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IN MEMORIAM: Tribute to the Ministry, Life, and Legacy of Reverend Dr. Cecil “Chip” Murray

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Rev. Murray also sparked and inspired something much closer to home. He inspired me, but he directly mobilized my brother and friend Rev. Whitlock to lead his newest church initiative back then – something he boldly called FAME Renaissance. Just some of the results of FAME Renaissance and Dr. Murray’s most trusted senior team, which featured (Rev.) Mark Whitlock, Rev. Dr. Steve Johnson, and Peggy Hill included 300 Jobs for teenagers at Disneyland every year for 10 years! 3000 jobs, a Fame Renaissance loan fund, a Fame Renaissance Venture Capital Fund, a Fame Renaissance Transportation Program that transported 1,000 000 people annually; a Fame Renaissance environmental protection program, which saved 1.5 billion square acres of water; a Fame Renaissance Commercial Office Building of 75,000 square feet; a Fame Incubator Program – which trained 1000 entrepreneurs and started 400 small businesses, a Fame Renaissance Home Loan Program, which funded five hundred homes, a FAME Housing had affordable housing projects of 700 units with low to moderate tenants, encompassing seven buildings. And so much more.
The post IN MEMORIAM: Tribute to the Ministry, Life, and Legacy of Reverend Dr. Cecil “Chip” Murray first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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By John Hope Bryant

How do you salute a man who walked amongst the angels? You start by making sure that history accurately reflects his name. This is my modest contribution to the telling of his vital history and legacy.

Rev. Dr. Cecil ‘Chip’ Murray changed my life. Life, literally.

He was more than a mentor, a supporter, or a good friend to a ‘young man coming up.‘ He was, in every way—particularly during my evolving years as a young man in the making—my spiritual father.

Rev. Murray and I met originally through my brother and friend Mark Whitlock, now Rev. Mark Whitlock, who leads one of the three largest AME churches in the nation – Reid Temple AME Church in Maryland. Back then, he was an executive in the making, first at a property title company and then a banker at Wells Fargo. But what Mark and I knew then was that Rev. Murray had already decided, in his spirit, that our lives would be transformed into a life’s calling.

Very seldom do you meet someone who you believe is ‘otherworldly.’ Someone who you genuinely believe walks their talk and might even qualify as a saint on this earth. A true prophet from on high, representing God almighty right here on earth. That there is one Rev. Dr. Cecil ‘Chip’ Murray.

It is impossible to communicate in an Op-Ed the power and transformational impact that this man had on my life, but I will try by telling you a couple of intimate stories about Dr. Murray.

When I first showed up at the church, the Rodney King Riots of 1992 had engulfed the city, and everyone important at the time seemed to be sitting in Rev. Murray’s office.

This included the governor (the Republican Pete Wilson), the mayor (the legendary Democrat Mayor Tom Bradley, also an early mentor of mine), civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson, the Catholic bishop, the Jewish Rabbi, the Muslim Imam, and every other whose-who from the city had crammed into this one man’s office—all seeking his approval and wise counsel.

As a young man of 26, whom Rev. Murray had reluctantly agreed to mentor, I was invited to come in and take a seat, even though I had zero role, power, or responsibility.

One might say, I was actually in the way. But Rev. Murray saw something in me and invited me in to take a quiet seat in the corner when I showed up at his office, looking for a way to help following the citywide unrest. It was after and in many ways because of this meeting that I ultimately founded Operation HOPE.

Reverend Dr. Cecil “Chip” Murray and John Hope Bryant.

Reverend Dr. Cecil “Chip” Murray and John Hope Bryant.

Rev. Murray told me to take my business skills (and my high contacts in local finance) and put them to work ‘rebuilding our community.’ Within the week, on May 5th, 1992, I organized the first Bankers Bus Tour through a still smoldering South Central Los Angeles. The result of this first tour was a commitment from the assembled bankers to fund the rebuilding of Handler’s Pharmacy, a Black-owned pharmacy business located at Western Ave and 42nd Street.

That was the first commitment to ‘rebuild’ by anyone and involved leaders from government, community, and the private sector. It also focused on a quality that later became my strength and global calling card – outcomes and results. A focus on Ph.D and Ph.Do too. I ended up founding Operation HOPE in 1992, with a $61,000 grant requested by then-Democratic LA Mayor Tom Bradley to then-Republican President George W. Bush. It was an SBA 7J grant made on a bi-partisan basis. This also became a quality I would find useful for 30 years of ‘getting stuff done.’

On the 10th anniversary of the Rodney King Riots—22 years ago today—Rev. Murray and First AME Church partnered to host then-US President George W. Bush in South Central Los Angeles to salute the rebuilding. They were joined by 700 leaders from across the Southern California community, inclusive of both major political parties and all racial groups. Classic Cecil ‘Chip’ Murray.

Today, Operation HOPE is the largest financial literacy coaching, counseling, and economic empowerment organization nationwide, with 300 full-time HOPE Inside offices in 40+ states. Its partners have invested more than $4.5 billion into our communities, raising credit scores, lowering debt, increasing savings, and creating minority homeowners and small business owners. One Majority Black-owned Business has inspired, created and grown more than 400,000 Black businesses, equal to more than 12% of all black businesses in America. This is the living legacy of Rev. Cecil Murray, which began in 1992.

Rev. Murray also sparked and inspired something much closer to home. He inspired me, but he directly mobilized my brother and friend Rev. Whitlock to lead his newest church initiative back then – something he boldly called FAME Renaissance. Just some of the results of FAME Renaissance and Dr. Murray’s most trusted senior team, which featured (Rev.) Mark Whitlock, Rev. Dr. Steve Johnson, and Peggy Hill included 300 Jobs for teenagers at Disneyland every year for 10 years! 3000 jobs, a Fame Renaissance loan fund, a Fame Renaissance Venture Capital Fund, a Fame Renaissance Transportation Program that transported 1,000 000 people annually; a Fame Renaissance environmental protection program, which saved 1.5 billion square acres of water; a Fame Renaissance Commercial Office Building of 75,000 square feet; a Fame Incubator Program – which trained 1000 entrepreneurs and started 400 small businesses, a Fame Renaissance Home Loan Program, which funded five hundred homes, a FAME Housing had affordable housing projects of 700 units with low to moderate tenants, encompassing seven buildings. And so much more.

Sometimes, you run into someone in life who changes your life and the world we all live in, too. That man, for me, at 26 years old, was The Reverend Dr. Cecil ‘Chip’ Murray.

And this one thing I know, and I hope that you now understand this to be true too – his powerful, one-of-a-kind legacy lives.

John Hope Bryant, founder of Operation HOPE, and spiritual son of Rev. Dr. Cecil ‘Chip’ Murray, can be reached at jhbhope@oerations.org

The post IN MEMORIAM: Tribute to the Ministry, Life, and Legacy of Reverend Dr. Cecil “Chip” Murray first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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OP-ED – Reimagining America: Biden is Not the Only Way Democrats Can Win

NNPA NEWSWIRE: We need a leader who understands the struggles of everyday Americans and has the vision and stamina to lead for the next eight years. Vice President Kamala Harris embodies these qualities.
The post OP-ED – Reimagining America: Biden is Not the Only Way Democrats Can Win first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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By Rep. Ron Reynolds

After last week’s highly anticipated debate, I couldn’t shake a deep sense of unease. I watched the debate in its entirety, and I was deeply disturbed. I didn’t want to react out of frustration or emotion, so I took a night to reflect. The next day, my disappointment had not subsided. As a Biden DNC National Delegate, I firmly believe we need to make significant changes.

It’s time to replace President Biden at the convention and nominate Vice President Kamala Harris. This isn’t a cavalier statement; it’s one I stand by. I welcome debate and criticism, but my primary goal is clear: we must defeat Trump and the MAGA movement for the future of all Americans.

Recently, I have been criticized and even threatened with censure for expressing my belief that the Democratic Party might fare better against Trump with a new nominee. This perspective was formed long before recent public opinion polls supported my concerns. To be clear, I will continue to support President Biden if he remains our nominee. Nonetheless, I will persist in making good trouble, fighting, and speaking truth to power.

Democrats claim to support free speech but then criticize each other for speaking their minds. This kind of internal conflict plays right into the hands of Republicans, who benefit from our division. To truly stand united, Democrats must encourage open dialogue and respect differing opinions within our party.

Our nation faces unprecedented challenges that require fresh, dynamic leadership. To meet these challenges head-on, the Democratic Party must embrace innovation and diversity. We need a leader who understands the struggles of everyday Americans and has the vision and stamina to lead for the next eight years. Vice President Kamala Harris embodies these qualities.

The Democratic Party prides itself on being a party of inclusion, representing a broad coalition of people from all walks of life. Yet, our leadership doesn’t always reflect this diversity. It’s time for a change!

We need leaders who reflect the realities of America today and understand our unique challenges—those who can garner a wide base of supporters. Kamala Harris has a proven track record of fighting for justice and equality. She knows how to build coalitions that include people of all races, genders, and backgrounds. She can energize young voters, women, and people of color—voters crucial to our success.

Innovation is not only about who leads but also how we lead. The Democratic Party must adopt new strategies and technologies to effectively engage voters. We need to leverage social media, data analytics, and grassroots organizing to build a movement capable of countering the well-funded forces of the right. We must engage voters on the issues that matter most to them, from healthcare and education to climate change and economic inequality.

Moreover, we need leaders willing to take bold stands on critical issues. We need leaders who will fight for a living wage, affordable healthcare, and comprehensive immigration reform. Leaders who will stand up to special interests and prioritize the common good. We need leaders who will advocate for peace and stability globally, calling for ceasefires in conflict zones and working towards lasting solutions.

The Democratic Party has a proud history of innovation and progress, from FDR’s New Deal to Obama’s Affordable Care Act. It’s time to renew that legacy. We need leaders who reflect our multicultural society, embrace innovation, and fight for a brighter future, not the status quo.

America deserves better than the status quo. We need leaders who can inspire and unite us. This is our moment to infuse new energy and vision into our party and country. Let’s nominate a leader who can lead us to victory with the passion and dedication that our great nation requires. It’s time for a change, and I firmly believe Vice President Kamala Harris is the leader we need.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of BlackPressUSA.com or the National Newspaper Publishers Association.

 

The post OP-ED – Reimagining America: Biden is Not the Only Way Democrats Can Win first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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Celebrate America’s Birthday by Thanking Those Who Teach Our Youngest Learners

NNPA NEWSWIRE — The CDA Credential is the most widely recognized credential in early childhood education and it’s a key steppingstone on the path of career advancement in the sector. The CDA is based on a core set of competency standards that guide early childhood professionals toward becoming qualified educators of young children.
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Andrew Davis, Chief Operating Officer, Council for Professional Recognition

As we mark America’s Independence Day, I’m reflecting on the role education played in my family’s journey to this incredible country and the educators who helped make it happen. I was born in Antigua in the Caribbean, where my father’s family had lived for many generations. They coped with extreme poverty and many challenges — my grandmother was blind, for instance. Yet, from a very early age, teachers pushed my father to fulfill his potential. Their encouragement led him to attend university in Barbados and eventually earn his doctorate at the University of Sussex in England. Later, we settled in the United States, where my dad is a professor at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Each step of the way, a mentor encouraged him to keep growing and expanding his mind. Their support not only changed his life but also paved the way for future generations of our family. I was so excited to spend time recently with about 150 students at Florida International University in Miami who completed their Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential coursework through the Professional Development Institute at the Early Learning Coalition of Miami-Dade/Monroe. Through articulation agreements with higher education institutions in Florida, these students can receive college credits toward an associate or bachelor’s degree in early childhood education.

Davis (left) met with education leaders and supporters who helped students complete their Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential coursework through the Professional Development Institute at the Early Learning Coalition of Miami-Dade/Monroe.

Davis (left) met with education leaders and supporters who helped students complete their Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential coursework through the Professional Development Institute at the Early Learning Coalition of Miami-Dade/Monroe.

The CDA Credential is the most widely recognized credential in early childhood education and it’s a key steppingstone on the path of career advancement in the sector. The CDA is based on a core set of competency standards that guide early childhood professionals toward becoming qualified educators of young children. Our nonprofit, the Council for Professional Recognition, works to ensure that the nationally transferable CDA is a credible and valid credential, recognized by the profession as a vital part of professional development. CDA educators know how to put the CDA Competency Standards into practice and have an understanding of why those standards help children move with success from one developmental stage to another. Put simply, CDA educators know how to nurture the emotional, physical, intellectual, and social development of children.

It was an honor to recognize and celebrate these scholars, who participated in 120 hours of instruction and at least 480 hours of on-the-job training. They also compiled a professional portfolio and created a center-based capstone project. At the graduation ceremony, I told these students that they should feel proud of their achievements and be empowered to become advocates for early childhood education. I emphasized the importance of cultivating resilience in the face of challenges and embracing lifelong learning. That lifelong learning can include earning additional degrees as well as serving as CDA Professional Development Specialists, who use their expertise to assess CDA candidates’ competencies and facilitate reflective conversations with candidates for the credential.

Most importantly, the CDA scholars I met in Miami and other ceremonies this year are now serving as early childhood educators in communities across the U.S. They’re professionals who support safe and healthy learning environments, provide positive guidance, successfully engage, and interact with families and contribute to ensuring an early learning program is well run. I know their work will pay off. Years ago, my dad’s teachers had no way of imagining where their influence would lead. Indeed, when I look up to the sky on the Fourth to watch the fireworks, I’ll keep in mind the educators who help their students reach higher and higher for spectacular results and the bright futures they create.

The post Celebrate America’s Birthday by Thanking Those Who Teach Our Youngest Learners first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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LIVE! : Make it Plain at the White House

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Rev. Mark Thompson interviews Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo LIVE from the White House.
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Rev. Mark Thompson interviews Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo LIVE from the White House.

The post LIVE! : Make it Plain at the White House first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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