By Ken A. Epstein
Tempers remain frayed and opinion divided over the City Council´s overwhelming vote this week to hire a controversial consultant Bill Bratton to advise the Oakland Police Department.
At a meeting that lasted until after 2 a.m., hundreds of speakers lined up to argue for and against the hiring of Bratton, an internationally recognized expert on policing. He is an outspoken advocate of police use of stop and frisk tactics, viewed by critics as racial profiling that targets and criminalizes Black and Latino youth.
The council voted 7-1 to hire Bratton. Councilmember Desley Brooks, District, 7, was the only one who voted no.
Brooks said her opposition is based on the first contract and the new contact with the Wasserman group, which includes a provision to bring in Bratton.
“Before I would spend new money, I would like to know what kind of job they did on the first contact. I don’t see why we couldn’t have waited before passing this contact,” said Brooks.
According to the contract, “Bratton will only be here for two months – the first month to survey what we are already doing and the second month to develop a crime reduction strategy and go out and hold community meetings,” she said.
The contact says Bratton will create one crime reduction strategy for the hills and another one for the flatlands, she said.
“The impression is that Bratton is going to come here and wave a magic wand and make crime go away in Oakland,” she said, but the reality is that change will take time.
Brooks also criticized some of her fellow councilmembers. “They spoke from an emotional basis playing on people’s fears. That’s not what people elected us to do,” she said.
“They want to ramrod something down peoples’ throats, and they only want people who agree with their position at the meeting. That is not how democracy works.”
Lynette McElhaney, councilmember for District 3, voted for hire Bratton.
“Everybody agrees that OPD is broken. It does not serve and it does not protect, very well. People in charge of oversight say this is a department that is in trouble,” she said.
McElhaney decided to vote to hire him, she said, because, “If I vote against this motion, I’m voting for the status quo. And the status quo is killing us, literally.”
Rev. Ken Chambers is pastor of West Side Missionary Baptist Church and Civic Chair of the Baptist Ministers Union.
“We´re in a state of emergency almost,” said Chambers, who backed the hiring of Bratton. “This is a time when we have to take some action to bring safety to our community.”
In addition to short-term steps, he said, there needs to be a comprehensive approach that emphasizes jobs, job training and quality education.
He also called on city leaders be sensitive to segments of the community who are apprehensive about aggressive policing methods.
The mayor and Council President Pat Kernighan “have to rise above the criticism and figure out how to get some consensus in the community,” Chambers said. “They need to figure out how to bring people together, though there are strong differences.”
Bishop Bob Jackson of Acts Full Gospel C.O.G.I.C. mobilized many of the faith leaders who went to the council meeting.
“We came to the City Council to say that somebody ought to say something about stopping the shootings that have resulted in 686 persons shot with 131 dying – enough of the carnage, enough of those left wounded, enough is enough,” said Bishop Jackson.
“Bratton may not have all the answers, but we need a plan to stop the killings now while we work on education, jobs and other causes.”
Jackson noted that during the first 23 days of January, 23 people had been shot, with 6 dying. “Let’s stop the killing, let’s make it safe for our children to feel safe going to school,” he said.
Rashidah Grinage, executive director of PUEBLO, says the vote for Bratton is spurring intensified organizing against police abuse.
“The city has woken the sleeping tiger,” she said. “As loud as we were, I don’t think they heard us. The city is not responsive to a broad section of the community. It is very disrespectful.”
By J. Douglas
Are some members of Oakland City Council becoming disenchanted with Phil Tagami’s development of the Oakland Army Base? At least one veteran Councilmember gave that indication at a meeting of Council’s Community & Economic Development Committee this week.
“I’ve never been a fan of this whole process,” committee chair Larry Reid said, referring to the handling of the removal of several existing businesses on the old Army Base property to make way for the new development.
“I’m really disappointed in the way we’ve treated these businesses. I don’t like the way CC&G [Tagami’s California Capital & Investment Group] has handled this process. I’ve supported them, but I’ll tell you, going forward, you guys ought not to expect a vote from me regarding their efforts on the Oakland Army Base. I will abstain from any future voting because I do not like how they have disrespected the businesses that are out there on that piece of dirt.”
Tagami’s Oakland-based CC&G development company is the general contractor for Oakland’s multi-million dollar development of the old Army Base property. In addition, Tagami serves as an agent for the City of Oakland in the Army Base project.
The first stages of development of the City of Oakland’s portion of the 1,800 acre Army Base site is scheduled to begin sometime this fall. But standing in the way are several businesses on the property, including the Pacific Coast Container and Oakland Maritime Support Services, both of which supply support for Port of Oakland activities, the Oakland Film Center, and Urban Recycling.
All of the businesses have been on short-term city leases on the base property at least since 2006, and city officials are now seeking to get them to sign agreements for a May 31 deadline to vacate the property.
Oakland stands to lose $174 million in federal funds if the city does not have complete control of the army base property by October 1, and city administration officials have set an earlier vacating deadline for the businesses in the event court eviction action is necessary.
None of the Army Base businesses have indicated that they are interested in fighting the evictions, and all are trying to find new sites within Oakland to relocate. City of Oakland Real Estate Agent John Monetta told Council CEDA committee members this week that he is “optimistic” that the vacating agreements will be signed and the businesses will be gone by May 31.
However, none of the four companies have yet reached agreement with the city over the terms of leaving, although representatives of the Oakland Film Center indicated that only a few minor provisions stand in the way of their signing.
“Our intention is 100% to be out by [May] 31st,” said Tim Ranahan of Ranahan Production Services, a Film Center tenant.
But other companies are less satisfied with their removal.
Oakland business leader Dexter Vizinau, who represents PCC Logistics, one of the Army Base businesses, said that while PCC is “one of the reasons why we are now developing the Army Base for logistics,” the company is now “being kicked out with nowhere to go, and they’re doing the business that’s proposed to be done” in the new Army Base development.”
Saying that three-quarters of the export activity currently taking place at the Port of Oakland is handled through PCC. “I don’t think everybody understands the ramification” of PCC’s eviction, Vizinau added. “That’s going to have an impact on the Port.”
Saying that “the city and the port haven’t worked well together to come up with a transition plan” for the removal of the existing companies, Vizinau asked for a meeting of executive staff members from both the City and the Port, key City Councilmembers, Port of Oakland Commissioners, and Army Base Master Developer Phil Tagami, “to come up with a way for PCC to have an interim space at the port.”
Councilmember Reid said he would take the initiative to move forward on Vizinau’s suggestion.
CBS Channel 5 Anchor Dana King will present the City of Oakland Citizen Humanitarian Award to Gladys Green for her outstanding work on behalf of the Oakland community at the “In the Name of Love” Musical Tribute honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Jan. 19, 7 p.m., at the Paramount Theatre in Oakland.
The 11th annual musical celebration will offer an extensive civic and cultural program that pays homage through music, to one of the greatest humanitarians of our time. The 2013 musical entertainment includes Grammy Award winner Jennifer Holliday; internationally known guitar and vocal duo Tuck & Patti; the 65-voice Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir; and the 275-voice Oakland Children’s Community Choir backed up by the Oaktown Jazz Workshops. Nikki Thomas, KBLX, will serve as emcee.
Gladys Green is the Chairperson of the Alameda County – Oakland Community Action Partnership (AC-OCAP) Board, whose mission is to eliminate poverty and its effect on the City of Oakland and throughout Alameda County.
She has served as president of the Elmhurst District Board for 15 years; the Alameda County – Oakland Community Action Partnership Board for 22 years; the Oakland Business Development Corporation for 15 years; and received the Community Service Award for Hunger Relief due to her weekly commitment to help her local church distribute food baskets to those in need.
Living Jazz, an Oakland based non-profit and producers of the MLK Tribute, originally created the humanitarian award to acknowledge those who give of themselves beyond the call of duty and to inspire others to work for the betterment of the community.
Reserved seating is $15 – $45; children 12 and under $8. Tickets are available at www.ticketmaster.com or 1-800-745-3000 or the Paramount Theatre Box Office. For more info: http://www.mlktribute.com
Nearly a year after former City Administrator Deborah Edgerly lost a lawsuit against the City of Oakland over her firing, the state Court of Appeals has rejected her attempt to pursue a claim based on the state’s whistle-blower law.
Edgerly sued the city in 2009 after she was fired in July 2008 by former Mayor Ron Dellums. In her claim she said she lost her job because she was a woman and because she refused to approve city reimbursement for three questionable expenses sought by Dellums.
Edgerly’s firing came after she was accused of interfering with a police investigation of her nephew, who police suspected was a member of the West Oakland Acorn gang.
During the trial, Dellums testified that he did not fire Edgerly because of the police investigation but because she stopped communicating with him after she withdrew from a previous agreement to retire.
In her appeal, Edgerly claimed she should be protected under the state’s whistle-blower law because, by rejecting Dellums’ expenses, she was refusing to allow him to violate the city charter.
But in its ruling published Wednesday, the state court ruled that her actions were not covered by the whistleblower law because Dellums was not attempting to violate a state law or rule.
Instead, the court ruled her claim that she refused to have the city reimburse Dellums was simply part of her routine work and not a protected action under the state law.
Judge Henderson’s Compliance Director Could Fire Chief Jordan
By Post Staff
The City of Oakland has agreed to surrender much of its control over the Oakland Police Department, giving a federally appointed “Compliance Director” broad authority including the right to the fire or demote the police chief and other OPD commanders, under a proposed agreement between the city and lawyers representing victims of police abuse.
The proposed settlement was reached Wednesday and filed Thursday in federal court and requires federal Judge Thelton Henderson’s approval. Henderson has scheduled a hearing for Dec. 13.
Under the settlement, the compliance director would report directly to Judge Henderson. Civil rights attorneys Jim Chanin and John Burris would have the opportunity to recommend candidates for the job.
Prior to the agreement, Chanin and Burris had asked Henderson to place the police force into receivership, saying a broken police culture had derailed court-ordered reforms, endangering resi dents, particularly minorities, and leading to costly police abuse settlements.
The compliance director would to be paid by the city. The agreement would not affect the Oakland Police Officers Association’s labor agreement.
The compliance director would have the ability to make individual expenditures of city money of up to $250,000 to ensure compliance with the federal reforms.
The compliance director will focus on several specific areas of police misconduct, including racial profiling, pointing weapons at minority suspects without due cause, and officer-involved violence, including shootings.
The settlement gives the city at least until June 1, 2013 to make substantial progress, and if it fails to do so, then Henderson can order OPD into federal receivership.
According to newly appointed Deputy Mayor Sandré Swanson, the agreement, unlike receivership, allows the city to help craft police reforms.
“The mayor worked hard to reach an agreement short of receivership,” Swanson said. “It gives the city for the first crack at solving the problem. If the solutions we come up with are not adequate, someone can come in and make adjustments.”
Police Chief Howard Jordan said the agreement was the best the city could expect.
“It’s a best-case scenario for us based on the alternatives,” said Jordan. “We had always been opposed to a receiver. If you look at the duties and responsibilities, the compliance director will be charged with actually finding solutions and working with all stakeholders to get us into compliance.”
However, civil right attorney Chanin said he sees little difference between a compliance director and a receiver. “I see this as a receiver with a different name,” he said.
Chanin and Burris had represented over 100 people who sued the city in 2000 after four officers called the Riders were accused of beating residents and planting evidence. The settlement in that case led to federal oversight requiring the city to institute dozens of police reforms, some of which have yet to be implemented.
Mayor Jean Quan sees the agreement as a positive step. “We’re very grateful to the judge for his opportunity,” she said. “This will help us move on faster. It’s been months and months in making and a lot of hard work.”
Rocky Lucia, an attorney for the police association, said the settlement is positive because it allows police officers to be involved “It formalizes the requirement that we get a seat at the table,” he said
Small business owners often feel all alone – with no one to keep them from making a critical mistake or from missing a golden opportunity.
However, East Bay entrepreneurs who attend the fourth and final 2012 Small Business Symposium at the Crowne Plaza in Union City on Nov. 8 will have an opportunity to connect with 40 resources – from free non-profit and government services to the expert advice of business professionals.
“What we know is that more than half of all East Bay small businesses need some kind of advice or specialized service just to survive. We want to help them thrive and grow,” said Jim Foley, Wells Fargo Bank’s Greater Bay President and leader of the effort.
The free symposium will connect business owners at various stages of maturity (startup, young, growth and mature) with experts in starting, growing and sustaining small businesses and specific, relevant resources, including financing, business planning, marketing, human resources and legal support, via one of four concurrent, 90-minute breakout panels that answer questions from the audience.
With the goal of enhancing the entrepreneurial opportunities within the region, the East Bay Economic Development Alliance (East Bay EDA) and its partners launched the East Bay Small Business Initiative in May with a Symposium in Antioch that drew 107 attendees.
That was followed by a symposium in Berkeley with over 350 attendees and another in Danville.
The initiative is organized by East Bay EDA, Inner City Advisors (ICA) and Wells Fargo Bank, with the support of the Alameda and Contra Costa Small Business Development Centers (SBDC), Alameda County Workforce Investment Board and the Workforce Development Board of Contra Costa and the U.S. Small Business Administration.
The symposium is endorsed by Alameda County Supervisors in the two southern districts. “I’m so pleased that this effort is providing an opportunity this year for Southern Alameda County businesses to attend and I strongly encourage area business owners and chambers of commerce to participate” said Supervisor Richard Valle.
To register and for information, go to www.ebsmallbusiness.com.
Nutiva in partnership with Common Vision this week planted fruit trees at Washington Elementary School and Levonya Dejean Middle School in Richmond, marking the beginning of a five-year project to plant an orchard of 15-30 fruit trees in every public elementary, middle and high school in the area.
The day’s events included a whole school assembly and puppet show put on by Oakland-based Big Tadoo Puppet Crew.
“This is exactly the kind of event that shows who Richmond is,” said Mayor Gayle McLaughlin.
“We’re helping foster the next generation of mindful citizens and leaders, teaching our children the connection between plants, our planet and staying healthy. We are thrilled that Nutiva has moved its headquarters to Richmond and has so quickly become a valuable part of our local community.”
For more information go to www.nutiva.com and www.commonvision.org
Keith Williams, pastor of Ennis Chapel Church of God in Christ in Richmond, recently spoke out to oppose the Sugary Sweetened Beverage Tax, which will appear on the November ballot.
“The community doesn’t need a tax, which will primarily affect people of color,” Williams said.
While he says he agrees with the proposed benefits associated with the tax, such as improved health and fitness programs, a tax is unnecessary.
“The goals are wonderful, but to create a tax for this is absurd,” he said.
Williams says local politicians advocating for the proposed tax should adjust their priorities. “We need to focus on health as a whole and create programs that promote health, affordable housing, jobs and violence reduction,” he said.
Ennis Chapel is active in city and countywide efforts to make changes related to a number of social issues affecting Richmond and surrounding neighborhoods. The church is committed to partnering with leaders from the faiths, nonprofit and business community to make changes at all levels of government, he said.
Over the summer, he joined representatives of the Contra Costa Interfaith Supporting Community Organization (CCISCO) and more than 300 clergy members to speak to the Governor’s office about the impact of proposed 2012-13 tax initiatives.
Williams has served as pastor of Ennis Chapel for nine years. During his tenure, the congregation successfully financed the building of a sister church—Ennis Chapel in Ghana.
A native of Chicago, Williams served in the U.S. Navy for four years and attended UC Berkeley, earning a degree in criminal justice. He continued his studies at Patton Bible College.
Williams worked as a correctional officer at the San Quentin Prison and ultimately became Associate Warden. After 30 years of service, he retired in 2011 from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
Pastor Williams and his wife Vannette have three children and three foster children.
For information about Ennis Chapel visit www.ennischapel.org or call (510) 235-4217.
Kia Croom is a contributing writer for the Richmond Post.
Acclaimed actor Omar Gooding stopped by the Peralta College Digital Arts Media Technology Training Program in West Oakland Thursday afternoon to offer words of encouragement and praise to the young students.
The program, which serves youth ages 16 to 24, is operated by Bishop J. E. Watkins, executive director and founder of Overcomers with Hope.
Best known for his roles in “Baby Boy” and “Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper,” Gooding visited the program to give back to the youth. Earlier the same day, he served food to youth at the “Hood Kitchen” BBQ Showdown from the TV show “Hood Kitchen.”
All the food went to feed young people and the community. No one left hungry.
This year’s Bay Area Black Expo will provide free vision and glaucoma screenings on the first of the two-day event, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday Sept. 8 at the Oakland Convention Center, 550 10th St. in downtown Oakland.
“For people with undiagnosed glaucoma and eye disease, Glaucoma Research Foundation and Prevent Blindness Northern California are able to provide a tremendous service to many more people than we could on our own, through public forum, especially the Bay Area Black Expo,” said Bill Stewart, Glaucoma Research Foundation board member.
“Eye screening is the first step to protecting eye health or starting on the path to eye health improvement. For children, diagnosis of eye issues at a young age improves their opportunities for success as they enter school.” Stewart said. “For adults, early detection, especially of glaucoma, may save sight.”
The 2012 Expo, which will be held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sept. 8 and Sept. 9, will include entrepreneur workshops; healthy cooking demonstrations with Cuisine Noir Magazine and celebrity chefs; fitness classes; Greek fraternity/sorority step shows; celebrity “Inside the Artist Studio” interviews; a powerful spirit-led Sunday gospel celebration hosted by KDYA’s (The Light 1190 AM) Brotha Phil; and special celebrity guest performers and speakers, in addition to exhibits of arts and crafts, retail, social, corporate, and health care vendors and other exhibitors.
Admittance is $10 general admission; $5 for children, students with ID and seniors. Tickets may be purchased at the door and online at bayareablackexpo.com/event/tickets.
Author Betty McGee is passionate about her career at the Oakland Unified School District, where she helps students who are at risk of failing find an alternative school setting where they can complete their studies.
Her passion to rescue and redirect high school students also has compelled her to lend needed assistance to their parents. She has written a book, “ Take Back The Wheel: How to Help Make Your Teenager’s High School Journey Successful.”
A number of educators are calling the book a “must read” for parents who are about to enroll their teenager in high school and those who are experiencing “the Blues” because their teenager’s high school progress is on an unsuccessful path.
Her clearly written book explores issues that many parents face:
How to prepare your child for high school; selecting a school that can best meet a child’s academic and social needs; the importance of attending a school orientation for new students;
Why following proper registration guidelines is critical; how not participating in a child’s education hurts his or her chances for success; ways to take action when problems first come up; where parents can seek help.
McGee has over 20 years experience of redirecting troubled Oakland high school teenagers. She worked for 13 years as an Outreach Consultant at Oakland Technical High School and is recognized by the State Department of Education as leading one of the “Best Parent Training Programs.”
She currently works in Oaland at the district level as an Alternative Placement Specialist.
“Take Back the Wheel” is available in paperback from Marcus Bookstore in Oakland and online at Amazon.com.
By Simeon Gant
High School and College students received a few basic principles on how to succeed in business from legendary basketball star Earvin “Magic” Johnson at the recent Ron Brown Youth Entrepreneur Summit.
Expaining how he moved from athlete to businessman, Johnson said, “I was once poor, but I didn’t have poor dreams. My work ethic was off the chart. I grew up in a three-room house with six sisters and three brothers, six pants and three shirts, Kool-Aid and no sugar.”
In an inspiring one-hour presentation at the San Diego summit, Johnson related to the youth’s current plight as budding entrepreneurs. “I’m from the hood, too. Every experience will prepare you for success. Information is the key to succeed and education is the key for success.”
The summit offered African American youth from throughout the state a one-day workshop to build their skills and explore the possibility of developing their own business and setting lofty goals with a plan to achieve them.
One of the young men, 17-year-old Christopher Wilson from Los Angeles, aspires to own his own basketball team one day.
“I really like playing basketball, but I‘m always looking for a backup plan,” he said. “I really like what Magic had to say about working hard and not letting people tell me what I can’t do. Before today, I never thought about owning a basketball team.”
Johnson’s story inspires both youth and adults alike. He said his nickname came from a high school coach who was amazed at his efforts defeating a team that he was supposed to lose to.
“I followed my mentors Greg Eaton and Joe Ferguson. These were men from my hood that owned buildings. I knew then that would be something I wanted to do,” he said.
He encouraged the youth to get mentors and stay the course. He mentioned “haters” abound.
“Many of my own teammates and friends said I would not be a businessman after my playing days were over,” he continued, “You have to believe in yourself.”
Johnson’s belief garnered him 105 Starbucks, numerous TGI Fridays franchises, more than 50,000 employees of color, former ownership of the Los Angeles Lakers and currently part owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Ron Brown Business and Economic Summit is an annual tribute to former U.S. Commerce Secretary Ron Brown. The summit provides business skill-building workshops and professional networking opportunities for African American entrepreneurs.
By Jay Singh
Last month, I stood before 300 Sikhs at a Gurdūārā in Roswell, Ga. I stood there representing the Southern Poverty Law Center as part of an ongoing effort to curb the bullying of Sikh school children across the South.
I stood there also as a third-year law student attempting to explain the law and to educate parents and children about their rights against mistreatment. And I stood there as a Sikh, in resistance to a post-9/11 status quo characterized by humanity-blinding hate and empathy-inhibiting indifference.
Last Sunday, at a Gurdūārā in Oak Creek, Wis., this hate and indifference decayed in a violent flourish that extinguished six innocent lives. As I and other Sikhs turned on the television to find aerial images of a Gurdūārā besieged by commotion and emergency lights, the worst-case scenario – a scenario we’d buried deep in our thoughts – had tragically surfaced and was unfolding before our eyes.
Throughout the day, I heard echoes from the 700 other attacks on Sikhs since 9/11 – echoes expressing the need for broader awareness about Sikh identity and belief. Thenational news media heard these echoes, too, and rushed to create this awareness.
But whom to turn to for more information? Who could tell us more about this community, simultaneously invisible and immediately noticeable with its colorful turban and rich tradition?
Ask any Sikh.
The Sikh path is an endeavor to connect with Truth and to defend the honor of the oppressed. Nānak, the founder of the Sikh way of life, was born in 1469. The first Gūrū-Prophet—and the nine that inherited his Spirit—embodied a religious, social and political revolution. Nānak challenged the Hindū caste system and instituted langar halls (free community kitchens) in all Gurdūārās, where people from all four castes and all the four directions could join together in preparing and enjoying a meal together in a demonstration of common humanity.
Today, the Golden Temple in Amritsar, India – the most iconic Sikh house of learning – functions as the world’s largest community kitchen. It feeds 80,000 people each weekday and up to 120,000 on Saturdays and Sundays – all free of charge.
Nānak also challenged the worth of idol worship and mechanical ritualism in the pursuit of Enlightenment, building a new path wholly distinct from Hindūism.
The Sikh scriptural canon is perfumed by a steadfast belief in One Universal Integrative Force, conceptualized as Truth, and manifested in all beings and in all matter.
With the Gūrū Granth as their inspiration, Gōbind Singh directed the Gūrū Panth to resist all forms of religious and political subjugation. He gave all Sikh males the last name “Singh,” meaning “lion,” and all Sikh females the last name “Kaur,” meaning “princess,” to erase all markers of caste that Indian last names often denote.
The Gūrū further mandated that all Sikh men and women maintain their hair uncut and wrapped in a turban. Unshorn hair is recognition that attempting to improve upon the creation of the Perfect is an act steeped in ego.
Unfortunately for many Sikhs, particularly younger members of the community, the embrace of this lifestyle has made them the object of misguided hate. Since 9/11, Sikh students have been bullied at an alarming rate. I have heard accounts of lockers filled with written death threats and relentless verbal harassment accusing Sikh students of being “terrorists” or members of the “Taliban.”
In reflecting on the events of last Sunday…we pray for the well-being of the families gripped in grief, and for the well-being of the heroic Lt. Brian Murphy of the Oak Creek police department, who was shot numerous times during the attack.
For more information on Sikhī, please visit SikhRI.org.
Jay Singh is a third-year law student at the University of Washington and an intern at the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights organization based in Montgomery, Alabama, which is well known for its legal victories against white supremacist groups.
The American Red Cross has had a boost in donations since it issued an emergency appeal for blood, but additional donations are needed to ensure an adequate supply of blood through the end of the summer.
“We are humbled by the generosity of the many blood donors in the Bay Area who responded to our appeal, helping to save lives,” said Jeff Meyer, CEO of the Northern California Blood Services Region.
“The Red Cross is so appreciative for each and every selfless act of giving. Our blood donors truly do this out of the goodness of their hearts,” he said.
Across the country, nearly 15,000 donations have been given above expectations since the Red Cross issued its appeal, cutting the blood donation deficit by 30 percent.
However, more donors are needed in the coming weeks. If at least three additional people give at each blood drive through the end of August – above what the Red Cross already expects to collect – there would be enough blood on the shelves to meet patient needs through the end of the summer.
Donors of all blood types are needed, but eligible donors with blood type O negative, O positive, A negative or B negative are especially encouraged to give at this time. Anyone who gave blood at the start of summer may be eligible to donate again as summer comes to a close.
A blood drive will be held 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 15 at the Towers, Suite 759, 1900 Powell St. in Emeryville.
Another blood drive will be held at Allen Temple Baptist Church, J. Alfred Smith Hall, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 18, 8501 International Blvd. in Oakland.
For information call (800) 733-2767 or go to redcross.org.
Fewer than half of U.S. adults get enough exercise to improve their health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said this week.
Adults are, however, getting better about walking. Sixty-two percent of adults say they walk at least 10 minutes per day, up from 56 percent in 2005, the CDC said.
The CDC recommends two and a half hours per week of “moderately intense aerobic physical activity,” such as walking.
Even with the recent gains in walking, though, only 48 percent of U.S. adults get enough physical activity to improve their health, according to data from the CDC’s National Health Interview Survey.
“It is encouraging to see these increases in the number of adults who are now walking,” said Joan M. Dorn, branch chief of the Physical Activity and Health Branch in CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity.
“But there is still room for improvement,” Dorn said. “People need more safe and convenient places to walk. People walk more where they feel protected from traffic and safe from crime. Communities can be designed or improved to make it easier for people to walk to the places they need and want to go.”
The CDC said local governments could let the public use the tracks at public schools and gyms when those facilities aren’t otherwise in use. The agency also suggested that employers “can create walking paths around or near the work place and promote them with signs and route maps.”
Westerners are especially good walkers — 68 percent of people who live in the West walk regularly, the highest of any region in the country. The biggest gains came in the South, where the percentage of regular walkers increased from 49 percent to 57 percent.
The survey found no measurable increase in walking among people with Type 2 diabetes, which is often linked to obesity.
“People who are physically active live longer and are at lower risk for heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, depression and some cancers. Having more places for people to walk in our communities will help us continue to see increases in walking, the most popular form of physical activity among American adults,” CDC Director Thomas Frieden said in a statement.
Gabrielle ”Gabby” Douglas has impressed and wowed the Olympic judges and has represented the US well with her sunny disposition.
At 16, she has become the only African American woman to win the all-around Olympic gold and has also led her gymnastic team to victory. So, why is it that, instead of receiving accolades, she is being cyber bullied?
The hottest topic in American media is Gabby’s hair. Americans, mainly African Americans, have been ridiculing Gabby for having “unkempt” hair while competing.
The complaints are all rooted in the notion that Gabby is not only representing the US in the Olympic Games but all African Americans, and she is giving a negative impression of Black hair.
When Gabby saw the internet bashing, she said, “I don’t know where this is coming from. What’s wrong with my hair?”
“I’m like, I just made history, and people are focused on my hair? It can be bald or short, it doesn’t matter about hair, ” Gabby said.
It is ludicrous for people to ridicule Gabby’s hair when she is making such huge steps for the future of African Americans in gymnastics. Her sport requires her to throw her body in the air and do outstanding twists and turns – who has time to worry if a strand of hair is out of place?
Gabby’s mother Natalie Hawkins was enraged when she heard the vicious talk about her daughter’s hair, saying, “How ignorant is it of people to comment on her hair, and she still has more competitions to go. Are you trying to ruin her self-confidence?”
Instead of supporting our Olympian, we have been degrading her. Gabby, who has consistently dominated the competition, came in last on the uneven bars this past Monday.
She was not her effervescent self. I hope it wasn’t because the people of this country, at the end of the day, don’t have her back.
Beyond Emancipation is hosting a “Beyond Idol” foster youth talent competition Saturday, Sept. 22 for ages 16 to 24 with auditions at Laney College.
Participants must be a current or former Alameda county foster youth who will perform on “emancipation themes” in one of four categories, hip hop, spoken word, vocalist and instrumentalist.
Finalists will go on to compete Tuesday, Oct. 9 at the New Parrish in Oakland.
Registration is free, and winners will be awarded cash and professional prize packages to help further their careers in entertainment. For information visit www.beyondidol.com, call (510) 387-3051 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The National Black Data Processing Associates (NBDPA) has selected Hewlett-Packard, the world’s largest technology company, as a 2012 Corporate Epsilon Award recipient.
The award recognizes exceptional companies that provide African Americans with challenging and fulfilling career opportunities in information technology and computer science. Since 2009, the NBDPA has recognized companies that have demonstrated a commitment to people and an understanding that diversity has a bottom-line business case value.
“We are extremely pleased to be honored with this award,” said Lesley McNorton, Sr., Manager, Global Marketing/Multicultural, HP. “It’s long been the policy at HP to provide opportunities for individuals to thrive and be challenged in their work environment. We believe in the power of a diverse workforce which offers our company the best possibility for innovation.”
The Epsilon Award was presented to HP – along with seven other companies – on Aug. 3 at the Dignitaries Reception at the National BDPA Technology Conference in Baltimore.
For information visit www.bdpa.org.
We are shocked and saddened by the massacre in Aurora, Colo. But Aurora is part of a pattern, not an isolated incident. Two days earlier, 17 were hurt outside a bar in Tuscaloosa, Ala., when a gunman opened fire.
There is no safe zone.
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 18 others were shot in a Tucson, Ariz., shopping center. Virginia Tech students were mowed down on campus. In Chicago, 228 people have already lost their lives to gun violence as of mid-June. Nationwide, there have been 60 mass shootings since the Tucson horror, according to the Brady Campaign. Every year, about 100,000 Americans are victims of gun violence, with about 30,000 killed. Aurora is shocking — but the shock has become routine.
We fixate on the details of the killer. James Holmes was an honor student who ran into trouble, dropped out of school, apparently suffered depression. He saw himself as the Joker, the villain without a cause, eager only to sow violence and disruption for its own sake. Dressed in black body armor, he walked into the movie theater playing the new Batman movie carrying two handguns, a shotgun and an assault rifle. There was no defense when he opened fire.
Our leaders offer condolences and prayers, as President Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney did immediately. But we need both prayer and policy to provide for domestic tranquility. Depression isn’t isolated. Mass depression and mass access to guns is a recipe for massacre. We must do more than mourn. We must act to limit domestic terrorism.
Holmes purchased the four guns he carried in local Colorado gun shops along with 6,000 rounds of ammunition in the last 60 days. How could he arm himself with an assault rifle that is useful only to hunt humans? It was easy because in Colorado, it was perfectly legal. According to the Brady Campaign, this is the current state of gun laws in Colorado:
There is no ban on assault weapons, no ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines, no registration requirements, no gun owner licensing requirements, no background checks for Internet sales, no “good cause” required for a concealed carry permit, no limit on the number of handguns you can buy in one purchase.
Our police chiefs campaign hard for a ban on assault weapons that put them at risk. A weak federal assault weapons ban existed from 1994 until George Bush let it lapse in 2004. During that time, the number of crimes committed with assault weapons declined dramatically. But the National Rifle Association — the powerful gun lobby — campaigned hard against the ban and intimidated politicians in both parties.
Now the gun lobby has won. People have begun arming themselves, as if that would protect them. Last year, nearly half (47 percent) of Americans said they have a gun in their home. In 1959, 60 percent of Americans supported a law to ban possession of handguns except by police and other authorized persons. By 2011, only 26 percent supported it. Last year for the first time, a majority of Americans said they were opposed to a law to make it illegal to manufacture, sell or possess assault weapons.
How many must die before we stand and speak? We must revive the ban on assault weapons in America. The Joker’s goal of creating chaos through violence is not a joke. Arming ourselves is not a solution; it is a defeat. We must demand action to defend the domestic tranquility against a gun industry, lobby and culture that now pose a clear and present danger.
By Chanelle Bell
Despite being considered the underdogs, the Ralph Grant Baseball Academy beat the odds, winning the 12 and under division National Championships in Marietta, GA.
The team, which is based and Oakland and draws talent from around the Bay Area, is led by Eddie Abrams, Jr., Will Ash, and Randy Jordan, who is also known as Coach Q.
The team finished the season with a record of 66 wins and 4 losses, with the players excelling academically as well as athletically.
The team takes its name and follows in the tradition of Ralph Grant, an Oakland civic leader who died in 2009 and dedicated over 25 years to coaching youth baseball.
When Grant was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, it devastated Abrams.
“He was my best friend. It was unexpected. He didn’t drink or smoke, ” said Abrams.
Towards the end of his life, Grant’s wife would drive him to the baseball field so he could still watch the team’s practices, said Abrams.
“The kids would all run up to him whenever they saw him,” said Abrams. “I could see the joy that the kids brought him, and it has inspired me to keep doing what I can for these kids.”
The Ralph Grant Team is a dedicated unit in which players bring out the best in each other, says Abrams. Coaches stress the importance of an education and ensure that team members receive a tutor if they are slipping academically.
“They all work together towards a common goal, success,” said Abrams.
“Baseball teaches discipline, camaraderie, and social graces.”
. The parents play a huge role in the success that the Ralph Grant team has received. The cost for a team to participate in a tournament is $500-$600. The team plays two tournaments a month and the costs get pretty steep. Abrams said, “We are fortunate to have such supportive parents. It is very expensive to play travel baseball, and all the coaches are volunteers.”
Abrams recognizes that there are many Black men in the community who volunteer and give their all to the youth, “Thank you to all the men that are out there giving up their time to teach the kids the game of baseball. I commend you for your hard work, and I know God is going to give you a ticket to heaven.”
For information or to make donations, visit www.eteamz.com/ralphgrantbaseballacademy/
By Paul Cobb and
At the Church of God in Christ California Northwest 55th Convocation in Oakland last month, Emma Clark was seen wearing many hats.
She served as support staff to the Convention Coordinator, Executive Secretary and the Director of Finance’s offices. She was also a Convocation Institute speaker, whose topic was “Preparing for the Night.”
Mrs. Clark also wears other hats in the Jurisdiction as President of the Business and Professional Women’s Federation, Jurisdiction Union Meeting Secretary, Historian, Evangelist Missionary and Jurisdictional Headquarters support staff person and CNW-Tidbits email ministry writer.
Despite her “busyness” at the northern California level, she finds time to don her national hat to serve as National Business and Professional Women’s Federation Membership Chairperson and chair of Recording Secretaries of Women’s International Convention/Crusade.
She is the Founder/Librarian of the Dr. Mattie McGlothen Library-Museum in Richmond where she is digitizing many issues of the COGIC Whole Truth Magazine and over 100 National Holy Convocation and Women’s International Convention Souvenir Journals for the McGlothen Library-Museum website.
Mrs. Clark loves beautiful hats and she says she does not feel fully dressed on Sunday without a hat. She buys only a few, but many are given to her as gifts.
By Jesse Douglas
The Oakland Police Department is struggling to come up with solutions to make a dent in the department’s blacklogged investigations and DNA processing crisis, in the wake of a offical Grand Jury report issued late in June, which criticized what it called a “significant backlog” in both crime lab and the investigations units that may have kept large numbers of accused criminals from being arrested.
The Grand Jury report said that because of “insufficient staffing” in the 23-member OPD crime lab, the backlog in processing firearms ballistics requests has risen to close to 2,000, causing the lab to “cancel non-homicide requests that are more than three years old, thereby missing opportunities to potentially aid investigations.”
In addition, the report noted the lab had a backlog of 515 requests for DNA processing, and that even when DNA samples from an Oakland crime have been matched to a suspect using the national DNA database, only about one-third of those matches have been followed-up on.
And noting that even though OPD has “drastically decreased” the collection of fingerprint evidence, the Grand Jury report said that because of staffing shortages, the OPD crime lab was only able to complete 34 of 143 requests to identify crime scene fingerprints last year.
But Oakland’s police budget does not reflect a concern about reports of the department’s investigative backlog. While the department’s bureau of field operations, which includes beat officers, was increased from 392 full-time employees to 406 full-time employees between last year’s budget and this, the bureau of investigations, which includes the crime lab, dropped from 173 full-time employees to 157 in the same period.
Neither the Oakland mayor’s office nor the Oakland Chief of Police’s office have yet responded to the Grand Jury’s critical findings, saying they are still preparing a written response.
OPD Chief Howard Jordan’s chief of staff, Sergeant Chris Bolton, said in an interview that while the chief’s office is “in the process of reviewing” the Grand Jury recommendations on the investigations and crime lab problems, “this isn’t something we’ve been sleeping on. We’ve been taking affirmative steps” to correct the situation.
Last year, for example, Bolton said that in order to maximize their ability to conduct investigations, OPD “created teams of investigators to work on crime scenes, rather than having just one or two process the scene.”
But in the end, Bolton said, it is still a matter of resources. “We need more,” he said. “We don’t have enough.”
Rashidah Grinage, Executive Director of Oakland’s PUEBLO organization, which has monitored and advocated on Oakland police issues for many years, called the increase in patrol staffing while cutting back on investigations “a response to political demands,” and said in a telephone interview that the department’s investigative and crime lab staffing problem cannot be blamed upon solely on lack of money.
Pointing to former OPD Chief Anthony Batts’ 5 Year Plan that called for replacing police officers with civilians in 45 OPD positions, Grinage said that hiring civilians for many positions, including the crime lab and some investigations, would free up current officers to leave desk jobs and go out in the street, easing both the problems of a shortage of patrol officers and a shortage of lab workers and investigators.
Grinage said the money to hire the civilian workers could be found by canceling the upcoming police academies, which she said are too expensive for the numbers of actual Oakland officers they create.
Contacted by the Post, Councilmember Jane Brunner said she had not yet read the Grand Jury report in detail and therefore could not comment on the report’s conclusions about the OPD DNA backlog. Councilmembers Larry Reid and Ignacio De La Fuente did not return calls from the Post.
Math Students Post-up with SAIL
By Paul Cobb
African American youth have been given scholarships to learn how to count, compute and think through math and science problems in a former Wells Fargo office building in downtown Oakland.
They are learning Algebra, which has often been called the “universal second language” and the “gateway to scientific thought.”
“If students can speak Algebra they can migrate to geometry, calculus and sail through other courses on their way to science, technology, computer and engineering careers,” says Dr. Ben Chavis.
Chavis, founder of the American Indian Public Charter High School (AIPCS), offers a special summer “math intensive” science program for inner-city youth. More than 95 percent of the students are minorities, and the school scores among the top five in the state.
By enlisting extensive parental and guardian involvement and with a little dose of tough love sprinkled with high and demanding expectations, Chavis has produced high achieving scholars by partnering with their families and community.
In 2008, Dr. Chavis began the Stanford Academic Institute of Learning (SAIL) in Oakland. The summer program focuses on mathematics for economically disadvantaged minority students.
Since 2011, the SAIL program has expanded to offer academic opportunities to children in Saddletree, North Carolina, a small American Indian community where Dr. Chavis attended school. Saddletree Academic Institute of Learning serves rural students from Mexican, American Indian, Black and white families.
Stanford Academic Institute of Learning (SAIL) serves inner-city and rural students in grades 5th-12th. SAIL soars with an excellent student attendance (99.5%), which helps to ensure the academic success of students who are interested in attending the program.
SAIL offers general mathematics to 6th grade students, Pre-Algebra to 7th grade students, Algebra I to 8th grade students, Geometry to 9th grade students, Algebra II to 10th grade students, Pre-Calculus to 11th graders and Calculus to 12th graders.
The school has 340 students enrolled in two locations. Most students come from American Indian Public Charter School I (AIPCS) and American Indian Public Charter School II (AIPCS II).
The Oakland Post and SAIL has partnered to offer scholarships to Black students. They are providing 61 Black students with an opportunity to excel in mathematics this summer.
SAIL alumni are currently attending the University of California at Berkeley, the University of California at Davis, the University of California at Los Angeles, Syracuse University, Stanford University, Cornell University and numerous other universities.
The Broadway Hustlers and A.C. Mob will hold their 2nd annual Family Reunion, 2 p.m. to 7 p.m., on Saturday, Aug. 11 at Defremery Park in Oakland, called “A Day of No Violence.”
Known for its GQ style, economic growth and leadership, the Broadway Hustlers was a street gang of more than 75 men and women that roamed Broadway from 2nd Street to Mac Arthur Blvd in Oakland in the late 70s and early 80s.
The A.C. Mob is a gang that often hung out on AC Transit buses.
The family reunion will feature music, food, spoken word, a kid’s zone, and special guest speaker Rev. Dr. Jasper Lowery.
For information call Ron Linzie aka “Poison” at (510) 541-9650 or Rodney “Boss of Bosses” Jackson at (510) 836-3827.
“Old Happens,” written and performed by David Glover and directed by Phillip E. Walker, is a one-man show filled with entertainment and comedic quirks and perks.
The show will take place 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 5 at Linen Life Gallery, 770 East 14th St. in San Leandro.
Glover calls his performance a building block for an arts movement he has started called “Transformational Entertainment Revolution.”
“The intention of the movement is to elevate human consciousness by utilizing arts and entertainment as a vehicle for social transformation and community revitalization, a movement that takes entertainment beyond entertainment through a series of live events,”
To RSVP for “Old Happens” call (800) 746-4027. Admission is $15. For information visit www.oldhappens.info
By Elizabeth Fernandez,
courtesy of UC
As mothers have always known, a good night’s sleep is crucial to good health — and now a new study led by a UCSF researcher shows that poor sleep can reduce the effectiveness of vaccines.
The study is the first performed outside a sleep laboratory to show that sleep duration is directly tied to vaccine immune response, the authors said.
The study, conducted while the UCSF researcher was a doctoral student at the University of Pittsburgh, will appear in the August issue of the journal “SLEEP.”
“With the emergence of our 24-hour lifestyle, longer working hours, and the rise in the use of technology, chronic sleep deprivation has become a way of life for many Americans,” said lead author Aric Prather, PhD, a clinical health psychologist and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholar at UCSF and UC Berkeley.
“These findings should help raise awareness in the public health community about the clear connection between sleep and health,” Prather said.
Research has shown that poor sleep can make one susceptible to illnesses such as upper respiratory infections. To explore whether sleep duration, sleep efficiency, and sleep quality would impact immune processes important in the protection against infection, researchers investigated the antibody response to hepatitis B vaccinations on adults in good health.
Antibodies are manufactured by the immune system to identify and neutralize foreign objects such as viruses.
The study was conducted at the University of Pittsburgh. Each participant was administered the standard three-dose hepatitis B vaccine; the first and second dose were administered a month apart, followed by a booster dose at six months.
The researchers found that people who slept fewer than six hours on average per night were far less likely to mount antibody responses to the vaccine and thus were far more likely (11.5 times) to be unprotected by the vaccine than people who slept more than seven hours on average. Sleep quality did not affect response to vaccinations.
Earl Starnes, who lost his wife Annie Mae from cancer in February, is someone who feels the call to join the fight against the disease, which strikes one in three people during their lifetime.
“I can’t think of a better way to honor my wife and keep her memory alive than to actively participate in eradicating cancer from the planet,” he said.
Starnes will join other Bay Area residents Saturday, July 28, by walking around the clock in the battle against cancer at the 8th Annual American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life in Oakland.
The 24-hour relay gets underway with teams of residents gathering at 10 a.m. at Bishop O’Dowd High School at 9500 Stearns Ave. in Oakland.
Relay for Life, which is being hosted at 4,800 events nationwide, celebrates the courage and strength of the survivors and honors the victims.
“Relay is a unique opportunity for our community to come together to celebrate people who have battled cancer, remember those we’ve lost, and fight back against the disease,” said Angela Caulboy, chair of the Oakland Relay.
“The first lap at the relay is special, it’s the survivor’s lap,” she said. “Cancer survivors are invited to walk the first lap. It’s very emotional and hopeful to see how many people do survive cancer.”
Each team captain is encouraged to recruit 8 to 15 friends, family and coworkers, who will seek contributions prior to the event. On the day of the relay, team members will show up with their tents and chairs and take turns walking around the track.
One person will always be walking one the track, representing the team for 24 hours.
In 2010, Relay for Life raised $388 million to fund cutting-edge cancer research, early detection and prevention educations, advocacy efforts, and life-affirming patient services.
“We urge the community to come and see what our event is all about, stay for a lap or all day, just help us fight back against cancer,” said Caulboy.
For more information, contact Angela Caulboy at (510) 258-3458 or go to www.relayforlife.org/oaklandca
Author Robert Stanley Oden will be present his book, “From Blacks to Brown And Beyond,” at 6 p.m. on Thursday, July 19 at the Joyce Gordon Gallery, 406 14th St. in Oakland.
Oden, a professor in the Government Department at Sacramento State University, spent 15 years researching and writing the book, which is subtitled, “The Struggle for Progressive Politics in Oakland, California, 1966-2011.”
He worked for the City of Berkeley and lived in Oakland from 1975-1991. He was engaged in many political campaigns in Oakland, including Elihu Harris’ first campaign for the state assembly, Cassie Lopez’s council races, Wilson Riles Jr. campaigns for mayor of Oakland, Jesse Jackson’s run for President in 1984 and 1988, as a member of the Steering Committee of the Berkeley-Oakland Rainbow Coalition, and the David Hilliard campaign for Oakland City Council.
Oden was a founding member of the John George Political Club and worked on many other community issues. He was also a member of the Black Panther Party in Oakland in 1968 and is presently the CEO of the Intercommunal Institute for Research and Social Change in Vallejo.
Books can be purchased on-line by going to Cognella Publishers and writing in the title. Books will also be at the Joyce Gordon Gallery event for purchase.
For information call (916) 422-5134.
By Dianne Anderson
Special to the NNPA
from the Precinct Reporter
The debate rages on in the medical community over the recent recommendation that doctors stop offering the Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) blood test.
Black men die from prostate cancer earlier and at twice the rate over every other racial group, and the PSA test helps in early detection.
Dr. Sanaa Ligons at the Whitney Young Family Health Clinic in San Bernardino says that the PSA test is one of the first tests she orders for her over-50 male patients. Dr. Ligons explains that “In some populations, where it’s (prostate cancer) not so frequent or so bad, it’s okay not to [PSA] screen, but for African American males, I think we should be screening earlier.”
The other alternative–the dreaded Digital Rectal Exam–is often a deal breaker for Black males. Dr. Ligons said the clinic doesn’t use DREs anymore, just the PSA because it is more reliable to detect the cancer.
When men get their annual PSA, it’s easier to spot the trend over time. If the protein marker rises, it’s one indicator that he may have the beginning stages of the cancer. With that earlier indicator comes a better chance of survival .But she said patients must also watch for other symptoms. Urination shows the first signs of trouble if the patient sees a slower or weak urine stream, which could indicate prostate enlargement or cancer. Those symptoms could be benign, meaning not cancerous, but no one should take the chance by avoiding the test.
Black men are most likely to get and die from prostate cancer, but she said that they are still not getting better about walking into her office, and asking for their PSA tests.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is being criticized for calling to curb PSA testing, particularly since Black men comprise those most at risk of dying from the cancer. However, they reportedly only made up about 4% of the Task Force’s case study.
Essentially, medical advocates argue that throwing out the PSA test would be a killer for more Black men.
Men’s Health Network (MHN) and the Veterans Health Council also stand strongly opposed to the decision to curb testing, claiming that Vietnam-era veterans were also more at risk from over-exposure to Agent Orange.
The group blasted the Task Force for not consulting with the National Cancer Institute, or its studies showing that PSA screening was attributed to a 45-70% decline in death rate, as presented at the annual African American Prostate Cancer Disparity Summit last year.
“The recommendation against PSA testing puts men’s lives in jeopardy as they will be discouraged from getting screened for prostate cancer. This especially affects African-American men. In the U.S. alone, 30,000 men die from prostate cancer annually. Early detection is key and PSA testing is the best available tool, reducing prostate cancer mortality by 40% since its inception,” commented Ana Fadich, MPH, CHES, Director of Programs and Health Promotion at MHN.
For information on screening, call Whitney Young Family Health Clinic at (909) 386-7600
Or go to www.nnpa.org/news/health/black-men-prostate-cancer
The national charitable foundation of the U.S. Tennis Association, USTA Serves, has awarded a $10,000 grant to support 400 young people who are part of Youth Tennis Advantage (YTA) at Mosswood Park in Oakland, the BearTrax program at UC Berkeley, and John McLaren Park in San Francisco.
The grant will be used for Empowering Youth Through Play, which is an ongoing year-round program with the goal of 100 percent high school graduation rate for the group’s scholar athletes.
More than 175 youth participated at the recent Kids Day tennis celebration at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, and academic and life skills staff and volunteers have been added.
“One of the major accomplishments that we sometimes overlook is that Youth Tennis Advantage … (provides) a safe and supervised setting with caring and devoted staff,” said Mike Skinner, board president of the program.
“We successfully prevent drop outs; teach social and living skills, nurture teamwork and healthy relationships, help youth to avoid illegal, destructive and self-destructive behaviors,” he said.
Youth Tennis Advantage for over 25 years has provided tennis and educational programs to young people in the Bay Area through comprehensive programs and expert coaching.
During its 2012 spring funding cycle, USTA Serves awarded 44 community tennis and education organizations more than $400,000 in grants.
The Prescott Joseph Center for Community Enhancement is presenting August Wilson’s “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” starring The Lower Bottom Playaz, under the direction of Ayodele Nzinga.
The play will open Friday, July 13 and run through July 22 at The Sister Thea Bowman Memorial Theater at 920 Peralta St. in Oakland.
“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” is the first of two works by Wilson slated to be directed by Nzinga as a part of Theater in the Yard, Season 11.
The play the third of the Pittsburg Cycle by Wilson to be presented at The Sister Thea Bowman Memorial Theater in West Oakland. Although Wilson’s Cycle is set for the most part in the Hill District of Pittsburg, PA, he sets this work on the South Side of Chicago.
Chicago’s correlation to West Oakland as a migration destination along with the history of Chicago’s Black Belt and Oakland’s 7th St. as two of the country’s important North American African musical centers is obvious. In both, the North American African community lived similar lives with commons constraints and motivations.
Wilson’s raw and gritty expose of the American music industry offers a look at a community developed as a result of the Great Migration. The work is pushed by and pulled out of the music of people in transit on a quest to a life they can imagine but cannot touch. It is the music of loss and desire.
The music is a story in and of itself. But the people who bring the music are the heart of this piece.
For information and tickets call the box office at (510) 332-1319 or go on line to www.lowerbottomplayaz.com
By Spencer Whitney
For the last few months, Oakland resident David Chin has been combing over data and research from FBI crime statistics in efforts to find out why there is such an enormous backlog of over 400,000 untested rape kits sitting in law enforcement storage facilities.
The victims of sexual assault are asked to submit DNA evidence from their bodies, which are stored in small packages known as rape kits and can be used to identify a perpetrator.
Chin is working to create a new foundation, tentatively named Healix, that will process the backlog of rape kits.
“This is a social justice (issue) that can be salvageable within our lifetime,” said Chin. “All it takes is time, money and people actively working to process the kits. There is enough DNA testing equipment available, it just doesn’t seem like a priority for law enforcement.”
Chin works as an information technology engineer for Resource Development Associates in Oakland. The idea for his foundation came from a desire to see perpetrators of sexual assaults pay for their crimes after a close friend of his was sexually attacked.
The perpetrator has yet to be apprehended.
“Our goal is to end the backlog of rape kits. Healix will focus on bringing more awareness to the prevention of sexual crimes especially on college campuses. We also want to build a system for DNA testing that would prevent further backlogs from occurring in the future.”
The name Healix is a play on words referring to the double helix structure of DNA and the process it takes to help heal rape victims. While he is still researching the data on backlogged rape kits, Chin hopes to find the answers about the lack of funding and exposure of the issue as well as questions regarding the varying prices associated with processing the rape kits.
Advocacy groups such as the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) have been working to pass new legislation aimed at ending the backlogs. The Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Registry (SAFER) Act would require law enforcement to prioritize rape kit testing and account for the number of untested rape kits in their storage facilities, as well as create an online registry that would allow victims to get real-time updates of their rape kit status.
“Ending the backlog is just the stepping stone to conquering bigger problems,” said Chin. “If we can change the way people think about the issue, we can start making a difference.”
Mario Brown, a running back who has dominated in every league he has played since the third grade, is an accomplished 20 year old with a warm and humble spirit.
Born and raised in Berkeley, he attended Bishop O’ Dowd High School and was a football standout. Nicknamed “Super Mario,” he was light on his feet and could often be seen zooming down the field, football in hand.
In his junior year, he received the Scooter Oats award of $1,000 because of his athletic achievements, and as a senior, he was named MVP of the year.
It is hard to imagine that this beast on the football field is an extremely humble and kindhearted young man. “I am just a regular person. I just have happened to be very blessed,” Mario says.
His blessings and hard work paid off because he was offered six football scholarships from colleges all over the U.S. Mario ended up attending Eastern Washington University (EWU) with a football scholarship of over $20,000.
In many college football programs, athletes do not play their first year. But when Taiwan Jones, the team’s running back and now a player for the Oakland Raiders, was hurt during a crucial playoff game, Mario was hurled into the spotlight.
“It all rested on my shoulders. A lot of people and fans were skeptical. It was a big game televised on ESPN, and the playoffs are win or go home,” said Mario.
Mario rose to the challenge and played one of his best games, moving his team on to the FCS national championships. EWU players were the underdogs and were set to play 12-2 Delaware for the championship. Going into the fourth quarter of the game, EWU was down 13 points.
“All eyes were on me, and I didn’t want to fail my team,” Mario remembers.
With the help of Mario, EWU made a miraculous comeback and won the game 20-19. His first year of playing college football Mario won a FCS championship ring and his school’s first national championship.
But even with all his athletic accomplishments Mario never loses sight of the importance of school. “The key word is student, you are a student athlete, and student comes first,” Mario said. He won an award for his academic achievements that same year.
Mario comes from an extremely supportive family. “Football is mentally tough, and my family keeps me grounded,” he said.
Mario urges all young people to follow their dreams, “You have to have a dream and a passion. That is how it all starts. It becomes a reality through discipline, hard work, and sacrifices. You have to make it happen for yourself.”
Allen Temple Baptist Church in Oakland recently celebrated a “Mortgage Burning Ceremony” for Allen Temple Arms, a community of homes for seniors with limited incomes. The mortgage, taken out in August 1981, was paid off after 30 years. Left to Right are: Rev. J. Alfred Smith, Jr., Allen Temple’s current pastor. Rev. J. Alfred Smith, Sr., Cornell Maier, Chairman of Kaiser Aluminum, retired; Dr. Ramona Tascoe, Allen Temple; and Leo Sorensen, A.T.&T., retired.
The 4th of July is just around the corner and what better way to celebrate than onboard the aircraft carrier USS Hornet. Once again the USS Hornet Museum is hosting its annual family-friendly Independence Day celebration from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Wednesday, July 4.
The public is invited to enjoy a fun-filled day of entertainment, food and interactive games for all ages. Visitors are invited to stay to view and enjoy panoramic views of Bay Area fireworks from the ship’s flight deck.
Bands scheduled to perform are: Tempest, Michael Sea and Island Fever, The Cocktail Monkey’s, and the Mighty NepTunes. DJ Nikki Blakk from the Bone’s 107.7 FM will also be there to entertain all the guests.
All-day admission is $20 for adults and $10 for children ages 5-17. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 510-521-8448 x 282 or visit www.hornetevents.com
Proceeds benefit the Aircraft Carrier Hornet Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, and support the preservation of the historic aircraft carrier and the educational programs of the USS Hornet Museum.
Writer Erica Kennedy (left) has been found dead in her Miami Beach apartment. She was 42.
Kennedy, whose full name was Erica Kennedy Johnson, was found dead last week. No cause was immediately reported.
A former fashion publicist, she began her writing career as a special correspondent for the New York Daily News. She later wrote fashion and entertainment for magazines such as Vibe, In Style, Paper and Elle UK.
She published the hip-hop novel “Bling” in 2004 and “Feminista” in 2009.
“Bling” tells the story of a young, innocent mixed-race woman trying to break into the music business. A gifted singer, she is remade in flashy style by a rapacious record mogul.
Kennedy was a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and Oxford University.
June 21 is the anniversary of the murders in 1964 of young civil rights workers in Mississippi Freedom Summer, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner.
The three young men were arrested by the police on trumped-up charges, imprisoned for several hours, and then released after dark into the hands of the Ku Klux Klan, who beat and murdered them. It was later proven in court that a conspiracy existed between members of Neshoba County’s law enforcement and the Ku Klux Klan to kill them.
The killings, which shocked the nation and world, were the subject of the 1988 movie “Mississippi Burning” and a new documentary “Neshoba: The Price of Freedom.”
R.C. Owens, a San Francisco 49ers wide receiver who was best known for pairing with quarterback Y.A. Tittle to invent the “alley-oop” pass into the end zone, has died at the age of 78.
A 14th-round draft pick out of Idaho in 1956, Owens spent his first five NFL seasons with the 49ers, and his best year came in 1961, when he caught 55 passes for 1,032 yards and five touchdowns. He later played for the Colts and Giants in the 1960s.
But what Owens is best known for is the alley-oop, a term that was applied to Owens’ catches in football before it was used in basketball: The 6-foot-3 Owens would simply plant himself in the end zone and jump as high as he could, and Tittle would hit him in the end zone. After retiring from the NFL as a player, Owens worked for the 49ers from 1979 to 2001 in a variety of capacities, including director of training camp and director of alumni relations. He also started a summer reading program that involved more than 10,000 kids. He is survived by his wife, Susan.
The central Florida police chief who was strongly criticized for his agency’s initial investigation of Trayvon Martin’s slaying was fired Wednesday.
City Manager Norton Bonaparte said in a statement that he relieved Chief Bill Lee of duty because he lacked the trust and respect of elected officials and the community.
“We need to move forward with a police chief that all the citizens of Sanford can support,” Bonaparte said. “I have come to this decision in light of the escalating divisiveness that has taken hold of the city.”
Lee will receive three months of severance and one week’s salary, in addition to any earned time off, under his contract.
“I wish Chief Lee all the best in his future endeavors,” Bonaparte said.
From left to right: Laney College President Dr. Elnora T. Webb; Tori (a finalist who the judges critiqued as promising); Braunz Courtney, who served as MC and is Program Manager of HIV Education and Prevention Project; and Dean Marco Menendez.
Randell Thompson is a college student who is working to reduce the incidences of HIV/AIDS in young people. He has dedicated himself to educating fellow students about health risks and how to protect themselves.
Today, people under the age of 25 account for half of all new HIV infections each year. Within that group, African Americans are 56 percent of those who become infected.
Thompson says in the year he has attended Laney College in Oakland, he has witnessed male students’ ignorance and denial of HIV risks, especially their nonchalant attitude about unprotected sex.
Thompson said he knew he had to take action when he heard young African American male students say, “Only gays get HIV,” a perception he himself had until 10 years ago.
It was only when he started seeing reports of African American women and African American heterosexual men coming infected that the epidemic hit home for him. After hearing a speech on leadership by Laney’s President Dr. Elnora T. Webb, he made the decision to do something
He realized he needed to increase awareness on prevention methods such as use of latex condoms. The best way to educate people would be to bring to campus speakers who are living with HIV so students could gain real-life examples about the importance of prevention, he said.
“Young people of today have grown up in a world where HIV is taken for granted,” Thompson said.
“Many college students are unaware that they are at risk for HIV and it’s prevalence,” he said.
Thompson came up with a concept to mix HIP Hop music and HIV education. The American idol type of format worked, attracting over 150 students, with more than 50 testing for HIV for a free ticket to the show.
Webb, who has been Laney’s president since 2010, said she fully backed the Hip Hops AIDS education event.
Students and faculty “pulled this off, leaving my job simply to say yes to this and that,” she said with a smile.
The AIDS crisis affecting the Black community in Oakland is alarming, she said, “But events like this leave me feeling a little less distressed, because they are an example of “our community being responsible, choosing to help one another and addressing this very challenging but manageable condition together.”
The HIP HOP for HIV event was held on April 12.
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We are still devastated by the loss of our son Trayvon Martin,
and nothing can bring him back. But we are heartened to tell you
that justice may finally be served for Trayvon.
Florida State Attorney Angela Corey announced that she will
charge George Zimmerman with 2nd degree murder, weeks after
he confessed to killing Trayvon – and now he’s in custody.
For weeks after Trayvon was killed, authorities refused to arrest
Zimmerman. We couldn’t believe that in 2012, public officials
would turn a blind eye to our son’s killing. We couldn’t let
More than 2 million people joined our call for Zimmerman’s
arrest. We are so much closer to justice with the decision to bring
charges against our son’s killer. We feel less alone knowing that
so many people stood with our family during this impossible
When Trayvon was just nine, he ran into a burning house to
save his father’s life. He may be gone, but he is still our hero. We
are so thankful to all of you who fought to honor his memory.
Thank you for standing with us, and with Trayvon.
- Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton