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As Schools Reopen, Gov. Newsom Invests $123.9 Billion to Address Financial and Safety Concerns

“On August 3 in Perris, California – a Riverside County city located about 70 miles east of Los Angeles — Lincoln Cooper and Fortunate Hove Cooper handed out free backpacks full of school supplies and hand sanitizers to struggling families during a triple-digit heat wave. 

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“On August 3 in Perris, California – a Riverside County city located about 70 miles east of Los Angeles — Lincoln Cooper and Fortunate Hove Cooper handed out free backpacks full of school supplies and hand sanitizers to struggling families during a triple-digit heat wave.  They were joined by a handful of volunteers that included representatives from the Moreno Valley School District.

“This is the biggest back-to-school event we’ve ever had,” said Lincoln Cooper, president and founder of the community outreach organization the Concerned Family (TCF). “We’ve had a lot of support and we’re really thankful and grateful that we were able to help the community.”

The faith-based, Black-led community outreach organization, founded in 1993 and run out of an old fire station in Perris, has organized back-to-school events in the past; but none quite on this scale, the group’s leaders say. According to Lincoln, they received over 750 backpacks filled to the brim with useful supplies. 

“What we had planned, initially, was not the backpacks. The plan was to remember those who lost their relatives in the COVID-19 pandemic and have a memorial for them and then assure the kids that they’re still being heard, and we are not just passing them by while they are grieving,” said TCF Co-Founder Fortunate Hove Cooper.

The Coopers are not alone in their concern for struggling Black families with children returning to school this fall as uncertainty about the coronavirus and its new variants lingers. 

For many Black California families, especially lower-income ones, having their children resume in-person classes amid an ongoing pandemic remains both a financial and public health challenge.  But during a visit to Juanita B. Jones Elementary School in San Bernardino on August 6, Gov. Gavin Newsom laid out a roadmap for the state’s safe return to in-person instruction.

During the press conference, Newsom spoke about the California Comeback Plan, a COVID-19 recovery budget that includes $123.9 billion in investments in education. 

He was joined by Assembly Majority Leader Eloise Gomez Reyes (D-San Bernardino), Assemblymember James Ramos (D-Highland), Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond and Gwendolyn Dowdy-Rodgers, a San Bernardino County education advocate and school board member, among others. 

]“Our school year started Monday and we’ve had a great week,” Dr. Gwen Dowdy-Rogers, the San Bernardino City Unified School District school board president, said at the beginning of the press conference.

“Families sent 95% of all students back to our campuses for the first time in over a year for in-person instruction,” she continued. 

Newsom addressed some of the pandemic-related financial issues students and families like those at the Concerned Family back-to-school event face.

“By the way, $650 million went into this unprecedented first of the nation effort to provide free nutritious meals for our kids,” Newsom said. “Supervisor Baca would be upset with me if I didn’t remind everybody about all the support that we’re providing these kids,” he continued.

The governor also reassured that this “full reopening of schools” during a pandemic will be safe.

However, Lincoln and Fortunate are still concerned about COVID-19 safety for Pre-K and K-12 students.

“There’s so much going on with the pandemic and even young kids are dying. Initially it was older people,” Lincoln said. 

“So, I’d advise them to make sure they’re wearing their face masks and be cautious,” he continued.

Newsom claimed that many of the problems surrounding pandemic safety in schools could be solved by following safety protocols and getting vaccinated. 

He also addressed the inequities in education and healthcare in the state and what he plans to do to tackle that issue.

“We continue to focus on partnerships with community-based organizations in the African American community and in the Latino community to do more, to get more people vaccinated and address the concerns and anxieties that persist in terms of vaccine hesitancy,” Newsom said.

“And that’s profoundly important, the health of our diverse communities. And I want folks to know that we (are working with) 480 community-based organizations, barber shops, faith-based communities, the Black press, ethnic media, crossing the spectrum to provide additional outreach,” he continued.

Newsom says that the California Comeback Plan is a comprehensive one that took healthcare into consideration.

“A big part of our community school strategy is to integrate and to reimagine a whole person care framework as it relates to not only quality public education but to address the health needs as well as the nutrition needs of our public kids,” Newsom said.

California Black Media’s coverage of COVID-19 is supported by the California Health Care Foundation

Activism

East Oakland Community Clean-up

The office of Councilmember Treva Reid invites you to…

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Oakland Clean Up Flyer

The Oakland Post’s coverage of local news in Alameda County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.

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Sept. 11, 2001, 20 years later: ‘Remembrance’ held aboard the USS Hornet Sea, Space & Air Museum

The USS Hornet Sea, Space & Air Museum, moored at the City of Alameda, hosted a “Remembrance” ceremony of the events of Sept. 11, 2001, on board the ship on the 20th anniversary, Sept. 11, 2021.

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U.S. Marine Corps Honor Guard, 23rd Marine Regiment: Sgt. Tristan Garivay, Sgt. Michael Her, Cpl. Adrian Chavez and Cpl. Quentavious Leeks. Photo by Russell Moore, USS Hornet Sea, Air & Space Museum, Community Events & Outreach

Quintin Jones, Colonel, USMC, Commanding Officer, 23rd Marine Regiment. Photo by Russell Moore, USS Hornet Sea, Air & Space Museum, Community Events & Outreach

The USS Hornet Sea, Space & Air Museum, moored at the City of Alameda, hosted a “Remembrance” ceremony of the events of Sept. 11, 2001, on board the ship on the 20th anniversary, Sept. 11, 2021.

The ceremony recognized the impact and consequences of the series of airline hijackings and suicide attacks committed on 2001 by 19 militants associated with the Islamic extremist group al-Queda against targets in New York City and Wash., D.C. Nearly 3,000 people died that day and 6,000 were injured.  This was the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil in U.S. history. 

The ceremony aboard the USS Hornet began with the presentation of the colors by the U.S. Marine Corps Honor Guard, 23rd Marine Regiment. (Pictured above.)

Leon Watkins, co-founder of The Walking Ghosts of Black History, was the Master of Ceremonies. He spoke about the extensive death and destruction which triggered the enormous U.S. effort to combat terrorism.

Daniel Costin, a special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, spoke of the lasting impact of 9/11 terrorists attack on first responders. He recounted incidents where first responders rushed into the scenes of the attacks, many at the sacrifice of their own lives. More than 400 police officers and firefighters were killed that day: 343 members of the New York City Fire Department and 71 members of their law enforcement agencies.

Quintin Jones, Colonel, USMC, commanding officer of the 23rd Marine Regiment, spoke about the recovery efforts at the Pentagon following the terrorists’ attack where 125 people perished. He reflected on the actions of three first responders who recovered the U.S. Marine Corps flag from the commandant of the Marine Corps’ office at the Pentagon. This flag was still standing after the attack. It was a symbol of America’s resolve.

At the end of the formal presentations, the Marine Corps Wreath Bearers went to the fantail of the Hornet. After the playing of ‘Taps,’ they tossed a wreath into the San Francisco Bay to give final honors.

The Oakland Post’s coverage of local news in Alameda County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.

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Community

Many in Black Communities are Choosing Vaccination 

Inequities in health outcomes have always been with us. COVID-19 morbidity and mortality rates among African Americans rival or exceed those in heart disease, diabetes and other illnesses. Blacks sit atop most bad lists and at the bottom of most good lists. 

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The trail of illness and death left amid the spread of COVID-19 in Black and African American communities should come as no surprise.

Inequities in health outcomes have always been with us. COVID-19 morbidity and mortality rates among African Americans rival or exceed those in heart disease, diabetes and other illnesses. Blacks sit atop most bad lists and at the bottom of most good lists.

COVID-19 vaccinations offer us an opportunity to better balance the scale.

Unfortunately, even with widely available testing, highly effective vaccines, and extraordinary efforts by health departments to educate and encourage people of color to get vaccinated, many Black Californians remain skeptical.

We can only hope that the FDA’s full regulatory approval of the Pfizer vaccine on August 23 for those 16 and up convinces more to get the vaccine.  It’s worth noting that emergency-use authorization also remains in place for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson shots, as well as Pfizer’s for 12- to 15-year-olds – and that all of these vaccines are safe and effective in protecting against COVID-19 and its highly contagious variants.

Eddie Fairchild and Steph Sanders were skeptical about the COVID-19 vaccine but came to understand why vaccination benefits our entire community.

Fairchild, a Sacramento insurance agent, said he knew of research that found Black and white people are often treated differently for the same health conditions leading to poorer health outcomes.

“I was hesitant,” he said. “I was going to wait and see how it panned out with everyone else.

But when a Black friend in the health care field told him he’d opted to get vaccinated, Fairchild asked him why.

“He said, ‘Risk-reward, and the risk is death.’ At that point I didn’t have to ask him what the reward was.”

With a finance degree and a belief that numbers don’t lie, Fairchild looked at the data. He learned that until 2020 the average number of Americans who died each year was about 2.6 million, but in 2020 that figure was 3.4 million. There was only one possible explanation for the death rate surge, he said.

“COVID is absolutely real,” he said, adding that three of his cousins died from the virus. “Taking all that into consideration, I decided that it’s risky to engage in the world and not be vaccinated. It made sense for me to get it.”

Racial gaps in vaccination have thankfully narrowed in recent weeks. But as of September 1, while Black people account for 6% of the state’s population, they account for 6.6% of COVID-19 deaths, which is 11% higher than the statewide rate, according to state department of public health data. Only about 55% of Black people in California have had at least one dose of the vaccine.

Reasons for the discrepancies run the gamut, from conspiracy theories like Black people are getting a less effective vaccine than whites or that the vaccine will eventually be deadly, to challenges in health care access. 

Mostly, it’s based on a lack of trust in medical and scientific institutions, which have a long history of racism and mistreating Black people.

So even when it comes to good things like vaccines, which are scientifically proven to be good for the community, it always comes back to trust.

Sanders, a Vallejo school principal, was hesitant because of the Tuskegee syphilis studies in which Black men who had the disease were intentionally not treated with penicillin. And he was dubious that an effective vaccine could be developed so quickly. 

In fact, the science and technology enabling development of the COVID-19 vaccines was in development for a more than decade before the virus emerged in 2020. The FDA authorized three vaccines for emergency use after they underwent a rigorous process and were proven through trials to be safe and effective at preventing severe COVID-19, hospitalization, and death.

He decided to get vaccinated when his school board decided last spring to bring students back into classrooms.

Today, he’s a fervent vaccine advocate. He holds “lunch and learn” forums for educators, encouraging vaccination.

“I’m a leader and people are relying on my knowledge,” he said. “I tell them, ‘Don’t make this about you, but about the people you love and care about. It’s about protecting them.’”

There is still a long way to go before Blacks achieve true health equity, but vaccination against a virus that is taking a terrible toll on our communities is a critical step in the right direction.

 

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