donald Trump staged rally after rally in the Old Dominion while Hillary Clinton picked a Virginian as her running mate.

    But Virginia isn’t getting the swing-state treatment this time around. As in-person early voting got underway Friday, President Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden were dark on broadcast television. Super PACs were clogging somebody else’s airwaves. Even as Trump and Biden have resumed limited travel amid the coronavirus pandemic, neither has stumped in the Old Dominion.

    There’s really no discussion about the state being in play,” said Amy Walter, national editor of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. “If you’re Ohio or New Hampshire, or Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, you’ve always been in that spotlight. Virginia got it for such a short period of time.”

    The last time presidential candidates stayed out of Virginia and off its airwaves was 2004. The state was reliably red then, having backed Republicans for the White House every year since 1968. Now Virginia seems to be getting the cold shoulder because it’s considered solidly blue.

    “Virginia was the belle of the ball in 2008, and again in 2012, and still once more in 2016, but in 2020, the commonwealth is a wall flower,” said Stephen Farnsworth, a University of Mary Washington political scientist.

    Read more »

    Related:

    Virginians come out in force to cast ballots on the first day of early voting

    Mike Bloomberg to spend at least $100 million in Florida to benefit Joe Biden


    Former NYC mayor Mike Bloomberg plans to spend at least $100 million to help elect Joe Biden, a massive late-stage infusion of cash that could reshape the presidential contest. (Getty Images)

    The Washington Post

    Updated: September 13th, 2020

    Former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg plans to spend at least $100 million in Florida to help elect Democrat Joe Biden, a massive late-stage infusion of cash that could reshape the presidential contest in a costly toss-up state central to President Trump’s reelection hopes.

    Bloomberg made the decision to focus his final election spending on Florida last week, after news reports that Trump had considered spending as much as $100 million of his own money in the final weeks of the campaign, Bloomberg’s advisers said. Presented with several options on how to make good on an earlier promise to help elect Biden, Bloomberg decided that a narrow focus on Florida was the best use of his money.

    The president’s campaign has long treated the state, which Trump now calls home, as a top priority, and his advisers remain confident in his chances given strong turnout in 2016 and 2018 that gave Republicans narrow winning margins in statewide contests.

    Watch: Former 2020 presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg slammed Trump during his Democratic National Convention speech on Aug. 20.

    Bloomberg’s aim is to prompt enough early voting that a pro-Biden result would be evident soon after the polls close.

    Read more »

    Related:

    Biden Leads by 9 Percentage Points in Pennsylvania (ELECTION UPDATE)


    In the survey, Biden, who was born in the state, draws the support of 53 percent of likely voters, compared to 44 percent who back Trump. (Reuters photo)

    The Washington Post

    Updated: September 9, 2020

    Biden Leads by 9 Percentage Points in Pennsylvania, Poll Finds

    Joe Biden leads President Trump by nine percentage points among likely voters in Pennsylvania, a key battleground state that Trump narrowly won four years ago, according to a new NBC News-Marist poll.

    In the survey, Biden, who was born in the state, draws the support of 53 percent of likely voters, compared to 44 percent who back Trump.

    In 2016, Trump carried Pennsylvania by less than one percentage point over Democrat Hillary Clinton.

    The NBC-Marist poll shows Biden getting a boost from suburban voters, who side with him by nearly 20 percentage points, 58 percent to 39 percent. In 2016, Trump won suburban voters in Pennsylvania by about eight points, according to exit polls.


    Supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden stand outside the AFL-CIO headquarters in Harrisburg, Pa., on Monday. (Getty Images)

    The poll also finds the candidates are tied at 49 percent among white voters in Pennsylvania, a group that Trump won by double digits in 2016. Biden leads Trump among nonwhite voters, 75 percent to 19 percent.

    Pennsylvania has been a frequent destination for both campaigns in recent weeks. Vice President Pence has events scheduled there on Wednesday.

    Kamala D. Harris Goes Viral — for Her Shoe Choice


    Sporting Chuck Taylor sneakers, Democratic vice-presidential candidate Sen. Kamala D. Harris (Calif.) greets supporters Monday in Milwaukee. (AP photo)

    The Washington Post

    Updated: September 8, 2020

    It took roughly eight seconds of on-the-ground campaigning for the first Black woman to be nominated on a major party’s ticket to go viral.

    At first glance, little seemed noteworthy as Sen. Kamala D. Harris deplaned in Milwaukee on Monday. She was wearing a mask. She didn’t trip. Instead, what sent video pinging around the Internet was what was on her feet: her black, low-rise Chuck Taylor All-Stars, the classic Converse shoe that has long been associated more closely with cultural cool than carefully managed high-profile candidacies.

    By Tuesday morning, videos by two reporters witnessing her arrival had been viewed nearly 8 million times on Twitter — for comparison’s sake, more than four times the attention the campaign’s biggest planned video event, a conversation between Joe Biden and Barack Obama, had received on both Twitter and YouTube combined.

    Harris’s sister, Maya, tweeted Monday that Chuck Taylors are, indeed, her sister’s “go-to.” A few hours later, Harris’s official campaign account tweeted the video with the caption “laced up and ready to win.”

    Read more »

    81 American Nobel Laureates Endorse Biden for Next U.S. President


    The Nobel laureates in physics, chemistry and medicine “wholeheartedly” endorsed the Democratic nominee in an open letter released Wednesday. “At no time in our nation’s history has there been a greater need for our leaders to appreciate the value of science in formulating public policy,” they said. (Courtesy photo)

    Press Release

    Nobel Laureates endorse Joe Biden

    81 American Nobel Laureates in Physics, Chemistry, and Medicine have signed this letter to express their support for former Vice President Joe Biden in the 2020 election for President of the United States.

    At no time in our nation’s history has there been a greater need for our leaders to appreciate the value of science in formulating public policy. During his long record of public service, Joe Biden has consistently demonstrated his willingness to listen to experts, his understanding of the value of international collaboration in research, and his respect for the contribution that immigrants make to the intellectual life of our country.

    As American citizens and as scientists, we wholeheartedly endorse Joe Biden for President.

    Name, Category, Prize Year:

    Peter Agre Chemistry 2003
    Sidney Altman Chemistry 1989
    Frances H. Arnold Chemistry 2018
    Paul Berg Chemistry 1980
    Thomas R. Cech Chemistry 1989
    Martin Chalfie Chemistry 2008
    Elias James Corey Chemistry 1990
    Joachim Frank Chemistry 2017
    Walter Gilbert Chemistry 1980
    John B. Goodenough Chemistry 2019
    Alan Heeger Chemistry 2000
    Dudley R. Herschbach Chemistry 1986
    Roald Hoffmann Chemistry 1981
    Brian K. Kobilka Chemistry 2012
    Roger D. Kornberg Chemistry 2006
    Robert J. Lefkowitz Chemistry 2012
    Roderick MacKinnon Chemistry 2003
    Paul L. Modrich Chemistry 2015
    William E. Moerner Chemistry 2014
    Mario J. Molina Chemistry 1995
    Richard R. Schrock Chemistry 2005
    K. Barry Sharpless Chemistry 2001
    Sir James Fraser Stoddart Chemistry 2016
    M. Stanley Whittingham Chemistry 2019
    James P. Allison Medicine 2018
    Richard Axel Medicine 2004
    David Baltimore Medicine 1975
    J. Michael Bishop Medicine 1989
    Elizabeth H. Blackburn Medicine 2009
    Michael S. Brown Medicine 1985
    Linda B. Buck Medicine 2004
    Mario R. Capecchi Medicine 2007
    Edmond H. Fischer Medicine 1992
    Joseph L. Goldstein Medicine 1985
    Carol W. Greider Medicine 2009
    Jeffrey Connor Hall Medicine 2017
    Leland H. Hartwell Medicine 2001
    H. Robert Horvitz Medicine 2002
    Louis J. Ignarro Medicine 1998
    William G. Kaelin Jr. Medicine 2019
    Eric R. Kandel Medicine 2000
    Craig C. Mello Medicine 2006
    John O’Keefe Medicine 2014
    Michael Rosbash Medicine 2017
    James E. Rothman Medicine 2013
    Randy W. Schekman Medicine 2013
    Gregg L. Semenza Medicine 2019
    Hamilton O. Smith Medicine 1978
    Thomas C. Sudhof Medicine 2013
    Jack W. Szostak Medicine 2009
    Susumu Tonegawa Medicine 1987
    Harold E. Varmus Medicine 1989
    Eric F. Wieschaus Medicine 1995
    Torsten N. Wiesel Medicine 1981
    Michael W. Young Medicine 2017
    Barry Clark Barish Physics 2017
    Steven Chu Physics 1997
    Jerome I. Friedman Physics 1990
    Sheldon Glashow Physics 1979
    David J. Gross Physics 2004
    John L. Hall Physics 2005
    Wolfgang Ketterle Physics 2001
    J. Michael Kosterlitz Physics 2016
    Herbert Kroemer Physics 2000
    Robert B. Laughlin Physics 1998
    Anthony J. Leggett Physics 2003
    John C. Mather Physics 2006
    Shuji Nakamura Physics 2014
    Douglas D. Osheroff Physics 1996
    James Peebles Physics 2019
    Arno Penzias Physics 1978
    Saul Perlmutter Physics 2011
    H. David Politzer Physics 2004
    Brian P. Schmidt Physics 2011
    Joseph H. Taylor Jr. Physics 1993
    Kip Stephen Thorne Physics 2017
    Daniel C. Tsui Physics 1998
    Rainer Weiss Physics 2017
    Frank Wilczek Physics 2004
    Robert Woodrow Wilson Physics 1978
    David J. Wineland Physics 2012

    Related

    Biden Calls Trump ‘a Toxic Presence’ Who is Encouraging Violence in America


    “Donald Trump has been a toxic presence in our nation for four years,” Biden said. “Will we rid ourselves of this toxin? (Photo: Joe Biden speaks Monday in Pittsburgh/Reuters)

    The Washington Post

    Joe Biden excoriated President Trump on Monday as a threat to the safety of all Americans, saying he has encouraged violence in the nation’s streets even as he has faltered in handling the coronavirus pandemic.

    For his most extensive remarks since violent protests have escalated across the country in recent days, Biden traveled to Pittsburgh and struck a centrist note, condemning both the destruction in the streets and Trump for creating a culture that he said has exacerbated it.

    “I want to be very clear about all of this: Rioting is not protesting. Looting is not protesting. Setting fires is not protesting,” Biden said. “It’s lawlessness, plain and simple. And those who do it should be prosecuted.”

    The former vice president also rejected the caricature that Trump and his allies have painted of him as someone who holds extremist views and has helped fuel the anger in urban centers across the country.

    “You know me. You know my heart. You know my story, my family’s story,” Biden said. “Ask yourself: Do I look like a radical socialist with a soft spot for rioters? Really?”

    While the speech was delivered amid heightened tensions over race and police conduct, Biden did not outline new policies, instead focusing on making a broader condemnation of Trump.

    He called the president a danger to those suffering from the coronavirus, to anyone in search of a job or struggling to pay rent, to voters worried about Russian interference in the upcoming election and to those worried about their own safety amid unrest.

    “Donald Trump wants to ask the question: Who will keep you safer as president? Let’s answer that question,” Biden said. “When I was vice president, violent crime fell 15 percent in this country. We did it without chaos and disorder.”

    Pointing to a nationwide homicide rate rising 26 percent this year, Biden asked, “Do you really feel safer under Donald Trump?”

    “If I were president today, the country would be safer,” Biden said. “And we’d be seeing a lot less violence.”

    It was a marked shift for Biden from his convention speech less than two weeks ago, in which he never named Trump in his remarks. During his speech Monday, he mentioned Trump’s name 32 times.

    “Donald Trump has been a toxic presence in our nation for four years,” Biden said. “Will we rid ourselves of this toxin? Or will we make it a permanent part of our nation’s character?”

    Read more »

    Spotlight: The Unravelling of the Social Fabric in Ethiopia and the U.S.


    As Ethiopian Americans we are increasingly concerned about the decline of civil discourse and the unravelling of the social fabric not only in Ethiopia, but also here in the United States where in the era of Trump and the COVID-19 pandemic politics has also become more and more violent. Below are excerpts and links to two recent articles from The Intercept and The Guardian focusing on the timely topic. (AP photo)

    The Intercept

    August, 29th, 2020

    The Social Fabric of the U.S. Is Fraying Severely, if Not Unravelling: Why, in the world’s richest country, is every metric of mental health pathology rapidly worsening?

    THE YEAR 2020 has been one of the most tumultuous in modern American history. To find events remotely as destabilizing and transformative, one has to go back to the 2008 financial crisis and the 9/11 and anthrax attacks of 2001, though those systemic shocks, profound as they were, were isolated (one a national security crisis, the other a financial crisis) and thus more limited in scope than the multicrisis instability now shaping U.S. politics and culture.

    Since the end of World War II, the only close competitor to the current moment is the multipronged unrest of the 1960s and early 1970s: serial assassinations of political leaders, mass civil rights and anti-war protests, sustained riots, fury over a heinous war in Indochina, and the resignation of a corruption-plagued president.

    But those events unfolded and built upon one another over the course of a decade. By crucial contrast, the current confluence of crises, each of historic significance in their own right — a global pandemic, an economic and social shutdown, mass unemployment, an enduring protest movement provoking increasing levels of violence and volatility, and a presidential election centrally focused on one of the most divisive political figures the U.S. has known who happens to be the incumbent president — are happening simultaneously, having exploded one on top of the other in a matter of a few months.

    Lurking beneath the headlines justifiably devoted to these major stories of 2020 are very troubling data that reflect intensifying pathologies in the U.S. population — not moral or allegorical sicknesses but mental, emotional, psychological and scientifically proven sickness. Many people fortunate enough to have survived this pandemic with their physical health intact know anecdotally — from observing others and themselves — that these political and social crises have spawned emotional difficulties and psychological challenges…

    Much attention is devoted to lamenting the toxicity of our discourse, the hate-driven polarization of our politics, and the fragmentation of our culture. But it is difficult to imagine any other outcome in a society that is breeding so much psychological and emotional pathology by denying to its members the things they most need to live fulfilling lives.

    Read the full article at theintercept.com »

    Ethiopia falls into violence a year after leader’s Nobel peace prize win


    Ethiopia’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, centre, arrives at an African Union summit in Addis Ababa in July. Photograph: AP

    By Jason Burke and Zecharias Zelalem in Addis Ababa

    Sat 29 Aug 2020

    Abiy Ahmed came to power promising radical reform, but 180 people have died amid ethnic unrest in Oromia state

    Ethiopia faces a dangerous cycle of intensifying internal political dissent, ethnic unrest and security crackdowns, observers have warned, after a series of protests in recent weeks highlighted growing discontent with the government of Abiy Ahmed, a Nobel peace prize winner.

    Many western powers welcomed the new approach of Abiy, who took power in 2018 and promised a programme of radical reform after decades of repressive one-party rule, hoping for swift changes in an emerging economic power that plays a key strategic role in a region increasingly contested by Middle Eastern powers and China. He won the peace prize in 2019 for ending a conflict with neighbouring Eritrea.

    The most vocal unrest was in the state of Oromia, where there have been waves of protests since the killing last month of a popular Oromo artist and activist, Haacaaluu Hundeessaa, in Addis Ababa, the capital. An estimated 180 people have died in the violence, some murdered by mobs, others shot by security forces. Houses, factories, businesses, hotels, cars and government offices were set alight or damaged and several thousand people, including opposition leaders, were arrested.

    Further protests last week prompted a new wave of repression and left at least 11 dead. “Oromia is still reeling from the grim weight of tragic killings this year. These grave patterns of abuse should never be allowed to continue,” said Aaron Maasho, a spokesperson for the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission.

    Read more »

    Related:

    ‘How Dare We Not Vote?’ Black Voters Organize After DC March


    People rally at Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington, Friday Aug. 28, 2020, on the 57th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech. Speakers implored attendees to “vote as if our lives depend on it.” (AP Photos)

    The Associated Press

    Updated: August 29th, 2020

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Tears streamed down Brooke Moreland’s face as she watched tens of thousands gather on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to decry systemic racism and demand racial justice in the wake of several police killings of Black Americans.

    But for the Indianapolis mother of three, the fiery speeches delivered Friday at the commemoration of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom also gave way to one central message: Vote and demand change at the ballot box in November.

    “As Black people, a lot of the people who look like us died for us to be able to sit in public, to vote, to go to school and to be able to walk around freely and live our lives,” the 31-year-old Moreland said. “Every election is an opportunity, so how dare we not vote after our ancestors fought for us to be here?”

    That determination could prove critical in a presidential election where race is emerging as a flashpoint. President Donald Trump, at this past week’s Republican National Convention, emphasized a “law and order” message aimed at his largely white base of supporters. His Democratic rival, Joe Biden, has expressed empathy with Black victims of police brutality and is counting on strong turnout from African Americans to win critical states such as North Carolina, Florida, Pennsylvania and Michigan.

    “If we do not vote in numbers that we’ve never ever seen before and allow this administration to continue what it is doing, we are headed on a course for serious destruction,” Martin Luther King III, told The Associated Press before his rousing remarks, delivered 57 years after his father’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech. “I’m going to do all that I can to encourage, promote, to mobilize and what’s at stake is the future of our nation, our planet. What’s at stake is the future of our children.”

    As the campaign enters its latter stages, there’s an intensifying effort among African Americans to transform frustration over police brutality, systemic racism and the disproportionate toll of the coronavirus into political power. Organizers and participants said Friday’s march delivered a much needed rallying cry to mobilize.

    As speakers implored attendees to “vote as if our lives depend on it,” the march came on the heels of yet another shooting by a white police officer of a Black man – 29-year-old Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last Sunday — sparking demonstrations and violence that left two dead.

    “We need a new conversation … you act like it’s no trouble to shoot us in the back,” the Rev. Al Sharpton said. “Our vote is dipped in blood. We’re going to vote for a nation that stops the George Floyds, that stops the Breonna Taylors.”

    Navy veteran Alonzo Jones- Goss, who traveled to Washington from Boston, said he plans to vote for Biden because the nation has seen far too many tragic events that have claimed the lives of Black Americans and other people of color.

    “I supported and defended the Constitution and I support the members that continue to do it today, but the injustice and the people that are losing their lives, that needs to end,” Jones-Goss, 28, said. “It’s been 57 years since Dr. King stood over there and delivered his speech. But what is unfortunate is what was happening 57 years ago is still happening today.”

    Drawing comparisons to the original 1963 march, where participants then were protesting many of the same issues that have endured, National Urban League President and CEO Marc Morial said it’s clear why this year’s election will be pivotal for Black Americans.

    “We are about reminding people and educating people on how important it is to translate the power of protest into the power of politics and public policy change,” said Morial, who spoke Friday. “So we want to be deliberate about making the connection between protesting and voting.”

    Nadia Brown, a Purdue University political science professor, agreed there are similarities between the situation in 1963 and the issues that resonate among Black Americans today. She said the political pressure that was applied then led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and other powerful pieces of legislation that transformed the lives of African Americans. She’s hopeful this could happen again in November and beyond.

    “There’s already a host of organizations that are mobilizing in the face of daunting things,” Brown said. “Bur these same groups that are most marginalized are saying it’s not enough to just vote, it’s not enough for the Democratic Party or the Republican Party to ask me for my vote. I’m going to hold these elected officials that are in office now accountable and I’m going to vote in November and hold those same people accountable. And for me, that is the most uplifting and rewarding part — to see those kind of similarities.”

    But Brown noted that while Friday’s march resonated with many, it’s unclear whether it will translate into action among younger voters, whose lack of enthusiasm could become a vulnerability for Biden.

    “I think there is already a momentum among younger folks who are saying not in my America, that this is not the place where they want to live, but will this turn into electoral gains? That I’m less clear on because a lot of the polling numbers show that pretty overwhelmingly, younger people, millennials and Gen Z’s are more progressive and that they are reluctantly turning to this pragmatic side of politics,” Brown said.

    That was clear as the Movement for Black Lives also marked its own historic event Friday — a virtual Black National Convention that featured several speakers discussing pressing issues such as climate change, economic empowerment and the need for electoral justice.

    “I don’t necessarily see elections as achieving justice per se because I view the existing system itself as being fundamentally unjust in many ways and it is the existing system that we are trying to fundamentally transform,” said Bree Newsome Bass, an activist and civil rights organizer, during the convention’s panel about electoral justice. “I do think voting and recognizing what an election should be is a way to kind of exercise that muscle.”


    Biden, Harris Prepare to Travel More as Campaign Heats Up (Election Update)


    Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden and vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris. (AP Photos)

    The Associated Press

    August 28th, 2020

    WASHINGTON (AP) — After spending a pandemic spring and summer tethered almost entirely to his Delaware home, Joe Biden plans to take his presidential campaign to battleground states after Labor Day in his bid to unseat President Donald Trump.

    No itinerary is set, according to the Democratic nominee’s campaign, but the former vice president and his allies say his plan is to highlight contrasts with Trump, from policy arguments tailored to specific audiences to the strict public health guidelines the Biden campaign says its events will follow amid COVID-19.

    That’s a notable difference from a president who on Thursday delivered his nomination acceptance on the White House lawn to more than 1,000 people seated side-by-side, most of them without masks, even as the U.S. death toll surpassed 180,000.

    “He will go wherever he needs to go,” said Biden’s campaign co-chairman Cedric Richmond, a Louisiana congressman. “And we will do it in a way the health experts would be happy” with and “not the absolutely irresponsible manner you saw at the White House.”

    Richmond said it was “always the plan” for Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris to travel more extensively after Labor Day, the traditional mark of the campaign’s home stretch when more casual voters begin to pay close attention.


    Biden supporters hold banners near the White House on the fourth day of the Republican National Convention, Thursday evening, Aug. 27, 2020, in Washington, while Donald Trump delivers his acceptance speech from the nearby White House South Lawn.(AP Photo)

    Biden has conducted online fundraisers, campaign events and television interviews from his home, but traveled only sparingly for speeches and roundtables with a smattering of media or supporters. His only confirmed plane travel was to Houston, where he met with the family of George Floyd, the Black man who was killed by a white Minneapolis police officer on May 25, sparking nationwide protests. Even some Democrats worried quietly that Biden was ceding too much of the spotlight to Trump. But Biden aides have defended their approach. “We will never make any choices that put our staff or voters in harm’s way,” campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon said in May.

    Throughout his unusual home-based campaign, Biden blasted Trump as incompetent and irresponsible for downplaying the pandemic and publicly disputing the government’s infectious disease experts. Richmond said that won’t change as Biden ramps up travel.

    “We won’t beat this pandemic, which means we can’t restore the economy and get people’s lives back home, unless we exercise some discipline and lead by example,” Richmond said, adding that Trump is “incapable of doing it.”

    As exhibited by his acceptance speech Thursday, Trump is insistent on as much normalcy as possible, even as he’s pulled back from his signature indoor rallies after drawing a disappointing crowd in Tulsa, Oklahoma on June 20. Trump casts Biden as wanting to “shut down” the economy to combat the virus. “Joe Biden’s plan is not a solution to the virus, but rather a surrender,” Trump declared on the White House lawn. Biden, in fact, has not proposed shutting down the economy. He’s said only that he would be willing to make such a move as president if public health experts advise it. The Democrat also has called for a national mask mandate, calling it a necessary move for Americans to protect each other. Harris on Friday talked about the idea in slightly different terms than Biden, acknowledging that a mandate would be difficult to enforce.

    “It’s really a standard. I mean, nobody’s gonna be punished. Come on,” the California senator said, laughing off a question about how to enforce such a rule during an interview that aired Friday on “Today.” “Nobody likes to wear a mask. This is a universal feeling. Right? So that’s not the point, ’Hey, let’s enjoy wearing masks.′ No.”


    Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaks in Washington, Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020. (AP Photo)

    Harris suggested that, instead, the rule would be about “what we — as responsible people who love our neighbor — we have to just do that right now.”

    “God willing, it won’t be forever,” she added.

    Biden and Harris have worn protective face masks in public and stayed socially distanced from each other when appearing together at campaign events. Both have said for weeks that a rule requiring all Americans to wear them could save 40,000 lives in just a three-month period. While such an order may be difficult to impose at the federal level, Biden has called on every governor in the country to order mask-wearing in their states, which would likely achieve the same goal.

    Trump has urged Americans to wear masks but opposes a national requirement and personally declined to do so for months. He has worn a mask occasionally more recently, but not at any point Thursday at the Republican National Convention’s closing event, which violated the District of Columbia’s guidelines prohibiting large gatherings.

    Related:

    Joe Biden Claims the Democratic Presidential Nomination


    Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden accepted the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination on Thursday evening during the last day of the historic Democratic National Convention, August 20, 2020. (AP photo)

    The Washington Post

    Updated: August 21st, 2020

    Biden speaks about ‘battle for the soul of this nation,’ decries Trump’s leadership

    Joe Biden accepted his party’s presidential nomination, delivering a speech that directly criticized the leadership of Trump on matters of the coronavirus pandemic, the economy and racial justice.

    “Here and now, I give you my word: If you entrust me with the presidency, I will draw on the best of us, not the worst. I’ll be an ally of the light, not the darkness,” Biden said, calling on Americans to come together to “overcome this season of darkness.”

    The night featured tributes to civil rights activist and congressman John Lewis, who died in July, as well as to Beau Biden, Joe Biden’s son who died in 2015.


    Kamala Harris Accepts Historic Nomination for Vice President of the United States


    Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) accepted her party’s historic nomination to be its vice-presidential candidate in the 2020 U.S. election on Wednesday evening during the third day of the Democratic National Convention. (Reuters photo)

    Reuters

    Updated: August 20th, 2020

    Kamala Harris makes U.S. history, accepts Democrats’ vice presidential nod

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senator Kamala Harris accepted the Democratic nomination for vice president on Wednesday, imploring the country to elect Joe Biden president and accusing Donald Trump of failed leadership that had cost lives and livelihoods.

    The first Black woman and Asian-American on a major U.S. presidential ticket, Harris summarized her life story as emblematic of the American dream on the third day of the Democratic National Convention.

    “Donald Trump’s failure of leadership has cost lives and livelihoods,” Harris said.

    Former U.S. President Barack Obama told the convention Trump’s failures as his successor had led to 170,000 people dead from the coronavirus, millions of lost jobs and America’s reputation badly diminished in the world.

    The evening featured a crush of women headliners, moderators and speakers, with Harris pressing the case against Trump, speaking directly to millions of women, young Americans and voters of color, constituencies Democrats need if Biden is to defeat the Republican Trump.

    “The constant chaos leaves us adrift, the incompetence makes us feel afraid, the callousness makes us feel alone. It’s a lot. And here’s the thing: we can do better and deserve so much more,” she said.

    “Right now, we have a president who turns our tragedies into political weapons. Joe will be a president who turns our challenges into purpose,” she said, speaking from an austere hotel ballroom in Biden’s hometown of Wilmington, Delaware.

    Biden leads Trump in opinion polls ahead of the Nov. 3 election, bolstered by a big lead among women voters. Throughout the convention, Democrats have appealed directly to those women voters, highlighting Biden’s co-sponsorship of the landmark Violence Against Woman Act of 1994 and his proposals to bolster childcare and protect family healthcare provisions.

    Obama, whose vice president was Biden from 2009-2017, said he had hoped that Trump would take the job seriously, come to feel the weight of the office, and discover a reverence for American democracy.

    Obama on Trump: ‘Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t’

    “Donald Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t. And the consequences of that failure are severe,” Obama said in unusually blunt criticism from an ex-president.

    “Millions of jobs gone. Our worst impulses unleashed, our proud reputation around the world badly diminished, and our democratic institutions threatened like never before,” Obama said.

    The choice of a running mate has added significance for Biden, 77, who would be the oldest person to become president if he is elected. His age has led to speculation he will serve only one term, making Harris a potential top contender for the nomination in 2024.

    Biden named Harris, 55, as his running mate last week to face incumbents Trump, 74, and Vice President Mike Pence, 61.

    Former first lady and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee who lost to Trump, told the convention she constantly hears from voters who regret backing Trump or not voting at all.

    “This can’t be another woulda coulda shoulda election.” Clinton said. “No matter what, vote. Vote like our lives and livelihoods are on the line, because they are.”

    Clinton, who won the popular vote against Trump but lost in the Electoral College, said Biden needs to win overwhelmingly, warning he could win the popular vote but still lose the White House.

    “Joe and Kamala can win by 3 million votes and still lose,” Clinton said. “Take it from me. So we need numbers overwhelming so Trump can’t sneak or steal his way to victory.”


    U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) accepts the Democratic vice presidential nomination during an acceptance speech delivered for 2020 Democratic National Convention from the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S., August 19, 2020. (Getty Images)

    Democrats have been alarmed by Trump’s frequent criticism of mail-in voting, and by cost-cutting changes at the U.S. Postal Service instituted by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a Trump supporter, that could delay mail during the election crunch. DeJoy said recently he would delay those changes until after the election.

    Democrats also broadcast videos highlighting Trump’s crackdown on immigration, opposition to gun restrictions and his decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord.

    ‘DISRESPECT’ FOR FACTS, FOR WOMEN

    Nancy Pelosi, the first woman Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, told the convention she had seen firsthand Trump’s “disrespect for facts, for working families, and for women in particular – disrespect written into his policies toward our health and our rights, not just his conduct. But we know what he doesn’t: that when women succeed, America succeeds.”

    U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, a leading progressive who ran against Biden in the 2020 primary, spoke to the convention from a childcare center in Massachusetts and cited Biden’s proposal to make childcare more affordable as a vital part of his agenda to help working Americans.

    “It’s time to recognize that childcare is part of the basic infrastructure of this nation — it’s infrastructure for families,” she said. “Joe and Kamala will make high-quality childcare affordable for every family, make preschool universal, and raise the wages for every childcare worker.”

    In her speech later, Harris will have an opportunity to outline her background as a child of immigrants from India and Jamaica who as a district attorney, state attorney general, U.S. senator from California and now vice-presidential candidate shattered gender and racial barriers.

    She gained prominence in the Senate for her exacting interrogations of Trump nominees, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Attorney General Bill Barr.

    The Republican National Convention, also largely virtual, takes place next week.

    Democrats Officially Nominate Joe Biden to Become the Next U.S. President


    It’s official: Joe Biden is now formally a candidate to become the next President of the United States. Democrats officially nominated Biden as their 2020 candidate on Tuesday with a roll-call vote of delegates representing all states in the country during the second day of party’s historic virtual convention. (Photo: Courtesy of the Biden campaign)

    The Associated Press

    Updated: August 19th, 2020

    Democrats make it official, nominate Biden to take on Trump

    NEW YORK (AP) — Democrats formally nominated Joe Biden as their 2020 presidential nominee Tuesday night, as party officials and activists from across the nation gave the former vice president their overwhelming support during his party’s all-virtual national convention.

    The moment marked a political high point for Biden, who had sought the presidency twice before and is now cemented as the embodiment of Democrats’ desperate desire to defeat President Donald Trump this fall.

    The roll call of convention delegates formalized what has been clear for months since Biden took the lead in the primary elections’ chase for the nomination. It came as he worked to demonstrate the breadth of his coalition for a second consecutive night, this time blending support from his party’s elders and fresher faces to make the case that he has the experience and energy to repair chaos that Trump has created at home and abroad.

    Former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State John Kerry — and former Republican Secretary of State Colin Powell — were among the heavy hitters on a schedule that emphasized a simple theme: Leadership matters. Former President Jimmy Carter, now 95 years old, also made an appearance.

    “Donald Trump says we’re leading the world. Well, we are the only major industrial economy to have its unemployment rate triple,” Clinton said. “At a time like this, the Oval Office should be a command center. Instead, it’s a storm center. There’s only chaos.”


    In this image from video, former Georgia House Democratic leader Stacey Abrams, center, and others, speak during the second night of the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. (Democratic National Convention via AP)

    Biden formally captured his party’s presidential nomination Tuesday night after being nominated by three people, including two Delaware lawmakers and 31-year-old African American security guard who became a viral sensation after blurting out “I love you” to Biden in a New York City elevator.

    Delegates from across the country then pledged their support for Biden in a video montage that featured Democrats in places like Alabama’s Edmund Pettis Bridge, a beach in Hawaii and the headwaters of the Mississippi River.

    In the opening of the convention’s second night, a collection of younger Democrats, including former Georgia lawmaker Stacey Abrams and New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, were given a few minutes to shine.

    “In a democracy, we do not elect saviors. We cast our ballots for those who see our struggles and pledge to serve,” said Abrams, 46, who emerged as a national player during her unsuccessful bid for governor in 2018 and was among those considered to be Biden’s running mate.

    She added: “Faced with a president of cowardice, Joe Biden is a man of proven courage.”

    On a night that Biden was formally receiving his party’s presidential nomination, the convention was also introducing his wife, Jill Biden, to the nation as the prospective first lady.


    In this image from video, Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden, his wife Jill Biden, and members of the Biden family, celebrate after the roll call during the second night of the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. (Democratic National Convention via AP)

    Biden is fighting unprecedented logistical challenges to deliver his message during an all-virtual convention this week as the coronavirus epidemic continues to claim hundreds of American lives each day and wreaks havoc on the economy.

    The former vice president was becoming his party’s nominee as a prerecorded roll call vote from delegates in all 50 states airs, and the four-day convention will culminate on Thursday when he accepts that nomination. His running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris, will become the first woman of color to accept a major party’s vice presidential nomination on Wednesday.

    Until then, Biden is presenting what he sees as the best of his sprawling coalition to the American electorate in a format unlike any other in history.

    For a second night, the Democrats featured Republicans.

    Powell, who served as secretary of state under George W. Bush and appeared at multiple Republican conventions in years past, was endorsing the Democratic candidate. In a video released ahead of his speech, he said, “Our country needs a commander in chief who takes care of our troops in the same way he would his own family. For Joe Biden, that doesn’t need teaching.”

    Powell joins the widow of the late Arizona Sen. John McCain, Cindy McCain, who was expected to stop short of a formal endorsement but talk about the mutual respect and friendship her husband and Biden shared.

    While there have been individual members of the opposing party featured at presidential conventions before, a half dozen Republicans, including the former two-term governor of Ohio, have now spoken for Democrat Biden.

    No one on the program Tuesday night has a stronger connection to the Democratic nominee than his wife, Jill Biden, a longtime teacher, was speaking from her former classroom at Brandywine High School near the family home in Wilmington, Delaware.

    “You can hear the anxiety that echoes down empty hallways. There’s no scent of new notebooks or freshly waxed floors,” she said of the school in excerpts of her speech before turning to the nation’s challenges at home. “How do you make a broken family whole? The same way you make a nation whole. With love and understanding—and with small acts of compassion. With bravery. With unwavering faith.”

    The Democrats’ party elders played a prominent role throughout the night.

    Clinton, who turns 74 on Tuesday, hasn’t held office in two decades. Kerry, 76, was the Democratic presidential nominee back in 2004 when the youngest voters this fall were still in diapers. And Carter is 95 years old.

    Clinton, a fixture of Democratic conventions for nearly three decades, addressed voters for roughly five minutes in a speech recorded at his home in Chappaqua, New York.

    In addition to railing against Trump’s leadership, Clinton calls Biden “a go-to-work president.” Biden, Clinton continued, is “a man with a mission: to take responsibility, not shift the blame; concentrate, not distract; unite, not divide.”…

    Kerry said in an excerpt of his remarks, “Joe understands that none of the issues of this world — not nuclear weapons, not the challenge of building back better after COVID, not terrorism and certainly not the climate crisis — none can be resolved without bringing nations together.”

    Democrats Kick Off Convention as Poll Show Biden, Harris With Double-Digit Lead


    Democrats kicked off their historic virtual convention on Monday with the keynote speaker former first lady Michelle Obama assailing the current president as unfit and warning Americans not to reelect him for a second term. Meanwhile new poll show Biden, Harris with double-digit lead over Trump. (Getty Images)

    The Associated Press

    Updated: August 18th, 2020

    Michelle Obama assails Trump as Democrats open convention

    NEW YORK (AP) — Michelle Obama delivered a passionate broadside against President Donald Trump during Monday’s opening night of the Democratic National Convention, assailing the Republican president as unfit for the job and warning that the nation’s mounting crises would only get worse if he’s reelected.

    The former first lady issued an emotional call to the coalition that sent her husband to the White House, declaring that strong feelings must be translated into votes.

    “Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country,” she declared. “He has had more than enough time to prove that he can do the job, but he is clearly in over his head. He cannot meet this moment. He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us.”

    Obama added: “If you think things possibly can’t get worse, trust me, they can and they will if we don’t make a change in this election.”

    The comments came as Joe Biden introduced the breadth of his political coalition to a nation in crisis Monday night at the convention, giving voice to victims of the coronavirus pandemic, the related economic downturn and police violence and featuring both progressive Democrats and Republicans united against Trump’s reelection.


    Former first lady Michelle Obama speaks during the first night of the Democratic National Convention on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020. The DNC released excerpts of her speech ahead of the convention start. (Democratic National Convention)

    The ideological range of Biden’s many messengers was demonstrated by former presidential contenders from opposing parties: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist who championed a multi-trillion-dollar universal health care plan, and Ohio’s former Republican Gov. John Kasich, an anti-abortion conservative who spent decades fighting to cut government spending.

    The former vice president won’t deliver his formal remarks until Thursday night, but he made his first appearance just half an hour into Monday’s event as he moderated a panel on racial justice, a theme throughout the night, as was concern about the Postal Service. The Democrats accuse Trump of interfering with the nation’s mail in order to throw blocks in front of mail-in voting.

    “My friends, I say to you, and to everyone who supported other candidates in this primary and to those who may have voted for Donald Trump in the last election: The future of our democracy is at stake. The future of our economy is at stake. The future of our planet is at stake,” Sanders declared.

    Kasich said his status as a lifelong Republican “holds second place to my responsibility to my country.”

    “In normal times, something like this would probably never happen, but these are not normal times,” he said of his participation at the Democrats’ convention. He added: “Many of us can’t imagine four more years going down this path.”

    Read more »

    Post-ABC poll shows Biden, Harris hold double-digit lead over Trump, Pence

    The race for the White House tilts toward the Democrats, with former vice president Joe Biden holding a double-digit lead nationally over President Trump amid continuing disapproval of the president’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.

    Democrats [kicked] off their convention on Monday in a mood of cautious optimism, with Biden and his running mate, Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), leading Trump and Vice President Pence by 53 percent to 41 percent among registered voters. The findings are identical among a larger sample of all voting-age adults.

    Biden’s current national margin over Trump among voters is slightly smaller than the 15-point margin in a poll taken last month and slightly larger than a survey in May when he led by 10 points. In late March, as the pandemic was taking hold in the United States, Biden and Trump were separated by just two points, with the former vice president holding a statistically insignificant advantage.

    Today, Biden and Harris lead by 54 percent to 43 percent among those who say they are absolutely certain to vote and who also report voting in 2016. A month ago, Biden’s lead of 15 points overall had narrowed to seven points among similarly committed 2016 voters. Biden now also leads by low double-digits among those who say they are following the election most closely.

    Read more »

    Team Joe Announces Convention Speakers


    Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, and his running mate, US Senator Kamala Harris. (Courtesy Photo)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: August 17th, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — Joe Biden’s campaign has announced its speaker lineup for the Democratic National Convention that’s set to open on Monday, August 17th in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

    Below are the list of speakers that will be featured “across all four nights of the Convention which will air live August 17-20 from 9:00-11:00 PM Eastern each night.”

    Related:

    ‘ሴቷ ኦባማ?’: Kamala Harris Faces Culture of Sexism & Misogyny in Ethiopian Media

    Interview With Addisu Demissie: Senior Adviser to Joe Biden

    Biden Selects Yohannes Abraham as Member of Transition Team

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    UPDATE: Two Ethiopians, Adom Getachew & Elizabeth Giorgis, Win African Studies Book Prize

    The award-- which was announced on Saturday, November 21st, 2020 during the African Studies Association's virtual annual meeting -- "recognizes the most important scholarly work in African studies published in English and distributed in the United States during the preceding year." (Photos: Elizabeth W. Giorgis/@AsiaArtArchive & Adom Getachew/Princeton University Press)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: November 23rd, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — Adom Getachew and Elizabeth W. Giorgis were declared winners in separate categories of the 2020 African Studies Association (ASA) book prize on Saturday during the organization’s virtual annual meeting.

    Adom, the author of Worldmaking after Empire, was awarded the ASA Best Book Prize, while Elizabeth, the writer of Modernist Art in Ethiopia, was given the East African Bethwell A. Ogot Book Prize, which recognizes the best book on East African studies published in the previous calendar.

    “Thank you to everyone who attended the ASA 2020 Virtual Annual Meeting,” ASA said in a press release noting “it was an invigorating experience filled with brilliant presentations and astounding scholarship.”

    According to its website: “Established in 1957, the African Studies Association is the flagship membership organization devoted to enhancing the exchange of information about Africa. With almost 2,000 individual and institutional members worldwide, the African Studies Association encourages the production and dissemination of knowledge about Africa, past and present. Based in the United States, the ASA supports understanding of an entire continent in each facet of its political, economic, social, cultural, artistic, scientific, and environmental landscape..[and] members include scholars, students, teachers, activists, development professionals, policymakers and donors.”

    In her book entitled Worldmaking after Empire: The Rise and Fall of Self-Determination that was published by Princeton University Press in 2019, Adom Getachew shows how prominent Black scholars and leaders of the twentieth century such as W.E.B Du Bois, George Padmore, Kwame Nkrumah, Eric Williams, Michael Manley, Julius Nyerere and others had aimed to reshape the international paradigm in respect to race-relations globally beyond post-colonial self-determination and nation-building. The Princeton University Press notes: “Using archival sources from Barbados, Trinidad, Ghana, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom, Worldmaking after Empire recasts the history of decolonization, reconsiders the failure of anticolonial nationalism, and offers a new perspective on debates about today’s international order.”

    And Elizabeth Giorgis’ book Modernist Art in Ethiopia, “explores the varied precedents of the country’s political and intellectual history to understand the ways in which the import and range of visual narratives were mediated across different moments, and to reveal the conditions that account for the extraordinary dynamism of the visual arts in Ethiopia,” states the Ohio University Press, which published the book last year. “In locating its arguments at the intersection of visual culture and literary and performance studies, Modernist Art in Ethiopia details how innovations in visual art intersected with shifts in philosophical and ideological narratives of modernity. The result is profoundly innovative work—a bold intellectual, cultural, and political history of Ethiopia, with art as its centerpiece.”

    In addition to Adom and Elizabeth the finalists for the 2020 ASA Book Prize included Kamari Maxine Clarke, Affective Justice: The International Criminal Court and the Pan-Africanist Pushback, Duke University Press, 2019; Adeline Masquelier, Fada: Boredom and Belonging in Niger, University of Chicago Press, 2019; and Ndubueze Mbah, Emergent Masculinities: Gendered Power and Social Change in the Biafran Atlantic Age, Ohio University Press, 2019.

    SPOTLIGHT: Two Ethiopians, Adom Getachew & Elizabeth Giorgis, Named Finalists for African Studies Book Prize

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: November 21st, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — Adom Getachew, the author of Worldmaking after Empire, and Elizabeth W. Giorgis, the writer of Modernist Art in Ethiopia, have been named finalists for this year’s African Studies Association (ASA) book prize.

    The organization said the award — which will be formally announced on November 21st during its virtual annual meeting — “recognizes the most important scholarly work in African studies published in English and distributed in the United States during the preceding year. The ASA began awarding the prize in 1965.”

    In her book entitled Worldmaking after Empire: The Rise and Fall of Self-Determination that was published by Princeton University Press in 2019, Adom Getachew shows how prominent Black scholars and leaders of the twentieth century such as W.E.B Du Bois, George Padmore, Kwame Nkrumah, Eric Williams, Michael Manley, Julius Nyerere and others had aimed to reshape the international paradigm in respect to race-relations globally beyond post-colonial self-determination and nation-building. The Princeton University Press notes: “Using archival sources from Barbados, Trinidad, Ghana, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom, Worldmaking after Empire recasts the history of decolonization, reconsiders the failure of anticolonial nationalism, and offers a new perspective on debates about today’s international order.”

    And Elizabeth Giorgis’ book Modernist Art in Ethiopia, “explores the varied precedents of the country’s political and intellectual history to understand the ways in which the import and range of visual narratives were mediated across different moments, and to reveal the conditions that account for the extraordinary dynamism of the visual arts in Ethiopia,” states the Ohio University Press, which published the book last year. “In locating its arguments at the intersection of visual culture and literary and performance studies, Modernist Art in Ethiopia details how innovations in visual art intersected with shifts in philosophical and ideological narratives of modernity. The result is profoundly innovative work—a bold intellectual, cultural, and political history of Ethiopia, with art as its centerpiece.”

    Additional finalists for the 2020 ASA Book Prize include Kamari Maxine Clarke, Affective Justice: The International Criminal Court and the Pan-Africanist Pushback, Duke University Press, 2019; Adeline Masquelier, Fada: Boredom and Belonging in Niger, University of Chicago Press, 2019; and Ndubueze Mbah, Emergent Masculinities: Gendered Power and Social Change in the Biafran Atlantic Age, Ohio University Press, 2019.

    According to its website: “Established in 1957, the African Studies Association is the flagship membership organization devoted to enhancing the exchange of information about Africa. With almost 2,000 individual and institutional members worldwide, the African Studies Association encourages the production and dissemination of knowledge about Africa, past and present. Based in the United States, the ASA supports understanding of an entire continent in each facet of its political, economic, social, cultural, artistic, scientific, and environmental landscape..[and] members include scholars, students, teachers, activists, development professionals, policymakers and donors.”

    You can learn more about the association at africanstudies.org.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Meet The Trailblazing Ethiopian American Office Holders in U.S.

    The highly competitive 2020 U.S. election saw not only an active participation by Ethiopian American voters across the country, but also the growing political power of the community as more Ethiopians were elected into office, including Samra Brouk of New York and Oballa Oballa of Austin, Minnesota. (Courtesy photos)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: November 13th, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — As Ethiopian Americans we can all breathe a sigh of relief now that the 2020 U.S. election is behind us. This year’s highly competitive election saw not only an active participation by Ethiopian American voters across the country, but also the growing political power of the community as more Ethiopians were elected into office including Samra Brouk, a daughter of Ethiopian immigrants, who won a seat in the New York State Senate and Oballa Oballa, a refugee from Gambella, Ethiopia who captured a City Council seat in Austin, Minnesota.

    Samra and Oballa — who both became the first Black candidates to win their respective races — follow in the footsteps of other trailblazers such as Assemblyman Alexander Assefa of Nevada who two years ago became the first Ethiopian American to be elected into a statewide office; Judge Nina Ashenafi Richardson of Florida, the first Ethiopian-American judge in the United States who was re-elected to a third term this year; and Girmay Zahilay, a Councilman in King County, Washington, as well as the late Mike Mekonnen who served as Councilor for the city of Chelsea, Massachusetts for more than a decade.

    Below are the bios of the current Ethiopian American office holders in the United States:

    Judge Nina Ashenafi Richardson


    Judge Nina Ashenafi Richardson has served as a Leon County Judge in Tallahassee, Florida since 2008. (Photo: Tallahassee Democrat)

    Judge Nina Ashenafi Richardson, who is the first Ethiopian-American judge in the United States, was re-elected to a third term in 2020. Born in Ethiopia, Nina came to the U.S. as a young girl. She was raised by her late father Professor Ashenafi Kebede, the renowned Ethiopian composer and musicologist, who was the Founder and first Director of the Saint Yared School of Music in Ethiopia. According to her bio: “Judge Nina Ashenafi Richardson has served as a Leon County Judge in Tallahassee, Florida since 2008. Prior to her election, she spent the majority of her career representing teachers and university faculty as in-house counsel with the Florida Education Association and as adjunct faculty at Barry University’s Tallahassee campus. She has distinguished herself as a first in many categories, including as the first Ethiopian-American judge in the United States and the first African-American elected president of the Tallahassee Women Lawyers and the Tallahassee Bar Association. She is also a former president of the William H. Stafford American Inn of Court. The Conference of County Court Judges of Florida awarded her the Distinguished Leadership Award in 2016, and she was also the recipient of the Florida Bar’s 2019 Distinguished Judicial Service Award.”

    Assemblyman Alexander Assefa


    Assemblyman Alexander Assefa was elected to the Nevada state Assembly, where he has been representing the 42nd district since November 7, 2018. (Courtesy photo)

    Assemblyman Alexander Assefa is the first Ethiopian-American elected to a state-wide office in the United States and the first African immigrant to serve in elected office in the State of Nevada. According to his bio: “Alex was born and grew up in Ethiopia. While still a teenager, he was subject to life as a refugee in Kenya. In Nairobi, he had the opportunity to root himself in the Christian faith while he lived where refugees are not always welcomed, often faced persecution and intolerance. Harbored in his church family, he avidly studied the bible. He then went on to serve his fellow refugees in various roles in the church, including in the choir, as audio/video technician and a bible study leader at several locations in Nairobi. In the year 2000, Alex immigrated to the United States and was resettled in Alexandria, VA. He learned English as his third language and attended TC Williams High School. Alex attended flight school at Averett University in Danville, VA and became a pilot. He continued his education to earn a Political Science degree. He moved and permanently settled in Las Vegas, Nevada in 2006.”

    Girmay Zahilay, a Councilman in King County, Washington


    Girmay Hadish Zahilay, born May 6, 1987, is an Ethiopian-American attorney who serves as a member of the King County Council in Seattle, Washington. He was elected in 2019. (Photo: The Daily)

    Girmay Zahilay is a Councilman in King County, Washington. Per his bio: “The son of Ethiopian refugees, Zahilay moved from Sudan to South Seattle at the age of three. His family spent some time in a Union Gospel Mission homeless shelter before bouncing between a number of Seattle’s public housing projects. He graduated from Stanford University and went on to earn a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania. Later on, he interned at the White House during the Obama administration, worked for the Congressional Hunger Center in Washington D.C. and at a corporate law firm in New York, and founded Rising Leaders, a nonprofit that partners with middle schools across the nation to give underserved students access to mentorship opportunities and leadership training.” He was elected in 2019 as a member of the King County Council from District 2 in Seattle, Washington.

    Samra Brouk, New York State Senator-elect


    Samra Brouk was elected in 2020 to represent NYS 55th district in the New York State Senate. (Courtesy photo)

    Samra Brouk was elected as a New York State Senator representing the 55th district, one of 63 districts in the New York State Senate, during the 2020 election. Samra, a daughter of Ethiopian immigrants, is the first Black woman to win her seat. According to her bio: “Samra was born in Rochester, New York and raised in the suburbs of Monroe County. After serving in the Peace Corps, she worked for organizations that protect the environment, help seniors age in place, and address education inequities.” Samra who credits her parents for her decision to go into public service says her father “fled his home country of Ethiopia during the civil war, overcoming major cultural and financial barriers to earn his degrees in math and engineering here in Western New York. She adds: “From my parents, I learned the importance of education, hard work, and the need to be resourceful when faced with obstacles.”

    Oballa Oballa, newly elected city council member in Austin, Minnesota.


    Oballa Oballa, who fled genocide in Gambella, Ethiopia 17 years ago, is a newly elected city council member in Austin, Minnesota. (Photo: Courtesy of Oballa Oballa)

    Oballa Oballa, a refugee from Gambella, Ethiopia, is the first Black city council member in Austin, Minnesota. He won his seat during the 2020 U.S. election. According to the website Africans in America, Oballa who became a naturalized citizen less than one year ago, made history this election by winning a city council seat in southeast Minnesota. On the campaign trail and in interviews, Oballa described a dramatic personal history. His family fled Gambella, Ethiopia, in 2003, following what he describes as a genocidal attack on his community. They spent the next 10 years living in Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camp. In 2013, the family moved to the U.S., and by 2015, Oballa had settled in Austin.”

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Ethiopia Congratulates President-elect Joe Biden & VP-elect Kamala Harris

    In a Twitter post Prime Minster Abiy Ahmed joined other world leaders in expressing his good wishes for the newly elected leadership in the United States. (Photo: Courtesy of the Biden Campaign)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: November 9th, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopia has congratulated President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on their landmark U.S. election victory.

    In a Twitter post on Saturday Prime Minster Abiy Ahmed joined other world leaders in expressing his good wishes for the newly elected leadership in the United States.

    “My congratulations to US President-elect Joe Biden and and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris on your historic election win,” PM Abiy wrote. “Ethiopia looks forward to working closely with you.”

    Ethiopia’s ambassador to U.S. Fitsum Arega added: “Congratulations US for being a shining example of democracy in action to the world. We should all learn in Africa that in genuine democracy every vote counts, every voice must be heard!”

    As USA Today noted: “International messages of congratulation started rolling in Saturday for U.S. President-elect Joe Biden after he was projected the winner of the presidential election over President Donald Trump. International allies contemplated a new White House that has raised the prospect of resuming a form of business as usual: a more fact-driven, multilateralist American presidency that wants to build bridges, not burn them.”

    Related: ‘Welcome back, America’: World congratulates Joe Biden »

    Watch: President-elect Joe Biden’s full acceptance speech

    Ethio-American Samra Brouk Wins New York’s 55th Senate District


    Samra Brouk, a daughter of Ethiopian immigrants, defeated Republican Christopher Missick becoming the first Black woman to win the seat that’s currently held by New York State Senator Rich Funke, who announced last year that he wouldn’t run for another term. (Courtesy photo)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: November 8th, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — Democrat Samra Brouk has won the race for the New York State Senate’s 55th district, one of 63 districts in the New York State Senate.

    Samra, a daughter of Ethiopian immigrants, defeated Republican Christopher Missick becoming the first Black woman to win the seat that’s currently held by New York State Senator Rich Funke, who announced last year that he wouldn’t run for another term.

    The nonprofit organization New American Leaders, which recruits people of immigrant heritage to run for elected office in the United States, highlighted Samra in a social media post noting that “With Kamala Harris’ victory and the wins of hundreds of down-ballot New American candidates like Samra Brouk in New York, Marvin Lim in Georgia and Nida Allam in North Carolina, people like us have broken the mold of what it looks like to run, win, and lead.”

    Samra who was born and raised in Rochester New York credits her parents — a public school teacher and a civil engineer — for her decision to go into public service. “My father fled his home country of Ethiopia during the civil war, overcoming major cultural and financial barriers to earn his degrees in math and engineering here in Western New York,” Samra states on her campaign website. “From my parents, I learned the importance of education, hard work, and the need to be resourceful when faced with obstacles.”

    She adds:

    As a high school student, I spoke out against unfair testing practices. While at Williams College, where I worked three jobs to pay my tuition, I organized a group volunteer trip to Biloxi, Mississippi. We did everything from removing mold from homes damaged by Hurricane Katrina to helping community clinics navigate FEMA in order to rebuild.

    After graduating from Williams College with a Bachelors in Psychology and a minor in Spanish, I joined the U.S. Peace Corps where I volunteered in rural Guatemala as a health education specialist for two years. Upon returning home, like many of our young people, I was faced with limited job prospects. I was given an opportunity to help the Town of Brookhaven adopt a recycling education program for their population of nearly 500,000 people. I spent the following four years partnering with mayors and municipal leaders across the Northeast to adopt recycling education programs.

    Following that, I joined the largest global member organization for young people, DoSomething.org, to mobilize millions of young people as social change advocates. Later, I helped start Umbrella, a start-up that used technology to keep seniors safe in their homes by connecting them with affordable and community-driven home care. Most recently, I drove fundraising efforts for Chalkbeat, the fastest growing grassroots journalism organization, supporting their work reporting on inequities in the public school system.

    I currently live in Rochester, NY with my husband, Brian, who works with court-involved young people.

    New York’s 55th Senate District is a sprawling geography–starting down in the Finger Lakes, up through Rush, Mendon, Pittsford, Perinton, Fairport, Penfield, East Rochester, Irondequoit, and the East Side of the City of Rochester.

    My experiences around the state and the country have given me a broad perspective on what’s possible for our region. Now it’s time to bring all that I’ve learned and the relationships I’ve built to the community I love and call home.

    Together we can create a more just, sustainable and inclusive community. Western New York is my forever home. It deserves real leadership.

    Let’s do this!

    Congratulations to Samra Brouk!

    Oballa Oballa: Ethiopian Refugee Wins City Council Election in Austin, Minnesota


    Soon after moving to Austin, Minnesota, Oballa Oballa [whose family fled Gambella, Ethiopia, in 2003] walked into the mayor’s office and asked if there was anything he could do for the city. He just became Austin’s first Black city council member. (Photo: Courtesy of Oballa Oballa)

    Sahan Journal

    Oballa Oballa, a refugee from Ethiopia, wins historic city council election in Austin; becomes city’s first Black elected official.

    Oballa Oballa, a former refugee from Ethiopia who became a naturalized citizen less than one year ago, made history this election by winning a city council seat in the southeast Minnesota city of Austin.

    As of Wednesday afternoon, Oballa, 27, held a 14 percent lead over candidate Helen Jahr and declared victory. Oballa, who had been campaigning for the seat since the beginning of the year, said he is the first person of color to win elected office in Austin.

    On the campaign trail and in interviews, Oballa described a dramatic personal history. His family fled Gambella, Ethiopia, in 2003, following what he describes as a genocidal attack on his community. They spent the next 10 years living in Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camp. In 2013, the family moved to the U.S., and by 2015, Oballa had settled in Austin.

    Oballa is just one example of how immigrant communities are shaping Minnesota politics well beyond the Twin Cities, and are now starting to win seats for public office. Oballa said his record of civic engagement earned him voters’ support.

    “This makes me feel great, it makes me feel really happy and proud,” he said. “My work, I think, will still give hope to refugees who think the American dream is dead.”

    He added, “Just seven years ago, [I] was living in a refugee camp and now am officially elected. I think that will give them hope that one day, when they come to America here, they will accomplish whatever they put their mind to.”

    Read more »

    —-

    BIDEN DEFEATS TRUMP! USA CELEBRATES

    The Washington Post

    Joe Biden triumphs over Trump, prompting celebration across the U.S. and congratulations from abroad

    Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. was elected the nation’s 46th president Saturday in a repudiation of President Trump powered by legions of women and minority voters who rejected his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and his divisive, bullying conduct in office.

    Biden’s victory, the culmination of four years of struggle for Democrats, came after a hotly contested election in which it took four days for a winner to be declared after the former vice president was projected to win a series of battleground states, the latest of which was the state where he was born, Pennsylvania.

    Voters also made history in electing as vice president Kamala Devi Harris, 56, a senator from California and daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants who will become the country’s first woman, first Black person and first Asian American to hold the No. 2 job.


    Joe Biden will become the 46th president of the United States after a victory in the state where he was born (Pennsylvania) put him over the 270 electoral votes needed to win. In New York City, spontaneous block parties broke out. People ran out of their buildings, banging on pots. They danced and high-fived with strangers amid honking horns. (AP photo)

    In a statement released Saturday, Biden said he is “honored and humbled” to be the victor in an election in which “a record number of Americans voted.” He said he and Harris looked forward to working on the nation’s many challenges.

    “With the campaign over, it’s time to put the anger and the harsh rhetoric behind us and come together as a nation,” Biden said in the statement, in which his campaign referred to him as “President-elect Joe Biden” for the first time. “It’s time for America to unite. And to heal. We are the United States of America. And there’s nothing we can’t do, if we do it together.”

    WATCH LIVE: Biden’s win sparks street celebrations around the country

    Harris, in a tweet sent after the result was announced, said the election was about more than the Democratic team.

    “It’s about the soul of America and our willingness to fight for it,” she said. “We have a lot of work ahead of us. Let’s get started.”

    Read more »

    Related:

    Video: Tadias Panel Discussion on Civic Engagement and Voter Mobilization


    On Sunday, October 25th, Tadias Magazine hosted a timely virtual panel discussion on civic engagement and voter mobilization featuring a new generation of Ethiopian American leaders from various professions. You can watch the video below. (Photos: Tadias Magazine)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: October 28th, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — The U.S. presidential election is only one week away and Tadias hosted a timely and lively discussion on building political power through civic engagement and voter mobilization on Sunday, October 25th featuring a new generation of Ethiopian American leaders from various professions. You can watch the video below.

    Panelists included Henock Dory, who currently serves as Special Assistant to former President Barack Obama; Tefere Gebre, Executive Vice President of the AFL-CIO; Selam Mulugeta Washington, a former Field Organizer with Obama for America, Helen Mesfin from the Helen Show DC, Dr. Menna Demessie, Vice President of Policy Analysis & Research at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation; Helen Amelga, President of the Ethiopian Democratic Club of Los Angeles (moderator) as well as Bemnet Meshesha and Helen Eshete of the Habeshas Vote initiative. The event opened with poetry reading by Bitaniya Giday, the 2020-2021 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate.

    Ethiopian Americans are as diverse as mainstream America when it comes to our perspectives on various social and political issues, but despite our differences we are all united when it comes to the need to
    empower ourselves and participate in the democratic process through our citizenship rights to vote and run for office.

    So vote on November 3rd.

    Related:

    ‘Habeshas Vote’ Phone Banking Event This Week Aims Outreach to Ethio-Americans


    (Photo courtesy of Habesha Networks)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Published: October 19th, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — We are now almost two weeks away from the November 3rd U.S. presidential election. This week the ‘Habeshas Vote’ initiative and the non-profit organization Habesha Networks in partnership with Tadias Magazine and Abbay Media will host their first virtual phone banking event to reach out to the Ethiopian American community.

    The online event, which is set to take place on Thursday, October 22nd from 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM EDT, will feature various panel discussions, public service announcements and cultural engagements.

    Organizers note that there will be a brief training on phone banking as well as “some amazing prizes” for those that call and text the most voters.

    If You Attend:

    Click here to lean more and RSVP.

    —-

    Related:

    Ethiopian-Americans for Biden-Harris Hosts Virtual Conversation


    Ethiopian-Americans for Biden-Harris is a volunteer-led group that supports the candidacy of Former Vice-President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris. (Courtesy photo)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: October 19th, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — As the highly anticipated 2020 U.S. presidential election fast approaches on November 3rd, various Ethiopian American associations are organizing voter turnout and education events across the country.

    The latest to announce such an event is the newly formed, volunteer-led group, Ethiopian-Americans for Biden-Harris, which supports the candidacy of Former Vice-President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris and will be hosting an online conversation next week Friday, October 23 at 6:00 PM EDT/3:00 PM PDT.

    “As one of the largest African Diaspora groups in the United States, the community has historically supported causes championed by the Democratic Party, including but not limited to, immigration reform, healthcare reform, promotion of democracy, human rights and improved trade and investment between the United States and Ethiopia,” the group states in its press release. “Ethiopian-Americans believe that a Biden-Harris Administration will champion equitable access and opportunity for all Americans, restore mutually beneficial relationships with Ethiopia and improve America’s standing among the community of nations.”


    (Courtesy photo)

    The virtual event, which will be moderated by Dr. Menna Demessie, Senior Vice President of Policy Analysis & Research at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, features Congresswoman Karen Bass, who has represented California’s 37th congressional district since 2013; Representative Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas; Gayle Smith, president and CEO of the One Campaign and the former administrator of the United States Agency for International Development; and Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, a Senior Vice President at Albright Stonebridge Group (ASG) leading the firm’s Africa practice. Thomas-Greenfield was also the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs in the United States Department of State’s Bureau of African Affairs from 2013 to 2017.

    Ethiopian American speakers include Assemblyman Alexander Assefa, the first Ethiopian-American elected to public office in the United States and the first African immigrant to serve in elected office in the State of Nevada; Addisu Demissie, who served as Senior Advisor to U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden, and was responsible for organizing the nominating convention for the Democratic Party this past summer; Marcus Samuelsson, an award-winning chef, restaurateur, cookbook author, philanthropist and food activist; Mimi Alemayehou, a development finance executive who has served as Executive Vice President of the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation and as United States Executive Director of the African Development Bank.

    If You Attend

    Click here to RSVP now staring $25.

    Learn more at www.ethiopiansforbidenharris.com.

    Related:

    Ethiopian Americans: Election is Approaching, Let’s Make Sure our Voices are Heard


    In this OP-ED Helen Amelga, President of the Ethiopian Democratic Club of Los Angeles, urges Ethiopian Americans to participate in the upcoming U.S. election that will directly impact our lives for many years to come, and shares resources to help our community to get involved in the democratic process. (Courtesy photo)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Helen Amelga

    Updated: October 16th, 2020

    Los Angeles (TADIAS) — How many people of Ethiopian descent live in the United States? 300,000? 400,000? 500,000? We don’t really know for sure. But with the 2020 census, we will for the first time have the opportunity to get a truly accurate count. If you haven’t done so already, go to 2020cencus.gov and complete your census today.

    While the exact numbers are yet to be determined, it is clear that there is a significant Ethiopian-American population in the United States. Why is it then that we do not have a strong political presence?

    We know our community can organize. We have Iqub (እቁብ), mahbers (ማህበር), business associations, and our faith based groups are extremely organized. We need to use those same skills to mobilize politically.

    We must equip ourselves with the knowledge of political systems, major policies and voter rights, not only to serve as advocates for our community, but so that we ourselves can occupy positions of power and authority to be the decision makers who shape the society and world we want to live in.

    We know it’s possible because we already have trailblazers such as Assemblyman Alexander Assefa, the first Ethiopian American to be elected into office in the Nevada Legislature and the first Ethiopian American ever elected in the U.S. to a state-wide governing body as well as Judge Nina Ashenafi Richardson of Florida, who is the first Ethiopian-American judge in the United States who was re-elected to a third term his year.

    We cannot afford to give our vote away to candidates who are not serving our needs. We are ready to spring into action when there is a problem in our community, but it is not enough to go to our elected officials once we have a problem and try to convince them to help us. We need to be proactive.

    We must purposefully engage to get the right people elected in the first place. We must identify candidates who align with and will fight for our values. Then, we must do everything we can to make sure those candidates are elected.

    Here are a few steps you can take to get involved:

    1. Register to vote

    2. Request a vote by mail ballot today

    3. Reach out to 5 friends and make sure they’re registered to vote

    4. Research your candidates & ballot measures

    5. Volunteers to phone bank for a campaign

    6. Sign up to be a poll worker on election day

    The November 3rd general election is fast approaching. Let’s make sure our voices are heard.

    Related:

    Interview: Helen Amelga, Founder of Ethiopian Democratic Club of LA

    Interview With Addisu Demissie: Senior Adviser to Joe Biden

    Biden Selects Yohannes Abraham as Member of Transition Team


    Related:

    Election 2020 – The Youth Vote Event In Seattle


    Bitaniya Giday, age 17, is the 2020-2021 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate. She is a first-generation Ethiopian American residing in Seattle. Bitaniya is one of the young interviewers in a timely upcoming Zoom event on October 14th titled “The Youth Vote: A conversation about leadership, ethics and values and how they factor into choosing a candidate.” (KNKX PUBLIC RADIO)

    KNKX PUBLIC RADIO

    Young people make up a projected 37% of the 2020 electorate, yet historically they vote less than other age groups. Will it be different this time? The pandemic crisis and the call for racial justice and institutional changes are top concerns as we move closer to this high stakes election. Ethics and values also underpin our decisions. This virtual event aims to bring together first-time and new voters with older adults with a track record of civic leadership to discuss a number of issues through the lens of beliefs and values, touching on things like:

    What does it mean to be a leader?
    In thorny situations, how do you speak for a community?
    If there are three important issues facing your community and you only have enough resources to address one, how would you choose?

    Because this is leading up to the general election, we want to frame this conversation around the power to change systems for the greater good and how that ties in with being an informed voter.

    The six young interviewers will ask the four speakers questions relating to the themes of conflict/failure, challenges, accountability, transparency, priorities and representation, with the speakers drawing on their personal and professional experiences; and offering examples of how they have faced challenging situations and how that speaks to leadership and community building.

    Young Interviewers

    Bitaniya Giday, age 17, is the 2020-2021 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate. She is a first-generation Ethiopian American residing in Seattle. Her writing explores the nuances of womanhood and blackness, as she reflects upon her family’s path of immigration across the world. She hopes to restore and safeguard the past, present, and future histories of her people through traditional storytelling and poetry.

    Read more »

    Related:

    Ethiopian Americans Hold Virtual Town Hall Ahead of November Election


    The nationwide town hall event, which will be held on Thursday, September 24th, 2020 plans to emphasize the importance of exercising our citizenship right to vote and to participate in the U.S. democratic process. The gathering will feature panel discussions, PSAs, and cultural engagements. (Courtesy photos)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: September 23rd, 2020

    Los Angeles (TADIAS) — Ethiopian Americans are holding a virtual town hall this week ahead of the November 3rd U.S. election.

    The nationwide event, which will be held on Thursday, September 24th, will emphasize the importance of exercising our citizenship right to vote and to participate in the U.S. democratic process.

    According to organizers the town hall — put together by the ‘Habeshas Vote’ initiative and the non-profit organization Habesha Networks — will feature various panel discussions, public service announcements and cultural engagements.

    “We intend on discussing various subject matters related to civic engagement issues affecting our community at the moment,” the announcement notes, highlighting that by the end of the conference “participants will be able to understand the importance of taking ownership of our local communities, learn more about the voting process and gain a better [appreciation] of why we should all care about voting.”

    Speakers include Helen Amelga, President of the Ethiopian Democratic Club of Los Angeles; Dr. Menna Demissie, Senior Vice President of Policy Analysis & Research at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation; Assemblyman Alexander Assefa, the first Ethiopian American to be elected into office in the Nevada Legislature and the first Ethiopian American ever elected in the U.S. to a state-wide governing body; Judge Nina Ashenafi Richardson of Florida, who is the first Ethiopian-American judge in the United States who was re-elected to a third term this year; and Girmay Zahilay, Councilman in King County, Washington.


    (Courtesy photos)

    Additional presenters include: Andom Ghebreghiorgis. former Congressional candidate from New York; Samuel Gebru, former candidate for City Council in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and current managing director of Black Lion Strategies; as well as Hannah Joy Gebresilassie, journalist and community advocate; and Debbie Almraw, writer and poet.

    Entertainment will be provided by Elias Aragaw, the artist behind @TheFunkIsReal, and DJ Sammy Sam.

    The announcement notes that “voting is a core principle of being American, but to exercise this basic right we must be registered to vote! That’s why Habesha Networks and Habeshas Vote are proud partners of When We All Vote and supporters of National Voter Registration Day.”

    Watch: Students Interview Kamala Harris (U.S. ELECTION UPDATE)


    Fana R. Haileselassie, a student at Spelman College in Atlanta, asks Sen. Kamala Harris a question during a virtual Q&A hosted by BET featuring the Democratic nominee for Vice President and students discussing the interests of millennial voters. (Photo: BETNetworks)

    BET News Special

    HBCU Students Interview Kamala Harris

    A virtual Q&A hosted by Terrence J featuring Democratic nominee for Vice President Sen. Kamala Harris and HBCU students discussing the interests of millennial voters.

    Watch: Sen. Kamala Harris Answers HBCU Students’ Questions About Voting, Student Loan Debt & More

    Related:

    Virginia’s Era as a Swing State Appears to be Over


    President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama wave after a campaign event in May 2012 in Richmond. (Getty Images)

    The Washington Post

    Updated: September 18th, 2020

    No TV ads, no presidential visits: Virginia’s era as a swing state appears to be over

    Barack Obama held the very last rally of his 2008 campaign in Virginia, the longtime Republican stronghold he flipped on his way to the White House.

    Four years later, Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney made more visits and aired more television ads here than nearly anywhere else. And in 2016, Donald Trump staged rally after rally in the Old Dominion while Hillary Clinton picked a Virginian as her running mate.

    But Virginia isn’t getting the swing-state treatment this time around. As in-person early voting got underway Friday, President Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden were dark on broadcast television. Super PACs were clogging somebody else’s airwaves. Even as Trump and Biden have resumed limited travel amid the coronavirus pandemic, neither has stumped in the Old Dominion.

    There’s really no discussion about the state being in play,” said Amy Walter, national editor of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. “If you’re Ohio or New Hampshire, or Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, you’ve always been in that spotlight. Virginia got it for such a short period of time.”

    The last time presidential candidates stayed out of Virginia and off its airwaves was 2004. The state was reliably red then, having backed Republicans for the White House every year since 1968. Now Virginia seems to be getting the cold shoulder because it’s considered solidly blue.

    “Virginia was the belle of the ball in 2008, and again in 2012, and still once more in 2016, but in 2020, the commonwealth is a wall flower,” said Stephen Farnsworth, a University of Mary Washington political scientist.

    Read more »

    Related:

    Virginians come out in force to cast ballots on the first day of early voting

    Mike Bloomberg to spend at least $100 million in Florida to benefit Joe Biden


    Former NYC mayor Mike Bloomberg plans to spend at least $100 million to help elect Joe Biden, a massive late-stage infusion of cash that could reshape the presidential contest. (Getty Images)

    The Washington Post

    Updated: September 13th, 2020

    Former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg plans to spend at least $100 million in Florida to help elect Democrat Joe Biden, a massive late-stage infusion of cash that could reshape the presidential contest in a costly toss-up state central to President Trump’s reelection hopes.

    Bloomberg made the decision to focus his final election spending on Florida last week, after news reports that Trump had considered spending as much as $100 million of his own money in the final weeks of the campaign, Bloomberg’s advisers said. Presented with several options on how to make good on an earlier promise to help elect Biden, Bloomberg decided that a narrow focus on Florida was the best use of his money.

    The president’s campaign has long treated the state, which Trump now calls home, as a top priority, and his advisers remain confident in his chances given strong turnout in 2016 and 2018 that gave Republicans narrow winning margins in statewide contests.

    Watch: Former 2020 presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg slammed Trump during his Democratic National Convention speech on Aug. 20.

    Bloomberg’s aim is to prompt enough early voting that a pro-Biden result would be evident soon after the polls close.

    Read more »

    Related:

    Biden Leads by 9 Percentage Points in Pennsylvania (ELECTION UPDATE)


    In the survey, Biden, who was born in the state, draws the support of 53 percent of likely voters, compared to 44 percent who back Trump. (Reuters photo)

    The Washington Post

    Updated: September 9, 2020

    Biden Leads by 9 Percentage Points in Pennsylvania, Poll Finds

    Joe Biden leads President Trump by nine percentage points among likely voters in Pennsylvania, a key battleground state that Trump narrowly won four years ago, according to a new NBC News-Marist poll.

    In the survey, Biden, who was born in the state, draws the support of 53 percent of likely voters, compared to 44 percent who back Trump.

    In 2016, Trump carried Pennsylvania by less than one percentage point over Democrat Hillary Clinton.

    The NBC-Marist poll shows Biden getting a boost from suburban voters, who side with him by nearly 20 percentage points, 58 percent to 39 percent. In 2016, Trump won suburban voters in Pennsylvania by about eight points, according to exit polls.


    Supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden stand outside the AFL-CIO headquarters in Harrisburg, Pa., on Monday. (Getty Images)

    The poll also finds the candidates are tied at 49 percent among white voters in Pennsylvania, a group that Trump won by double digits in 2016. Biden leads Trump among nonwhite voters, 75 percent to 19 percent.

    Pennsylvania has been a frequent destination for both campaigns in recent weeks. Vice President Pence has events scheduled there on Wednesday.

    Kamala D. Harris Goes Viral — for Her Shoe Choice


    Sporting Chuck Taylor sneakers, Democratic vice-presidential candidate Sen. Kamala D. Harris (Calif.) greets supporters Monday in Milwaukee. (AP photo)

    The Washington Post

    Updated: September 8, 2020

    It took roughly eight seconds of on-the-ground campaigning for the first Black woman to be nominated on a major party’s ticket to go viral.

    At first glance, little seemed noteworthy as Sen. Kamala D. Harris deplaned in Milwaukee on Monday. She was wearing a mask. She didn’t trip. Instead, what sent video pinging around the Internet was what was on her feet: her black, low-rise Chuck Taylor All-Stars, the classic Converse shoe that has long been associated more closely with cultural cool than carefully managed high-profile candidacies.

    By Tuesday morning, videos by two reporters witnessing her arrival had been viewed nearly 8 million times on Twitter — for comparison’s sake, more than four times the attention the campaign’s biggest planned video event, a conversation between Joe Biden and Barack Obama, had received on both Twitter and YouTube combined.

    Harris’s sister, Maya, tweeted Monday that Chuck Taylors are, indeed, her sister’s “go-to.” A few hours later, Harris’s official campaign account tweeted the video with the caption “laced up and ready to win.”

    Read more »

    81 American Nobel Laureates Endorse Biden for Next U.S. President


    The Nobel laureates in physics, chemistry and medicine “wholeheartedly” endorsed the Democratic nominee in an open letter released Wednesday. “At no time in our nation’s history has there been a greater need for our leaders to appreciate the value of science in formulating public policy,” they said. (Courtesy photo)

    Press Release

    Nobel Laureates endorse Joe Biden

    81 American Nobel Laureates in Physics, Chemistry, and Medicine have signed this letter to express their support for former Vice President Joe Biden in the 2020 election for President of the United States.

    At no time in our nation’s history has there been a greater need for our leaders to appreciate the value of science in formulating public policy. During his long record of public service, Joe Biden has consistently demonstrated his willingness to listen to experts, his understanding of the value of international collaboration in research, and his respect for the contribution that immigrants make to the intellectual life of our country.

    As American citizens and as scientists, we wholeheartedly endorse Joe Biden for President.

    Name, Category, Prize Year:

    Peter Agre Chemistry 2003
    Sidney Altman Chemistry 1989
    Frances H. Arnold Chemistry 2018
    Paul Berg Chemistry 1980
    Thomas R. Cech Chemistry 1989
    Martin Chalfie Chemistry 2008
    Elias James Corey Chemistry 1990
    Joachim Frank Chemistry 2017
    Walter Gilbert Chemistry 1980
    John B. Goodenough Chemistry 2019
    Alan Heeger Chemistry 2000
    Dudley R. Herschbach Chemistry 1986
    Roald Hoffmann Chemistry 1981
    Brian K. Kobilka Chemistry 2012
    Roger D. Kornberg Chemistry 2006
    Robert J. Lefkowitz Chemistry 2012
    Roderick MacKinnon Chemistry 2003
    Paul L. Modrich Chemistry 2015
    William E. Moerner Chemistry 2014
    Mario J. Molina Chemistry 1995
    Richard R. Schrock Chemistry 2005
    K. Barry Sharpless Chemistry 2001
    Sir James Fraser Stoddart Chemistry 2016
    M. Stanley Whittingham Chemistry 2019
    James P. Allison Medicine 2018
    Richard Axel Medicine 2004
    David Baltimore Medicine 1975
    J. Michael Bishop Medicine 1989
    Elizabeth H. Blackburn Medicine 2009
    Michael S. Brown Medicine 1985
    Linda B. Buck Medicine 2004
    Mario R. Capecchi Medicine 2007
    Edmond H. Fischer Medicine 1992
    Joseph L. Goldstein Medicine 1985
    Carol W. Greider Medicine 2009
    Jeffrey Connor Hall Medicine 2017
    Leland H. Hartwell Medicine 2001
    H. Robert Horvitz Medicine 2002
    Louis J. Ignarro Medicine 1998
    William G. Kaelin Jr. Medicine 2019
    Eric R. Kandel Medicine 2000
    Craig C. Mello Medicine 2006
    John O’Keefe Medicine 2014
    Michael Rosbash Medicine 2017
    James E. Rothman Medicine 2013
    Randy W. Schekman Medicine 2013
    Gregg L. Semenza Medicine 2019
    Hamilton O. Smith Medicine 1978
    Thomas C. Sudhof Medicine 2013
    Jack W. Szostak Medicine 2009
    Susumu Tonegawa Medicine 1987
    Harold E. Varmus Medicine 1989
    Eric F. Wieschaus Medicine 1995
    Torsten N. Wiesel Medicine 1981
    Michael W. Young Medicine 2017
    Barry Clark Barish Physics 2017
    Steven Chu Physics 1997
    Jerome I. Friedman Physics 1990
    Sheldon Glashow Physics 1979
    David J. Gross Physics 2004
    John L. Hall Physics 2005
    Wolfgang Ketterle Physics 2001
    J. Michael Kosterlitz Physics 2016
    Herbert Kroemer Physics 2000
    Robert B. Laughlin Physics 1998
    Anthony J. Leggett Physics 2003
    John C. Mather Physics 2006
    Shuji Nakamura Physics 2014
    Douglas D. Osheroff Physics 1996
    James Peebles Physics 2019
    Arno Penzias Physics 1978
    Saul Perlmutter Physics 2011
    H. David Politzer Physics 2004
    Brian P. Schmidt Physics 2011
    Joseph H. Taylor Jr. Physics 1993
    Kip Stephen Thorne Physics 2017
    Daniel C. Tsui Physics 1998
    Rainer Weiss Physics 2017
    Frank Wilczek Physics 2004
    Robert Woodrow Wilson Physics 1978
    David J. Wineland Physics 2012

    Related

    Biden Calls Trump ‘a Toxic Presence’ Who is Encouraging Violence in America


    “Donald Trump has been a toxic presence in our nation for four years,” Biden said. “Will we rid ourselves of this toxin? (Photo: Joe Biden speaks Monday in Pittsburgh/Reuters)

    The Washington Post

    Joe Biden excoriated President Trump on Monday as a threat to the safety of all Americans, saying he has encouraged violence in the nation’s streets even as he has faltered in handling the coronavirus pandemic.

    For his most extensive remarks since violent protests have escalated across the country in recent days, Biden traveled to Pittsburgh and struck a centrist note, condemning both the destruction in the streets and Trump for creating a culture that he said has exacerbated it.

    “I want to be very clear about all of this: Rioting is not protesting. Looting is not protesting. Setting fires is not protesting,” Biden said. “It’s lawlessness, plain and simple. And those who do it should be prosecuted.”

    The former vice president also rejected the caricature that Trump and his allies have painted of him as someone who holds extremist views and has helped fuel the anger in urban centers across the country.

    “You know me. You know my heart. You know my story, my family’s story,” Biden said. “Ask yourself: Do I look like a radical socialist with a soft spot for rioters? Really?”

    While the speech was delivered amid heightened tensions over race and police conduct, Biden did not outline new policies, instead focusing on making a broader condemnation of Trump.

    He called the president a danger to those suffering from the coronavirus, to anyone in search of a job or struggling to pay rent, to voters worried about Russian interference in the upcoming election and to those worried about their own safety amid unrest.

    “Donald Trump wants to ask the question: Who will keep you safer as president? Let’s answer that question,” Biden said. “When I was vice president, violent crime fell 15 percent in this country. We did it without chaos and disorder.”

    Pointing to a nationwide homicide rate rising 26 percent this year, Biden asked, “Do you really feel safer under Donald Trump?”

    “If I were president today, the country would be safer,” Biden said. “And we’d be seeing a lot less violence.”

    It was a marked shift for Biden from his convention speech less than two weeks ago, in which he never named Trump in his remarks. During his speech Monday, he mentioned Trump’s name 32 times.

    “Donald Trump has been a toxic presence in our nation for four years,” Biden said. “Will we rid ourselves of this toxin? Or will we make it a permanent part of our nation’s character?”

    Read more »

    Spotlight: The Unravelling of the Social Fabric in Ethiopia and the U.S.


    As Ethiopian Americans we are increasingly concerned about the decline of civil discourse and the unravelling of the social fabric not only in Ethiopia, but also here in the United States where in the era of Trump and the COVID-19 pandemic politics has also become more and more violent. Below are excerpts and links to two recent articles from The Intercept and The Guardian focusing on the timely topic. (AP photo)

    The Intercept

    August, 29th, 2020

    The Social Fabric of the U.S. Is Fraying Severely, if Not Unravelling: Why, in the world’s richest country, is every metric of mental health pathology rapidly worsening?

    THE YEAR 2020 has been one of the most tumultuous in modern American history. To find events remotely as destabilizing and transformative, one has to go back to the 2008 financial crisis and the 9/11 and anthrax attacks of 2001, though those systemic shocks, profound as they were, were isolated (one a national security crisis, the other a financial crisis) and thus more limited in scope than the multicrisis instability now shaping U.S. politics and culture.

    Since the end of World War II, the only close competitor to the current moment is the multipronged unrest of the 1960s and early 1970s: serial assassinations of political leaders, mass civil rights and anti-war protests, sustained riots, fury over a heinous war in Indochina, and the resignation of a corruption-plagued president.

    But those events unfolded and built upon one another over the course of a decade. By crucial contrast, the current confluence of crises, each of historic significance in their own right — a global pandemic, an economic and social shutdown, mass unemployment, an enduring protest movement provoking increasing levels of violence and volatility, and a presidential election centrally focused on one of the most divisive political figures the U.S. has known who happens to be the incumbent president — are happening simultaneously, having exploded one on top of the other in a matter of a few months.

    Lurking beneath the headlines justifiably devoted to these major stories of 2020 are very troubling data that reflect intensifying pathologies in the U.S. population — not moral or allegorical sicknesses but mental, emotional, psychological and scientifically proven sickness. Many people fortunate enough to have survived this pandemic with their physical health intact know anecdotally — from observing others and themselves — that these political and social crises have spawned emotional difficulties and psychological challenges…

    Much attention is devoted to lamenting the toxicity of our discourse, the hate-driven polarization of our politics, and the fragmentation of our culture. But it is difficult to imagine any other outcome in a society that is breeding so much psychological and emotional pathology by denying to its members the things they most need to live fulfilling lives.

    Read the full article at theintercept.com »

    Ethiopia falls into violence a year after leader’s Nobel peace prize win


    Ethiopia’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, centre, arrives at an African Union summit in Addis Ababa in July. Photograph: AP

    By Jason Burke and Zecharias Zelalem in Addis Ababa

    Sat 29 Aug 2020

    Abiy Ahmed came to power promising radical reform, but 180 people have died amid ethnic unrest in Oromia state

    Ethiopia faces a dangerous cycle of intensifying internal political dissent, ethnic unrest and security crackdowns, observers have warned, after a series of protests in recent weeks highlighted growing discontent with the government of Abiy Ahmed, a Nobel peace prize winner.

    Many western powers welcomed the new approach of Abiy, who took power in 2018 and promised a programme of radical reform after decades of repressive one-party rule, hoping for swift changes in an emerging economic power that plays a key strategic role in a region increasingly contested by Middle Eastern powers and China. He won the peace prize in 2019 for ending a conflict with neighbouring Eritrea.

    The most vocal unrest was in the state of Oromia, where there have been waves of protests since the killing last month of a popular Oromo artist and activist, Haacaaluu Hundeessaa, in Addis Ababa, the capital. An estimated 180 people have died in the violence, some murdered by mobs, others shot by security forces. Houses, factories, businesses, hotels, cars and government offices were set alight or damaged and several thousand people, including opposition leaders, were arrested.

    Further protests last week prompted a new wave of repression and left at least 11 dead. “Oromia is still reeling from the grim weight of tragic killings this year. These grave patterns of abuse should never be allowed to continue,” said Aaron Maasho, a spokesperson for the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission.

    Read more »

    Related:

    ‘How Dare We Not Vote?’ Black Voters Organize After DC March


    People rally at Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington, Friday Aug. 28, 2020, on the 57th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech. Speakers implored attendees to “vote as if our lives depend on it.” (AP Photos)

    The Associated Press

    Updated: August 29th, 2020

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Tears streamed down Brooke Moreland’s face as she watched tens of thousands gather on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to decry systemic racism and demand racial justice in the wake of several police killings of Black Americans.

    But for the Indianapolis mother of three, the fiery speeches delivered Friday at the commemoration of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom also gave way to one central message: Vote and demand change at the ballot box in November.

    “As Black people, a lot of the people who look like us died for us to be able to sit in public, to vote, to go to school and to be able to walk around freely and live our lives,” the 31-year-old Moreland said. “Every election is an opportunity, so how dare we not vote after our ancestors fought for us to be here?”

    That determination could prove critical in a presidential election where race is emerging as a flashpoint. President Donald Trump, at this past week’s Republican National Convention, emphasized a “law and order” message aimed at his largely white base of supporters. His Democratic rival, Joe Biden, has expressed empathy with Black victims of police brutality and is counting on strong turnout from African Americans to win critical states such as North Carolina, Florida, Pennsylvania and Michigan.

    “If we do not vote in numbers that we’ve never ever seen before and allow this administration to continue what it is doing, we are headed on a course for serious destruction,” Martin Luther King III, told The Associated Press before his rousing remarks, delivered 57 years after his father’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech. “I’m going to do all that I can to encourage, promote, to mobilize and what’s at stake is the future of our nation, our planet. What’s at stake is the future of our children.”

    As the campaign enters its latter stages, there’s an intensifying effort among African Americans to transform frustration over police brutality, systemic racism and the disproportionate toll of the coronavirus into political power. Organizers and participants said Friday’s march delivered a much needed rallying cry to mobilize.

    As speakers implored attendees to “vote as if our lives depend on it,” the march came on the heels of yet another shooting by a white police officer of a Black man – 29-year-old Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last Sunday — sparking demonstrations and violence that left two dead.

    “We need a new conversation … you act like it’s no trouble to shoot us in the back,” the Rev. Al Sharpton said. “Our vote is dipped in blood. We’re going to vote for a nation that stops the George Floyds, that stops the Breonna Taylors.”

    Navy veteran Alonzo Jones- Goss, who traveled to Washington from Boston, said he plans to vote for Biden because the nation has seen far too many tragic events that have claimed the lives of Black Americans and other people of color.

    “I supported and defended the Constitution and I support the members that continue to do it today, but the injustice and the people that are losing their lives, that needs to end,” Jones-Goss, 28, said. “It’s been 57 years since Dr. King stood over there and delivered his speech. But what is unfortunate is what was happening 57 years ago is still happening today.”

    Drawing comparisons to the original 1963 march, where participants then were protesting many of the same issues that have endured, National Urban League President and CEO Marc Morial said it’s clear why this year’s election will be pivotal for Black Americans.

    “We are about reminding people and educating people on how important it is to translate the power of protest into the power of politics and public policy change,” said Morial, who spoke Friday. “So we want to be deliberate about making the connection between protesting and voting.”

    Nadia Brown, a Purdue University political science professor, agreed there are similarities between the situation in 1963 and the issues that resonate among Black Americans today. She said the political pressure that was applied then led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and other powerful pieces of legislation that transformed the lives of African Americans. She’s hopeful this could happen again in November and beyond.

    “There’s already a host of organizations that are mobilizing in the face of daunting things,” Brown said. “Bur these same groups that are most marginalized are saying it’s not enough to just vote, it’s not enough for the Democratic Party or the Republican Party to ask me for my vote. I’m going to hold these elected officials that are in office now accountable and I’m going to vote in November and hold those same people accountable. And for me, that is the most uplifting and rewarding part — to see those kind of similarities.”

    But Brown noted that while Friday’s march resonated with many, it’s unclear whether it will translate into action among younger voters, whose lack of enthusiasm could become a vulnerability for Biden.

    “I think there is already a momentum among younger folks who are saying not in my America, that this is not the place where they want to live, but will this turn into electoral gains? That I’m less clear on because a lot of the polling numbers show that pretty overwhelmingly, younger people, millennials and Gen Z’s are more progressive and that they are reluctantly turning to this pragmatic side of politics,” Brown said.

    That was clear as the Movement for Black Lives also marked its own historic event Friday — a virtual Black National Convention that featured several speakers discussing pressing issues such as climate change, economic empowerment and the need for electoral justice.

    “I don’t necessarily see elections as achieving justice per se because I view the existing system itself as being fundamentally unjust in many ways and it is the existing system that we are trying to fundamentally transform,” said Bree Newsome Bass, an activist and civil rights organizer, during the convention’s panel about electoral justice. “I do think voting and recognizing what an election should be is a way to kind of exercise that muscle.”


    Biden, Harris Prepare to Travel More as Campaign Heats Up (Election Update)


    Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden and vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris. (AP Photos)

    The Associated Press

    August 28th, 2020

    WASHINGTON (AP) — After spending a pandemic spring and summer tethered almost entirely to his Delaware home, Joe Biden plans to take his presidential campaign to battleground states after Labor Day in his bid to unseat President Donald Trump.

    No itinerary is set, according to the Democratic nominee’s campaign, but the former vice president and his allies say his plan is to highlight contrasts with Trump, from policy arguments tailored to specific audiences to the strict public health guidelines the Biden campaign says its events will follow amid COVID-19.

    That’s a notable difference from a president who on Thursday delivered his nomination acceptance on the White House lawn to more than 1,000 people seated side-by-side, most of them without masks, even as the U.S. death toll surpassed 180,000.

    “He will go wherever he needs to go,” said Biden’s campaign co-chairman Cedric Richmond, a Louisiana congressman. “And we will do it in a way the health experts would be happy” with and “not the absolutely irresponsible manner you saw at the White House.”

    Richmond said it was “always the plan” for Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris to travel more extensively after Labor Day, the traditional mark of the campaign’s home stretch when more casual voters begin to pay close attention.


    Biden supporters hold banners near the White House on the fourth day of the Republican National Convention, Thursday evening, Aug. 27, 2020, in Washington, while Donald Trump delivers his acceptance speech from the nearby White House South Lawn.(AP Photo)

    Biden has conducted online fundraisers, campaign events and television interviews from his home, but traveled only sparingly for speeches and roundtables with a smattering of media or supporters. His only confirmed plane travel was to Houston, where he met with the family of George Floyd, the Black man who was killed by a white Minneapolis police officer on May 25, sparking nationwide protests. Even some Democrats worried quietly that Biden was ceding too much of the spotlight to Trump. But Biden aides have defended their approach. “We will never make any choices that put our staff or voters in harm’s way,” campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon said in May.

    Throughout his unusual home-based campaign, Biden blasted Trump as incompetent and irresponsible for downplaying the pandemic and publicly disputing the government’s infectious disease experts. Richmond said that won’t change as Biden ramps up travel.

    “We won’t beat this pandemic, which means we can’t restore the economy and get people’s lives back home, unless we exercise some discipline and lead by example,” Richmond said, adding that Trump is “incapable of doing it.”

    As exhibited by his acceptance speech Thursday, Trump is insistent on as much normalcy as possible, even as he’s pulled back from his signature indoor rallies after drawing a disappointing crowd in Tulsa, Oklahoma on June 20. Trump casts Biden as wanting to “shut down” the economy to combat the virus. “Joe Biden’s plan is not a solution to the virus, but rather a surrender,” Trump declared on the White House lawn. Biden, in fact, has not proposed shutting down the economy. He’s said only that he would be willing to make such a move as president if public health experts advise it. The Democrat also has called for a national mask mandate, calling it a necessary move for Americans to protect each other. Harris on Friday talked about the idea in slightly different terms than Biden, acknowledging that a mandate would be difficult to enforce.

    “It’s really a standard. I mean, nobody’s gonna be punished. Come on,” the California senator said, laughing off a question about how to enforce such a rule during an interview that aired Friday on “Today.” “Nobody likes to wear a mask. This is a universal feeling. Right? So that’s not the point, ’Hey, let’s enjoy wearing masks.′ No.”


    Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaks in Washington, Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020. (AP Photo)

    Harris suggested that, instead, the rule would be about “what we — as responsible people who love our neighbor — we have to just do that right now.”

    “God willing, it won’t be forever,” she added.

    Biden and Harris have worn protective face masks in public and stayed socially distanced from each other when appearing together at campaign events. Both have said for weeks that a rule requiring all Americans to wear them could save 40,000 lives in just a three-month period. While such an order may be difficult to impose at the federal level, Biden has called on every governor in the country to order mask-wearing in their states, which would likely achieve the same goal.

    Trump has urged Americans to wear masks but opposes a national requirement and personally declined to do so for months. He has worn a mask occasionally more recently, but not at any point Thursday at the Republican National Convention’s closing event, which violated the District of Columbia’s guidelines prohibiting large gatherings.

    Related:

    Joe Biden Claims the Democratic Presidential Nomination


    Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden accepted the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination on Thursday evening during the last day of the historic Democratic National Convention, August 20, 2020. (AP photo)

    The Washington Post

    Updated: August 21st, 2020

    Biden speaks about ‘battle for the soul of this nation,’ decries Trump’s leadership

    Joe Biden accepted his party’s presidential nomination, delivering a speech that directly criticized the leadership of Trump on matters of the coronavirus pandemic, the economy and racial justice.

    “Here and now, I give you my word: If you entrust me with the presidency, I will draw on the best of us, not the worst. I’ll be an ally of the light, not the darkness,” Biden said, calling on Americans to come together to “overcome this season of darkness.”

    The night featured tributes to civil rights activist and congressman John Lewis, who died in July, as well as to Beau Biden, Joe Biden’s son who died in 2015.


    Kamala Harris Accepts Historic Nomination for Vice President of the United States


    Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) accepted her party’s historic nomination to be its vice-presidential candidate in the 2020 U.S. election on Wednesday evening during the third day of the Democratic National Convention. (Reuters photo)

    Reuters

    Updated: August 20th, 2020

    Kamala Harris makes U.S. history, accepts Democrats’ vice presidential nod

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senator Kamala Harris accepted the Democratic nomination for vice president on Wednesday, imploring the country to elect Joe Biden president and accusing Donald Trump of failed leadership that had cost lives and livelihoods.

    The first Black woman and Asian-American on a major U.S. presidential ticket, Harris summarized her life story as emblematic of the American dream on the third day of the Democratic National Convention.

    “Donald Trump’s failure of leadership has cost lives and livelihoods,” Harris said.

    Former U.S. President Barack Obama told the convention Trump’s failures as his successor had led to 170,000 people dead from the coronavirus, millions of lost jobs and America’s reputation badly diminished in the world.

    The evening featured a crush of women headliners, moderators and speakers, with Harris pressing the case against Trump, speaking directly to millions of women, young Americans and voters of color, constituencies Democrats need if Biden is to defeat the Republican Trump.

    “The constant chaos leaves us adrift, the incompetence makes us feel afraid, the callousness makes us feel alone. It’s a lot. And here’s the thing: we can do better and deserve so much more,” she said.

    “Right now, we have a president who turns our tragedies into political weapons. Joe will be a president who turns our challenges into purpose,” she said, speaking from an austere hotel ballroom in Biden’s hometown of Wilmington, Delaware.

    Biden leads Trump in opinion polls ahead of the Nov. 3 election, bolstered by a big lead among women voters. Throughout the convention, Democrats have appealed directly to those women voters, highlighting Biden’s co-sponsorship of the landmark Violence Against Woman Act of 1994 and his proposals to bolster childcare and protect family healthcare provisions.

    Obama, whose vice president was Biden from 2009-2017, said he had hoped that Trump would take the job seriously, come to feel the weight of the office, and discover a reverence for American democracy.

    Obama on Trump: ‘Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t’

    “Donald Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t. And the consequences of that failure are severe,” Obama said in unusually blunt criticism from an ex-president.

    “Millions of jobs gone. Our worst impulses unleashed, our proud reputation around the world badly diminished, and our democratic institutions threatened like never before,” Obama said.

    The choice of a running mate has added significance for Biden, 77, who would be the oldest person to become president if he is elected. His age has led to speculation he will serve only one term, making Harris a potential top contender for the nomination in 2024.

    Biden named Harris, 55, as his running mate last week to face incumbents Trump, 74, and Vice President Mike Pence, 61.

    Former first lady and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee who lost to Trump, told the convention she constantly hears from voters who regret backing Trump or not voting at all.

    “This can’t be another woulda coulda shoulda election.” Clinton said. “No matter what, vote. Vote like our lives and livelihoods are on the line, because they are.”

    Clinton, who won the popular vote against Trump but lost in the Electoral College, said Biden needs to win overwhelmingly, warning he could win the popular vote but still lose the White House.

    “Joe and Kamala can win by 3 million votes and still lose,” Clinton said. “Take it from me. So we need numbers overwhelming so Trump can’t sneak or steal his way to victory.”


    U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) accepts the Democratic vice presidential nomination during an acceptance speech delivered for 2020 Democratic National Convention from the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S., August 19, 2020. (Getty Images)

    Democrats have been alarmed by Trump’s frequent criticism of mail-in voting, and by cost-cutting changes at the U.S. Postal Service instituted by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a Trump supporter, that could delay mail during the election crunch. DeJoy said recently he would delay those changes until after the election.

    Democrats also broadcast videos highlighting Trump’s crackdown on immigration, opposition to gun restrictions and his decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord.

    ‘DISRESPECT’ FOR FACTS, FOR WOMEN

    Nancy Pelosi, the first woman Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, told the convention she had seen firsthand Trump’s “disrespect for facts, for working families, and for women in particular – disrespect written into his policies toward our health and our rights, not just his conduct. But we know what he doesn’t: that when women succeed, America succeeds.”

    U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, a leading progressive who ran against Biden in the 2020 primary, spoke to the convention from a childcare center in Massachusetts and cited Biden’s proposal to make childcare more affordable as a vital part of his agenda to help working Americans.

    “It’s time to recognize that childcare is part of the basic infrastructure of this nation — it’s infrastructure for families,” she said. “Joe and Kamala will make high-quality childcare affordable for every family, make preschool universal, and raise the wages for every childcare worker.”

    In her speech later, Harris will have an opportunity to outline her background as a child of immigrants from India and Jamaica who as a district attorney, state attorney general, U.S. senator from California and now vice-presidential candidate shattered gender and racial barriers.

    She gained prominence in the Senate for her exacting interrogations of Trump nominees, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Attorney General Bill Barr.

    The Republican National Convention, also largely virtual, takes place next week.

    Democrats Officially Nominate Joe Biden to Become the Next U.S. President


    It’s official: Joe Biden is now formally a candidate to become the next President of the United States. Democrats officially nominated Biden as their 2020 candidate on Tuesday with a roll-call vote of delegates representing all states in the country during the second day of party’s historic virtual convention. (Photo: Courtesy of the Biden campaign)

    The Associated Press

    Updated: August 19th, 2020

    Democrats make it official, nominate Biden to take on Trump

    NEW YORK (AP) — Democrats formally nominated Joe Biden as their 2020 presidential nominee Tuesday night, as party officials and activists from across the nation gave the former vice president their overwhelming support during his party’s all-virtual national convention.

    The moment marked a political high point for Biden, who had sought the presidency twice before and is now cemented as the embodiment of Democrats’ desperate desire to defeat President Donald Trump this fall.

    The roll call of convention delegates formalized what has been clear for months since Biden took the lead in the primary elections’ chase for the nomination. It came as he worked to demonstrate the breadth of his coalition for a second consecutive night, this time blending support from his party’s elders and fresher faces to make the case that he has the experience and energy to repair chaos that Trump has created at home and abroad.

    Former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State John Kerry — and former Republican Secretary of State Colin Powell — were among the heavy hitters on a schedule that emphasized a simple theme: Leadership matters. Former President Jimmy Carter, now 95 years old, also made an appearance.

    “Donald Trump says we’re leading the world. Well, we are the only major industrial economy to have its unemployment rate triple,” Clinton said. “At a time like this, the Oval Office should be a command center. Instead, it’s a storm center. There’s only chaos.”


    In this image from video, former Georgia House Democratic leader Stacey Abrams, center, and others, speak during the second night of the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. (Democratic National Convention via AP)

    Biden formally captured his party’s presidential nomination Tuesday night after being nominated by three people, including two Delaware lawmakers and 31-year-old African American security guard who became a viral sensation after blurting out “I love you” to Biden in a New York City elevator.

    Delegates from across the country then pledged their support for Biden in a video montage that featured Democrats in places like Alabama’s Edmund Pettis Bridge, a beach in Hawaii and the headwaters of the Mississippi River.

    In the opening of the convention’s second night, a collection of younger Democrats, including former Georgia lawmaker Stacey Abrams and New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, were given a few minutes to shine.

    “In a democracy, we do not elect saviors. We cast our ballots for those who see our struggles and pledge to serve,” said Abrams, 46, who emerged as a national player during her unsuccessful bid for governor in 2018 and was among those considered to be Biden’s running mate.

    She added: “Faced with a president of cowardice, Joe Biden is a man of proven courage.”

    On a night that Biden was formally receiving his party’s presidential nomination, the convention was also introducing his wife, Jill Biden, to the nation as the prospective first lady.


    In this image from video, Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden, his wife Jill Biden, and members of the Biden family, celebrate after the roll call during the second night of the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. (Democratic National Convention via AP)

    Biden is fighting unprecedented logistical challenges to deliver his message during an all-virtual convention this week as the coronavirus epidemic continues to claim hundreds of American lives each day and wreaks havoc on the economy.

    The former vice president was becoming his party’s nominee as a prerecorded roll call vote from delegates in all 50 states airs, and the four-day convention will culminate on Thursday when he accepts that nomination. His running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris, will become the first woman of color to accept a major party’s vice presidential nomination on Wednesday.

    Until then, Biden is presenting what he sees as the best of his sprawling coalition to the American electorate in a format unlike any other in history.

    For a second night, the Democrats featured Republicans.

    Powell, who served as secretary of state under George W. Bush and appeared at multiple Republican conventions in years past, was endorsing the Democratic candidate. In a video released ahead of his speech, he said, “Our country needs a commander in chief who takes care of our troops in the same way he would his own family. For Joe Biden, that doesn’t need teaching.”

    Powell joins the widow of the late Arizona Sen. John McCain, Cindy McCain, who was expected to stop short of a formal endorsement but talk about the mutual respect and friendship her husband and Biden shared.

    While there have been individual members of the opposing party featured at presidential conventions before, a half dozen Republicans, including the former two-term governor of Ohio, have now spoken for Democrat Biden.

    No one on the program Tuesday night has a stronger connection to the Democratic nominee than his wife, Jill Biden, a longtime teacher, was speaking from her former classroom at Brandywine High School near the family home in Wilmington, Delaware.

    “You can hear the anxiety that echoes down empty hallways. There’s no scent of new notebooks or freshly waxed floors,” she said of the school in excerpts of her speech before turning to the nation’s challenges at home. “How do you make a broken family whole? The same way you make a nation whole. With love and understanding—and with small acts of compassion. With bravery. With unwavering faith.”

    The Democrats’ party elders played a prominent role throughout the night.

    Clinton, who turns 74 on Tuesday, hasn’t held office in two decades. Kerry, 76, was the Democratic presidential nominee back in 2004 when the youngest voters this fall were still in diapers. And Carter is 95 years old.

    Clinton, a fixture of Democratic conventions for nearly three decades, addressed voters for roughly five minutes in a speech recorded at his home in Chappaqua, New York.

    In addition to railing against Trump’s leadership, Clinton calls Biden “a go-to-work president.” Biden, Clinton continued, is “a man with a mission: to take responsibility, not shift the blame; concentrate, not distract; unite, not divide.”…

    Kerry said in an excerpt of his remarks, “Joe understands that none of the issues of this world — not nuclear weapons, not the challenge of building back better after COVID, not terrorism and certainly not the climate crisis — none can be resolved without bringing nations together.”

    Democrats Kick Off Convention as Poll Show Biden, Harris With Double-Digit Lead


    Democrats kicked off their historic virtual convention on Monday with the keynote speaker former first lady Michelle Obama assailing the current president as unfit and warning Americans not to reelect him for a second term. Meanwhile new poll show Biden, Harris with double-digit lead over Trump. (Getty Images)

    The Associated Press

    Updated: August 18th, 2020

    Michelle Obama assails Trump as Democrats open convention

    NEW YORK (AP) — Michelle Obama delivered a passionate broadside against President Donald Trump during Monday’s opening night of the Democratic National Convention, assailing the Republican president as unfit for the job and warning that the nation’s mounting crises would only get worse if he’s reelected.

    The former first lady issued an emotional call to the coalition that sent her husband to the White House, declaring that strong feelings must be translated into votes.

    “Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country,” she declared. “He has had more than enough time to prove that he can do the job, but he is clearly in over his head. He cannot meet this moment. He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us.”

    Obama added: “If you think things possibly can’t get worse, trust me, they can and they will if we don’t make a change in this election.”

    The comments came as Joe Biden introduced the breadth of his political coalition to a nation in crisis Monday night at the convention, giving voice to victims of the coronavirus pandemic, the related economic downturn and police violence and featuring both progressive Democrats and Republicans united against Trump’s reelection.


    Former first lady Michelle Obama speaks during the first night of the Democratic National Convention on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020. The DNC released excerpts of her speech ahead of the convention start. (Democratic National Convention)

    The ideological range of Biden’s many messengers was demonstrated by former presidential contenders from opposing parties: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist who championed a multi-trillion-dollar universal health care plan, and Ohio’s former Republican Gov. John Kasich, an anti-abortion conservative who spent decades fighting to cut government spending.

    The former vice president won’t deliver his formal remarks until Thursday night, but he made his first appearance just half an hour into Monday’s event as he moderated a panel on racial justice, a theme throughout the night, as was concern about the Postal Service. The Democrats accuse Trump of interfering with the nation’s mail in order to throw blocks in front of mail-in voting.

    “My friends, I say to you, and to everyone who supported other candidates in this primary and to those who may have voted for Donald Trump in the last election: The future of our democracy is at stake. The future of our economy is at stake. The future of our planet is at stake,” Sanders declared.

    Kasich said his status as a lifelong Republican “holds second place to my responsibility to my country.”

    “In normal times, something like this would probably never happen, but these are not normal times,” he said of his participation at the Democrats’ convention. He added: “Many of us can’t imagine four more years going down this path.”

    Read more »

    Post-ABC poll shows Biden, Harris hold double-digit lead over Trump, Pence

    The race for the White House tilts toward the Democrats, with former vice president Joe Biden holding a double-digit lead nationally over President Trump amid continuing disapproval of the president’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.

    Democrats [kicked] off their convention on Monday in a mood of cautious optimism, with Biden and his running mate, Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), leading Trump and Vice President Pence by 53 percent to 41 percent among registered voters. The findings are identical among a larger sample of all voting-age adults.

    Biden’s current national margin over Trump among voters is slightly smaller than the 15-point margin in a poll taken last month and slightly larger than a survey in May when he led by 10 points. In late March, as the pandemic was taking hold in the United States, Biden and Trump were separated by just two points, with the former vice president holding a statistically insignificant advantage.

    Today, Biden and Harris lead by 54 percent to 43 percent among those who say they are absolutely certain to vote and who also report voting in 2016. A month ago, Biden’s lead of 15 points overall had narrowed to seven points among similarly committed 2016 voters. Biden now also leads by low double-digits among those who say they are following the election most closely.

    Read more »

    Team Joe Announces Convention Speakers


    Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, and his running mate, US Senator Kamala Harris. (Courtesy Photo)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: August 17th, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — Joe Biden’s campaign has announced its speaker lineup for the Democratic National Convention that’s set to open on Monday, August 17th in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

    Below are the list of speakers that will be featured “across all four nights of the Convention which will air live August 17-20 from 9:00-11:00 PM Eastern each night.”

    Related:

    ‘ሴቷ ኦባማ?’: Kamala Harris Faces Culture of Sexism & Misogyny in Ethiopian Media

    Interview With Addisu Demissie: Senior Adviser to Joe Biden

    Biden Selects Yohannes Abraham as Member of Transition Team

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Ethiopic Studies at University of Toronto Becomes Permanent (UPDATE)

    The future of University of Toronto’s Ethiopic program — the only one of its kind in North America — just got brighter. The endowment that makes the program possible has surpassed its goal of $500,000, thanks to another gift from Toronto native, Abel Tesfaye, the international, award-winning singer, songwriter and recording producer known as The Weeknd. (Courtesy photo)

    University of Toronto

    U of T’s Ethiopic program soars past $500,000 endowment goal on strength of community support — and another gift from The Weeknd

    The future of U of T’s Ethiopic program — the only one of its kind in North America and among a handful in the world — just got brighter. The endowment that makes the program possible has surpassed its goal of $500,000, thanks to another gift from Toronto native, Abel Tesfaye, the international, award-winning singer, songwriter and recording producer known as The Weeknd. This support enables U of T to offer at least one Ge’ez language course each year.

    “Our heartfelt thanks to The Weeknd for his ongoing commitment to Ethiopic studies at U of T,” said Professor Melanie Woodin, dean of the Faculty of Arts & Science. “This gift means the endowment celebrates a significant fundraising milestone. For us, it signifies an important partnership with the Ethiopian-Canadian community, one we hope to continue to grow. We share a vision and an understanding of the value in preserving the Ge’ez language. The impact of The Weeknd’s continued support is truly appreciated, for current and future faculty, students and alumni.”

    Ethiopic studies at U of T launched three years ago with a course on Ge’ez, an ancient language in Ethiopia used primarily for liturgical Christian services. Currently, U of T is the only university in North America, and one of the very few universities in the world, that regularly offers a course on Ge’ez. It’s part of the Semitic group of languages, including Hebrew, Arabic and Aramaic, and is no longer spoken in Ethiopia but remains a fundamental language for classical studies, such as Latin and Greek.

    The program, jointly run by A&S’s Department of Near & Middle Eastern Civilizations and the Centre for Medieval Studies, was just shy of reaching its fundraising goal when The Weeknd, recently named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2020, made a $30,000 gift.

    This is his second donation to U of T in support of the Ethiopic program. His first was a $50,000 gift in 2016, as part of the fundraising drive led by the Bikila Award — an Ethiopian-Canadian organization that fosters academic and business excellence and encourages volunteerism — to galvanize its community to support the new endowment.

    Tessema Mulugeta, president of Bikila, called it “a pivotal moment in our history here in Toronto” while recently presenting The Weeknd’s cheque, together with board member Behailu Atnafu and The Weeknd’s parents, Ms. Samrawit Hailu and Mr. Walelegne Teshome, to Dean Woodin on a fall day at Arts & Science.

    “U of T’s Ethiopic studies will illuminate to the world the hidden, untouched millennial scripts in Ge’ez, and uncover rich texts of philosophy, grammar, mathematics, astronomy, history, medicine and law,” said Mulugeta. “During this modern age, current and future generations of U of T students can continue to access Ethiopia’s past and unlock tantalizing deposits of wisdom from distant eras of human history.”

    For Professor Michael Gervers, who teaches Ethiopian history at the University of Toronto Scarborough and St. George campuses, more than 40 years of scholarly research, including digitizing church manuscripts in Ethiopia, has crystallized “how significant and important this culture is.” He gave the first gift in 2015 to launch the endowment campaign.

    “I spent decades in Ethiopia and saw that almost every single church I went to had manuscripts that nobody was reading, except the monks and priests for their daily or weekly services. But there was all this other literature just sitting there.”

    Gervers explained that not many people are aware that the King of Ethiopia converted to Christianity before the Roman Emperor Constantine did in Byzantium. “It goes right back to somewhere around 333 to 340 CE. And you can’t have a religion without a book,” said Gervers.

    With Ethiopia having a written historical tradition older than any other country in Africa, that’s a lot of books. In fact, it’s been recently discovered that the oldest complete Gospel manuscript in the world is from Ethiopia, opening up a plethora of new scholarship questions.


    Bikila Award president Tessema Mulugeta, Bikila board member Behailu Atnafu, The Weeknd’s parents Walelegne Teshome and Samrawit Hailu, A&S Dean Melanie Woodin and Professor Michael Gervers.

    Undergraduate student Saba Ebrahimpour, a member of New College, is in the program and said it’s very important for her to read the literature in its original Ge’ez.

    “When I was studying for this course, I was going through the Bible in the English translation, and the professors were teaching us how to translate it. I compared the two languages, and there were some differences between the two.”

    Ebrahimpour searched for other sources but found there weren’t any. And she said there are few professors who can teach Ge’ez. “So U of T has a very big job to do.”

    Ge’ez will be a significant component of graduate student Arshan Hasan’s research, and this first course is a vital start.

    “Of the classical Semitic languages, Ge’ez is one of the most understudied despite it being one of the most unique. It has a unique script in its family that really needs to be taught alongside the language, rather than self-taught. Grammatically it is so remarkable and so different from its sister languages while also still being very familiar,” said Hasan. “It reopens many lost horizons.”

    Highlighting, remembering and teaching the history, languages and cultures in this cradle of civilization in the Horn of Africa are just some of the reasons Ethiopians in Canada have supported and continue to give to U of T’s program.

    “We were and are people of many literatures,” said Mulugeta. “The study of Ge’ez will help us make sense of ourselves, our early civilizations, our beliefs and cultures, and most importantly, our interconnectedness in the world.”

    The program, and particularly the Ge’ez course, has put U of T “on the map because we’re doing it and nobody else is,” said Gervers. “The Ethiopic program at U of T has enormous potential.”

    —-

    Related

    Ethiopic Studies Endowment at University of Toronto Update


    (Courtesy photo)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: June 10th, 2020

    Ethiopic Studies Endowment at University of Toronto Nears Goal of Raising $500k

    New York (TADIAS) – They needed to raise $500,000 in order to make the Ge’ez course at the University of Toronto permanent. This month organizers behind the Ethiopic Studies Endowment announced that they have raised $440,000 and are within reach of a milestone achievement by the Ethiopian Diaspora community.

    The Board of Directors of Bikila Award — the organization which has been spearheading the fundraising campaign since 2015 — released a report detailing its efforts.

    “In 2019 a new fundraising drive was initiated to reach the required endowment fund of $500,000 to make the Ge’ez course permanent, followed by the U of T’s renewed generous matching fund of $75,000,” noted the Bikila Award organization in its report titled ‘Ethiopic Studies & Culture at the University of Toronto.’

    Below is the full report courtesy of the non-profit organization Bikila Award:

    GE’EZ – An iconic ancient Ethiopian language for humanity

    Toronto, Canada

    Dear Community Members and Supporters:

    First of all, our well wishes to you and family members in these uncertain global times caused by Covid-19 which has resulted in the loss of thousands of lives as well as immense economic ramifications. In history there had been dark days; wars and pandemics, yet the human spirit has always prevailed. By the Grace of God we shall overcome this time as well! Let us all keep the faith and move forward together!


    University of Toronto. (Courtesy photo)

    In 2019 a new fundraising drive was initiated to reach the required endowment fund of $500,000 to make the Ge’ez course permanent, followed by the U of T’s renewed generous matching fund of $75,000. Members of our community and Society of Friends of Ethiopian Studies made urgently needed generous donations for which we are very grateful.


    Professor Michael Gervers. (Courtesy photo)

    We are particularly very grateful to Professor Michael Gervers and Dr. Fikre Germa who blessed us with a renewed donation of $45,000 and $10,000 respectively and for their unfailing support without which this good news as well as the certainty of the establishment of Ethiopian Studies at the U of T would not have been possible.

    We are very pleased to report that Bikila Award also filled the remaining small gap to reach the required funding in matching the $75.000 goal. So far, we raised a total of $440,000+ to the Ethiopic Studies Endowment.

    About Ethiopic Studies and Culture at U of T

    The discovery of the earliest history of humanity through the remains of the 3 million-year-old Australopithecus Afarensis, discovered in Ethiopia in 1974 and known as Dinknesh (ድንቅነሽ) Lucy, show that the first human beings emerged in Africa. In the same vicinity, the invention of writing and the founding of great unified states 5,000 years ago mark the beginning of early civilizations of mankind.

    With this and more historical background in mind, Ethiopic Studies initiative at the University of Toronto was undertaken with the objective of building bridges between humanity’s past, present and the future contributing to the increasingly interconnected world.

    As we all know concrete step to establish Ethiopian Studies at the University of Toronto (U of T) was taken on the occasion of the annual Bikila Award Ceremony in 2015 during which Prof. Michael Gervers of the U of T challenged members of the Ethiopian community to match his own $50,000 donation towards the establishment of Ethiopian Studies at the U of T. Watch the video.

    This unforgettable initiative and generosity led to a matching of $50,000 by internationally recognized artist Abel Tesfaye (The Weeknd). Further generous support by the U of T and ongoing donations by members of the Ethiopian community has to date resulted in over $440,000 as endowment fund for the establishment of Ethiopian Studies. This initiative came to fruition when the ancient language of Geez course was given at the U of T beginning in 2017 as a working knowledge of Geez language is necessary without which ancient Ethiopian manuscripts could not be read and/or understood.

    The Board of Directors of Bikila Award and members of the Ethiopian community in Canada express their gratitude and utmost appreciation to the University of Toronto Administration for their generosity, unfailing support and encouragement towards the establishment of Ethiopian Studies at this highly esteemed institution of learning.

    Thank you all for your encouragement and support.

    The Board of Directors, Bikila Award.

    For more information please visit ​us at bikilaaward.org

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    New Film Highlights the Hidden Cost of Civil War: Screening of ‘Finding Sally’

    As Ethiopia once again finds itself on the brink of civil war, a timely new film tilted 'Finding Sally' will screen this week highlighting the hidden cost of civil war and the lifetime trauma that it leaves behind on individuals and families. The virtual event, which is set to take place on Thursday, Nov. 19th, features guest speakers Tamara Dawit, the film's Director, & Fisseha Tekle, Amnesty's Researcher for Ethiopia. (Courtesy photo)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: November 19th, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — This week the Heinrich Böll Foundation is hosting an online screening and discussion of the new Ethiopian documentary film Finding Sally that narrates the riveting account of a young Ethiopian college student in Canada in the 1970s who became one of the most wanted opposition activists in Ethiopia.

    The virtual event, which is set to take place on Thursday, November 19th, features guest speakers Tamara Dawit, the film’s Director, and Fisseha Tekle, Amnesty International’s Researcher for Ethiopia.

    As Tamara — who was born and raised in Canada but now lives and works in Ethiopia — told Tadias in an interview last Spring the film follows her own personal search to discover the untold truth about what exactly happened to her long-lost aunt Selamawit (Sally). Tamara noted: “The film poses the question that arises when someone you love disappears without a trace: how do you cope?”

    Per the announcement: “Finding Sally tells the story of a 23-year-old woman from an upper-class family who became a communist rebel with the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Party. Idealistic and in love, Sally got caught up in her country’s revolutionary fervour and landed on the military government’s most wanted list. She went underground and her family never saw her again. Four decades after Sally’s disappearance, Tamara Dawit pieces together the mysterious life of her aunt Sally. She revisits the Ethiopian Revolution and the terrible massacre that followed, which resulted in nearly every Ethiopian family losing a loved one. Her quest leads her to question notions of belonging, personal convictions and political ideals at a time when Ethiopia is going through important political changes once again.”

    If You Attend:

    Finding Sally
    Online screening and discussion
    Thursday, 19 November, 7.00 – 9.15 pm (CET)
    Registration
    The access information will be sent to you via e-mail 24 h prior to the event and, again, 2 h prior to the event.

    Related:

    Q&A with Filmmaker Tamara Dawit


    Filmmaker Tamara Mariam Dawit. (Courtesy photo)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: April 16th, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — An Ethiopian documentary film Finding Sally is set to make its world premiere on April 30th in a newly created TV platform called ‘Hot Docs at Home on CBC,’ which was launched in Canada as the coronavirus pandemic caused the cancelation of film festivals around the world.

    In Finding Sally the filmmaker Tamara Mariam Dawit tells the moving story of her long-lost aunt, Selamawit (Sally), who turned from a fun-loving college student in Canada in the 1970s into one of the most wanted opposition activists in Ethiopia.

    Tamara herself — who was born and raised in Canada but now lives and works in Ethiopia — had not heard of Sally until later in her life.

    Below is our full Q&A with Filmmaker Tamara Mariam Dawit:

    TADIAS: Congratulations on the upcoming World Premiere of Finding Sally. Please tell our readers about the film and the inspiration behind it.

    Tamara Mariam Dawit: The film tracks my personal investigation into the life of my aunt Selamawit (Sally), an Ethiopian aristocrat-turned-communist-rebel who disappeared during the Ethiopian Revolution.

    The film poses the question that arises when someone you love disappears without a trace: how do you cope? It explores not only how my family has managed this loss, but also how the entire country has managed the loss, pain, and trauma of the Red Terror. My family is just a small example of how many Ethiopians are still dealing with those deaths, and how the fear of public mourning under the military government forced so many people to suffer in silence.

    My aunt Sally and many of her peers lost their lives fighting for what they believed could be a better Ethiopia. They envisioned a united and democratic Ethiopia that would embrace everyone equally – something I think is still possible despite the dangerous ethnic divisions that plague Ethiopia today. I hope that Finding Sally can be a plea for freedom of speech and critical thinking, and also an indictment of silence in general in Ethiopia. I hope that this film can be a catalyst to discussing the country’s past and engaging in critical discourse about the road ahead.

    TADIAS: In your media statement you mentioned that you were in your thirties when you first saw the photo of your aunt Selamawit (Sally). How did you discover the picture? Can you give our readers the historical context of why her story remained a family secret for so many years?

    Tamara: I first found out about Sally nearly ten years ago when I was visiting my grandmother’s house in Addis Ababa. My grandmother was displaying a new photo on the mantel above her fireplace of a beautiful woman who was unfamiliar to me. This was Sally and it was the first time I had seen an image of Sally. It took some time before my grandmother and the rest of my family started to feel comfortable to talk to me about who Sally was and the ultimate result of that is this film.

    I think that the main reason I didn’t know about Sally was because remembering her or talking about her has always been very painful for my family. Many Ethiopians and Eritreans lost relatives during the Red Terror and there are many painful and personal experiences that we don’t talk about. I asked my grandmother if she would be OK with me making a film about Sally’s life. She was supportive of this because she realized younger generations like me had no knowledge about Sally and her peers, what they had stood for and had done. She wanted Sally and her vision of a better and more just Ethiopia to be remembered. She wanted young Ethiopians today to be able to learn from their past.

    TADIAS: A daughter of a diplomat (your grandfather), Sally had transformed herself from a young, vibrant and outgoing university student in Canada during the 1970s into an underground political activist in Ethiopia. In the course of your research what are some of the most surprising things you learned about your aunt as well as your family and Ethiopia in general?

    Tamara: I think the main thing that I learned in researching Sally’s life is that everyone was telling me their own version of Sally and of her life – the version that they themselves where comfortable with remembering. I think the most interesting thing I learned about was how incredibly brave Sally was, not only to take up arms for a cause she believed in but also to use her voice to speak up on behalf of women in Ethiopia. One specific incident I learned about was when Sally was invited to give a speech to a group of graduating women’s group in Akaki just outside of Addis Ababa. Rather than stick to safe content Sally gave a speech where she literally told the Derg off. It was after this that she had to go into hiding and cut off contact with her family. I also learned that she had used my Grandmother’s VW Beetle as the getaway car when she was involved in an assassination attempt on Mengistu Haile Mariam.

    TADIAS: In many respects Sally’s story is that of a generation of Ethiopians. As you note her story ‘unfolds alongside that of The Red Terror.’ Was the filmmaking process at all a healing experience? Did it bring closure for your family?

    Tamara: I hope that the film was a healing process for my family. It certainly caused everyone to reflect and spend time together talking about Sally. Something they admitted they hadn’t done as a group since her death. I also think that there are many Sallys in Ethiopia and Eritrea, and I hope that this film sparks more conversations and thus healing in households across the Diaspora.

    TADIAS: It took you about eight years to finish making the film. What was your overall experience like? What is your advice to aspiring independent filmmakers?

    Tamara: Making any film is certainly a labor of love and a slow process. But it took a long time also because I spent years researching about Sally, the Red Terror, Ethiopian History, the EPRP before even starting to film anything. It is also incredibly challenging to finance African stories. I was very lucky due to Sally and my family having lived in Canada to have been able to have the film produced and financed in Canada. I do film training programs in Addis and it is also a challenge to get filmmakers interested in making docs. I hope that when we screen Finding Sally in Ethiopia it may inspire more filmmakers to try out the format.

    TADIAS: Finding Sally is set to make its world premier on Hot Docs at Home on CBC on April 30th. Can you tell us about the new platform, which was launched recently as a special TV series in response to the coronavirus pandemic? How can people view the film and what are your future plans in terms of screenings specifically for the Ethiopian Diaspora audiences?

    Tamara: The opportunity to air the film on CBC occurred because of the impact of COVID and the general inability to host festival screenings. This is a great partnership between Hot Docs and the CBC to help promote the films to audiences in Canada. Viewers will be able to watch the film on CBC, CBC Doc Channel or CBC GEM. The current viewing is just in Canada, but once it is safe to gather again then we will be able to rebook some festival screenings and also arrange community screenings for the Ethiopian and Eritrean Diaspora. Those are the screenings and discussions that I am most interested in. We will also air an Amharic version of the film in Ethiopia in the future.

    TADIAS: Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers?

    Tamara: One of my main motivations for starting to direct was a frustration in watching films about Ethiopia at festivals or on TV that were not made by Ethiopians and where most of those speaking about Ethiopia where also westerners. These films had a western gaze. In contrast, this film is from my point of view as a daughter of Ethiopia, as a member of the Diaspora who has moved back. It is also specifically only from the point of view of women. I chose specifically not to interview any men for the film. As I found when researching about the Red Terror that most of the content was from the perspective of men. I wanted to make a space for women to talk about the past and future of Ethiopia.

    TADIAS: Thank you again Tamara. We wish you all the best and much success with the film!

    Tamara: Thank you

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Video: Tadias Panel Discussion on Civic Engagement and Voter Mobilization

    On Sunday, October 25th, Tadias Magazine hosted a timely virtual panel discussion on civic engagement and voter mobilization featuring a new generation of Ethiopian American leaders from various professions. You can watch the video below. (Photos: Tadias Magazine)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: November 3rd, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — The U.S. presidential election is only one week away and Tadias hosted a timely and lively discussion on building political power through civic engagement and voter mobilization on Sunday, October 25th featuring a new generation of Ethiopian American leaders from various professions. You can watch the video below.

    Panelists included Henock Dory, who currently serves as Special Assistant to former President Barack Obama; Tefere Gebre, Executive Vice President of the AFL-CIO; Selam Mulugeta Washington, a former Field Organizer with Obama for America, Helen Mesfin from the Helen Show DC, Dr. Menna Demessie, Vice President of Policy Analysis & Research at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation; Helen Amelga, President of the Ethiopian Democratic Club of Los Angeles (moderator) as well as Bemnet Meshesha and Helen Eshete of the Habeshas Vote initiative. The event opened with poetry reading by Bitaniya Giday, the 2020-2021 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate.

    Ethiopian Americans are as diverse as mainstream America when it comes to our perspectives on various social and political issues, but despite our differences we are all united when it comes to the need to
    empower ourselves and participate in the democratic process through our citizenship rights to vote and run for office.

    So vote on November 3rd.

    Related:

    Ethiopian Americans: Election is Approaching, Let’s Make Sure our Voices are Heard


    In this OP-ED Helen Amelga, President of the Ethiopian Democratic Club of Los Angeles, urges Ethiopian Americans to participate in the upcoming U.S. election that will directly impact our lives for many years to come, and shares resources to help our community to get involved in the democratic process. (Courtesy photo)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Helen Amelga

    Updated: October 16th, 2020

    Los Angeles (TADIAS) — How many people of Ethiopian descent live in the United States? 300,000? 400,000? 500,000? We don’t really know for sure. But with the 2020 census, we will for the first time have the opportunity to get a truly accurate count. If you haven’t done so already, go to 2020cencus.gov and complete your census today.

    While the exact numbers are yet to be determined, it is clear that there is a significant Ethiopian-American population in the United States. Why is it then that we do not have a strong political presence?

    We know our community can organize. We have Iqub (እቁብ), mahbers (ማህበር), business associations, and our faith based groups are extremely organized. We need to use those same skills to mobilize politically.

    We must equip ourselves with the knowledge of political systems, major policies and voter rights, not only to serve as advocates for our community, but so that we ourselves can occupy positions of power and authority to be the decision makers who shape the society and world we want to live in.

    We know it’s possible because we already have trailblazers such as Assemblyman Alexander Assefa, the first Ethiopian American to be elected into office in the Nevada Legislature and the first Ethiopian American ever elected in the U.S. to a state-wide governing body as well as Judge Nina Ashenafi Richardson of Florida, who is the first Ethiopian-American judge in the United States who was re-elected to a third term his year.

    We cannot afford to give our vote away to candidates who are not serving our needs. We are ready to spring into action when there is a problem in our community, but it is not enough to go to our elected officials once we have a problem and try to convince them to help us. We need to be proactive.

    We must purposefully engage to get the right people elected in the first place. We must identify candidates who align with and will fight for our values. Then, we must do everything we can to make sure those candidates are elected.

    Here are a few steps you can take to get involved:

    1. Register to vote

    2. Request a vote by mail ballot today

    3. Reach out to 5 friends and make sure they’re registered to vote

    4. Research your candidates & ballot measures

    5. Volunteers to phone bank for a campaign

    6. Sign up to be a poll worker on election day

    The November 3rd general election is fast approaching. Let’s make sure our voices are heard.

    Related:

    Interview: Helen Amelga, Founder of Ethiopian Democratic Club of LA

    Interview With Addisu Demissie: Senior Adviser to Joe Biden

    Biden Selects Yohannes Abraham as Member of Transition Team


    Related:

    Election 2020 – The Youth Vote Event In Seattle


    Bitaniya Giday, age 17, is the 2020-2021 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate. She is a first-generation Ethiopian American residing in Seattle. Bitaniya is one of the young interviewers in a timely upcoming Zoom event on October 14th titled “The Youth Vote: A conversation about leadership, ethics and values and how they factor into choosing a candidate.” (KNKX PUBLIC RADIO)

    KNKX PUBLIC RADIO

    Young people make up a projected 37% of the 2020 electorate, yet historically they vote less than other age groups. Will it be different this time? The pandemic crisis and the call for racial justice and institutional changes are top concerns as we move closer to this high stakes election. Ethics and values also underpin our decisions. This virtual event aims to bring together first-time and new voters with older adults with a track record of civic leadership to discuss a number of issues through the lens of beliefs and values, touching on things like:

    What does it mean to be a leader?
    In thorny situations, how do you speak for a community?
    If there are three important issues facing your community and you only have enough resources to address one, how would you choose?

    Because this is leading up to the general election, we want to frame this conversation around the power to change systems for the greater good and how that ties in with being an informed voter.

    The six young interviewers will ask the four speakers questions relating to the themes of conflict/failure, challenges, accountability, transparency, priorities and representation, with the speakers drawing on their personal and professional experiences; and offering examples of how they have faced challenging situations and how that speaks to leadership and community building.

    Young Interviewers

    Bitaniya Giday, age 17, is the 2020-2021 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate. She is a first-generation Ethiopian American residing in Seattle. Her writing explores the nuances of womanhood and blackness, as she reflects upon her family’s path of immigration across the world. She hopes to restore and safeguard the past, present, and future histories of her people through traditional storytelling and poetry.

    Read more »

    Related:

    Ethiopian Americans Hold Virtual Town Hall Ahead of November Election


    The nationwide town hall event, which will be held on Thursday, September 24th, 2020 plans to emphasize the importance of exercising our citizenship right to vote and to participate in the U.S. democratic process. The gathering will feature panel discussions, PSAs, and cultural engagements. (Courtesy photos)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: September 23rd, 2020

    Los Angeles (TADIAS) — Ethiopian Americans are holding a virtual town hall this week ahead of the November 3rd U.S. election.

    The nationwide event, which will be held on Thursday, September 24th, will emphasize the importance of exercising our citizenship right to vote and to participate in the U.S. democratic process.

    According to organizers the town hall — put together by the ‘Habeshas Vote’ initiative and the non-profit organization Habesha Networks — will feature various panel discussions, public service announcements and cultural engagements.

    “We intend on discussing various subject matters related to civic engagement issues affecting our community at the moment,” the announcement notes, highlighting that by the end of the conference “participants will be able to understand the importance of taking ownership of our local communities, learn more about the voting process and gain a better [appreciation] of why we should all care about voting.”

    Speakers include Helen Amelga, President of the Ethiopian Democratic Club of Los Angeles; Dr. Menna Demissie, Senior Vice President of Policy Analysis & Research at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation; Assemblyman Alexander Assefa, the first Ethiopian American to be elected into office in the Nevada Legislature and the first Ethiopian American ever elected in the U.S. to a state-wide governing body; Judge Nina Ashenafi Richardson of Florida, who is the first Ethiopian-American judge in the United States who was re-elected to a third term this year; and Girmay Zahilay, Councilman in King County, Washington.


    (Courtesy photos)

    Additional presenters include: Andom Ghebreghiorgis. former Congressional candidate from New York; Samuel Gebru, former candidate for City Council in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and current managing director of Black Lion Strategies; as well as Hannah Joy Gebresilassie, journalist and community advocate; and Debbie Almraw, writer and poet.

    Entertainment will be provided by Elias Aragaw, the artist behind @TheFunkIsReal, and DJ Sammy Sam.

    The announcement notes that “voting is a core principle of being American, but to exercise this basic right we must be registered to vote! That’s why Habesha Networks and Habeshas Vote are proud partners of When We All Vote and supporters of National Voter Registration Day.”

    Watch: Students Interview Kamala Harris (U.S. ELECTION UPDATE)


    Fana R. Haileselassie, a student at Spelman College in Atlanta, asks Sen. Kamala Harris a question during a virtual Q&A hosted by BET featuring the Democratic nominee for Vice President and students discussing the interests of millennial voters. (Photo: BETNetworks)

    BET News Special

    HBCU Students Interview Kamala Harris

    A virtual Q&A hosted by Terrence J featuring Democratic nominee for Vice President Sen. Kamala Harris and HBCU students discussing the interests of millennial voters.

    Watch: Sen. Kamala Harris Answers HBCU Students’ Questions About Voting, Student Loan Debt & More

    Related:

    Virginia’s Era as a Swing State Appears to be Over


    President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama wave after a campaign event in May 2012 in Richmond. (Getty Images)

    The Washington Post

    Updated: September 18th, 2020

    No TV ads, no presidential visits: Virginia’s era as a swing state appears to be over

    Barack Obama held the very last rally of his 2008 campaign in Virginia, the longtime Republican stronghold he flipped on his way to the White House.

    Four years later, Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney made more visits and aired more television ads here than nearly anywhere else. And in 2016, Donald Trump staged rally after rally in the Old Dominion while Hillary Clinton picked a Virginian as her running mate.

    But Virginia isn’t getting the swing-state treatment this time around. As in-person early voting got underway Friday, President Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden were dark on broadcast television. Super PACs were clogging somebody else’s airwaves. Even as Trump and Biden have resumed limited travel amid the coronavirus pandemic, neither has stumped in the Old Dominion.

    There’s really no discussion about the state being in play,” said Amy Walter, national editor of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. “If you’re Ohio or New Hampshire, or Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, you’ve always been in that spotlight. Virginia got it for such a short period of time.”

    The last time presidential candidates stayed out of Virginia and off its airwaves was 2004. The state was reliably red then, having backed Republicans for the White House every year since 1968. Now Virginia seems to be getting the cold shoulder because it’s considered solidly blue.

    “Virginia was the belle of the ball in 2008, and again in 2012, and still once more in 2016, but in 2020, the commonwealth is a wall flower,” said Stephen Farnsworth, a University of Mary Washington political scientist.

    Read more »

    Related:

    Virginians come out in force to cast ballots on the first day of early voting

    Mike Bloomberg to spend at least $100 million in Florida to benefit Joe Biden


    Former NYC mayor Mike Bloomberg plans to spend at least $100 million to help elect Joe Biden, a massive late-stage infusion of cash that could reshape the presidential contest. (Getty Images)

    The Washington Post

    Updated: September 13th, 2020

    Former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg plans to spend at least $100 million in Florida to help elect Democrat Joe Biden, a massive late-stage infusion of cash that could reshape the presidential contest in a costly toss-up state central to President Trump’s reelection hopes.

    Bloomberg made the decision to focus his final election spending on Florida last week, after news reports that Trump had considered spending as much as $100 million of his own money in the final weeks of the campaign, Bloomberg’s advisers said. Presented with several options on how to make good on an earlier promise to help elect Biden, Bloomberg decided that a narrow focus on Florida was the best use of his money.

    The president’s campaign has long treated the state, which Trump now calls home, as a top priority, and his advisers remain confident in his chances given strong turnout in 2016 and 2018 that gave Republicans narrow winning margins in statewide contests.

    Watch: Former 2020 presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg slammed Trump during his Democratic National Convention speech on Aug. 20.

    Bloomberg’s aim is to prompt enough early voting that a pro-Biden result would be evident soon after the polls close.

    Read more »

    Related:

    Biden Leads by 9 Percentage Points in Pennsylvania (ELECTION UPDATE)


    In the survey, Biden, who was born in the state, draws the support of 53 percent of likely voters, compared to 44 percent who back Trump. (Reuters photo)

    The Washington Post

    Updated: September 9, 2020

    Biden Leads by 9 Percentage Points in Pennsylvania, Poll Finds

    Joe Biden leads President Trump by nine percentage points among likely voters in Pennsylvania, a key battleground state that Trump narrowly won four years ago, according to a new NBC News-Marist poll.

    In the survey, Biden, who was born in the state, draws the support of 53 percent of likely voters, compared to 44 percent who back Trump.

    In 2016, Trump carried Pennsylvania by less than one percentage point over Democrat Hillary Clinton.

    The NBC-Marist poll shows Biden getting a boost from suburban voters, who side with him by nearly 20 percentage points, 58 percent to 39 percent. In 2016, Trump won suburban voters in Pennsylvania by about eight points, according to exit polls.


    Supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden stand outside the AFL-CIO headquarters in Harrisburg, Pa., on Monday. (Getty Images)

    The poll also finds the candidates are tied at 49 percent among white voters in Pennsylvania, a group that Trump won by double digits in 2016. Biden leads Trump among nonwhite voters, 75 percent to 19 percent.

    Pennsylvania has been a frequent destination for both campaigns in recent weeks. Vice President Pence has events scheduled there on Wednesday.

    Kamala D. Harris Goes Viral — for Her Shoe Choice


    Sporting Chuck Taylor sneakers, Democratic vice-presidential candidate Sen. Kamala D. Harris (Calif.) greets supporters Monday in Milwaukee. (AP photo)

    The Washington Post

    Updated: September 8, 2020

    It took roughly eight seconds of on-the-ground campaigning for the first Black woman to be nominated on a major party’s ticket to go viral.

    At first glance, little seemed noteworthy as Sen. Kamala D. Harris deplaned in Milwaukee on Monday. She was wearing a mask. She didn’t trip. Instead, what sent video pinging around the Internet was what was on her feet: her black, low-rise Chuck Taylor All-Stars, the classic Converse shoe that has long been associated more closely with cultural cool than carefully managed high-profile candidacies.

    By Tuesday morning, videos by two reporters witnessing her arrival had been viewed nearly 8 million times on Twitter — for comparison’s sake, more than four times the attention the campaign’s biggest planned video event, a conversation between Joe Biden and Barack Obama, had received on both Twitter and YouTube combined.

    Harris’s sister, Maya, tweeted Monday that Chuck Taylors are, indeed, her sister’s “go-to.” A few hours later, Harris’s official campaign account tweeted the video with the caption “laced up and ready to win.”

    Read more »

    81 American Nobel Laureates Endorse Biden for Next U.S. President


    The Nobel laureates in physics, chemistry and medicine “wholeheartedly” endorsed the Democratic nominee in an open letter released Wednesday. “At no time in our nation’s history has there been a greater need for our leaders to appreciate the value of science in formulating public policy,” they said. (Courtesy photo)

    Press Release

    Nobel Laureates endorse Joe Biden

    81 American Nobel Laureates in Physics, Chemistry, and Medicine have signed this letter to express their support for former Vice President Joe Biden in the 2020 election for President of the United States.

    At no time in our nation’s history has there been a greater need for our leaders to appreciate the value of science in formulating public policy. During his long record of public service, Joe Biden has consistently demonstrated his willingness to listen to experts, his understanding of the value of international collaboration in research, and his respect for the contribution that immigrants make to the intellectual life of our country.

    As American citizens and as scientists, we wholeheartedly endorse Joe Biden for President.

    Name, Category, Prize Year:

    Peter Agre Chemistry 2003
    Sidney Altman Chemistry 1989
    Frances H. Arnold Chemistry 2018
    Paul Berg Chemistry 1980
    Thomas R. Cech Chemistry 1989
    Martin Chalfie Chemistry 2008
    Elias James Corey Chemistry 1990
    Joachim Frank Chemistry 2017
    Walter Gilbert Chemistry 1980
    John B. Goodenough Chemistry 2019
    Alan Heeger Chemistry 2000
    Dudley R. Herschbach Chemistry 1986
    Roald Hoffmann Chemistry 1981
    Brian K. Kobilka Chemistry 2012
    Roger D. Kornberg Chemistry 2006
    Robert J. Lefkowitz Chemistry 2012
    Roderick MacKinnon Chemistry 2003
    Paul L. Modrich Chemistry 2015
    William E. Moerner Chemistry 2014
    Mario J. Molina Chemistry 1995
    Richard R. Schrock Chemistry 2005
    K. Barry Sharpless Chemistry 2001
    Sir James Fraser Stoddart Chemistry 2016
    M. Stanley Whittingham Chemistry 2019
    James P. Allison Medicine 2018
    Richard Axel Medicine 2004
    David Baltimore Medicine 1975
    J. Michael Bishop Medicine 1989
    Elizabeth H. Blackburn Medicine 2009
    Michael S. Brown Medicine 1985
    Linda B. Buck Medicine 2004
    Mario R. Capecchi Medicine 2007
    Edmond H. Fischer Medicine 1992
    Joseph L. Goldstein Medicine 1985
    Carol W. Greider Medicine 2009
    Jeffrey Connor Hall Medicine 2017
    Leland H. Hartwell Medicine 2001
    H. Robert Horvitz Medicine 2002
    Louis J. Ignarro Medicine 1998
    William G. Kaelin Jr. Medicine 2019
    Eric R. Kandel Medicine 2000
    Craig C. Mello Medicine 2006
    John O’Keefe Medicine 2014
    Michael Rosbash Medicine 2017
    James E. Rothman Medicine 2013
    Randy W. Schekman Medicine 2013
    Gregg L. Semenza Medicine 2019
    Hamilton O. Smith Medicine 1978
    Thomas C. Sudhof Medicine 2013
    Jack W. Szostak Medicine 2009
    Susumu Tonegawa Medicine 1987
    Harold E. Varmus Medicine 1989
    Eric F. Wieschaus Medicine 1995
    Torsten N. Wiesel Medicine 1981
    Michael W. Young Medicine 2017
    Barry Clark Barish Physics 2017
    Steven Chu Physics 1997
    Jerome I. Friedman Physics 1990
    Sheldon Glashow Physics 1979
    David J. Gross Physics 2004
    John L. Hall Physics 2005
    Wolfgang Ketterle Physics 2001
    J. Michael Kosterlitz Physics 2016
    Herbert Kroemer Physics 2000
    Robert B. Laughlin Physics 1998
    Anthony J. Leggett Physics 2003
    John C. Mather Physics 2006
    Shuji Nakamura Physics 2014
    Douglas D. Osheroff Physics 1996
    James Peebles Physics 2019
    Arno Penzias Physics 1978
    Saul Perlmutter Physics 2011
    H. David Politzer Physics 2004
    Brian P. Schmidt Physics 2011
    Joseph H. Taylor Jr. Physics 1993
    Kip Stephen Thorne Physics 2017
    Daniel C. Tsui Physics 1998
    Rainer Weiss Physics 2017
    Frank Wilczek Physics 2004
    Robert Woodrow Wilson Physics 1978
    David J. Wineland Physics 2012

    Related

    Biden Calls Trump ‘a Toxic Presence’ Who is Encouraging Violence in America


    “Donald Trump has been a toxic presence in our nation for four years,” Biden said. “Will we rid ourselves of this toxin? (Photo: Joe Biden speaks Monday in Pittsburgh/Reuters)

    The Washington Post

    Joe Biden excoriated President Trump on Monday as a threat to the safety of all Americans, saying he has encouraged violence in the nation’s streets even as he has faltered in handling the coronavirus pandemic.

    For his most extensive remarks since violent protests have escalated across the country in recent days, Biden traveled to Pittsburgh and struck a centrist note, condemning both the destruction in the streets and Trump for creating a culture that he said has exacerbated it.

    “I want to be very clear about all of this: Rioting is not protesting. Looting is not protesting. Setting fires is not protesting,” Biden said. “It’s lawlessness, plain and simple. And those who do it should be prosecuted.”

    The former vice president also rejected the caricature that Trump and his allies have painted of him as someone who holds extremist views and has helped fuel the anger in urban centers across the country.

    “You know me. You know my heart. You know my story, my family’s story,” Biden said. “Ask yourself: Do I look like a radical socialist with a soft spot for rioters? Really?”

    While the speech was delivered amid heightened tensions over race and police conduct, Biden did not outline new policies, instead focusing on making a broader condemnation of Trump.

    He called the president a danger to those suffering from the coronavirus, to anyone in search of a job or struggling to pay rent, to voters worried about Russian interference in the upcoming election and to those worried about their own safety amid unrest.

    “Donald Trump wants to ask the question: Who will keep you safer as president? Let’s answer that question,” Biden said. “When I was vice president, violent crime fell 15 percent in this country. We did it without chaos and disorder.”

    Pointing to a nationwide homicide rate rising 26 percent this year, Biden asked, “Do you really feel safer under Donald Trump?”

    “If I were president today, the country would be safer,” Biden said. “And we’d be seeing a lot less violence.”

    It was a marked shift for Biden from his convention speech less than two weeks ago, in which he never named Trump in his remarks. During his speech Monday, he mentioned Trump’s name 32 times.

    “Donald Trump has been a toxic presence in our nation for four years,” Biden said. “Will we rid ourselves of this toxin? Or will we make it a permanent part of our nation’s character?”

    Read more »

    Spotlight: The Unravelling of the Social Fabric in Ethiopia and the U.S.


    As Ethiopian Americans we are increasingly concerned about the decline of civil discourse and the unravelling of the social fabric not only in Ethiopia, but also here in the United States where in the era of Trump and the COVID-19 pandemic politics has also become more and more violent. Below are excerpts and links to two recent articles from The Intercept and The Guardian focusing on the timely topic. (AP photo)

    The Intercept

    August, 29th, 2020

    The Social Fabric of the U.S. Is Fraying Severely, if Not Unravelling: Why, in the world’s richest country, is every metric of mental health pathology rapidly worsening?

    THE YEAR 2020 has been one of the most tumultuous in modern American history. To find events remotely as destabilizing and transformative, one has to go back to the 2008 financial crisis and the 9/11 and anthrax attacks of 2001, though those systemic shocks, profound as they were, were isolated (one a national security crisis, the other a financial crisis) and thus more limited in scope than the multicrisis instability now shaping U.S. politics and culture.

    Since the end of World War II, the only close competitor to the current moment is the multipronged unrest of the 1960s and early 1970s: serial assassinations of political leaders, mass civil rights and anti-war protests, sustained riots, fury over a heinous war in Indochina, and the resignation of a corruption-plagued president.

    But those events unfolded and built upon one another over the course of a decade. By crucial contrast, the current confluence of crises, each of historic significance in their own right — a global pandemic, an economic and social shutdown, mass unemployment, an enduring protest movement provoking increasing levels of violence and volatility, and a presidential election centrally focused on one of the most divisive political figures the U.S. has known who happens to be the incumbent president — are happening simultaneously, having exploded one on top of the other in a matter of a few months.

    Lurking beneath the headlines justifiably devoted to these major stories of 2020 are very troubling data that reflect intensifying pathologies in the U.S. population — not moral or allegorical sicknesses but mental, emotional, psychological and scientifically proven sickness. Many people fortunate enough to have survived this pandemic with their physical health intact know anecdotally — from observing others and themselves — that these political and social crises have spawned emotional difficulties and psychological challenges…

    Much attention is devoted to lamenting the toxicity of our discourse, the hate-driven polarization of our politics, and the fragmentation of our culture. But it is difficult to imagine any other outcome in a society that is breeding so much psychological and emotional pathology by denying to its members the things they most need to live fulfilling lives.

    Read the full article at theintercept.com »

    Ethiopia falls into violence a year after leader’s Nobel peace prize win


    Ethiopia’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, centre, arrives at an African Union summit in Addis Ababa in July. Photograph: AP

    By Jason Burke and Zecharias Zelalem in Addis Ababa

    Sat 29 Aug 2020

    Abiy Ahmed came to power promising radical reform, but 180 people have died amid ethnic unrest in Oromia state

    Ethiopia faces a dangerous cycle of intensifying internal political dissent, ethnic unrest and security crackdowns, observers have warned, after a series of protests in recent weeks highlighted growing discontent with the government of Abiy Ahmed, a Nobel peace prize winner.

    Many western powers welcomed the new approach of Abiy, who took power in 2018 and promised a programme of radical reform after decades of repressive one-party rule, hoping for swift changes in an emerging economic power that plays a key strategic role in a region increasingly contested by Middle Eastern powers and China. He won the peace prize in 2019 for ending a conflict with neighbouring Eritrea.

    The most vocal unrest was in the state of Oromia, where there have been waves of protests since the killing last month of a popular Oromo artist and activist, Haacaaluu Hundeessaa, in Addis Ababa, the capital. An estimated 180 people have died in the violence, some murdered by mobs, others shot by security forces. Houses, factories, businesses, hotels, cars and government offices were set alight or damaged and several thousand people, including opposition leaders, were arrested.

    Further protests last week prompted a new wave of repression and left at least 11 dead. “Oromia is still reeling from the grim weight of tragic killings this year. These grave patterns of abuse should never be allowed to continue,” said Aaron Maasho, a spokesperson for the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission.

    Read more »

    Related:

    ‘How Dare We Not Vote?’ Black Voters Organize After DC March


    People rally at Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington, Friday Aug. 28, 2020, on the 57th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech. Speakers implored attendees to “vote as if our lives depend on it.” (AP Photos)

    The Associated Press

    Updated: August 29th, 2020

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Tears streamed down Brooke Moreland’s face as she watched tens of thousands gather on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to decry systemic racism and demand racial justice in the wake of several police killings of Black Americans.

    But for the Indianapolis mother of three, the fiery speeches delivered Friday at the commemoration of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom also gave way to one central message: Vote and demand change at the ballot box in November.

    “As Black people, a lot of the people who look like us died for us to be able to sit in public, to vote, to go to school and to be able to walk around freely and live our lives,” the 31-year-old Moreland said. “Every election is an opportunity, so how dare we not vote after our ancestors fought for us to be here?”

    That determination could prove critical in a presidential election where race is emerging as a flashpoint. President Donald Trump, at this past week’s Republican National Convention, emphasized a “law and order” message aimed at his largely white base of supporters. His Democratic rival, Joe Biden, has expressed empathy with Black victims of police brutality and is counting on strong turnout from African Americans to win critical states such as North Carolina, Florida, Pennsylvania and Michigan.

    “If we do not vote in numbers that we’ve never ever seen before and allow this administration to continue what it is doing, we are headed on a course for serious destruction,” Martin Luther King III, told The Associated Press before his rousing remarks, delivered 57 years after his father’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech. “I’m going to do all that I can to encourage, promote, to mobilize and what’s at stake is the future of our nation, our planet. What’s at stake is the future of our children.”

    As the campaign enters its latter stages, there’s an intensifying effort among African Americans to transform frustration over police brutality, systemic racism and the disproportionate toll of the coronavirus into political power. Organizers and participants said Friday’s march delivered a much needed rallying cry to mobilize.

    As speakers implored attendees to “vote as if our lives depend on it,” the march came on the heels of yet another shooting by a white police officer of a Black man – 29-year-old Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last Sunday — sparking demonstrations and violence that left two dead.

    “We need a new conversation … you act like it’s no trouble to shoot us in the back,” the Rev. Al Sharpton said. “Our vote is dipped in blood. We’re going to vote for a nation that stops the George Floyds, that stops the Breonna Taylors.”

    Navy veteran Alonzo Jones- Goss, who traveled to Washington from Boston, said he plans to vote for Biden because the nation has seen far too many tragic events that have claimed the lives of Black Americans and other people of color.

    “I supported and defended the Constitution and I support the members that continue to do it today, but the injustice and the people that are losing their lives, that needs to end,” Jones-Goss, 28, said. “It’s been 57 years since Dr. King stood over there and delivered his speech. But what is unfortunate is what was happening 57 years ago is still happening today.”

    Drawing comparisons to the original 1963 march, where participants then were protesting many of the same issues that have endured, National Urban League President and CEO Marc Morial said it’s clear why this year’s election will be pivotal for Black Americans.

    “We are about reminding people and educating people on how important it is to translate the power of protest into the power of politics and public policy change,” said Morial, who spoke Friday. “So we want to be deliberate about making the connection between protesting and voting.”

    Nadia Brown, a Purdue University political science professor, agreed there are similarities between the situation in 1963 and the issues that resonate among Black Americans today. She said the political pressure that was applied then led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and other powerful pieces of legislation that transformed the lives of African Americans. She’s hopeful this could happen again in November and beyond.

    “There’s already a host of organizations that are mobilizing in the face of daunting things,” Brown said. “Bur these same groups that are most marginalized are saying it’s not enough to just vote, it’s not enough for the Democratic Party or the Republican Party to ask me for my vote. I’m going to hold these elected officials that are in office now accountable and I’m going to vote in November and hold those same people accountable. And for me, that is the most uplifting and rewarding part — to see those kind of similarities.”

    But Brown noted that while Friday’s march resonated with many, it’s unclear whether it will translate into action among younger voters, whose lack of enthusiasm could become a vulnerability for Biden.

    “I think there is already a momentum among younger folks who are saying not in my America, that this is not the place where they want to live, but will this turn into electoral gains? That I’m less clear on because a lot of the polling numbers show that pretty overwhelmingly, younger people, millennials and Gen Z’s are more progressive and that they are reluctantly turning to this pragmatic side of politics,” Brown said.

    That was clear as the Movement for Black Lives also marked its own historic event Friday — a virtual Black National Convention that featured several speakers discussing pressing issues such as climate change, economic empowerment and the need for electoral justice.

    “I don’t necessarily see elections as achieving justice per se because I view the existing system itself as being fundamentally unjust in many ways and it is the existing system that we are trying to fundamentally transform,” said Bree Newsome Bass, an activist and civil rights organizer, during the convention’s panel about electoral justice. “I do think voting and recognizing what an election should be is a way to kind of exercise that muscle.”


    Biden, Harris Prepare to Travel More as Campaign Heats Up (Election Update)


    Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden and vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris. (AP Photos)

    The Associated Press

    August 28th, 2020

    WASHINGTON (AP) — After spending a pandemic spring and summer tethered almost entirely to his Delaware home, Joe Biden plans to take his presidential campaign to battleground states after Labor Day in his bid to unseat President Donald Trump.

    No itinerary is set, according to the Democratic nominee’s campaign, but the former vice president and his allies say his plan is to highlight contrasts with Trump, from policy arguments tailored to specific audiences to the strict public health guidelines the Biden campaign says its events will follow amid COVID-19.

    That’s a notable difference from a president who on Thursday delivered his nomination acceptance on the White House lawn to more than 1,000 people seated side-by-side, most of them without masks, even as the U.S. death toll surpassed 180,000.

    “He will go wherever he needs to go,” said Biden’s campaign co-chairman Cedric Richmond, a Louisiana congressman. “And we will do it in a way the health experts would be happy” with and “not the absolutely irresponsible manner you saw at the White House.”

    Richmond said it was “always the plan” for Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris to travel more extensively after Labor Day, the traditional mark of the campaign’s home stretch when more casual voters begin to pay close attention.


    Biden supporters hold banners near the White House on the fourth day of the Republican National Convention, Thursday evening, Aug. 27, 2020, in Washington, while Donald Trump delivers his acceptance speech from the nearby White House South Lawn.(AP Photo)

    Biden has conducted online fundraisers, campaign events and television interviews from his home, but traveled only sparingly for speeches and roundtables with a smattering of media or supporters. His only confirmed plane travel was to Houston, where he met with the family of George Floyd, the Black man who was killed by a white Minneapolis police officer on May 25, sparking nationwide protests. Even some Democrats worried quietly that Biden was ceding too much of the spotlight to Trump. But Biden aides have defended their approach. “We will never make any choices that put our staff or voters in harm’s way,” campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon said in May.

    Throughout his unusual home-based campaign, Biden blasted Trump as incompetent and irresponsible for downplaying the pandemic and publicly disputing the government’s infectious disease experts. Richmond said that won’t change as Biden ramps up travel.

    “We won’t beat this pandemic, which means we can’t restore the economy and get people’s lives back home, unless we exercise some discipline and lead by example,” Richmond said, adding that Trump is “incapable of doing it.”

    As exhibited by his acceptance speech Thursday, Trump is insistent on as much normalcy as possible, even as he’s pulled back from his signature indoor rallies after drawing a disappointing crowd in Tulsa, Oklahoma on June 20. Trump casts Biden as wanting to “shut down” the economy to combat the virus. “Joe Biden’s plan is not a solution to the virus, but rather a surrender,” Trump declared on the White House lawn. Biden, in fact, has not proposed shutting down the economy. He’s said only that he would be willing to make such a move as president if public health experts advise it. The Democrat also has called for a national mask mandate, calling it a necessary move for Americans to protect each other. Harris on Friday talked about the idea in slightly different terms than Biden, acknowledging that a mandate would be difficult to enforce.

    “It’s really a standard. I mean, nobody’s gonna be punished. Come on,” the California senator said, laughing off a question about how to enforce such a rule during an interview that aired Friday on “Today.” “Nobody likes to wear a mask. This is a universal feeling. Right? So that’s not the point, ’Hey, let’s enjoy wearing masks.′ No.”


    Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaks in Washington, Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020. (AP Photo)

    Harris suggested that, instead, the rule would be about “what we — as responsible people who love our neighbor — we have to just do that right now.”

    “God willing, it won’t be forever,” she added.

    Biden and Harris have worn protective face masks in public and stayed socially distanced from each other when appearing together at campaign events. Both have said for weeks that a rule requiring all Americans to wear them could save 40,000 lives in just a three-month period. While such an order may be difficult to impose at the federal level, Biden has called on every governor in the country to order mask-wearing in their states, which would likely achieve the same goal.

    Trump has urged Americans to wear masks but opposes a national requirement and personally declined to do so for months. He has worn a mask occasionally more recently, but not at any point Thursday at the Republican National Convention’s closing event, which violated the District of Columbia’s guidelines prohibiting large gatherings.

    Related:

    Joe Biden Claims the Democratic Presidential Nomination


    Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden accepted the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination on Thursday evening during the last day of the historic Democratic National Convention, August 20, 2020. (AP photo)

    The Washington Post

    Updated: August 21st, 2020

    Biden speaks about ‘battle for the soul of this nation,’ decries Trump’s leadership

    Joe Biden accepted his party’s presidential nomination, delivering a speech that directly criticized the leadership of Trump on matters of the coronavirus pandemic, the economy and racial justice.

    “Here and now, I give you my word: If you entrust me with the presidency, I will draw on the best of us, not the worst. I’ll be an ally of the light, not the darkness,” Biden said, calling on Americans to come together to “overcome this season of darkness.”

    The night featured tributes to civil rights activist and congressman John Lewis, who died in July, as well as to Beau Biden, Joe Biden’s son who died in 2015.


    Kamala Harris Accepts Historic Nomination for Vice President of the United States


    Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) accepted her party’s historic nomination to be its vice-presidential candidate in the 2020 U.S. election on Wednesday evening during the third day of the Democratic National Convention. (Reuters photo)

    Reuters

    Updated: August 20th, 2020

    Kamala Harris makes U.S. history, accepts Democrats’ vice presidential nod

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senator Kamala Harris accepted the Democratic nomination for vice president on Wednesday, imploring the country to elect Joe Biden president and accusing Donald Trump of failed leadership that had cost lives and livelihoods.

    The first Black woman and Asian-American on a major U.S. presidential ticket, Harris summarized her life story as emblematic of the American dream on the third day of the Democratic National Convention.

    “Donald Trump’s failure of leadership has cost lives and livelihoods,” Harris said.

    Former U.S. President Barack Obama told the convention Trump’s failures as his successor had led to 170,000 people dead from the coronavirus, millions of lost jobs and America’s reputation badly diminished in the world.

    The evening featured a crush of women headliners, moderators and speakers, with Harris pressing the case against Trump, speaking directly to millions of women, young Americans and voters of color, constituencies Democrats need if Biden is to defeat the Republican Trump.

    “The constant chaos leaves us adrift, the incompetence makes us feel afraid, the callousness makes us feel alone. It’s a lot. And here’s the thing: we can do better and deserve so much more,” she said.

    “Right now, we have a president who turns our tragedies into political weapons. Joe will be a president who turns our challenges into purpose,” she said, speaking from an austere hotel ballroom in Biden’s hometown of Wilmington, Delaware.

    Biden leads Trump in opinion polls ahead of the Nov. 3 election, bolstered by a big lead among women voters. Throughout the convention, Democrats have appealed directly to those women voters, highlighting Biden’s co-sponsorship of the landmark Violence Against Woman Act of 1994 and his proposals to bolster childcare and protect family healthcare provisions.

    Obama, whose vice president was Biden from 2009-2017, said he had hoped that Trump would take the job seriously, come to feel the weight of the office, and discover a reverence for American democracy.

    Obama on Trump: ‘Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t’

    “Donald Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t. And the consequences of that failure are severe,” Obama said in unusually blunt criticism from an ex-president.

    “Millions of jobs gone. Our worst impulses unleashed, our proud reputation around the world badly diminished, and our democratic institutions threatened like never before,” Obama said.

    The choice of a running mate has added significance for Biden, 77, who would be the oldest person to become president if he is elected. His age has led to speculation he will serve only one term, making Harris a potential top contender for the nomination in 2024.

    Biden named Harris, 55, as his running mate last week to face incumbents Trump, 74, and Vice President Mike Pence, 61.

    Former first lady and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee who lost to Trump, told the convention she constantly hears from voters who regret backing Trump or not voting at all.

    “This can’t be another woulda coulda shoulda election.” Clinton said. “No matter what, vote. Vote like our lives and livelihoods are on the line, because they are.”

    Clinton, who won the popular vote against Trump but lost in the Electoral College, said Biden needs to win overwhelmingly, warning he could win the popular vote but still lose the White House.

    “Joe and Kamala can win by 3 million votes and still lose,” Clinton said. “Take it from me. So we need numbers overwhelming so Trump can’t sneak or steal his way to victory.”


    U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) accepts the Democratic vice presidential nomination during an acceptance speech delivered for 2020 Democratic National Convention from the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S., August 19, 2020. (Getty Images)

    Democrats have been alarmed by Trump’s frequent criticism of mail-in voting, and by cost-cutting changes at the U.S. Postal Service instituted by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a Trump supporter, that could delay mail during the election crunch. DeJoy said recently he would delay those changes until after the election.

    Democrats also broadcast videos highlighting Trump’s crackdown on immigration, opposition to gun restrictions and his decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord.

    ‘DISRESPECT’ FOR FACTS, FOR WOMEN

    Nancy Pelosi, the first woman Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, told the convention she had seen firsthand Trump’s “disrespect for facts, for working families, and for women in particular – disrespect written into his policies toward our health and our rights, not just his conduct. But we know what he doesn’t: that when women succeed, America succeeds.”

    U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, a leading progressive who ran against Biden in the 2020 primary, spoke to the convention from a childcare center in Massachusetts and cited Biden’s proposal to make childcare more affordable as a vital part of his agenda to help working Americans.

    “It’s time to recognize that childcare is part of the basic infrastructure of this nation — it’s infrastructure for families,” she said. “Joe and Kamala will make high-quality childcare affordable for every family, make preschool universal, and raise the wages for every childcare worker.”

    In her speech later, Harris will have an opportunity to outline her background as a child of immigrants from India and Jamaica who as a district attorney, state attorney general, U.S. senator from California and now vice-presidential candidate shattered gender and racial barriers.

    She gained prominence in the Senate for her exacting interrogations of Trump nominees, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Attorney General Bill Barr.

    The Republican National Convention, also largely virtual, takes place next week.

    Democrats Officially Nominate Joe Biden to Become the Next U.S. President


    It’s official: Joe Biden is now formally a candidate to become the next President of the United States. Democrats officially nominated Biden as their 2020 candidate on Tuesday with a roll-call vote of delegates representing all states in the country during the second day of party’s historic virtual convention. (Photo: Courtesy of the Biden campaign)

    The Associated Press

    Updated: August 19th, 2020

    Democrats make it official, nominate Biden to take on Trump

    NEW YORK (AP) — Democrats formally nominated Joe Biden as their 2020 presidential nominee Tuesday night, as party officials and activists from across the nation gave the former vice president their overwhelming support during his party’s all-virtual national convention.

    The moment marked a political high point for Biden, who had sought the presidency twice before and is now cemented as the embodiment of Democrats’ desperate desire to defeat President Donald Trump this fall.

    The roll call of convention delegates formalized what has been clear for months since Biden took the lead in the primary elections’ chase for the nomination. It came as he worked to demonstrate the breadth of his coalition for a second consecutive night, this time blending support from his party’s elders and fresher faces to make the case that he has the experience and energy to repair chaos that Trump has created at home and abroad.

    Former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State John Kerry — and former Republican Secretary of State Colin Powell — were among the heavy hitters on a schedule that emphasized a simple theme: Leadership matters. Former President Jimmy Carter, now 95 years old, also made an appearance.

    “Donald Trump says we’re leading the world. Well, we are the only major industrial economy to have its unemployment rate triple,” Clinton said. “At a time like this, the Oval Office should be a command center. Instead, it’s a storm center. There’s only chaos.”


    In this image from video, former Georgia House Democratic leader Stacey Abrams, center, and others, speak during the second night of the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. (Democratic National Convention via AP)

    Biden formally captured his party’s presidential nomination Tuesday night after being nominated by three people, including two Delaware lawmakers and 31-year-old African American security guard who became a viral sensation after blurting out “I love you” to Biden in a New York City elevator.

    Delegates from across the country then pledged their support for Biden in a video montage that featured Democrats in places like Alabama’s Edmund Pettis Bridge, a beach in Hawaii and the headwaters of the Mississippi River.

    In the opening of the convention’s second night, a collection of younger Democrats, including former Georgia lawmaker Stacey Abrams and New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, were given a few minutes to shine.

    “In a democracy, we do not elect saviors. We cast our ballots for those who see our struggles and pledge to serve,” said Abrams, 46, who emerged as a national player during her unsuccessful bid for governor in 2018 and was among those considered to be Biden’s running mate.

    She added: “Faced with a president of cowardice, Joe Biden is a man of proven courage.”

    On a night that Biden was formally receiving his party’s presidential nomination, the convention was also introducing his wife, Jill Biden, to the nation as the prospective first lady.


    In this image from video, Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden, his wife Jill Biden, and members of the Biden family, celebrate after the roll call during the second night of the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. (Democratic National Convention via AP)

    Biden is fighting unprecedented logistical challenges to deliver his message during an all-virtual convention this week as the coronavirus epidemic continues to claim hundreds of American lives each day and wreaks havoc on the economy.

    The former vice president was becoming his party’s nominee as a prerecorded roll call vote from delegates in all 50 states airs, and the four-day convention will culminate on Thursday when he accepts that nomination. His running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris, will become the first woman of color to accept a major party’s vice presidential nomination on Wednesday.

    Until then, Biden is presenting what he sees as the best of his sprawling coalition to the American electorate in a format unlike any other in history.

    For a second night, the Democrats featured Republicans.

    Powell, who served as secretary of state under George W. Bush and appeared at multiple Republican conventions in years past, was endorsing the Democratic candidate. In a video released ahead of his speech, he said, “Our country needs a commander in chief who takes care of our troops in the same way he would his own family. For Joe Biden, that doesn’t need teaching.”

    Powell joins the widow of the late Arizona Sen. John McCain, Cindy McCain, who was expected to stop short of a formal endorsement but talk about the mutual respect and friendship her husband and Biden shared.

    While there have been individual members of the opposing party featured at presidential conventions before, a half dozen Republicans, including the former two-term governor of Ohio, have now spoken for Democrat Biden.

    No one on the program Tuesday night has a stronger connection to the Democratic nominee than his wife, Jill Biden, a longtime teacher, was speaking from her former classroom at Brandywine High School near the family home in Wilmington, Delaware.

    “You can hear the anxiety that echoes down empty hallways. There’s no scent of new notebooks or freshly waxed floors,” she said of the school in excerpts of her speech before turning to the nation’s challenges at home. “How do you make a broken family whole? The same way you make a nation whole. With love and understanding—and with small acts of compassion. With bravery. With unwavering faith.”

    The Democrats’ party elders played a prominent role throughout the night.

    Clinton, who turns 74 on Tuesday, hasn’t held office in two decades. Kerry, 76, was the Democratic presidential nominee back in 2004 when the youngest voters this fall were still in diapers. And Carter is 95 years old.

    Clinton, a fixture of Democratic conventions for nearly three decades, addressed voters for roughly five minutes in a speech recorded at his home in Chappaqua, New York.

    In addition to railing against Trump’s leadership, Clinton calls Biden “a go-to-work president.” Biden, Clinton continued, is “a man with a mission: to take responsibility, not shift the blame; concentrate, not distract; unite, not divide.”…

    Kerry said in an excerpt of his remarks, “Joe understands that none of the issues of this world — not nuclear weapons, not the challenge of building back better after COVID, not terrorism and certainly not the climate crisis — none can be resolved without bringing nations together.”

    Democrats Kick Off Convention as Poll Show Biden, Harris With Double-Digit Lead


    Democrats kicked off their historic virtual convention on Monday with the keynote speaker former first lady Michelle Obama assailing the current president as unfit and warning Americans not to reelect him for a second term. Meanwhile new poll show Biden, Harris with double-digit lead over Trump. (Getty Images)

    The Associated Press

    Updated: August 18th, 2020

    Michelle Obama assails Trump as Democrats open convention

    NEW YORK (AP) — Michelle Obama delivered a passionate broadside against President Donald Trump during Monday’s opening night of the Democratic National Convention, assailing the Republican president as unfit for the job and warning that the nation’s mounting crises would only get worse if he’s reelected.

    The former first lady issued an emotional call to the coalition that sent her husband to the White House, declaring that strong feelings must be translated into votes.

    “Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country,” she declared. “He has had more than enough time to prove that he can do the job, but he is clearly in over his head. He cannot meet this moment. He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us.”

    Obama added: “If you think things possibly can’t get worse, trust me, they can and they will if we don’t make a change in this election.”

    The comments came as Joe Biden introduced the breadth of his political coalition to a nation in crisis Monday night at the convention, giving voice to victims of the coronavirus pandemic, the related economic downturn and police violence and featuring both progressive Democrats and Republicans united against Trump’s reelection.


    Former first lady Michelle Obama speaks during the first night of the Democratic National Convention on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020. The DNC released excerpts of her speech ahead of the convention start. (Democratic National Convention)

    The ideological range of Biden’s many messengers was demonstrated by former presidential contenders from opposing parties: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist who championed a multi-trillion-dollar universal health care plan, and Ohio’s former Republican Gov. John Kasich, an anti-abortion conservative who spent decades fighting to cut government spending.

    The former vice president won’t deliver his formal remarks until Thursday night, but he made his first appearance just half an hour into Monday’s event as he moderated a panel on racial justice, a theme throughout the night, as was concern about the Postal Service. The Democrats accuse Trump of interfering with the nation’s mail in order to throw blocks in front of mail-in voting.

    “My friends, I say to you, and to everyone who supported other candidates in this primary and to those who may have voted for Donald Trump in the last election: The future of our democracy is at stake. The future of our economy is at stake. The future of our planet is at stake,” Sanders declared.

    Kasich said his status as a lifelong Republican “holds second place to my responsibility to my country.”

    “In normal times, something like this would probably never happen, but these are not normal times,” he said of his participation at the Democrats’ convention. He added: “Many of us can’t imagine four more years going down this path.”

    Read more »

    Post-ABC poll shows Biden, Harris hold double-digit lead over Trump, Pence

    The race for the White House tilts toward the Democrats, with former vice president Joe Biden holding a double-digit lead nationally over President Trump amid continuing disapproval of the president’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.

    Democrats [kicked] off their convention on Monday in a mood of cautious optimism, with Biden and his running mate, Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), leading Trump and Vice President Pence by 53 percent to 41 percent among registered voters. The findings are identical among a larger sample of all voting-age adults.

    Biden’s current national margin over Trump among voters is slightly smaller than the 15-point margin in a poll taken last month and slightly larger than a survey in May when he led by 10 points. In late March, as the pandemic was taking hold in the United States, Biden and Trump were separated by just two points, with the former vice president holding a statistically insignificant advantage.

    Today, Biden and Harris lead by 54 percent to 43 percent among those who say they are absolutely certain to vote and who also report voting in 2016. A month ago, Biden’s lead of 15 points overall had narrowed to seven points among similarly committed 2016 voters. Biden now also leads by low double-digits among those who say they are following the election most closely.

    Read more »

    Team Joe Announces Convention Speakers


    Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, and his running mate, US Senator Kamala Harris. (Courtesy Photo)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: August 17th, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — Joe Biden’s campaign has announced its speaker lineup for the Democratic National Convention that’s set to open on Monday, August 17th in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

    Below are the list of speakers that will be featured “across all four nights of the Convention which will air live August 17-20 from 9:00-11:00 PM Eastern each night.”

    Related:

    ‘ሴቷ ኦባማ?’: Kamala Harris Faces Culture of Sexism & Misogyny in Ethiopian Media

    Interview With Addisu Demissie: Senior Adviser to Joe Biden

    Biden Selects Yohannes Abraham as Member of Transition Team

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Tadias Hosts Panel Discussion on Civic Engagement and Voter Mobilization

    On Sunday, October 25th, Tadias Magazine will host a timely virtual panel discussion on civic engagement and voter mobilization. We invite you to join us for a lively discussion on building political power through our citizenship rights to vote and run for office. (Photos: Courtesy of the participants)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: October 24th, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — This coming weekend on Sunday, October 25th, Tadias Magazine will host a timely virtual panel discussion on civic engagement and voter mobilization featuring a new generation of Ethiopian American leaders from various professions.

    Panelists include Henock Dory, who currently serves as Special Assistant to former President Barack Obama;; Tefere Gebre, Executive Vice President of the AFL-CIO; Selam Mulugeta Washington, a former Field Organizer with Obama for America, Helen Mesfin from the Helen Show DC, Dr. Menna Demessie, Vice President of Policy Analysis & Research at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation; Helen Amelga, President of the Ethiopian Democratic Club of Los Angeles (moderator) as well as Bemnet Meshesha and Helen Eshete of the Habeshas Vote initiative. The event will open with poetry reading by Bitaniya Giday, the 2020-2021 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate.

    Ethiopian Americans are as diverse as mainstream America when it comes to our perspectives on various social and political issues, but despite our differences we are all united when it comes to the need to empower ourselves and participate in the democratic process through our citizenship rights to vote and run for office.

    We invite you to join us for a lively discussion on building political power through civic engagement and voter mobilization on Sunday, October 25th 7:00 PM EST (4:00 PM PST).

    Eventbrite RSVP required.

    Click here to register and receive your Zoom ID.

    Related:

    ‘Habeshas Vote’ Phone Banking Event This Week Aims Outreach to Ethio-Americans


    (Photo courtesy of Habesha Networks)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Published: October 19th, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — We are now almost two weeks away from the November 3rd U.S. presidential election. This week the ‘Habeshas Vote’ initiative and the non-profit organization Habesha Networks in partnership with Tadias Magazine and Abbay Media will host their first virtual phone banking event to reach out to the Ethiopian American community.

    The online event, which is set to take place on Thursday, October 22nd from 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM EDT, will feature various panel discussions, public service announcements and cultural engagements.

    Organizers note that there will be a brief training on phone banking as well as “some amazing prizes” for those that call and text the most voters.

    If You Attend:

    Click here to lean more and RSVP.

    —-

    Related:

    Ethiopian-Americans for Biden-Harris Hosts Virtual Conversation


    Ethiopian-Americans for Biden-Harris is a volunteer-led group that supports the candidacy of Former Vice-President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris. (Courtesy photo)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: October 19th, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — As the highly anticipated 2020 U.S. presidential election fast approaches on November 3rd, various Ethiopian American associations are organizing voter turnout and education events across the country.

    The latest to announce such an event is the newly formed, volunteer-led group, Ethiopian-Americans for Biden-Harris, which supports the candidacy of Former Vice-President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris and will be hosting an online conversation next week Friday, October 23 at 6:00 PM EDT/3:00 PM PDT.

    “As one of the largest African Diaspora groups in the United States, the community has historically supported causes championed by the Democratic Party, including but not limited to, immigration reform, healthcare reform, promotion of democracy, human rights and improved trade and investment between the United States and Ethiopia,” the group states in its press release. “Ethiopian-Americans believe that a Biden-Harris Administration will champion equitable access and opportunity for all Americans, restore mutually beneficial relationships with Ethiopia and improve America’s standing among the community of nations.”


    (Courtesy photo)

    The virtual event, which will be moderated by Dr. Menna Demessie, Senior Vice President of Policy Analysis & Research at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, features Congresswoman Karen Bass, who has represented California’s 37th congressional district since 2013; Representative Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas; Gayle Smith, president and CEO of the One Campaign and the former administrator of the United States Agency for International Development; and Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, a Senior Vice President at Albright Stonebridge Group (ASG) leading the firm’s Africa practice. Thomas-Greenfield was also the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs in the United States Department of State’s Bureau of African Affairs from 2013 to 2017.

    Ethiopian American speakers include Assemblyman Alexander Assefa, the first Ethiopian-American elected to public office in the United States and the first African immigrant to serve in elected office in the State of Nevada; Addisu Demissie, who served as Senior Advisor to U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden, and was responsible for organizing the nominating convention for the Democratic Party this past summer; Marcus Samuelsson, an award-winning chef, restaurateur, cookbook author, philanthropist and food activist; Mimi Alemayehou, a development finance executive who has served as Executive Vice President of the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation and as United States Executive Director of the African Development Bank.

    If You Attend

    Click here to RSVP now staring $25.

    Learn more at www.ethiopiansforbidenharris.com.

    Related:

    Ethiopian Americans: Election is Approaching, Let’s Make Sure our Voices are Heard


    In this OP-ED Helen Amelga, President of the Ethiopian Democratic Club of Los Angeles, urges Ethiopian Americans to participate in the upcoming U.S. election that will directly impact our lives for many years to come, and shares resources to help our community to get involved in the democratic process. (Courtesy photo)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Helen Amelga

    Updated: October 16th, 2020

    Los Angeles (TADIAS) — How many people of Ethiopian descent live in the United States? 300,000? 400,000? 500,000? We don’t really know for sure. But with the 2020 census, we will for the first time have the opportunity to get a truly accurate count. If you haven’t done so already, go to 2020cencus.gov and complete your census today.

    While the exact numbers are yet to be determined, it is clear that there is a significant Ethiopian-American population in the United States. Why is it then that we do not have a strong political presence?

    We know our community can organize. We have Iqub (እቁብ), mahbers (ማህበር), business associations, and our faith based groups are extremely organized. We need to use those same skills to mobilize politically.

    We must equip ourselves with the knowledge of political systems, major policies and voter rights, not only to serve as advocates for our community, but so that we ourselves can occupy positions of power and authority to be the decision makers who shape the society and world we want to live in.

    We know it’s possible because we already have trailblazers such as Assemblyman Alexander Assefa, the first Ethiopian American to be elected into office in the Nevada Legislature and the first Ethiopian American ever elected in the U.S. to a state-wide governing body as well as Judge Nina Ashenafi Richardson of Florida, who is the first Ethiopian-American judge in the United States who was re-elected to a third term his year.

    We cannot afford to give our vote away to candidates who are not serving our needs. We are ready to spring into action when there is a problem in our community, but it is not enough to go to our elected officials once we have a problem and try to convince them to help us. We need to be proactive.

    We must purposefully engage to get the right people elected in the first place. We must identify candidates who align with and will fight for our values. Then, we must do everything we can to make sure those candidates are elected.

    Here are a few steps you can take to get involved:

    1. Register to vote

    2. Request a vote by mail ballot today

    3. Reach out to 5 friends and make sure they’re registered to vote

    4. Research your candidates & ballot measures

    5. Volunteers to phone bank for a campaign

    6. Sign up to be a poll worker on election day

    The November 3rd general election is fast approaching. Let’s make sure our voices are heard.

    Related:

    Interview: Helen Amelga, Founder of Ethiopian Democratic Club of LA

    Interview With Addisu Demissie: Senior Adviser to Joe Biden

    Biden Selects Yohannes Abraham as Member of Transition Team


    Related:

    Election 2020 – The Youth Vote Event In Seattle


    Bitaniya Giday, age 17, is the 2020-2021 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate. She is a first-generation Ethiopian American residing in Seattle. Bitaniya is one of the young interviewers in a timely upcoming Zoom event on October 14th titled “The Youth Vote: A conversation about leadership, ethics and values and how they factor into choosing a candidate.” (KNKX PUBLIC RADIO)

    KNKX PUBLIC RADIO

    Young people make up a projected 37% of the 2020 electorate, yet historically they vote less than other age groups. Will it be different this time? The pandemic crisis and the call for racial justice and institutional changes are top concerns as we move closer to this high stakes election. Ethics and values also underpin our decisions. This virtual event aims to bring together first-time and new voters with older adults with a track record of civic leadership to discuss a number of issues through the lens of beliefs and values, touching on things like:

    What does it mean to be a leader?
    In thorny situations, how do you speak for a community?
    If there are three important issues facing your community and you only have enough resources to address one, how would you choose?

    Because this is leading up to the general election, we want to frame this conversation around the power to change systems for the greater good and how that ties in with being an informed voter.

    The six young interviewers will ask the four speakers questions relating to the themes of conflict/failure, challenges, accountability, transparency, priorities and representation, with the speakers drawing on their personal and professional experiences; and offering examples of how they have faced challenging situations and how that speaks to leadership and community building.

    Young Interviewers

    Bitaniya Giday, age 17, is the 2020-2021 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate. She is a first-generation Ethiopian American residing in Seattle. Her writing explores the nuances of womanhood and blackness, as she reflects upon her family’s path of immigration across the world. She hopes to restore and safeguard the past, present, and future histories of her people through traditional storytelling and poetry.

    Read more »

    Related:

    Ethiopian Americans Hold Virtual Town Hall Ahead of November Election


    The nationwide town hall event, which will be held on Thursday, September 24th, 2020 plans to emphasize the importance of exercising our citizenship right to vote and to participate in the U.S. democratic process. The gathering will feature panel discussions, PSAs, and cultural engagements. (Courtesy photos)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: September 23rd, 2020

    Los Angeles (TADIAS) — Ethiopian Americans are holding a virtual town hall this week ahead of the November 3rd U.S. election.

    The nationwide event, which will be held on Thursday, September 24th, will emphasize the importance of exercising our citizenship right to vote and to participate in the U.S. democratic process.

    According to organizers the town hall — put together by the ‘Habeshas Vote’ initiative and the non-profit organization Habesha Networks — will feature various panel discussions, public service announcements and cultural engagements.

    “We intend on discussing various subject matters related to civic engagement issues affecting our community at the moment,” the announcement notes, highlighting that by the end of the conference “participants will be able to understand the importance of taking ownership of our local communities, learn more about the voting process and gain a better [appreciation] of why we should all care about voting.”

    Speakers include Helen Amelga, President of the Ethiopian Democratic Club of Los Angeles; Dr. Menna Demissie, Senior Vice President of Policy Analysis & Research at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation; Assemblyman Alexander Assefa, the first Ethiopian American to be elected into office in the Nevada Legislature and the first Ethiopian American ever elected in the U.S. to a state-wide governing body; Judge Nina Ashenafi Richardson of Florida, who is the first Ethiopian-American judge in the United States who was re-elected to a third term this year; and Girmay Zahilay, Councilman in King County, Washington.


    (Courtesy photos)

    Additional presenters include: Andom Ghebreghiorgis. former Congressional candidate from New York; Samuel Gebru, former candidate for City Council in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and current managing director of Black Lion Strategies; as well as Hannah Joy Gebresilassie, journalist and community advocate; and Debbie Almraw, writer and poet.

    Entertainment will be provided by Elias Aragaw, the artist behind @TheFunkIsReal, and DJ Sammy Sam.

    The announcement notes that “voting is a core principle of being American, but to exercise this basic right we must be registered to vote! That’s why Habesha Networks and Habeshas Vote are proud partners of When We All Vote and supporters of National Voter Registration Day.”

    Watch: Students Interview Kamala Harris (U.S. ELECTION UPDATE)


    Fana R. Haileselassie, a student at Spelman College in Atlanta, asks Sen. Kamala Harris a question during a virtual Q&A hosted by BET featuring the Democratic nominee for Vice President and students discussing the interests of millennial voters. (Photo: BETNetworks)

    BET News Special

    HBCU Students Interview Kamala Harris

    A virtual Q&A hosted by Terrence J featuring Democratic nominee for Vice President Sen. Kamala Harris and HBCU students discussing the interests of millennial voters.

    Watch: Sen. Kamala Harris Answers HBCU Students’ Questions About Voting, Student Loan Debt & More

    Related:

    Virginia’s Era as a Swing State Appears to be Over


    President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama wave after a campaign event in May 2012 in Richmond. (Getty Images)

    The Washington Post

    Updated: September 18th, 2020

    No TV ads, no presidential visits: Virginia’s era as a swing state appears to be over

    Barack Obama held the very last rally of his 2008 campaign in Virginia, the longtime Republican stronghold he flipped on his way to the White House.

    Four years later, Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney made more visits and aired more television ads here than nearly anywhere else. And in 2016, Donald Trump staged rally after rally in the Old Dominion while Hillary Clinton picked a Virginian as her running mate.

    But Virginia isn’t getting the swing-state treatment this time around. As in-person early voting got underway Friday, President Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden were dark on broadcast television. Super PACs were clogging somebody else’s airwaves. Even as Trump and Biden have resumed limited travel amid the coronavirus pandemic, neither has stumped in the Old Dominion.

    There’s really no discussion about the state being in play,” said Amy Walter, national editor of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. “If you’re Ohio or New Hampshire, or Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, you’ve always been in that spotlight. Virginia got it for such a short period of time.”

    The last time presidential candidates stayed out of Virginia and off its airwaves was 2004. The state was reliably red then, having backed Republicans for the White House every year since 1968. Now Virginia seems to be getting the cold shoulder because it’s considered solidly blue.

    “Virginia was the belle of the ball in 2008, and again in 2012, and still once more in 2016, but in 2020, the commonwealth is a wall flower,” said Stephen Farnsworth, a University of Mary Washington political scientist.

    Read more »

    Related:

    Virginians come out in force to cast ballots on the first day of early voting

    Mike Bloomberg to spend at least $100 million in Florida to benefit Joe Biden


    Former NYC mayor Mike Bloomberg plans to spend at least $100 million to help elect Joe Biden, a massive late-stage infusion of cash that could reshape the presidential contest. (Getty Images)

    The Washington Post

    Updated: September 13th, 2020

    Former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg plans to spend at least $100 million in Florida to help elect Democrat Joe Biden, a massive late-stage infusion of cash that could reshape the presidential contest in a costly toss-up state central to President Trump’s reelection hopes.

    Bloomberg made the decision to focus his final election spending on Florida last week, after news reports that Trump had considered spending as much as $100 million of his own money in the final weeks of the campaign, Bloomberg’s advisers said. Presented with several options on how to make good on an earlier promise to help elect Biden, Bloomberg decided that a narrow focus on Florida was the best use of his money.

    The president’s campaign has long treated the state, which Trump now calls home, as a top priority, and his advisers remain confident in his chances given strong turnout in 2016 and 2018 that gave Republicans narrow winning margins in statewide contests.

    Watch: Former 2020 presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg slammed Trump during his Democratic National Convention speech on Aug. 20.

    Bloomberg’s aim is to prompt enough early voting that a pro-Biden result would be evident soon after the polls close.

    Read more »

    Related:

    Biden Leads by 9 Percentage Points in Pennsylvania (ELECTION UPDATE)


    In the survey, Biden, who was born in the state, draws the support of 53 percent of likely voters, compared to 44 percent who back Trump. (Reuters photo)

    The Washington Post

    Updated: September 9, 2020

    Biden Leads by 9 Percentage Points in Pennsylvania, Poll Finds

    Joe Biden leads President Trump by nine percentage points among likely voters in Pennsylvania, a key battleground state that Trump narrowly won four years ago, according to a new NBC News-Marist poll.

    In the survey, Biden, who was born in the state, draws the support of 53 percent of likely voters, compared to 44 percent who back Trump.

    In 2016, Trump carried Pennsylvania by less than one percentage point over Democrat Hillary Clinton.

    The NBC-Marist poll shows Biden getting a boost from suburban voters, who side with him by nearly 20 percentage points, 58 percent to 39 percent. In 2016, Trump won suburban voters in Pennsylvania by about eight points, according to exit polls.


    Supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden stand outside the AFL-CIO headquarters in Harrisburg, Pa., on Monday. (Getty Images)

    The poll also finds the candidates are tied at 49 percent among white voters in Pennsylvania, a group that Trump won by double digits in 2016. Biden leads Trump among nonwhite voters, 75 percent to 19 percent.

    Pennsylvania has been a frequent destination for both campaigns in recent weeks. Vice President Pence has events scheduled there on Wednesday.

    Kamala D. Harris Goes Viral — for Her Shoe Choice


    Sporting Chuck Taylor sneakers, Democratic vice-presidential candidate Sen. Kamala D. Harris (Calif.) greets supporters Monday in Milwaukee. (AP photo)

    The Washington Post

    Updated: September 8, 2020

    It took roughly eight seconds of on-the-ground campaigning for the first Black woman to be nominated on a major party’s ticket to go viral.

    At first glance, little seemed noteworthy as Sen. Kamala D. Harris deplaned in Milwaukee on Monday. She was wearing a mask. She didn’t trip. Instead, what sent video pinging around the Internet was what was on her feet: her black, low-rise Chuck Taylor All-Stars, the classic Converse shoe that has long been associated more closely with cultural cool than carefully managed high-profile candidacies.

    By Tuesday morning, videos by two reporters witnessing her arrival had been viewed nearly 8 million times on Twitter — for comparison’s sake, more than four times the attention the campaign’s biggest planned video event, a conversation between Joe Biden and Barack Obama, had received on both Twitter and YouTube combined.

    Harris’s sister, Maya, tweeted Monday that Chuck Taylors are, indeed, her sister’s “go-to.” A few hours later, Harris’s official campaign account tweeted the video with the caption “laced up and ready to win.”

    Read more »

    81 American Nobel Laureates Endorse Biden for Next U.S. President


    The Nobel laureates in physics, chemistry and medicine “wholeheartedly” endorsed the Democratic nominee in an open letter released Wednesday. “At no time in our nation’s history has there been a greater need for our leaders to appreciate the value of science in formulating public policy,” they said. (Courtesy photo)

    Press Release

    Nobel Laureates endorse Joe Biden

    81 American Nobel Laureates in Physics, Chemistry, and Medicine have signed this letter to express their support for former Vice President Joe Biden in the 2020 election for President of the United States.

    At no time in our nation’s history has there been a greater need for our leaders to appreciate the value of science in formulating public policy. During his long record of public service, Joe Biden has consistently demonstrated his willingness to listen to experts, his understanding of the value of international collaboration in research, and his respect for the contribution that immigrants make to the intellectual life of our country.

    As American citizens and as scientists, we wholeheartedly endorse Joe Biden for President.

    Name, Category, Prize Year:

    Peter Agre Chemistry 2003
    Sidney Altman Chemistry 1989
    Frances H. Arnold Chemistry 2018
    Paul Berg Chemistry 1980
    Thomas R. Cech Chemistry 1989
    Martin Chalfie Chemistry 2008
    Elias James Corey Chemistry 1990
    Joachim Frank Chemistry 2017
    Walter Gilbert Chemistry 1980
    John B. Goodenough Chemistry 2019
    Alan Heeger Chemistry 2000
    Dudley R. Herschbach Chemistry 1986
    Roald Hoffmann Chemistry 1981
    Brian K. Kobilka Chemistry 2012
    Roger D. Kornberg Chemistry 2006
    Robert J. Lefkowitz Chemistry 2012
    Roderick MacKinnon Chemistry 2003
    Paul L. Modrich Chemistry 2015
    William E. Moerner Chemistry 2014
    Mario J. Molina Chemistry 1995
    Richard R. Schrock Chemistry 2005
    K. Barry Sharpless Chemistry 2001
    Sir James Fraser Stoddart Chemistry 2016
    M. Stanley Whittingham Chemistry 2019
    James P. Allison Medicine 2018
    Richard Axel Medicine 2004
    David Baltimore Medicine 1975
    J. Michael Bishop Medicine 1989
    Elizabeth H. Blackburn Medicine 2009
    Michael S. Brown Medicine 1985
    Linda B. Buck Medicine 2004
    Mario R. Capecchi Medicine 2007
    Edmond H. Fischer Medicine 1992
    Joseph L. Goldstein Medicine 1985
    Carol W. Greider Medicine 2009
    Jeffrey Connor Hall Medicine 2017
    Leland H. Hartwell Medicine 2001
    H. Robert Horvitz Medicine 2002
    Louis J. Ignarro Medicine 1998
    William G. Kaelin Jr. Medicine 2019
    Eric R. Kandel Medicine 2000
    Craig C. Mello Medicine 2006
    John O’Keefe Medicine 2014
    Michael Rosbash Medicine 2017
    James E. Rothman Medicine 2013
    Randy W. Schekman Medicine 2013
    Gregg L. Semenza Medicine 2019
    Hamilton O. Smith Medicine 1978
    Thomas C. Sudhof Medicine 2013
    Jack W. Szostak Medicine 2009
    Susumu Tonegawa Medicine 1987
    Harold E. Varmus Medicine 1989
    Eric F. Wieschaus Medicine 1995
    Torsten N. Wiesel Medicine 1981
    Michael W. Young Medicine 2017
    Barry Clark Barish Physics 2017
    Steven Chu Physics 1997
    Jerome I. Friedman Physics 1990
    Sheldon Glashow Physics 1979
    David J. Gross Physics 2004
    John L. Hall Physics 2005
    Wolfgang Ketterle Physics 2001
    J. Michael Kosterlitz Physics 2016
    Herbert Kroemer Physics 2000
    Robert B. Laughlin Physics 1998
    Anthony J. Leggett Physics 2003
    John C. Mather Physics 2006
    Shuji Nakamura Physics 2014
    Douglas D. Osheroff Physics 1996
    James Peebles Physics 2019
    Arno Penzias Physics 1978
    Saul Perlmutter Physics 2011
    H. David Politzer Physics 2004
    Brian P. Schmidt Physics 2011
    Joseph H. Taylor Jr. Physics 1993
    Kip Stephen Thorne Physics 2017
    Daniel C. Tsui Physics 1998
    Rainer Weiss Physics 2017
    Frank Wilczek Physics 2004
    Robert Woodrow Wilson Physics 1978
    David J. Wineland Physics 2012

    Related

    Biden Calls Trump ‘a Toxic Presence’ Who is Encouraging Violence in America


    “Donald Trump has been a toxic presence in our nation for four years,” Biden said. “Will we rid ourselves of this toxin? (Photo: Joe Biden speaks Monday in Pittsburgh/Reuters)

    The Washington Post

    Joe Biden excoriated President Trump on Monday as a threat to the safety of all Americans, saying he has encouraged violence in the nation’s streets even as he has faltered in handling the coronavirus pandemic.

    For his most extensive remarks since violent protests have escalated across the country in recent days, Biden traveled to Pittsburgh and struck a centrist note, condemning both the destruction in the streets and Trump for creating a culture that he said has exacerbated it.

    “I want to be very clear about all of this: Rioting is not protesting. Looting is not protesting. Setting fires is not protesting,” Biden said. “It’s lawlessness, plain and simple. And those who do it should be prosecuted.”

    The former vice president also rejected the caricature that Trump and his allies have painted of him as someone who holds extremist views and has helped fuel the anger in urban centers across the country.

    “You know me. You know my heart. You know my story, my family’s story,” Biden said. “Ask yourself: Do I look like a radical socialist with a soft spot for rioters? Really?”

    While the speech was delivered amid heightened tensions over race and police conduct, Biden did not outline new policies, instead focusing on making a broader condemnation of Trump.

    He called the president a danger to those suffering from the coronavirus, to anyone in search of a job or struggling to pay rent, to voters worried about Russian interference in the upcoming election and to those worried about their own safety amid unrest.

    “Donald Trump wants to ask the question: Who will keep you safer as president? Let’s answer that question,” Biden said. “When I was vice president, violent crime fell 15 percent in this country. We did it without chaos and disorder.”

    Pointing to a nationwide homicide rate rising 26 percent this year, Biden asked, “Do you really feel safer under Donald Trump?”

    “If I were president today, the country would be safer,” Biden said. “And we’d be seeing a lot less violence.”

    It was a marked shift for Biden from his convention speech less than two weeks ago, in which he never named Trump in his remarks. During his speech Monday, he mentioned Trump’s name 32 times.

    “Donald Trump has been a toxic presence in our nation for four years,” Biden said. “Will we rid ourselves of this toxin? Or will we make it a permanent part of our nation’s character?”

    Read more »

    Spotlight: The Unravelling of the Social Fabric in Ethiopia and the U.S.


    As Ethiopian Americans we are increasingly concerned about the decline of civil discourse and the unravelling of the social fabric not only in Ethiopia, but also here in the United States where in the era of Trump and the COVID-19 pandemic politics has also become more and more violent. Below are excerpts and links to two recent articles from The Intercept and The Guardian focusing on the timely topic. (AP photo)

    The Intercept

    August, 29th, 2020

    The Social Fabric of the U.S. Is Fraying Severely, if Not Unravelling: Why, in the world’s richest country, is every metric of mental health pathology rapidly worsening?

    THE YEAR 2020 has been one of the most tumultuous in modern American history. To find events remotely as destabilizing and transformative, one has to go back to the 2008 financial crisis and the 9/11 and anthrax attacks of 2001, though those systemic shocks, profound as they were, were isolated (one a national security crisis, the other a financial crisis) and thus more limited in scope than the multicrisis instability now shaping U.S. politics and culture.

    Since the end of World War II, the only close competitor to the current moment is the multipronged unrest of the 1960s and early 1970s: serial assassinations of political leaders, mass civil rights and anti-war protests, sustained riots, fury over a heinous war in Indochina, and the resignation of a corruption-plagued president.

    But those events unfolded and built upon one another over the course of a decade. By crucial contrast, the current confluence of crises, each of historic significance in their own right — a global pandemic, an economic and social shutdown, mass unemployment, an enduring protest movement provoking increasing levels of violence and volatility, and a presidential election centrally focused on one of the most divisive political figures the U.S. has known who happens to be the incumbent president — are happening simultaneously, having exploded one on top of the other in a matter of a few months.

    Lurking beneath the headlines justifiably devoted to these major stories of 2020 are very troubling data that reflect intensifying pathologies in the U.S. population — not moral or allegorical sicknesses but mental, emotional, psychological and scientifically proven sickness. Many people fortunate enough to have survived this pandemic with their physical health intact know anecdotally — from observing others and themselves — that these political and social crises have spawned emotional difficulties and psychological challenges…

    Much attention is devoted to lamenting the toxicity of our discourse, the hate-driven polarization of our politics, and the fragmentation of our culture. But it is difficult to imagine any other outcome in a society that is breeding so much psychological and emotional pathology by denying to its members the things they most need to live fulfilling lives.

    Read the full article at theintercept.com »

    Ethiopia falls into violence a year after leader’s Nobel peace prize win


    Ethiopia’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, centre, arrives at an African Union summit in Addis Ababa in July. Photograph: AP

    By Jason Burke and Zecharias Zelalem in Addis Ababa

    Sat 29 Aug 2020

    Abiy Ahmed came to power promising radical reform, but 180 people have died amid ethnic unrest in Oromia state

    Ethiopia faces a dangerous cycle of intensifying internal political dissent, ethnic unrest and security crackdowns, observers have warned, after a series of protests in recent weeks highlighted growing discontent with the government of Abiy Ahmed, a Nobel peace prize winner.

    Many western powers welcomed the new approach of Abiy, who took power in 2018 and promised a programme of radical reform after decades of repressive one-party rule, hoping for swift changes in an emerging economic power that plays a key strategic role in a region increasingly contested by Middle Eastern powers and China. He won the peace prize in 2019 for ending a conflict with neighbouring Eritrea.

    The most vocal unrest was in the state of Oromia, where there have been waves of protests since the killing last month of a popular Oromo artist and activist, Haacaaluu Hundeessaa, in Addis Ababa, the capital. An estimated 180 people have died in the violence, some murdered by mobs, others shot by security forces. Houses, factories, businesses, hotels, cars and government offices were set alight or damaged and several thousand people, including opposition leaders, were arrested.

    Further protests last week prompted a new wave of repression and left at least 11 dead. “Oromia is still reeling from the grim weight of tragic killings this year. These grave patterns of abuse should never be allowed to continue,” said Aaron Maasho, a spokesperson for the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission.

    Read more »

    Related:

    ‘How Dare We Not Vote?’ Black Voters Organize After DC March


    People rally at Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington, Friday Aug. 28, 2020, on the 57th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech. Speakers implored attendees to “vote as if our lives depend on it.” (AP Photos)

    The Associated Press

    Updated: August 29th, 2020

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Tears streamed down Brooke Moreland’s face as she watched tens of thousands gather on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to decry systemic racism and demand racial justice in the wake of several police killings of Black Americans.

    But for the Indianapolis mother of three, the fiery speeches delivered Friday at the commemoration of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom also gave way to one central message: Vote and demand change at the ballot box in November.

    “As Black people, a lot of the people who look like us died for us to be able to sit in public, to vote, to go to school and to be able to walk around freely and live our lives,” the 31-year-old Moreland said. “Every election is an opportunity, so how dare we not vote after our ancestors fought for us to be here?”

    That determination could prove critical in a presidential election where race is emerging as a flashpoint. President Donald Trump, at this past week’s Republican National Convention, emphasized a “law and order” message aimed at his largely white base of supporters. His Democratic rival, Joe Biden, has expressed empathy with Black victims of police brutality and is counting on strong turnout from African Americans to win critical states such as North Carolina, Florida, Pennsylvania and Michigan.

    “If we do not vote in numbers that we’ve never ever seen before and allow this administration to continue what it is doing, we are headed on a course for serious destruction,” Martin Luther King III, told The Associated Press before his rousing remarks, delivered 57 years after his father’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech. “I’m going to do all that I can to encourage, promote, to mobilize and what’s at stake is the future of our nation, our planet. What’s at stake is the future of our children.”

    As the campaign enters its latter stages, there’s an intensifying effort among African Americans to transform frustration over police brutality, systemic racism and the disproportionate toll of the coronavirus into political power. Organizers and participants said Friday’s march delivered a much needed rallying cry to mobilize.

    As speakers implored attendees to “vote as if our lives depend on it,” the march came on the heels of yet another shooting by a white police officer of a Black man – 29-year-old Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last Sunday — sparking demonstrations and violence that left two dead.

    “We need a new conversation … you act like it’s no trouble to shoot us in the back,” the Rev. Al Sharpton said. “Our vote is dipped in blood. We’re going to vote for a nation that stops the George Floyds, that stops the Breonna Taylors.”

    Navy veteran Alonzo Jones- Goss, who traveled to Washington from Boston, said he plans to vote for Biden because the nation has seen far too many tragic events that have claimed the lives of Black Americans and other people of color.

    “I supported and defended the Constitution and I support the members that continue to do it today, but the injustice and the people that are losing their lives, that needs to end,” Jones-Goss, 28, said. “It’s been 57 years since Dr. King stood over there and delivered his speech. But what is unfortunate is what was happening 57 years ago is still happening today.”

    Drawing comparisons to the original 1963 march, where participants then were protesting many of the same issues that have endured, National Urban League President and CEO Marc Morial said it’s clear why this year’s election will be pivotal for Black Americans.

    “We are about reminding people and educating people on how important it is to translate the power of protest into the power of politics and public policy change,” said Morial, who spoke Friday. “So we want to be deliberate about making the connection between protesting and voting.”

    Nadia Brown, a Purdue University political science professor, agreed there are similarities between the situation in 1963 and the issues that resonate among Black Americans today. She said the political pressure that was applied then led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and other powerful pieces of legislation that transformed the lives of African Americans. She’s hopeful this could happen again in November and beyond.

    “There’s already a host of organizations that are mobilizing in the face of daunting things,” Brown said. “Bur these same groups that are most marginalized are saying it’s not enough to just vote, it’s not enough for the Democratic Party or the Republican Party to ask me for my vote. I’m going to hold these elected officials that are in office now accountable and I’m going to vote in November and hold those same people accountable. And for me, that is the most uplifting and rewarding part — to see those kind of similarities.”

    But Brown noted that while Friday’s march resonated with many, it’s unclear whether it will translate into action among younger voters, whose lack of enthusiasm could become a vulnerability for Biden.

    “I think there is already a momentum among younger folks who are saying not in my America, that this is not the place where they want to live, but will this turn into electoral gains? That I’m less clear on because a lot of the polling numbers show that pretty overwhelmingly, younger people, millennials and Gen Z’s are more progressive and that they are reluctantly turning to this pragmatic side of politics,” Brown said.

    That was clear as the Movement for Black Lives also marked its own historic event Friday — a virtual Black National Convention that featured several speakers discussing pressing issues such as climate change, economic empowerment and the need for electoral justice.

    “I don’t necessarily see elections as achieving justice per se because I view the existing system itself as being fundamentally unjust in many ways and it is the existing system that we are trying to fundamentally transform,” said Bree Newsome Bass, an activist and civil rights organizer, during the convention’s panel about electoral justice. “I do think voting and recognizing what an election should be is a way to kind of exercise that muscle.”


    Biden, Harris Prepare to Travel More as Campaign Heats Up (Election Update)


    Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden and vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris. (AP Photos)

    The Associated Press

    August 28th, 2020

    WASHINGTON (AP) — After spending a pandemic spring and summer tethered almost entirely to his Delaware home, Joe Biden plans to take his presidential campaign to battleground states after Labor Day in his bid to unseat President Donald Trump.

    No itinerary is set, according to the Democratic nominee’s campaign, but the former vice president and his allies say his plan is to highlight contrasts with Trump, from policy arguments tailored to specific audiences to the strict public health guidelines the Biden campaign says its events will follow amid COVID-19.

    That’s a notable difference from a president who on Thursday delivered his nomination acceptance on the White House lawn to more than 1,000 people seated side-by-side, most of them without masks, even as the U.S. death toll surpassed 180,000.

    “He will go wherever he needs to go,” said Biden’s campaign co-chairman Cedric Richmond, a Louisiana congressman. “And we will do it in a way the health experts would be happy” with and “not the absolutely irresponsible manner you saw at the White House.”

    Richmond said it was “always the plan” for Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris to travel more extensively after Labor Day, the traditional mark of the campaign’s home stretch when more casual voters begin to pay close attention.


    Biden supporters hold banners near the White House on the fourth day of the Republican National Convention, Thursday evening, Aug. 27, 2020, in Washington, while Donald Trump delivers his acceptance speech from the nearby White House South Lawn.(AP Photo)

    Biden has conducted online fundraisers, campaign events and television interviews from his home, but traveled only sparingly for speeches and roundtables with a smattering of media or supporters. His only confirmed plane travel was to Houston, where he met with the family of George Floyd, the Black man who was killed by a white Minneapolis police officer on May 25, sparking nationwide protests. Even some Democrats worried quietly that Biden was ceding too much of the spotlight to Trump. But Biden aides have defended their approach. “We will never make any choices that put our staff or voters in harm’s way,” campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon said in May.

    Throughout his unusual home-based campaign, Biden blasted Trump as incompetent and irresponsible for downplaying the pandemic and publicly disputing the government’s infectious disease experts. Richmond said that won’t change as Biden ramps up travel.

    “We won’t beat this pandemic, which means we can’t restore the economy and get people’s lives back home, unless we exercise some discipline and lead by example,” Richmond said, adding that Trump is “incapable of doing it.”

    As exhibited by his acceptance speech Thursday, Trump is insistent on as much normalcy as possible, even as he’s pulled back from his signature indoor rallies after drawing a disappointing crowd in Tulsa, Oklahoma on June 20. Trump casts Biden as wanting to “shut down” the economy to combat the virus. “Joe Biden’s plan is not a solution to the virus, but rather a surrender,” Trump declared on the White House lawn. Biden, in fact, has not proposed shutting down the economy. He’s said only that he would be willing to make such a move as president if public health experts advise it. The Democrat also has called for a national mask mandate, calling it a necessary move for Americans to protect each other. Harris on Friday talked about the idea in slightly different terms than Biden, acknowledging that a mandate would be difficult to enforce.

    “It’s really a standard. I mean, nobody’s gonna be punished. Come on,” the California senator said, laughing off a question about how to enforce such a rule during an interview that aired Friday on “Today.” “Nobody likes to wear a mask. This is a universal feeling. Right? So that’s not the point, ’Hey, let’s enjoy wearing masks.′ No.”


    Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaks in Washington, Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020. (AP Photo)

    Harris suggested that, instead, the rule would be about “what we — as responsible people who love our neighbor — we have to just do that right now.”

    “God willing, it won’t be forever,” she added.

    Biden and Harris have worn protective face masks in public and stayed socially distanced from each other when appearing together at campaign events. Both have said for weeks that a rule requiring all Americans to wear them could save 40,000 lives in just a three-month period. While such an order may be difficult to impose at the federal level, Biden has called on every governor in the country to order mask-wearing in their states, which would likely achieve the same goal.

    Trump has urged Americans to wear masks but opposes a national requirement and personally declined to do so for months. He has worn a mask occasionally more recently, but not at any point Thursday at the Republican National Convention’s closing event, which violated the District of Columbia’s guidelines prohibiting large gatherings.

    Related:

    Joe Biden Claims the Democratic Presidential Nomination


    Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden accepted the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination on Thursday evening during the last day of the historic Democratic National Convention, August 20, 2020. (AP photo)

    The Washington Post

    Updated: August 21st, 2020

    Biden speaks about ‘battle for the soul of this nation,’ decries Trump’s leadership

    Joe Biden accepted his party’s presidential nomination, delivering a speech that directly criticized the leadership of Trump on matters of the coronavirus pandemic, the economy and racial justice.

    “Here and now, I give you my word: If you entrust me with the presidency, I will draw on the best of us, not the worst. I’ll be an ally of the light, not the darkness,” Biden said, calling on Americans to come together to “overcome this season of darkness.”

    The night featured tributes to civil rights activist and congressman John Lewis, who died in July, as well as to Beau Biden, Joe Biden’s son who died in 2015.


    Kamala Harris Accepts Historic Nomination for Vice President of the United States


    Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) accepted her party’s historic nomination to be its vice-presidential candidate in the 2020 U.S. election on Wednesday evening during the third day of the Democratic National Convention. (Reuters photo)

    Reuters

    Updated: August 20th, 2020

    Kamala Harris makes U.S. history, accepts Democrats’ vice presidential nod

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senator Kamala Harris accepted the Democratic nomination for vice president on Wednesday, imploring the country to elect Joe Biden president and accusing Donald Trump of failed leadership that had cost lives and livelihoods.

    The first Black woman and Asian-American on a major U.S. presidential ticket, Harris summarized her life story as emblematic of the American dream on the third day of the Democratic National Convention.

    “Donald Trump’s failure of leadership has cost lives and livelihoods,” Harris said.

    Former U.S. President Barack Obama told the convention Trump’s failures as his successor had led to 170,000 people dead from the coronavirus, millions of lost jobs and America’s reputation badly diminished in the world.

    The evening featured a crush of women headliners, moderators and speakers, with Harris pressing the case against Trump, speaking directly to millions of women, young Americans and voters of color, constituencies Democrats need if Biden is to defeat the Republican Trump.

    “The constant chaos leaves us adrift, the incompetence makes us feel afraid, the callousness makes us feel alone. It’s a lot. And here’s the thing: we can do better and deserve so much more,” she said.

    “Right now, we have a president who turns our tragedies into political weapons. Joe will be a president who turns our challenges into purpose,” she said, speaking from an austere hotel ballroom in Biden’s hometown of Wilmington, Delaware.

    Biden leads Trump in opinion polls ahead of the Nov. 3 election, bolstered by a big lead among women voters. Throughout the convention, Democrats have appealed directly to those women voters, highlighting Biden’s co-sponsorship of the landmark Violence Against Woman Act of 1994 and his proposals to bolster childcare and protect family healthcare provisions.

    Obama, whose vice president was Biden from 2009-2017, said he had hoped that Trump would take the job seriously, come to feel the weight of the office, and discover a reverence for American democracy.

    Obama on Trump: ‘Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t’

    “Donald Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t. And the consequences of that failure are severe,” Obama said in unusually blunt criticism from an ex-president.

    “Millions of jobs gone. Our worst impulses unleashed, our proud reputation around the world badly diminished, and our democratic institutions threatened like never before,” Obama said.

    The choice of a running mate has added significance for Biden, 77, who would be the oldest person to become president if he is elected. His age has led to speculation he will serve only one term, making Harris a potential top contender for the nomination in 2024.

    Biden named Harris, 55, as his running mate last week to face incumbents Trump, 74, and Vice President Mike Pence, 61.

    Former first lady and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee who lost to Trump, told the convention she constantly hears from voters who regret backing Trump or not voting at all.

    “This can’t be another woulda coulda shoulda election.” Clinton said. “No matter what, vote. Vote like our lives and livelihoods are on the line, because they are.”

    Clinton, who won the popular vote against Trump but lost in the Electoral College, said Biden needs to win overwhelmingly, warning he could win the popular vote but still lose the White House.

    “Joe and Kamala can win by 3 million votes and still lose,” Clinton said. “Take it from me. So we need numbers overwhelming so Trump can’t sneak or steal his way to victory.”


    U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) accepts the Democratic vice presidential nomination during an acceptance speech delivered for 2020 Democratic National Convention from the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S., August 19, 2020. (Getty Images)

    Democrats have been alarmed by Trump’s frequent criticism of mail-in voting, and by cost-cutting changes at the U.S. Postal Service instituted by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a Trump supporter, that could delay mail during the election crunch. DeJoy said recently he would delay those changes until after the election.

    Democrats also broadcast videos highlighting Trump’s crackdown on immigration, opposition to gun restrictions and his decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord.

    ‘DISRESPECT’ FOR FACTS, FOR WOMEN

    Nancy Pelosi, the first woman Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, told the convention she had seen firsthand Trump’s “disrespect for facts, for working families, and for women in particular – disrespect written into his policies toward our health and our rights, not just his conduct. But we know what he doesn’t: that when women succeed, America succeeds.”

    U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, a leading progressive who ran against Biden in the 2020 primary, spoke to the convention from a childcare center in Massachusetts and cited Biden’s proposal to make childcare more affordable as a vital part of his agenda to help working Americans.

    “It’s time to recognize that childcare is part of the basic infrastructure of this nation — it’s infrastructure for families,” she said. “Joe and Kamala will make high-quality childcare affordable for every family, make preschool universal, and raise the wages for every childcare worker.”

    In her speech later, Harris will have an opportunity to outline her background as a child of immigrants from India and Jamaica who as a district attorney, state attorney general, U.S. senator from California and now vice-presidential candidate shattered gender and racial barriers.

    She gained prominence in the Senate for her exacting interrogations of Trump nominees, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Attorney General Bill Barr.

    The Republican National Convention, also largely virtual, takes place next week.

    Democrats Officially Nominate Joe Biden to Become the Next U.S. President


    It’s official: Joe Biden is now formally a candidate to become the next President of the United States. Democrats officially nominated Biden as their 2020 candidate on Tuesday with a roll-call vote of delegates representing all states in the country during the second day of party’s historic virtual convention. (Photo: Courtesy of the Biden campaign)

    The Associated Press

    Updated: August 19th, 2020

    Democrats make it official, nominate Biden to take on Trump

    NEW YORK (AP) — Democrats formally nominated Joe Biden as their 2020 presidential nominee Tuesday night, as party officials and activists from across the nation gave the former vice president their overwhelming support during his party’s all-virtual national convention.

    The moment marked a political high point for Biden, who had sought the presidency twice before and is now cemented as the embodiment of Democrats’ desperate desire to defeat President Donald Trump this fall.

    The roll call of convention delegates formalized what has been clear for months since Biden took the lead in the primary elections’ chase for the nomination. It came as he worked to demonstrate the breadth of his coalition for a second consecutive night, this time blending support from his party’s elders and fresher faces to make the case that he has the experience and energy to repair chaos that Trump has created at home and abroad.

    Former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State John Kerry — and former Republican Secretary of State Colin Powell — were among the heavy hitters on a schedule that emphasized a simple theme: Leadership matters. Former President Jimmy Carter, now 95 years old, also made an appearance.

    “Donald Trump says we’re leading the world. Well, we are the only major industrial economy to have its unemployment rate triple,” Clinton said. “At a time like this, the Oval Office should be a command center. Instead, it’s a storm center. There’s only chaos.”


    In this image from video, former Georgia House Democratic leader Stacey Abrams, center, and others, speak during the second night of the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. (Democratic National Convention via AP)

    Biden formally captured his party’s presidential nomination Tuesday night after being nominated by three people, including two Delaware lawmakers and 31-year-old African American security guard who became a viral sensation after blurting out “I love you” to Biden in a New York City elevator.

    Delegates from across the country then pledged their support for Biden in a video montage that featured Democrats in places like Alabama’s Edmund Pettis Bridge, a beach in Hawaii and the headwaters of the Mississippi River.

    In the opening of the convention’s second night, a collection of younger Democrats, including former Georgia lawmaker Stacey Abrams and New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, were given a few minutes to shine.

    “In a democracy, we do not elect saviors. We cast our ballots for those who see our struggles and pledge to serve,” said Abrams, 46, who emerged as a national player during her unsuccessful bid for governor in 2018 and was among those considered to be Biden’s running mate.

    She added: “Faced with a president of cowardice, Joe Biden is a man of proven courage.”

    On a night that Biden was formally receiving his party’s presidential nomination, the convention was also introducing his wife, Jill Biden, to the nation as the prospective first lady.


    In this image from video, Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden, his wife Jill Biden, and members of the Biden family, celebrate after the roll call during the second night of the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. (Democratic National Convention via AP)

    Biden is fighting unprecedented logistical challenges to deliver his message during an all-virtual convention this week as the coronavirus epidemic continues to claim hundreds of American lives each day and wreaks havoc on the economy.

    The former vice president was becoming his party’s nominee as a prerecorded roll call vote from delegates in all 50 states airs, and the four-day convention will culminate on Thursday when he accepts that nomination. His running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris, will become the first woman of color to accept a major party’s vice presidential nomination on Wednesday.

    Until then, Biden is presenting what he sees as the best of his sprawling coalition to the American electorate in a format unlike any other in history.

    For a second night, the Democrats featured Republicans.

    Powell, who served as secretary of state under George W. Bush and appeared at multiple Republican conventions in years past, was endorsing the Democratic candidate. In a video released ahead of his speech, he said, “Our country needs a commander in chief who takes care of our troops in the same way he would his own family. For Joe Biden, that doesn’t need teaching.”

    Powell joins the widow of the late Arizona Sen. John McCain, Cindy McCain, who was expected to stop short of a formal endorsement but talk about the mutual respect and friendship her husband and Biden shared.

    While there have been individual members of the opposing party featured at presidential conventions before, a half dozen Republicans, including the former two-term governor of Ohio, have now spoken for Democrat Biden.

    No one on the program Tuesday night has a stronger connection to the Democratic nominee than his wife, Jill Biden, a longtime teacher, was speaking from her former classroom at Brandywine High School near the family home in Wilmington, Delaware.

    “You can hear the anxiety that echoes down empty hallways. There’s no scent of new notebooks or freshly waxed floors,” she said of the school in excerpts of her speech before turning to the nation’s challenges at home. “How do you make a broken family whole? The same way you make a nation whole. With love and understanding—and with small acts of compassion. With bravery. With unwavering faith.”

    The Democrats’ party elders played a prominent role throughout the night.

    Clinton, who turns 74 on Tuesday, hasn’t held office in two decades. Kerry, 76, was the Democratic presidential nominee back in 2004 when the youngest voters this fall were still in diapers. And Carter is 95 years old.

    Clinton, a fixture of Democratic conventions for nearly three decades, addressed voters for roughly five minutes in a speech recorded at his home in Chappaqua, New York.

    In addition to railing against Trump’s leadership, Clinton calls Biden “a go-to-work president.” Biden, Clinton continued, is “a man with a mission: to take responsibility, not shift the blame; concentrate, not distract; unite, not divide.”…

    Kerry said in an excerpt of his remarks, “Joe understands that none of the issues of this world — not nuclear weapons, not the challenge of building back better after COVID, not terrorism and certainly not the climate crisis — none can be resolved without bringing nations together.”

    Democrats Kick Off Convention as Poll Show Biden, Harris With Double-Digit Lead


    Democrats kicked off their historic virtual convention on Monday with the keynote speaker former first lady Michelle Obama assailing the current president as unfit and warning Americans not to reelect him for a second term. Meanwhile new poll show Biden, Harris with double-digit lead over Trump. (Getty Images)

    The Associated Press

    Updated: August 18th, 2020

    Michelle Obama assails Trump as Democrats open convention

    NEW YORK (AP) — Michelle Obama delivered a passionate broadside against President Donald Trump during Monday’s opening night of the Democratic National Convention, assailing the Republican president as unfit for the job and warning that the nation’s mounting crises would only get worse if he’s reelected.

    The former first lady issued an emotional call to the coalition that sent her husband to the White House, declaring that strong feelings must be translated into votes.

    “Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country,” she declared. “He has had more than enough time to prove that he can do the job, but he is clearly in over his head. He cannot meet this moment. He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us.”

    Obama added: “If you think things possibly can’t get worse, trust me, they can and they will if we don’t make a change in this election.”

    The comments came as Joe Biden introduced the breadth of his political coalition to a nation in crisis Monday night at the convention, giving voice to victims of the coronavirus pandemic, the related economic downturn and police violence and featuring both progressive Democrats and Republicans united against Trump’s reelection.


    Former first lady Michelle Obama speaks during the first night of the Democratic National Convention on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020. The DNC released excerpts of her speech ahead of the convention start. (Democratic National Convention)

    The ideological range of Biden’s many messengers was demonstrated by former presidential contenders from opposing parties: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist who championed a multi-trillion-dollar universal health care plan, and Ohio’s former Republican Gov. John Kasich, an anti-abortion conservative who spent decades fighting to cut government spending.

    The former vice president won’t deliver his formal remarks until Thursday night, but he made his first appearance just half an hour into Monday’s event as he moderated a panel on racial justice, a theme throughout the night, as was concern about the Postal Service. The Democrats accuse Trump of interfering with the nation’s mail in order to throw blocks in front of mail-in voting.

    “My friends, I say to you, and to everyone who supported other candidates in this primary and to those who may have voted for Donald Trump in the last election: The future of our democracy is at stake. The future of our economy is at stake. The future of our planet is at stake,” Sanders declared.

    Kasich said his status as a lifelong Republican “holds second place to my responsibility to my country.”

    “In normal times, something like this would probably never happen, but these are not normal times,” he said of his participation at the Democrats’ convention. He added: “Many of us can’t imagine four more years going down this path.”

    Read more »

    Post-ABC poll shows Biden, Harris hold double-digit lead over Trump, Pence

    The race for the White House tilts toward the Democrats, with former vice president Joe Biden holding a double-digit lead nationally over President Trump amid continuing disapproval of the president’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.

    Democrats [kicked] off their convention on Monday in a mood of cautious optimism, with Biden and his running mate, Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), leading Trump and Vice President Pence by 53 percent to 41 percent among registered voters. The findings are identical among a larger sample of all voting-age adults.

    Biden’s current national margin over Trump among voters is slightly smaller than the 15-point margin in a poll taken last month and slightly larger than a survey in May when he led by 10 points. In late March, as the pandemic was taking hold in the United States, Biden and Trump were separated by just two points, with the former vice president holding a statistically insignificant advantage.

    Today, Biden and Harris lead by 54 percent to 43 percent among those who say they are absolutely certain to vote and who also report voting in 2016. A month ago, Biden’s lead of 15 points overall had narrowed to seven points among similarly committed 2016 voters. Biden now also leads by low double-digits among those who say they are following the election most closely.

    Read more »

    Team Joe Announces Convention Speakers


    Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, and his running mate, US Senator Kamala Harris. (Courtesy Photo)

    Tadias Magazine

    By Tadias Staff

    Updated: August 17th, 2020

    New York (TADIAS) — Joe Biden’s campaign has announced its speaker lineup for the Democratic National Convention that’s set to open on Monday, August 17th in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

    Below are the list of speakers that will be featured “across all four nights of the Convention which will air live August 17-20 from 9:00-11:00 PM Eastern each night.”

    Related:

    ‘ሴቷ ኦባማ?’: Kamala Harris Faces Culture of Sexism & Misogyny in Ethiopian Media