Friday, August 11, 2006

The Conscience of Saline County---Where Knowledge is Power!!!

Hilary O. Shelton, Director NAACP Washington Bureau,
Freedom Fund Banquet Speaker

The Mar-Saline Branch of the NAACP announces its Freedom Fund Banquet. The Banquet is September 2, 2006 in the R. Wilson Brown Room on the campus of Missouri Valley College. The banquet is preceded with a guest of honor reception beginning at 5:30 PM. Tickets to the gala is $30.00.

Hilary O. Shelton, presently serves as Director to the NAACP's Washington Bureau. The Washington Bureau is the Federal legislative and national public policy division of the national civil rights organization. In this capacity, Hilary is responsible for advocating the federal public policy issue agenda of the oldest, largest, and most widely recognized civil rights organization in the United States to the U.S. Government. Hilary's government affairs portfolio includes crucial issues such as affirmative action, equal employment protection, access to quality education, stopping gun violence, ending racial profiling, abolition of the death penalty, access to comprehensive healthcare, voting rights protection, federal sentencing reform and a host of civil rights enforcement, expansion and protection issues.

Prior to serving as director to the NAACP Washington Bureau, Hilary served in the position of Federal Liaison/Assistant Director to the Government Affairs Department of The College Fund/UNCF, formerly known as The United Negro College Fund in Washington, D.C. In this capacity, Hilary worked with Senate and House Members of the U.S. Congress, Federal Agencies and Departments, college and university presidents and faculty members, as well as the White House to secure the survival, growth and educational programming excellence of the 39 private historically black colleges and universities throughout the United States.Prior to working for The College Fund/UNCF.

Hilary served as a Federal Policy Program Director to the 8.5 million-member United Methodist Churches' social justice advocacy agency, The General Board of Church & Society. In this capacity, Hilary advocated for the national and international United Methodist Churches' public policy agenda affecting a wide range of civil rights and civil liberties issues including preserving equal opportunity programs such as affirmative action, securing equal high quality public education for all Americans, guaranteeing greater access to higher education and strengthening our nation's historically Black colleges and universities, abolition of the death penalty, reforming the criminal justice system, voting rights protection and expansion, gun control and a host of other social justice policy concerns.

Hilary serves on a number of national boards of directors including, The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, The Center for Democratic Renewal, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, and the Congressional Black Caucus Institute among many others. Playing an integral role in the crafting and final passage of such crucial federal legislation as the Civil Rights Act of 1991, Hilary was also instrumental in ushering through to passage, The Civil Rights Restoration Act, The Violence Against Women Act, The Hate Crimes Statistics Act, The Native American Free Exercise of Religion Act, The National Voter Registration Act, The National Assault Weapons Ban, The Brady Handgun Law, Reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act, the Help America Vote Act and many other crucial laws and policy measures affecting the quality of our lives and equality in our society.

Hilary has humbly received a number of awards and recognitions for his unwavering dedication to civil rights and the mission and goals of the NAACP. Among the many awards to which he is most grateful for receiving, Mr. Shelton is the proud recipient of the National NAACP Medgar W. Evers Award for Excellence, one of the highest honor presented by the national NAACP for Outstanding Service, Sincere Dedication and Commitment to the Mission of the NAACP, the Israeli Embassy and Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism's 2005 Civil Rights Leadership Award, as well as the Congressional Black Caucus Chairman's Award In Recognition and Appreciation for Dedication, Leadership and Commitment to Advancing the Cause of Civil Rights for All Americans.

Born in St. Louis, Missouri, to a family of 6 brothers and sisters, Hilary holds degrees in political science, communications, and legal studies from Howard University in Washington, D.C., the University of Missouri St. Louis, and Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, respectively.Hilary presently lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife Paula Young Shelton and their three sons, masters Caleb Wesley, Aaron Joshua, and Noah Ottis Young Shelton.

THE ISSUE: Just prior to leaving for their August district work period, the United States Senate defeated, by only 3 votes, an attempt to bring up and pass a flawed minimum wage increase. Specifically, the bill that was being considered would have helped 1.8 million fewer American families than the proposal long supported by the NAACP, and it would have drastically reduced the wages of more than one million tipped workers.

Now we must fight even harder than before for a genuine increase in the minimum wage. It is the utmost of hypocrisy for many Members of Congress to suddenly be in strong support of an increase of the minimum wage, and go so far as to agree that it is long overdue, when it is tied to a tax break for the wealthiest Americans but not support a "clean" minimum wage bill that would help all the workers and families it is intended to help.

A real increase in the federal minimum wage is long overdue. Real wages are actually declining for the first time in more than a decade, while the price of everything from healthcare, gasoline and food are rising rapidly. At the current minimum wage of $5.15 an hour, a worker who works 40 hours a week for 52 weeks a year earns $10,712. This is almost $2,000 below the 2003 poverty level for a family of 2 (a parent and a child).

Currently, 7.5 million American workers earn between $5.15 an hour and $8 an hour; 84% of them are adults over the age of 20. Nearly half of them are married or have children. Over half of them are women, and 60% of them work full time.

The Fair Minimum Wage Act has been introduced in the Senate by Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) (S. 1062) and in the House by Congressman George Miller (D-CA) (H.R. 2429). This legislation would raise the current $5.15 minimum wage by 70 cents six months after enactment (to $5.85 an hour); an additional 70 cents (to $6.55 an hour) a year later, and a final 70 cent increase (to $7.25 an hour) a year after that. This increase will help real workers who work hard to support themselves and their families; ethnic minority Americans make up nearly 40% of those who would benefit from the increase.

We must pass the Fair Minimum Wage Act now. No one who works hard for a living should be forced to exist well below the poverty level. Please click here to view the entire Action Alert.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR ATTENTION TO THIS IMPORTANT MATTER!!! If you have any questions, call Hilary Shelton at the Washington Bureau at (202) 463-2940.

Voter Suppression in Missouri
Published: NY Times August 10, 2006

Missouri is the latest front in the Republican Party's campaign to use photo ID requirements to suppress voting. The Republican legislators who pushed through Missouri's ID law earlier this year said they wanted to deter fraud, but that claim falls apart on close inspection. Missouri's new ID rules and similar ones adopted last year in Indiana and Georgia are intended to deter voting by blacks, poor people and other groups that are less likely to have driver's licenses. Georgia's law has been blocked by the courts, and the others should be too.

Even before Missouri passed its new law, it had tougher ID requirements than many states. Voters were required, with limited exceptions, to bring ID with them to the polls, but university ID cards, bank statements mailed to a voter's address, and similar documents were acceptable. The new law requires a government-issued photo ID, which as many as 200,000 Missourians do not have.

Missourians who have driver's licenses will have little trouble voting, but many who do not will have to go to considerable trouble to get special ID's. The supporting documents needed to get these, like birth certificates, often have fees attached, so some Missourians will have to pay to keep voting. It is likely that many people will not jump all of the bureaucratic hurdles to get the special ID, and will become ineligible to vote.

Not coincidentally, groups that are more likely to vote against the Republicans who passed the ID law will be most disadvantaged. Advocates for blacks, the elderly and the disabled say that those groups are less likely than the average Missourian to have driver's licenses, and most likely to lose their right to vote. In close elections, like the bitterly contested U.S. Senate race now under way in the state, this disenfranchisement could easily make the difference in who wins.

The new law's supporters say its purpose is to deter fraud. But there is little evidence of imposter voting, the sort of fraud that ID laws are aimed at, in Missouri or anywhere else. Groups in Missouri that want to suppress voting have a long history of crying fraud, but investigations by the Justice Department and The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, among others, have refuted such claims in the past. If the Legislature really wanted to deter fraud, it would have focused its efforts on absentee ballots, which are a notorious source of election fraud and are not covered by Missouri's new ID requirements.

Because of the important constitutional issues these laws raise, courts will have the final say. Federal and state judges have already blocked Georgia's ID law from taking effect, and although Indiana's law was upheld earlier this year, that ruling is on appeal. Missouri voting-rights advocates recently filed suit against their state's law.

Unduly onerous voter ID laws violate equal protection, and when voters have to pay to get the ID's, they are an illegal poll tax. They are also an insult to democracy, because their goal is to have elections in which eligible voters are turned away.

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