Boston, MA

Belafonte awarded for civil rights

March 19, 2002
Entertainer Harry Belafonte's lifelong work as an advocate for human rights and racial equality earned him a Distinguished American Award at the John F. Kennedy Library.
      "One of the country's best-loved entertainers, Belfonte has also been at the forefront of our nation's struggle for civil rights and the international effort to promote human rights throughout the globe," the library said Friday.
      In the 1950s, Belafonte starred in the film "Carmen Jones," and his album "Calypso" sold 1 million copies. Belafonte, now 75, refused to perform in the South from 1954 until 1961 because of racial segregation, according to the library.

Harvard president cools dispute on diversity

January 04, 2002
Harvard President Lawrence Summers and renowned black scholar Cornel West smoothed a dispute over Summers's commitment to diversity that had raised the specter of defections among Harvard's African-American studies faculty, a university spokesman said Friday.
      West and Summers met Thursday evening and patched up a disagreement that sparked a brief revolt by senior members of the nationally recognized Afro-American Studies Department, said Joe Wrinn, a spokesman for Harvard.
      Along with a statement Summers issued Wednesday in which he stated his commitment to enrolling more blacks and other minorities, the meeting appeared to have gone far toward ending the dispute, which flared unexpectedly only six months into Summers's presidency at the prestigious university.

Housing site urged for gay elders

October 30, 2001
Gay and lesbian senior citizens in Massachusetts are calling for publicly subsidized elderly housing built specifically for them, saying they face homophobia and are often forced to go back into the closet when they move into traditional elderly complexes and nursing homes.
     A report to be released today by a consortium of advocates for the elderly, gays and lesbians, says men and women who came out in the 1970s and 1980s and have lived their lives openly now find themselves increasingly dependent and fearful of revealing their sexual identity.
     "For people who find themselves in elder housing, whether it's public housing or otherwise, they often feel it's just not safe for them to be out'' of the closet, said David Aronstein, committee member and president of Stonewall Communities, which is seeking a site for a gay and lesbian elderly housing development in Boston. 

Bias complaints on rise at Boston Transit Authority 

August 30, 2001
Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority workers have filed 123 discrimination, retaliation, and harassment complaints with the agency's Office of Organizational Diversity this year, nearly equaling the 131 filed all last year, a Globe analysis has found.
     That upsurge, reversing a dramatic four-year decline in bias complaints, occurred as minority men and women were fired at a higher rate than their white colleagues, records show.
     Since September 1, 1999, 45.2 percent of the workers fired by the MBTA have been minorities, even though they make up 32.2 percent of the MBTA's 6,603-person workforce, records show. 

Lynch role in racial case questioned

August 15, 2001
During his first campaign for the Legislature in 1994, Stephen F. Lynch offered free legal services to 14 white teenagers accused of harassing and abusing an interracial couple, in the largest state civil rights case prosecuted by the attorney general's office.
     Lynch defended young people accused of hurling rocks, bottles, and ethnic slurs at a Hispanic teenager who was dating a white South Boston girl, and of harassing the girl's family over six months.
     Lynch would not comment on the subject yesterday, but his spokesman, Scott Ferson, said he agreed to represent the defendants because he believed they had been ''overcharged.'' The case ended with protective orders against all the teenagers and criminal charges against some. Lynch also helped six of them thwart eviction attempts by the Boston Housing Authority.

Boston firefighters allege racism, sexism, homophobia

July 26, 2001
Gay and minority firefighters claim racist, sexist and homophobic treatment in the department is going unchecked, causing some to fear doing their jobs.
      Karen Miller, who is gay and black, said harassment by both white and black male firefighters drove her to a desk job with the department. She said that when she rushed to emergency calls at her Boston fire station, she found broken glass inside her boots. Other times, her oxygen mask and gloves were missing.
      "The incidents of racism, sexism and homophobia have never been properly dealt with by the Boston Fire Department, and the individuals that are creating the problem are more than just a few bad apples," Miller said at a news conference Thursday.
      The Coalition for Firefighters' Civil Rights, which includes civil rights and community groups and a minority firefighters association, planned to seek the help of the City Council later Thursday.

Major newspaper settles housing complaint

July 13, 2001
The Boston Globe will send classified employees to training sessions and pay $55,000 to a public interest group to settle a complaint over the newspaper's printing of discriminatory real estate ads.
     The Fair Housing Center of Greater Boston accused the newspaper of violating the Federal Fair Housing Act by printing ads containing phrases such as "adults," "ideal for couple," or "no section 8," a reference to a federal rent subsidy program.
     "We take thousands and thousands of ads every week," said Globe spokesman Richard Gulla. "We think our staff does a terrific job of handling these things. But some of them have slipped through."
     Federal law prohibits advertising a preference or limitation based on race, national origin, sex, family status, disability or religion.
     In addition, Massachusetts law prohibits preferring or limiting by income, sexual orientation or certain other characteristics.

Judge upholds anorexic student's dismissal

January 05, 2001
A federal judge on Friday upheld a college's decision not to readmit a student because she is anorexic. 
     U.S. District Court Judge Rya Zobel said Stonehill College may have
damaged Kerri Krissik's self-esteem, but she failed to demonstrate how not returning to school would cause her "irreparable harm." 
     Officials at the Catholic school have said they don't believe Krissik, 20, is well enough to attend classes starting January 17 and that the school is not equipped to care for her. 
     Krissik said she was protected by the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, but the court did not address that argument. Her lawyer, Abbe Ross, said she can safely return to college. 

Anorexic student sues college

January 03, 2001
An anorexic student sued her college Wednesday, seeking readmission after school officials turned her away because of her condition. 
     Keri Krissik, 20, suffered cardiac arrest while at home in Milford, Conn., in April. She completed her spring semester coursework, but administrators at Stonehill College, a Catholic institution, refused to let her register last fall. 
     The Rev. Mark Cregan, the university president, said "we don't have the ability to support her in the way she needs to be supported." 
     "The last time Ms. Krissik was on campus she almost died," said EliseBusny, a lawyer representing the college located in Easton. "There's the risk that she would drop dead on campus." 

Theaters sued over disabled seating

December 18, 2000
People with disabilities should haveaccess to the same quality of movie theater seating as able-bodied people, the U.S. attorneysaid in lawsuits filed Monday against two of the nation's top 10 movie theater chains. 
     U.S. Attorney Donald K. Stern sued Boston-based Hoyts CinemasCorp. and National Amusements Inc. of Dedham to force them to build any new stadium-style seating theaters to comply with the Americanswith Disabilities Act. 
     The suit also calls for the chains to renovate any existingstadium-style theaters so that people with disabilities have access to the same sightlinesas all customers. 
     "These lawsuits are about a matter of simple fairness," Stern said."National Amusements and Hoyts have described stadium theaters as a 'breakthrough in the industry' and inspired by 'what the customer wantsas a perfect movie-going experience.' No justification exists for denying that experience to individuals who use wheelchairs or have mobilityimpairments." 

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