PODCAST: U.S. coronavirus death toll passes 600,000 (BCNN1 06.16.21)

This is the Black Christian News Network One podcast. Here are the top stories you need to know about today.

According to the Associated Press, The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 topped 600,000 on Tuesday, even as the vaccination drive has drastically brought down daily cases and fatalities and allowed the country to emerge from the gloom and look forward to summer. The number of lives lost, as recorded by Johns Hopkins University, is greater than the population of Baltimore or Milwaukee. It is about equal to the number of Americans who died of cancer in 2019. Worldwide, the COVID-19 death toll stands at about 3.8 million. The milestone came the same day that California and New York lifted most of their remaining restrictions, joining other states in opening the way, step by step, for what could be a fun and close to normal summer for many Americans. “Deep down I want to rejoice,” said Rita Torres, a retired university administrator in Oakland, California. But she plans to take it slow: “Because it’s kind of like, is it too soon? Will we be sorry?” With the arrival of the vaccine in mid-December, COVID-19 deaths per day in the U.S. have plummeted to an average of around 340, from a high of over 3,400 in mid-January. Cases are running at about 14,000 a day on average, down from a quarter-million per day over the winter. The real death tolls in the U.S. and around the globe are thought to be significantly higher, with many cases overlooked or possibly concealed by some countries.

According to the Baptist Press, Messengers to the 2021 SBC Annual Meeting approved a broad resolution on the Bible’s sufficiency regarding race and racial reconciliation Tuesday (June 15) but chose not to address specifically the contentious issue of critical race theory. Among nine resolutions passed, messengers also endorsed overwhelmingly statements on government policies that included: – A denunciation of any attempt to rescind the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funding of abortion. – Opposition to the Equality Act, a far-reaching gay and transgender rights bill that critics warn would devastate freedom of religion and conscience, as well as protections for women, girls and unborn children. Because of a lack of time, the committee tabled a resolution that would have affirmed the “Christian ideal of citizenship” under the Lordship of Jesus and would have condemned the January invasion of the U.S. Capitol as “inconsistent with faithful Christian citizenship.” The Resolutions Committee chose not to address the issue of critical race theory (CRT) in the first SBC annual meeting since the passage of a 2019 resolution on CRT and intersectionality developed into a divisive point of contention during the last two years. Critics within the convention who have decried CRT’s use and have labeled it as Marxist have warned it has gained influence in Southern Baptist institutions and churches. Meanwhile, other Southern Baptists have denied the charges, saying CRT is not impacting SBC life and contending those in the SBC concerned about racial justice are following New Testament teaching, not secular ideologies. The resolution quoted from Scripture and the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 (BF&M), the SBC’s confession of faith, regarding race and racial reconciliation before affirming the Bible’s adequacy on the issues. It said SBC messengers “reject any theory or worldview that finds the ultimate identity of human beings in ethnicity or in any other group dynamic” and “reject any theory or worldview that sees the primary problem of humanity as anything other than sin against God and the ultimate solution as anything other than redemption found only in Christ.” The resolution also repudiated “any theory or worldview that denies that racism, oppression, or discrimination is rooted, ultimately, in anything other than sin.” It also reaffirmed the resolution regarding racial reconciliation on the SBC’s 150th anniversary in 1995 in which messengers apologized to African Americans for “condoning and/or perpetuating individual and systemic racism.” The Resolutions Committee’s decision not to confront CRT explicitly met with brief opposition from the floor.

According to the Associated Press, The children of a Black man killed by police in Louisiana’s capital city five years ago have accepted a $4.5 million settlement with the local government. Alton Sterling’s 2016 shooting by a Baton Rouge police officer was captured on video and sparked anger and protests in the city’s Black community. Baton Rouge news outlets report that court documents show Sterling’s family asked that their lawsuit be dismissed in mid-May, signaling acceptance of the settlement approved about three months earlier by the Metro Council for Baton Rouge and East Baton Rouge Parish. “This matter has been resolved,” Parish Attorney Andy Dotson said Friday in The Advocate. “And the settlement agreement made with the plaintiff will proceed as planned as voted upon by the council.” The officer who shot Sterling during a struggle outside a convenience store lost his job and another officer was suspended. Neither was charged criminally after state and federal investigations. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Sterling’s five children in 2017 by their mothers. It sought damages for violation of Sterling’s civil rights and claimed the local government was negligent in its hiring, training and supervision of Blane Salamoni, the officer who fired the six shots that killed Sterling.

According to the Associated Press, Police have arrested one suspect and are searching for another after a mass shooting on a crowded downtown Austin street left 14 people wounded early Saturday, two of them critically. The Austin Police Department said in a news release that the U.S. Marshals Lone Star Fugitive Task Force assisted in making the arrest, but it provided no other details other than to say it is continuing to follow up on leads for the suspect still at large. Interim Police Chief Joseph Chacon said the shooting happened around 1:30 a.m. on a street packed with bars and barricaded off from vehicle traffic. He said investigators believe it began as a dispute between two parties. Chacon said both suspects are male, but declined to disclose details such as whether both fired shots, saying the investigation was ongoing. “Most of the victims were innocent bystanders, but we’re still sorting out all of the victims to see what their involvement is in this case,” Chacon said. The mass shooting — one of at least three in the U.S. overnight — sparked panic along 6th Street, a popular nightlife destination in the city that’s home to the University of Texas.

According to FOX2, It was a little more than three years ago that Brennan Walker was nearly killed asking for directions to high school. “It doesn’t mentally impact me as much as it used to, but I think about the events every day,” he said. Brennan will walk Saturday as a graduate as he enters young adulthood – and he admitted he’s a little nervous about it. Those nerves are a far cry compared to what he experienced when he was 14 years old. That was when Jeff Zeigler, who is white, fired at him with a shotgun, assuming he was a burglar. The case made national news. Zeigler was sentenced to four to 10 years in prison. His stepdad Steven and mom Lisa could not be more proud of his accomplishments. “Student council president, vice president, being accepted to 11 different colleges,” Lisa said. “Having a choice of colleges, and I was a young mom. When I was 17 and carrying him, I had no clue who he would be today. “To know that something happened to him and he still persevered gives me the confidence to know that whatever happens in Florida I am not going to be worried because I know he has the mindset and the skills to put it together. And he’ll be okay.” Brennan Walker is considering majoring in biology in college.

According to the Associated Press, Martha White got tired of walking to and from work; she got tired of having to stand up on the bus after a hard day’s work when there were available seats. So she decided one day to take one of the available seats. The problem was that seat was designated for a white person. The bus driver ordered her to get up. White refused. Another black sister joined her signifying there is strength in numbers. The police, the bus company manager, and a civil rights activist, the Rev. T.J. Jemison, showed up. Jemison informed the bus driver that White was not breaking any law citing a recently passed ordinance to desegregate buses in the city. Not willing to give up their standing–ordinance or no ordinance–bus drivers began a strike and the ordinance was later overturned. That prompted a boycott by the Black community in Baton Rouge. “Martha White undoubtedly shaped our community in Baton Rouge, and communities across our nation,” Baton Rouge Mayor Sharon Weston Broome said. “We honor her legacy today and every day.” Ted Jamison, son of civil rights activist, the Rev. T.J. Jemison, said White “was the same way from when she was young to when she was 90 years old. She knew that what she did was for the good of everyone in Baton Rouge.” “We really lost a true pioneer for civil rights,” said Jason Roberts, co-owner of the Baton Rouge African American Museum, speaking of White’s death.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, John Legend’s production company, Get Lifted, has partnered with the Bernie Mac estate to make a biopic about the late comedian, Legend’s producing partner Mike Jackson revealed during a panel discussion at the 2021 Tribeca Festival. “We just partnered with Bernie Mac’s estate to cover Bernie Mac’s story,” Jackson said, seemingly surprising Legend as he said the info was “something that John doesn’t know about yet” and that he was “very excited about” the deal, which “just happened today.” “Look at you breaking news over here,” Legend said in response. The two quickly clarified that the project would be a feature film biopic. Further details were not revealed, but Jackson explained that the project marks a full-circle moment as Legend appeared in one of Mac’s final films.

You can read these stories and more at BlackChristianNews.com .

In closing, remember, God loves you. He always has and He always will. John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” If you don’t know Jesus as your Saviour, today is a good day to get to know Him. Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died, was buried, and rose from the dead for you. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Thanks so much for listening and may God bless your day!