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A National Conversation on Race and Equality: White Civil Rights vs. Civil Rights for All

LOS ANGELES – Fifty years ago, America was in a different place when it came to race relations. Throughout the country, hate crimes were on the rise, and Black men were getting lynched at the hands of White mobs. As Black people marched in the streets, chants of “We Shall Overcome,” reassured a generation of social change. As the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act approaches, signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson, a Black man sits in the White House. 

Fast forward today, and it seems social attitudes on race and equality has changed. Or has it? Headed by community activist James Stern, his organization -- No Color Lines Inc. -- will host “A National Conversation on Race and Equality” with special guest, Commander Jeff Schoep of the National Socialist Movement (NSM), the largest White separatist, neo-Nazi group in the country.  

The race summit will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesday, February 25, 2014 at H.O.M.E., (House of Music and Entertainment), located at 430 N. Camden Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210. A press conference will kick off at 11 a.m. for Q & A with members of the press. The “National Conversation on Race and Equality” is free and open to the public. For more information, contact James Stern at 323.404.6664.

For this landmark panel discussion, Commander Schoep and members of NSM will discuss with members of the Black community about White separatist civil rights vs. civil rights for all. Also, Leon Jenkins, the president of the LA chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) will join the conversation and offer commentary on the issue of civil rights for all. Founded in 1914, the LA chapter of the NAACP is celebrating its 100th anniversary. Other topics of discussion include civil rights, race, gender equality, and LGBT issues. Panelists from the Black community include: 

  • Najee Ali –  a former gang member-turned community leader and political activist. The founder and CEO of Project Islamic H.O.P.E. -- an acronym for Helping Oppressed People Everywhere. He’s been on the political scene, both local and national, since working as a volunteer on Jesse Jackson’s presidential campaign in 1988. Recognized as one of the most influential Black leaders in Los Angeles.
  • Jasmyne Cannick -- a public and government affairs specialist and communications strategist for a roster of who’s who elected officials at all levels of government. Selected as one of the 25 Women Shaping the World by Essence Magazine. She is also a co-founder of the National Black Justice Coalition, the nation’s oldest and largest Black gay civil rights group, and formerly served as the chair of the Los Angeles Urban League’s Young Professional Civic Engagement and Political Action Committee.
  • Cleo Manago – a socio-political analyst, behavioral health specialist, and writer, his commentaries on national television and radio have addressed some of the most controversial issues facing Americans today. He is the founder and CEO of the AmASSI National Centers for Wellness, Education & Culture (http://www.amassi.com/) and the founder and national organizer of the Black Men’s Xchange (http://bmxdc.org/) (BMX), a human rights, educational, anti-oppression and advocacy organization, dedicated to dismantling barriers to the well-being, dignity, self-respect and the protection of diverse Black men. Manago is also a community faculty member at Charles Drew University of Science and Medicine in Los Angeles and a former doctoral student at the California Institute for Integral Studies in San Francisco.
  • Leon Jenkins – president of the Los Angeles chapter of the LA chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Founded in 1914, the LA chapter will celebrate its 100th anniversary. The mission of the NAACP is to ensure the political, educational, social and economic equality of right of all person. Visit www.naacp-losangeles.org Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest civil rights organization. Visit www.naacp.org

Founded in 1974, the NSM is a White Civil Rights organization whose core beliefs include defending the rights of white people everywhere; preservation of its European culture and heritage; strengthening family values; economic self-sufficiency; reform of illegal immigration policies; immediate withdrawal of the national military from an illegal Middle Eastern occupation; and promotion of white separation. For more about the NSM, visit  www.nsm88.org.

“For decades, race relations in America have been manipulated by a select group of self-chosen advocates who seemingly have no real understanding of what the average American wants, needs, or is subjected to in daily life. These self-chosen elites, sitting in their ivory towers, haven't the slightest clue as to what is best for the American people,” said Commander Schoep of the NSM. “The voice of the White race in America has been emasculated, with any mention of White rights being called racist or hateful. Those who have subjugated our people, no longer have control when an open dialogue about race is being held openly among leading advocates in both the White and Black communities. We look forward to participating,” he added.

Stern -- a community activist born and raised in the tough neighborhood of Watts in Los Angeles-- has always been a peace broker to the segmented fractions of the community. As a licensed and ordained minister, Stern served as an associate pastor of the Tabernacle of Faith Baptist Church and New Providence Baptist Church in the Los Angeles area. His position in the church allowed him to exercise his community activism in the streets.  He was instrumental in facilitating peace talks between LA gangs – the Bloods and the Crips – as well as soften race relations between Korean-American merchants and the black community.

“After spending a considerable amount of time with Klanman Edgar Ray Killen, I wanted to up the ante, and create a dialogue about race from a point of view and perspective so completely different from my own,” said Stern, who is black. “As we reflect on the civil rights and achievements of African Americans for Black History Month, I think it’s interesting to meet face-to-face with an organization that considers itself a ‘a white civil rights organization,’” he said.

Stern first came in contact with the NSM through his contact with Edgar Ray Killen, while serving prison time in Mississippi. At 89, Killen, a Southern Baptist preacher and segregationist, is now serving a 60-year sentence for the manslaughter in the 1964 murders of three voting-rights activists in Neshoba County, Mississippi. The civil rights workers were registering black voters when they were abducted and killed. The case inspired the 1988, award-winning movie, “Mississippi Burning,” starring Gene Hackman and Willem Dafoe. 

In a collection of notes and letters to Stern, all penned by Killen, the Klansman admits to additional killings, and fingers others involved in the murders who are still alive. Three handwriting experts – that is, Russell R. Bradford of San Pedro, Calif.; Curt Baggett of Richardson, Texas; and Wendy Carlson of Denver, Colorado have all verified the authenticity and validity of Killen’s handwritings. Killen also gave Stern the intellectual-property rights to his story and granted him power-of-attorney over his estate, including a 40-acre plot in Neshoba County where Killen claims to have committed the other murders.

 In 2007, Stern was convicted of five counts of wire fraud, and sentenced to 25 years in the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman in 2007. He was paroled on November 2011. Currently, Stern is fielding book deals and movie offers about his story.

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