In the last decade, a surge in home prices has built considerable wealth for the middle class.

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Carmen Reinicke@CSREINICKE

Total housing wealth grew by $8.2 trillion between 2010 and 2020, according to a March report from the National Association of Realtors. The coronavirus pandemic’s housing boom added even more value to homes.

But unless people plan to sell their houses — which can be a difficult feat in a hot housing market — there are only a few ways to tap into that increased equity.

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“You can’t eat your equity, but if you can monetize some of it to reduce debt and make life easier from a cash flow perspective, that makes a ton of sense in most situations,” said Dennis Nolte, a certified financial planner and vice president at Seacoast Bank in Winter Park, Florida.

Here’s what financial experts recommend.

Cash-out refinance

One way to get money from your home’s increase in value is to refinance. By using a cash-out refinance, you’d also be able to add some liquidity to your savings or put the money towards another goal.

Here’s how it works: You refinance your home with a larger mortgage than you previously had to get the difference back in cash. In some instances, it may be a win-win situation — if you’re able to refinance at a lower rate or reduce your monthly payments.

It may not be the best option for homeowners right now, however. That’s because interest rates are rapidly rising, and with them, mortgage rates. That makes it less likely that someone would be able to refinance now for a more attractive rate.

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“Rates have shot up so quickly that refinancing at these interest rates could be as much as twice what their current rate is,” said Jackie Frommer, chief operating officer of lending at Figure, a financial services company. “That just doesn’t make sense.”

It can also be expensive to refinance, as there are extra closing fees involved.              

Home equity loan

A home equity loan can help you access some of your house’s appreciated value. It’s a loan that you take out against the value of your home and pay off over a set period, generally 10 to 30 years.

These loans do include closing costs and can also include fees, as well. In addition, you must take out a lump sum — say $100,000 — and pay off the entire amount plus interest. Usually, the interest rate is fixed, however, which can help you budget long-term.

Right now, home equity loan rates generally range from 3% to 12%, depending on the borrower, according to Bankrate.

Home equity line of credit

A home equity line of credit, also known as a HELOC, is one of the best ways to access the equity in your home without selling it.

Instead of taking out a loan at a fixed amount, a HELOC opens a pool of money that you can utilize, but you don’t have to take it all at once or use it all. For instance, instead of having a $100,000 loan, you could have access to a $100,000 HELOC that you could draw on only when you needed it for something like an emergency repair or renovation.

“You have a pool of money you can draw on, and it doesn’t cost anything unless you use it,” said Thomas Blackburn, a CFP with Mason & Associates in Newport News, Virginia, adding that he recommends them for a lot of people.

“It’s almost like insurance,” said Nolte, adding that Is like a life insurance policy; it makes sense to have a HELOC in place before you need to draw on it.

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Currently, interest rates are low on HELOCs. People with good or excellent credit — generally a FICO score of 670 or more — can get HELOCs with rates from 3% to 5% according to Bankrate. Those with fair scores or lower may see rates in the 9% to 10% range.  

“Now might be a good time to lock in those lower interest rates as we’ve seen they’re gone a little higher and will continue to,” said Brittney Castro, CFP at Mint.

REAL ESTATE

Housing wealth gains a record $1.2 trillion, but there are signs the market is cooling

PUBLISHED MON, JUN 6 20223:03 PM EDTUPDATED MON, JUN 6 20224:24 PM EDT

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Diana Olick@IN/DIANAOLICK@DIANAOLICKCNBC@DIANAOLICK

The amount of money mortgage holders could pull out of their homes while still keeping a 20% equity cushion rose by an unprecedented $1.2 trillion in the first quarter of this year, according to a new analysis from Black Knight, a mortgage software and analytics firm. That is the largest quarterly increase since the company began tracking the figure in 2005.

Mortgage holders’ so-called tappable equity was up 34%, or by $2.8 trillion, in April compared with a year ago. Total tappable equity stood at $11 trillion, or two times the previous peak in 2006. That works out to an average of about $207,000 per homeowner.

Tappable equity is largely held by high-credit borrowers with low mortgage rates, according to Black Knight. Nearly three-quarters of those borrowers have rates below 4%. The current rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage is over 5%.

Room to Hang out…

The flipside of rising home values is that prospective buyers are increasingly being priced out of the market. Mortgage rates have also been rising sharply, putting homeownership further out of reach for some.

Homeowners are in the money, and it just keeps coming. Two years of rapidly rising home prices have pushed the nation’s collective home equity to new highs.

“It really is a bifurcated landscape – one that grows ever more challenging for those looking to purchase a home but is simultaneously a boon for those who already own and have seen their housing wealth rise substantially over the last couple of years,” said Ben Graboske, president of Black Knight Data & Analytics. “Depending upon where you stand, this could be the best or worst of all possible markets.”

The housing market, however, is showing slight signs of cooling. Home prices, as measured by Black Knight in April, were up 19.9% year over year, down from the 20.4% gain seen in March. The slowed growth could be an early indication of the impact of rising rates.

“April’s decline is more likely a sign of deceleration caused by the modest rate increases in late 2021 and early 2022 when rates first began ticking upwards,” Graboske said. “The March and April 2022 rate spikes will take time to show up in repeat sales indexes.”

Rising interest rates historically cool home prices, but supply remains pitifully low in the current market. Active listings are 67% below pre-pandemic levels, with about 820,000 fewer listings than a typical spring season.

Given the current market conditions, homeowners are less likely to sell their homes and more likely to tap some of that vast equity for renovations. Home equity lines of credit are preferable now, as an owner likely wouldn’t want to refinance their first mortgage to a higher rate, even to pull out cash.

A recent report from Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing projected home improvement spending to increase by nearly 14% this year.

“Record-breaking home price appreciation, solid home sales, and high incomes are all contributing to stronger remodeling activity in our nation’s major metros, especially in the South and West,” said Sophia Wedeen, a researcher in the Remodeling Futures Program at the Center.

Bank Over Draft Fees

There’s one ‘surprising similarity’ between those who pay bank overdraft fees and those who avoid them

Published: Jan. 11, 2022 at 5:20 p.m. ETBy Andrew Keshner1

Bank of America plans to end its $35 ‘non-sufficient funds’ fees next month, and will drop overdraft fees to $10 from $35

The banking industry took in $15.47 billion in overdraft and non-sufficient funds in 2019, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.SCOTT OLSON/GETTY IMAGES

Are you still paying overdraft fees?

Bank of America BAC, +0.57% said Tuesday it plans to end its $35 “non-sufficient funds” fees next month, and will reduce overdraft fees to $10 from $35, starting in May. Non-sufficient fund fees occur when a payment bounces. Overdraft fees occur when consumers withdraw more than the agreed amount.

But there’s a long way to go. The industry took in $15.47 billion in  overdraft and non-sufficient funds in 2019, according to a report released last month from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Bank of America, J.P. Morgan Chase JPM, +0.10% and Wells Fargo WFC, +1.28%accounted for approximately 44% of those fees, it said.nullAdvertisement

Some people are still dependent on overdrafts, despite the often high fees. Nearly one-fifth (18%) of consumers with a bank or credit union said they were dinged with an overdraft fee in December, an increase from 14% in August, according to a Morning Consult poll released Tuesday.

Overdrafters are disproportionately millennials, parents and those experiencing income volatility.

“One surprising similarity between overdrafters and the general population is their income levels,” the report said. “Those who overdraft are about as likely to report annual household income of more than $50,000 and slightly more likely to report annual household income of more than $100,000.”

Of those who said they pay overdraft fees, half were millennial consumers and 47% were parents with kids under age 18. Almost two-thirds (58%) of overdrafters in the poll made less than $50,000, while 27% made between $50,000 and $100,000 and 16% made above $100,000 a year. But they do tend to share one common trait: volatile income streams.

“More than one in five adults (21%) who have overdrafted since August also reported receiving a payday loan, and roughly the same share reported either purchasing a money order or cashing a check through a provider other than a bank or credit union,” Morning Consult added. That’s more than double the rate of the general population.

BoA’s decision “will provide much-needed relief for customers who least can afford the burden of overdraft fees, and should lead other financial institutions to drop these fees that disproportionately impact low-income, Black and Latino Americans,” said Mike Calhoun, president of the Center for Responsible Lending.

Bank of America shares are up more than 48% in the past 12 months. The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.51% is up nearly 17% in that time and the S&P 500 is up roughly 23% in that time.

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The ‘Catch-22’ That Holds HBCUs Back From Being A CRE Feeder System

NationalEmployerAugust 30, 2021 Matthew Rothstein, Jarred Schenke, and Bianca Barragan

The commercial real estate industry is aware of its lack of racial diversity, and many of its biggest companies say they are working to grow the pipeline of people of color into the business. But one oft-cited source of potential employees doesn’t have the infrastructure to support that pipeline at present — not even close.

A review of current course catalogs from each of the accredited Historically Black Colleges and Universities found that none have a real estate major or concentration for bachelor or graduate degrees. Only 26 offer real estate-specific classes for credit, at least four offers non-credit continuing education classes, and two historically Black community colleges offer vocational programs in real estate.

The Hundred-Seven, an HBCU-focused nonprofit, lists three schools as offering real estate programs on its website: Lawson State Community College, which offers a vocational certificate, and Allen University and St. Augustine’s University. Allen doesn’t list any real estate programs or courses on its catalog; representatives for the school didn’t respond to requests for comment.

St. Augustine’s eliminated its real estate program in 2017, the dean of the school of business, management, and technology, Van Sapp, told Bisnow.

“Many of our students are unaware of commercial real estate opportunities,” he wrote in an email.

It comes as no surprise to Jeffrey Molavi, the interim chair of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore’s Department of the Built Environment, that most HBCUs don’t offer real estate programming. Black families have historically been frozen out of the generational wealth-building afforded White households through homeownership and investment in real estate, and HBCU course offerings are a reflection of the perceived pathways to upward mobility in an economy that still carries the legacy of systemic racism.

“Most African American students don’t like the sales position,” Molavi said. “And this is my opinion: The sales position is based on the social and economic structure of the country and culture. So they want to work in a place where they’ll be recognized and get steady paychecks. So in my opinion, real estate is not very popular among African American students.”

For HBCUs, which have been chronically underfunded, starting new courses is an expensive proposition. The schools focus what resources they have on expanding their offerings in subjects with a clearer pathway to jobs and/or demonstrated interest from incoming students. 

“Nothing is free. It costs money to set up courses,” National Historically Black Colleges & Universities Foundation President Ty Couey said. “And then there’s always that gamble that students may not be interested. So it’s like a Catch-22.”

For HBCUs to establish themselves as an industry feeder system, they would require participation on a wider scale and more consistent basis from commercial real estate companies than the industry has ever demonstrated in the service of improving diversity among its ranks, multiple HBCU alumni who work in commercial real estate told Bisnow

“I would argue, whatever time, money, resources that you’re committing to Harvard Business School or Wharton or whatever place you think you’re mining superior talent for your company or industry, if you were to try and do the same thing with an HBCU, you could probably get similar results,” said Michael Banner, president and CEO of Los Angeles LDC, a nonprofit community development financial institution. 

How Should Partners Buy Real Estate

Food for Thought

I own a home with my ex-husband. He agreed to pay my half of the mortgage. In the final judgment, the judge said I should “keep” the property we owned in Fla., and my ex should “keep” the Tampa home.

He ultimately short sold the Tampa property without my signature or approval, even though it was marital property. I have lived in this property for 30 years — 15 with my ex and 15 since the separation and divorce.

I thought “keep” meant keep, and the judge who is presiding over the lawsuit my ex has brought to partition the property agreed.

However, the first judge did not include the legal description of the property. Therefore, it was not a legal conveyance, and the second judge ordered the partition of the property, summary judgment.

Do I have any rights? The house was part of my settlement. I understand that it gets partitioned, but shouldn’t I be allowed to keep the proceeds from the sale? This house was where I was going to live in retirement.

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I have remodeled and maintained this property on my own, and all of the insurance claims paid out went to him because he was the one in the mortgage. He kept this money and never used it to repair my home.

I am a senior and cannot afford to take on a mortgage. Don’t I at least have squatter’s rights? Can I bring legal action against the title company who facilitated the sale of the Tampa marital property, without my permission?

Dear Senior,

A financial expert once told me that going through a divorce is like your own personal recession. He could list stories where the dissolution of a marriage had major financial consequences. I’ve even interviewed a woman who said her divorce cost her around $1 million in retirement savings — the experience even inspired her to become a financial analyst who specializes in divorce cases.

I mention all of this to underscore that you’re not alone in feeling like you were wronged by your ex-husband — and that the precarious financial state you’re now in is unfair or unjust. That, however, doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s done anything wrong, or that the judge made the wrong decision.

Florida state law spells out that, in a divorce, marital assets are to be divided equitably. But equitable doesn’t always mean equal. In many cases, yes, assets will be split 50-50. But there can be situations where a judge may decide that splitting the marital property in half isn’t fair. That might be the case here, though without reviewing the divorce documents it’s not possible to know for sure.

Florida state law spells out that, in a divorce, marital assets are to be divided equitably. But equitable doesn’t always mean equal.

If the first judge spelled out that the Tampa property would go completely to your ex-husband, he may have been within his rights to sell it without your consent. That said, it sounds as though the second judge revised the terms of the divorce settlement, and reassessed how the property you two mutually owned in your marriage would be divided.

However, if you believe that the second judge erred in revising the settlement, or that your husband sold the Tampa home without receiving proper consent to do so, you could consider pursuing an appeal or other legal action. I will warn you, though, that there maybe a time limit within which this appeal must be recorded. Either way, you should consult your own attorney to determine what options you have.

Bottom line: If the second judge did partition the home you’re currently living in — and their opinion stands — you should get a portion of the proceeds of any sale that were to occur. If the home was portioned in half, you would receive half the proceeds. In this scenario, your ex-husband could attempt to force the sale through the court. Otherwise the two of you could seek to maximize your profit from the sale.

The definition of who qualifies as a squatter varies from state to state.

Just because you live in the home does not necessarily mean you have squatter’s rights.

“A squatter is anyone who begins to inhabit a piece of property or land without the legal right to do so; In other words, they are not renting the property from the owner (where landlord-tenant law comes into play) and they do not have permission to use it.”

The definition of who qualifies as a squatter varies from state to state. In Florida, a person must meet specific requirements to qualify as a squatter under so-called “adverse possession” laws. For instance, one condition squatters in Florida must meet is hostile possession, meaning that they did not have permission from the property’s owner to live in it, according to TrustHome Properties.

By consulting an attorney, you could determine whether you might qualify for protection as a squatter.

By consulting an attorney, you could determine whether you might qualify for protection as a squatter. They could also advise you as to whether it would be worth pursuing legal action, whether that be against your ex-husband, the title company associated with the sale of the Tampa home or the judge who neglected to record the terms of your original divorce settlement properly.

And you decide to approach lawyers about such a case? Tread with caution. Don’t hire someone because they’re saying what you want to hear. Feel free to get a second or third opinion, but if you are advised by multiple attorneys against pursuing legal action then you may want to trust their judgment on the matter.

Consider hiring a financial adviser who could guide you through this volatile time in your life. It worries me that you don’t seem to have the means to cover the cost of housing and other necessities. If your current home is ultimately sold and you receive some sort of profit, what you do with that money could determine how financially protected you are in the future. That could mean putting it toward the down payment on a new home, investing it or saving it to use for future rent payments.

I can only imagine how stressful and unsettling this all has been for you. Allow yourself to feel those emotions now, so that you can make these next crucial decisions with a clear mind. wishing you the best of luck as you navigate these hurdles.

The Importance of Understanding Interest

The Importance of Understanding Interest

It’s one thing to know what interest is. It’s another to truly understand how interest works. Understanding interest is so important because it can have a considerable impact on your entire financial picture.

The most important thing to know about interest is that not all types are created equal. The way you calculate interest can drastically alter the results. Taking that into account, let’s discuss the two main types of interest:

1. Simple or Nominal Interest

When you learned about interest in school, simple interest was probably the kind you were first taught. The amount of simple interest is calculated as a percentage of the principal amount. Put another way, with simple interest, the principal amount upon which the interest is calculated is constant.

This is easy to understand when your think about a savings account. Say you deposit $10,000 with an annual interest rate of 5%. Now let’s say you let that $10,000 sit there for 5 years. What would the new amount be? If you said $12,500, then you would be correct. Our deposit (the principal) earned $500 (5% of 10,000) each year for five years. That leaves us with $12,500.

2. Compound Interest

Remember how with simple interest the amount upon which interest is calculated stayed the same (every year it was based on $10,000)? Well, with compound interest, that amount continues to accumulate on itself. Compound interest is calculated based on the principal amount and any past interest earned.1 The earned interest is simply added to the original principal amount at a predetermined rate (annually, monthly, etc.).

Compound interest might be better understood by example. Let’s look back at our savings account scenario once again. This time, however, let’s say at the end of each year your earned interest is added back to the original principal amount. After year 1, just like with simple interest, you would have earned $500 in interest. This time, though, the difference is that $500 is now added to the $10,000. So the following year’s principal becomes $10,500 and that year’s interest is calculated based on that new figure. This process repeats itself every year for 5 years. At the end of 5 years, with interest compounding at a yearly rate, we would actually end up with $12,763, leaving us with $263 more than simple interest.

$263 is hardly an impressive extra profit but hold that thought. Let’s say you let that $10,000 sit for 10 years instead of 5. In that case, the simple interest would leave you with $15,000. On the other hand, compound interest would leave you with $16,288. That’s an extra profit of $1,288! As you can see, allowing compound interest to build and grow over a longer period of time can make a big difference.

Just ask Warren Buffett how powerful compound interest can be:

“My wealth has come from a combination of living in America, some lucky genes, and compound interest.” — Warren Buffett2

Most of us are not Warren Buffet. The beauty of compound interest, though, is that anyone can take advantage of its financial power. Whether you have a mortgage, are repaying student loans, or even depositing money in a bank account, interest has the power to add to your debt or help build your savings. Knowing what interest is won’t help you truly take advantage. Rather, it’s understanding how it can best work for you.1 https://www.investor.gov/glossary/glossary_terms/compound-interest
2 https://archive.fortune.com/2010/06/15/news/newsmakers/Warren_Buffett_Pledge_Letter.fortune/index.htm
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Quit Claim Deed In Alabama

QuitClaim Deed in Alabama

What You Need To Know

If you’d like to give up your interests in real property to your spouse or your ex-spouse; or if you’d like to gift your property to a family member for rental use or any other use, the statutory laws in Alabama require you to sign a document called a quit claim deed.

What is a quit claim deed?

A quitclaim deed (quitclaim form, non-warranty deed, or quitclaim) refers to the legally binding document that releases an individual’s interest in a named property. The document does not, however, state the nature of the person’s interest/ right in the property. And it doesn’t carry warranties of the individual’s rights or interests in the property. The other condition of the quitclaim deed is that it neither guarantees nor states that the party relinquishing their interests/ claim to the named property owned the valid ownership rights to the property. The person who relinquishes their interests or rights to the property is the grantor while the person who receives the interests is the grantee.

The deed will, however, prevent the grantor from coming back to claim the interests they’ve given up. Therefore, you could think of the quitclaim deed as the document that officially recognizes the fact that the grantor has given up their interests in named real property; protecting the grantee (to a small extent) from being stripped of the rights.

The Difference Between the QuitClaim Deed and the Warranty Deed

When it comes to the transfer of rights or interests in real property from one party to another, the law allows the use of specialty or the general warranty deeds as well as the quitclaims. These documents differ from each other in some ways.

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Unlike the warranty deeds, the quit claim deeds do not carry any warranties, only working to release or convey a grantor’s interests in property to the grantee. If the grantor owns the property, he or she gives the grantee the claim deed to show that they’ve transferred their interests in the property.

What this means is that the use of the quit deed could be risky if the grantor does not own rights to the property whose interests they are transferring.

Uses of the Claim Deed

  • A quit claim deed in Alabama has several legal uses, particularly in property transfers. Some of the uses that could be listed in the deed claim form include:
    • The transfer of property into a Trust or a living trust
    • To indicate a change in name affecting an existing deed
    • Transfer of property to a business or an entity
    • When asked to resolve cloud on a title by the title company
    • When changing the details of the marital property
    • Transferring interests to someone else who will co-own the property with current owners
    • Removing a grantee from a deed

If the circumstances/ uses listed above represent actions you wish to take, you should consider downloading your copy of a free Alabama quit claim deed form. The non-warranty deed form will guide you in transferring or the conveyance of your interests in property to someone else.

For the document to be legally binding, it must be meet some requirements.

  • Requirements for valid quitclaim form
    • The transfer/ conveyance needs to be in writing; on a parchment or paper
    • It must be marked or signed by the grantor. In the absence of the grantor, it should be signed or marked by authorized personnel.
    • It must have the grantor’s name, address, as well as their marital status; this is according to the legal provisions of Code 35-4-20.
    • The law also indicates that for a married grantor in ownership of the property under the spouse facilitating the transfer, then the only signature required for rights/ interests conveyance is the grantors.
    • But, the quitclaim form must have the signatures of both spouses if the property whose interests are being conveyed is homestead property, the other spouse’s status of property ownership notwithstanding.
    • Regarding non-homestead property transfers, the state requires a recital which states that the named property on conveyance does not belong to the grantor.
    • The statutes also require that the deed form carries the exact description of the property. These details include reference to any past recording.
    • The form must have the name of the grantee along with their address, and necessary vesting details.
    • According to the state laws under Ala. Code 35-4-110, 113), the form must have a written statement with the name/ address of the party preparing the quitclaim form.
    • For validity, the form must also carry a statement from an independent witness. Alternatively, the form should have an acknowledgment from a notary public or any other party licensed to acknowledge oaths.
    • The statute is also clear on something else: that while an acknowledgment is enough for grantors able to write, there should be a witness present for a grantor who is unable to write.

Choice of words

The Alabama quitclaim form doesn’t provide any warranties. Therefore, under the form’s warranty clause section, the terms ‘Sell,’ ‘Bargain’ or ‘Grant,’ shouldn’t be used.

These words have implied warranties as per the statutory provisions of Code 35-4 271. Acceptable words/ phrases include “release quitclaim,” or “quitclaim then convey.’

Finally, the deed should be recorded, preferably with probate based in the county that the property is located – Ala. Code 35-4-50. And for purposes of recording, the county might call for extra information, specific formatting, tax forms, and other documents.

Would you like to transfer your interests in property to a loved one or a business entity in Birmingham, Huntsville, Montgomery, Mobile, Tuscaloosa, Auburn, Dothan, Anniston or any other city in Alabama? Download our free quitclaim deed form today to get started.

What Do You Think?

Throughout history, individual acts of defiance have proved to be incredibly powerful. It takes courage to stand alone, but brave individuals often galvanise movements of people who come together and change the world.

Here are some of those moments to inspire you, and remind you that one person, one voice or one action can have a big impact.

1. Salt March led by Gandhi, India, 1930

Salt march led by Mohandas Gandhi, India, 1930

Photo: Pixabay

“We need to be the change we wish to see in the world.” – Gandhi

When India was a British colony, the British Raj imposed a hefty tax on the import of salt. This affected all Indians regardless of wealth or class, and so had the power to galvanise millions.

The Salt March attracted worldwide attention and sparked a desire to fight for independence within the country. During the speeches he gave over 24 days of the march, Gandhi encouraged followers to boycott salt by making their own. Gandhi was later arrested, but the protest against salt continued during his incarceration. He continued his fight for Indian independence, which came in 1947.

2. Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott, USA, 1955

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

“Stand for something or you will fall for anything. Today’s mighty oak is yesterday’s nut that held its ground.” – Rosa Parks

On 1 December 1955 in Alabama, Rosa Parks decided to defy racial segregation rules by not giving up her seat for a white passenger when asked. Her actions sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott, designed to put enough economic pressure on the city to listen. The campaign was so successful, it led to the desegregation of buses by the US Supreme Court. Rosa’s defiance changed the course of civil rights in American history.

3. Emily Davison’s protest for suffrage at the Epsom Derby, United Kingdom, 1913

“Emily Davison clung to her conviction that one great tragedy, the deliberate throwing into the breach of a human life, would put an end to the intolerable torture of women. And so she threw herself at the King’s horse, in full view of the King and Queen and a great multitude of their Majesties’ subjects.” – Emmeline Pankhurst

Emily Davison was a women’s suffrage activist. She was imprisoned nine times, and endured force-feeding while on hunger strike. In 1913, her protest at the Epsom Derby resulted in her death, as she was trampled by King George V’s horse. She died of her injuries in hospital four days later. Her intention for the protest has always remained unclear, but she is remembered as a symbol of the struggle undertaken for the right for women to vote.

4. Tommie Smith and John Carlos Olympic protest, Mexico, 1968

Photo: Flickr/pds209

Photo: Flickr/pds209

“If I win, I am American, not a black American. But if I did something bad, then they would say I am a Negro. We are black and we are proud of being black. Black America will understand what we did tonight.” – Tommie Smith

This photo has been deemed one of the most powerful images in Olympic history. After winning gold and bronze medals in the Men’s 200m Finals, Americans Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their fists during the national anthem as a political gesture for human rights. Australian silver medalist Peter Norman wore a human rights badge in support.

5. The Unknown Rebel at the Tiananmen Square Protests, China, 1989

“Why are you here? My city is in chaos because of you.” – Tank Man’s words to the tank driver, according to reports

No one knows the identity of this man, who stood in front of army tanks the morning after the 1989 Tiananmen Square Protests. In this act of defiance, “Tank Man” was filmed standing in front of the tanks, and as they tried to move around him, he stepped to block their way. The unknown rebel was able to grind a column of tanks to a halt – a reminder of how small actions can have epic impact.

6. The Self-Immolation of Thích Quảng Đức, Vietnam, 1963

Photo: http://www.reds.vn

As he burned he never moved a muscle, never uttered a sound, his outward composure in sharp contrast to the wailing people around him.” – David Halberstam, Eyewitness

Buddhist monk Thích Quảng Đức set himself on fire in 1963 to highlight the persecution of Buddhists by Ngô Đình Diệm in South Vietnam. He used his last words to call on others to organise in solidarity. Images of his protest were circulated around the world and put pressure on the international community to reconsider support for Diệm. Images of Thích Quảng Đức’s protest have been deemed some of the most powerful in history.

7. Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest, Burma, 1989 – 2010

Aung San Suu Kyi speaks to supporters after her release from house arrest, 2010. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Aung San Suu Kyi speaks to supporters after her release from house arrest, 2010. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

“Last month I was released from almost six years of house arrest. The regaining of my freedom has in turn imposed a duty on me to work for the freedom of other women and men in my country who have suffered far more – and who continue to suffer far more- than I have.” – Aung San Suu Kyi after brief release in 1995

Aung San Suu Kyi spent a total of almost 15 years under house arrest, following her electoral win in the 1990 Burmese general elections, as the opposition. This meant being separated from her husband, Dr. Michael Aris, who died of cancer during her incarceration, and her two children. She was released from house arrest on 13 November 2010, and has stated since that she plans to run for the presidency of Myanmar’s (Burma) 2015 elections.

8. Taslima Nasrin’s exile in India from Bangladesh, 1994 – present

Photo: Flickr/thisismylife.co.uk

Photo: Flickr/thisismylife.co.uk

”Come what may, I will continue my fight for equality and justice without any compromise until my death. Come what  may, I will never be silenced.” – Taslima Nasrin

Taslima Nasrin is a Bengali author and former physician, who was forced to live in exile after publishing her novel Lajja in 1993. The novel examines religious extremism and the tension between Muslim and Hindu communities in Bangladesh.  She has also written from personal experience about sexual abuse and women’s rights.  Several of her books remain banned in Bangladesh. Despite her exile, she has continued to write about freedom of thought and women’s equality.

9. Corazon Aquino and the People Power Revolution, Philippines, 1986

Corazon Aquino swears in as President of the Philippines, February 25, 1986. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Corazon Aquino swears in as President of the Philippines, February 25, 1986. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

“As I came to power peacefully, so shall I keep it.” – Corazon Aquino

Corazon Aquino was one of the key figures involved in toppling the authoritarian rule of President Ferdinand Marcos and is remembered for restoring democracy in the Philippines. She rose to prominence following the assassination of her husband Senator Benigno Aquino Jr, one of President Marcos’ biggest critics.

Marcos called for snap elections in 1985, and Corazon Aquino ran for President in opposition. Marcos was declared the winner, despite allegations of electoral fraud, prompting Aquino to call for mass civil disobedience. After defection by the military from Marcos’ regime and the People Power Revolution of 1986, Corazon Aquino was recognized as rightful winner, and inaugurated as the 11th president of the Philippines on 25 February 1986.

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Sherman’s Field Order No. 15

Original entry byBarton Myers, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, 

09/25/2005Last edited by NGE Staff on 09/29/2020

On January 16, 1865, during the Civil War (1861-65), Union general William T. Sherman issued his Special Field Order No. 15, which confiscated as Union property a strip of coastline stretching from Charleston, South Carolina, to the St. John’s River in Florida, including Georgia’s Sea Islands and the mainland thirty miles in from the coast. The order redistributed the roughly 400,000 acres of land to newly freed Black families in forty-acre segments. Sherman’s order came on the heels of his successful March to the Sea from Atlanta to Savannah and just prior to his march northward into South Carolina. Radical Republicans in the U.S. Congress, like Charles Sumner and Thaddeus Stevens, for some time had pushed for land redistribution in order to break the back of Southern slaveholders’ power. Feeling pressure from within his own party, U.S. president Abraham Lincoln sent his secretary of war, Edwin M. Stanton, to Savannah in order to facilitate a conversation with Sherman over what to do with Southern planters’ lands. On January 12 Sherman and Stanton met with twenty Black leaders of the Savannah community, mostly Baptist and Methodist ministers, to discuss the question of emancipation. Lincoln approved Field Order No. 15 before Sherman issued it just four days after meeting with the Black leaders. From Sherman’s perspective the most important priority in issuing the directive was military expediency. It served as a means of providing for the thousands of Black refugees who had been following his army since its invasion of Georgia. He could not afford to support or protect these refugees while on campaign. The order explicitly called for the settlement of Black families on confiscated land, encouraged freedmen to join the Union army to help sustain their newly won liberty, and designated a general officer to act as inspector of settlements. Inspector General Rufus Saxton would police the land and work to ensure legal title of the property for the Black settlers. In a later order, Sherman also authorized the army to loan mules to the newly settled farmers. Sherman’s Freedmen’s Bureau radical plan for land redistribution in the South was actually a practical response to several issues. Although Sherman had never been a racial egalitarian, his land-redistribution order served the military purpose of punishing Confederate planters along the rice coast of the South for their role in starting the Civil War, while simultaneously solving what he and Radical Republicans viewed as a major new American problem: what to do with a new class of free Southern laborers. Congressional leaders convinced President Lincoln to establish the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands on March 3, 1865, shortly after Sherman issued his order. The Freedmen’s Bureau, as it came to be called, was authorized to give legal title for forty-acre plots of land to freedmen and white Southern Unionists. The immediate effect of Sherman’s order provided for the settlement of roughly 40,000 Black Americans (both refugees and locals who had been under Union army administration in the Sea Islands since 1861). This lifted the burden of supporting the freed people from Sherman’s army as it turned north into South Carolina. But the order was a short-lived promise for Blacks. Despite the objections of General Oliver O. Howard, the Freedmen’s Bureau chief, U.S. president Andrew Johnson overturned Sherman’s directive in the fall of 1865, after the war had ended, and returned most of the land along the South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida coasts to the planters who had originally owned it. Although Sherman’s Special Field Order No. 15 had no tangible benefit for Black citizens after President Johnson’s revocation, the present-day movement supporting reparations has pointed to it as the U.S. government’s promise to make restitution to African Americans for enslavement. The order is also the likely origin of the phrase “forty acres and a mule,” which spread throughout the South in the weeks and months following Sherman’s march.

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