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News you might have missed: DC installs Ida B. Wells mural to celebrate the 19th Amendment

Also: The world’s largest plastic recycling plant is coming to Pennsylvania, and gay lawmakers make history at the Democratic National Convention.

By Dan Desai Martin - August 21, 2020
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Mural of Ida B. Wells at Union Station, Washington, D.C.

This week, the nation’s capital celebrates the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution with a mural of Ida B. Wells, Michigan distributes masks to those in need, and eight states band together to fight for free and fair elections.

Read on to see what else you might have missed this week in the news.

D.C. celebrates 100th anniversary of 19th Amendment with Ida B. Wells mural

Union Station in Washington, D.C., will soon be the site of a 1,000-foot mural of Ida B. Wells, the journalist, suffragist, and civil rights icon. The mural, a mosaic composed of thousands of historical photos of women who fought for the right to vote, is being installed on the station’s floor and will be on display from Aug. 24 through 28 in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The 19th Amendment, ratified in 1920, states: “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”

That right was functionally granted only to white women in 1920, as women of color had to fight for their rights for decades longer before the Voting Rights Act was signed into law in 1965.

“I see this artwork as a truly international commemoration,” Helen Marshall, the British artist who designed the mosaic, said earlier this month.

Wells’ life “as a suffragist, civil rights activist and investigative journalist is as relevant today as it was 100 years ago,” said Christina Korp, the mural’s producer. “We hope this project will inspire the public to learn more about her and countless others featured within the digital interactive mosaic online.”

Michigan to provide millions of free masks to at-risk residents

The state of Michigan will provide 4 million masks to vulnerable residents at risk during the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced on Aug. 14.

“Michigan needs to continue to ‘mask up’ to protect us all from COVID-19,” Whitmer said in a statement. “Vulnerable populations may have difficulties buying masks and our schools need face coverings to keep students, staff and community members safe.”

Masks will be provided to low-income schools, homeless shelters, coronavirus testing sites, and Native American tribes through a partnership of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the Ford Motor Company, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Eight governors announce pledge to ensure safe November election

Eight Democratic governors, led by Oregon’s Kate Brown, signed a pledge to ensure safe and open elections this fall “in light of unprecedented attacks on voting rights and voting access,” according to a press release on Thursday sent out by Brown’s office.

The governors agreed to work with local election officials to ensure the vote is accessible, safe, and secure; communicate openly with voters about the possibility of delayed election results due to the time it takes to count mail-in ballots; and quickly and thoroughly investigate allegations of voter suppression.

“In order to defeat this virus, no aspect of our society will remain untouched, and that means we also need to take steps to ensure people do not have to choose between their health and safety and their right to vote,” Brown said.

Brown was joined by governors from California, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Wisconsin.

North Carolina removes employment barriers for those with criminal records

North Carolina is the 36th state to remove criminal history questions from state employment applications, thanks to an executive order issued by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper. The order also prohibits questions about criminal history in the initial stages of the hiring process, according to a press statement sent out by his office.

“People who have made mistakes often deserve a second chance, and having a job helps turn lives around,” Cooper said. “Not only will this help reduce recidivism, it will give state government access to more qualified job applicants who now don’t even get the chance to show what good employees they would be.”

The order went into effect on Tuesday and should be fully implemented by Nov. 1.

Gay lawmakers make history at Democratic National Convention

Three gay lawmakers were among 17 keynote speakers on Tuesday at this year’s Democratic National Convention, marking the first time a keynote address featured openly LGBTQ speakers.

Georgia state Rep. Sam Park, Pennsylvania state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, and Long Beach, California, Mayor Robert Garcia joined 14 other so-called rising stars on Tuesday night to speak about why they were supporting Democratic nominee Joe Biden for president.

Kenyatta spoke alongside his fiancé, Matthew Miller.

“When I wanted to marry the man I love, Joe Biden was the first national figure to support me and my family,” Kenyatta said. Miller then added, “Appreciate you, man.”

World’s largest plastic recycling plant planned for Erie, Pennsylvania

International Recycling Group announced this week that it plans to build the world’s largest plastic recycling plant in Erie, Pennsylvania.

The group would invest $100 million to build a plant that would process 275,000 tons of plastic per year, aiming to reduce plastic’s carbon footprint by 70%.

“We are losing valuable recyclables to landfills,” said Mitch Hecht, the group’s founder.

Watch: Joe Biden helped 13-year-old Brayden Harrington overcome his stutter 

At the Democratic National Convention on Thursday, 13-year-old Brayden Harrington shared his story about meeting Joe Biden.

When the two met in New Hampshire a few months ago, Biden “told me that we were members of the same club: We stutter,” Harrington said. “It was really amazing to hear that someone like me became vice president.”

Biden “showed me how he marks his addresses to make them easier to say out loud,” Harrington said, holding up his speech, which was marked that way.

“I’m just a regular kid, and in a short amount of time, Joe Biden made me more confident about something that’s bothered me my whole life,” Harrington said. “Joe Biden cared.”


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