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Coca-Cola UNITED ‘Pays It Forward’ With Internships For HBCU Students

BIRMINGHAM TIMES — The week-long internship gives students a chance to experience a range of roles available at Coca-Cola, including sales operations, productions, marketing, packaging, pricing, event planning, and philanthropy and community relations.

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By Erica Wright

Alabama State University student Bryant Williams, a junior, on Monday said he’s learning a lot during his internship with Coca-Cola Bottling Company UNITED. And it’s been less than a week.

“I’m learning a lot about Coca-Cola that I never knew and taking away advice from all of the other HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) students and graduates,” said Williams, “I can say that it is of key importance to network and I’m proud of how I got here and how far I’ve come.”

Williams is one of eight HBCU students from around the state part of the 2019 class of Coca-Cola UNITED’s internship program, “Pay It Forward.”

The “Pay It Forward” program, in its fourth year, provides African-American youth with opportunities to celebrate achievements and further their success.

In April, the company reviewed applications for the program through participating HBCUs and selected 25 students. From the Alabama region, the eight chosen were: Williams and Jada Jamison-Belser, Alabama State University; Brianna Jones, Miles College; Gabrielle Williams and Pablo Vallejo, Stillman College; Simone Brown and Kendarius Hale-Youngblood, Talladega College and Zalkari Thornton, Tuskegee University.

The week-long internship gives students a chance to experience a range of roles available at Coca-Cola, including sales operations, productions, marketing, packaging, pricing, event planning, and philanthropy and community relations.

Pam Cook, Director of Multicultural Marketing and Community Affairs at Coca-Cola UNITED, said continuing the legacy of Paying It Forward is “the right thing to do.”

“HBCUs are so much more than halftimes and homecomings,” she said, “the program . . . brings students to our facilities this week and teaches them how to go to work, how to read different statements, how to network, all of the skills that will get you ready for the job market.”

Students began familiarizing themselves with the program during the day Monday and in the evening participated in a meet and greet at Top Golf in downtown with other HBCU graduates and listened to a panel discussion about the importance of “Paying It Forward.”

Bryant Williams said he looks forward to sharing his experiences in the program with others.

“Other students at our schools don’t know, but it’s our job to help each other out as peers so we can all be on the same track and that’s what I have learned today,” he said.

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Gabrielle Williams, a junior at Stillman College, said she also learned a lot from her first day.

“Being here with great HBCU alumni, I’ve learned about empowerment, giving back,” she said. “Being a Stillmanite, we learn a lot about networking, but being here today has just reinforced that to me.”

One of the panelists, Eric Guster, of Guster Law Firm and an Alabama State graduate, said, ASU taught him the confidence to walk into a room and fear no one.

“I spent time in New York where I was doing work for CNN and MSNBC, I knew walking in that room I could handle it and a lot of that came from [the] confidence that I received at my HBCU. You are just as good as or greater than anyone else and that’s the type of confidence you must carry wherever you go. Confidence paired with preparation, you’ll be prepared wherever you go.”

Casi Ferguson, Area Development Director Birmingham, with the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) and Talladega College graduate, said it’s important to give back, given the history of the institutions.

“You have to understand historic, understand what the ‘H’ means and understand these schools were started with a lot less, having no resources that we have now, but they were started for a very good reason and that is the same reason today,” Ferguson said. “[Giving back] can be $2 or it can be $10 but we should be in a position where we understand that these are our schools and each of you are our students… because we continue to ‘pay it forward’ and build relationships… it is so important to give back. Don’t think you don’t have enough, don’t think there is not enough to give.”

Zillah Fluker, principal with Activate l Elevate, and Alabama State University graduate, said “the greatest thing I took away from my HBCU experience is the need to always remember who I am. That’s what they told me. The other thing they taught me was the idea of a standard of excellence, you may not have everything you need and you certainly won’t have everything you want, but not being excellent is not an option. We always maintained a standard of excellence no matter what we had.”

Panelists also included D’Aundria Foster, Hayah Beauty Stylist and Tuskegee University student; Sylvia Bowen, City of Birmingham Mayor’s Office and Tuskegee University graduate; James Gettys, Birmingham Times Sales Director and graduate of Stillman College; and Deanna “Dee” Reed, Program Coordinator with Woke Vote and a graduate of Miles College.

Also in attendance were Dr. Quinton Ross, president of Alabama State University and Dr. Billy Hawkins, president of Talladega College.

Cook said she is proud of her work and Coca-Cola’s partnership with HBCUs. “I get to be the champion of that for the schools. I know what it’s like to need a class and it isn’t being offered that semester and you’re so close to graduation, I know what it’s like to be away from home… all of those wonderful things that HBCUs provide, that sense of family, all of that is so priceless and it’s an excellent thing to do.”

In addition to the Birmingham and Montgomery markets, the company offers internships in Georgia and Louisiana.

This article originally appeared in The Birmingham Times.

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Brittney Griner Sentenced to More than 9 years in Russian Prison

NNPA NEWSWIRE — The lawyers of WNBA star Brittney Griner, Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov, said in a written statement following the verdict announcement that the court ignored all the evidence they presented and that they will appeal the decision. “We are very disappointed by the verdict. As legal professionals, we believe that the court should be fair to everyone regardless of nationality,” Attorneys Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov said in a statement.

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By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

WNBA Superstar Brittney Griner has been sentenced to more than 9 years in a Russian prison following her conviction on drug charges.

Her lawyers called the verdict a disappointment and vowed to appeal.

The lawyers of WNBA star Brittney Griner, Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov, said in a written statement following the verdict announcement that the court ignored all the evidence they presented and that they will appeal the decision.

“We are very disappointed by the verdict. As legal professionals, we believe that the court should be fair to everyone regardless of nationality,” Attorneys Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov said in a statement.

“The court completely ignored all the evidence of the defense, and most importantly, the guilty plea. This contradicts the existing legal practice.

“Taking into account the amount of the substance (not to mention the defects of the expertise) and the plea, the verdict is absolutely unreasonable. We will certainly file an appeal,” they added.

Russian officials contended that Griner committed the crime on purpose. They also levied a fine totaling about $16,400 American dollars on the basketball star.

Authorities arrested Griner on Feb. 17 at an airport in Moscow after finding less than a gram of cannabis oil in her luggage.

She has been detained since then.

Recently, American officials revealed that the Biden-Harris administration had offered notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout in exchange for the release of Griner and Paul Whelan.

“Today, American citizen Brittney Griner received a prison sentence that is one more reminder of what the world already knew: Russia is wrongfully detaining Brittney,” President Biden said.

“It’s unacceptable, and I call on Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends, and teammates. My administration will continue to work tirelessly and pursue every possible avenue to bring Brittney and Paul Whelan home safely as soon as possible.”

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Report: Human Rights Violations in Prisons Throughout Southern United States Cause Disparate and Lasting Harm in Black Communities  

NNPA NEWSWIRE — “The U.S. has long failed to live up to its international human rights treaty obligations on eliminating racial discrimination, perhaps more so in the area of mass incarceration and prison conditions than in any other context,” said Lisa Borden, Senior Policy Counsel, International Advocacy at the Southern Poverty Law Center. 

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NNPA Newswire

NEW YORK – The Southern Prisons Coalition, a group of civil and human rights organizations, submitted a new report to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination on the devastating consequences of incarceration on Black people throughout the southern United States.

With the long-term goal of eliminating all forms of racial discrimination in the criminal legal system, including the carceral system, the report describes the widespread, disparate harms resulting from the arrests, harsh prison sentences, and incarceration on Black communities.

The report also cites the devastating impacts of solitary confinement, prison labor, the school to prison pipeline, and incarceration of parents on Black families.

On August 8, 2022, the UN will review the United States’ compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination for the first time since 2014.

Among the ongoing stark racial disparities throughout prisons in the southern United States, Black people are five times more likely to be incarcerated in state prisons.

In states like Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas, where Black communities comprise 38% of the total population, Black individuals account for as much as 67% of the total incarcerated population.

While incarcerated, Black people are more than eight times more likely to be placed in solitary confinement, and they are 10 times more likely to be held there for exceedingly long periods of time.

By submitting the report to the United Nations, the Southern Prisons Coalition hopes to solicit concrete recommendations from the UN Committee as well as commitments from the United States delegation about their plans to address systemic issues in the United States prison system, particularly in the South.

According to the report, several states in the United States have also failed to meet several of the UN’s Standard Minimum Rules for the treatment of incarcerated people, including:

  • Work should help to prepare incarcerated people for their release from prison, including life and job skills;
  • Safety measures and labor protections for incarcerated workers should be the same as those that cover workers who are not incarcerated;
  • Incarcerated workers should receive equitable pay, be able to send money home to their families, and have a portion of their wages set aside to be given to them upon release.

“The U.S. has long failed to live up to its international human rights treaty obligations on eliminating racial discrimination, perhaps more so in the area of mass incarceration and prison conditions than in any other context,” said Lisa Borden, Senior Policy Counsel, International Advocacy at the Southern Poverty Law Center.

“We hope the Committee will help to shine a light on these very dark truths and prompt the U.S. to take its obligation to make significant improvements more seriously.”

“The abuses of forced labor are inextricably tied to racial discrimination in our nation,” said Jamila Johnson, Deputy Director at the Promise of Justice Initiative.

“In Louisiana, for instance, people are still sent into the fields to labor by hand in dangerously high heat indexes, for little to no compensation, and with brutal enforcement reminiscent of slavery and the era of ‘convict leasing’.”

“This report reveals the suffering of Black people in southern U.S. prisons, whose stories of marginalization and discrimination echo the racial subjugation of slavery and convict leasing during our country’s most shameful past,” said Antonio L. Ingram II, Assistant Counsel at the Legal Defense Fund.

“Despite widespread knowledge of the longstanding racial inequalities in the criminal legal and carceral systems, the United States continues to allow egregious human rights violations to persist for Black incarcerated people in violation of international law. This report serves as a sobering reminder of how far we need to go.”

Read the full report here.

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Celebrate your birthday with 10 free items

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Is your birthday coming up, and you’re not sure how to celebrate? Beat the summer heat by grabbing free ice cream at Cold Stone Creamery, or a daiquiri at WhoDaq Daquiris “The Daiquiri Shoppe.” Not in the mood for sweets? Head over to Jersey Mike’s or McDonald’s. Check out the rest of these Top 10 places giving out free items on your special day.

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By Angelina Liu, Entertainment Editor of The Trendsetter / Texas Metro News

Is your birthday coming up, and you’re not sure how to celebrate? Beat the summer heat by grabbing free ice cream at Cold Stone Creamery, or a daiquiri at WhoDaq Daquiris “The Daiquiri Shoppe.” Not in the mood for sweets? Head over to Jersey Mike’s or McDonald’s. Check out the rest of these Top 10 places giving out free items on your special day.

1. Chocolate Secrets

At Chocolate Secrets, located at 3926 Oak Lawn Ave, Dallas, TX 75219, you can celebrate your birthday by getting one free piece of candy under their candy cases.

2. WhoDaq Daquiris “The Daiquiri Shoppe”

Head to WhoDaq Daquiris “The Daiquiri Shoppe”, located at 684 W Pioneer Pkwy Suite 100, Grand Prairie, Texas 75051, to claim a free small personal daiquiri on your birthday. Quench your thirst with signature flavors such as “Strawberry Shortcake” or “Bahama Mama.”

3. Sephora

Sign up for a free, Beauty Insider account and receive your choice of 250 bonus points, Laura Mercier, Amika or Tatcha sets on your birthday. The choice of powders, lipsticks and skincare is bound to make you look fabulous for your special day.

4. Starbucks

Need a quick pick-me-up on your birthday? Starbucks has it covered! Join the Starbucks Rewards Program seven days prior to your birthday and make one purchase. Starbucks will then email you a coupon for a free food or beverage item two days before your birthday. The birthday reward qualifies for anything on the menu, including any size handcrafted drink or food item.

5. Jersey Mike’s

In the mood for a sub? Head over to Jersey Mike’s and receive a free sub and drink. Make sure to sign up for the Jersey Mike’s Subs Email Club prior to your birthday to receive this reward. Nothing tastes quite like melted cheese and meat in between a toasted baguette, along with an icy cold drink.

6. The Cheesecake Factory

Celebrating with friends? Tell your server it’s your birthday and receive a free treat as well as a song. It may be mildly embarrassing, but hey, it’s free!

7. Culver’s

Need something cold and sweet to beat the Texas heat? Head to Culver’s for a free sundae when you sign up for their rewards program. The sweet creaminess will surely not disappoint.

8. IHOP

Want to indulge in a sweet breakfast before birthday festivities? Join the International Bank of Pancakes rewards program to receive a free stack of pancakes on your birthday. Pair your pancakes with a choice of chocolate chips, syrup, fresh fruit or a dollop of whipped cream.

9. McDonald’s

Need a snack before embarking on your next birthday adventure? Download the McDonald’s app and join MyMcDonald’s Rewards to receive free large fries. Mmm, the taste and smell of fresh, perfectly salted french fries.

10. Smoothie King

Want to celebrate your birthday with a healthier option? Enjoy a birthday smoothie at Smoothie King. Download the Smoothie King app to receive this offer.

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Photos courtesy of Ella Baker Center, photography by Brooke Anderson
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