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Kappa Alpha Psi Alumni Chapter Celebrates 40th Anniversary

THE AFRO — The Hyattsville/ Landover alumni chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity has been one of the most impactful in its community since its inception in 1979. Their 40th anniversary provided them with an opportunity to laud those who were pillars in the foundation and who have helped it become one of the most influential chapters in the nation during the ceremony at the Hotel at the University of Maryland in College Park.

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By Mark F. Gray

The Hyattsville/ Landover alumni chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity has been one of the most impactful in its community since its inception in 1979. Their 40th anniversary provided them with an opportunity to laud those who were pillars in the foundation and who have helped it become one of the most influential chapters in the nation during the ceremony at the Hotel at the University of Maryland in College Park.

As a chapter that began much like a startup company, Hyattsville/ Landover has leveraged the professional success of its brothers to form the direction of its vision.  It is also a chapter that gained political capital through its four decades of community service.   During its 40 year existence they have remained committed to the youth of Prince George’s County through a “strong organizational foundation that serves both the community and provides programs for youth,” says 18th Chapter Polemarch Michael K. Pitts.

This chapter’s local influence has been noteworthy through various initiatives that began without fanfare and remains behind a silhouette of the many lives it has touched.   High school students in Prince George’s County have benefitted from the chapter’s Guide Right Program, Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) preparation and financial aid workshops.   The progressive vision of the chapter has been an example for others throughout the fraternity nationwide.

“Our achievements over the last four decades demonstrate how the chapter established a paradigm for community service for fraternities and sororities I Prince George’s County,” says Clarence Jones, the chapter’s historian and chairman of the 40th anniversary of the Awards Planning and Celebration Committee.  “We crossed a mediocre threshold, creating a new threshold and a new threshold of helping others.  These four decades tell the story of how a new era of in community service began to take hold.”

During a, sometimes, emotional evening among the brotherhood, laughs and spirits flowed with memories and camaraderie they forged through the years of its volunteer work in Prince George’s County. The chapter’s precedent was acknowledged for how it’s standard has raised the bar for other alumni chapters around the country.  This chapter has been noted for being at the forefront of supporting Kappa Alpha Psi’s national level and has been supportive all around in working with the divine nine. which is the consortium of Black Greek fraternities and sororities.

Thomas L. Battles, Jr., the 33rd Grand Polemarch of the national organization, was the keynote speaker and gave credit to this local alumni chapter for evolving from its humble beginning, where it gave men who were interested a chance to pledge to become a member of the vanguard of civic impact.  The men of the Hyattsville/ Landover alumni chapter developed much of the mentoring programming that many national undergraduate and graduate chapters utilize regularly.

“This chapter has been at the front of young and old training for leadership,” Battles Jr. said.  “We have always been able to count on the Hyattsville/ Landover alumni chapter to support what we are trying to accomplish through our work in conjunction with the divine nine.”

Battles, Jr. also challenged the chapter to continue its leadership in mentoring, especially leading up to the 2020 presidential elections.  While he and the rest of the leaders of the divine nine are moving towards establishing a political action committee to ensure that challenges facing HBCU’s, he was resolute about equipping a new generation with skills necessary to advocate for themselves and to try to change the direction of the country.

“We’ve got to teach kids how to tell their story,” Battles, Jr. said.  “Kids are dying these days because they can’t express themselves to authorities.”

This article originally appeared in The Afro

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Bay Area

Community Banking to Community Building

At the heart of our business is the local community bank branch. But a local bank branch, especially in underserved neighborhoods, can be successful only when it fits the community’s needs. That’s why, over the last several years, we have shifted our approach from community banking to “community building” – a boots on the ground approach to better serve the needs of our local communities.

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As we celebrate Juneteenth this year, we are reminded of the promise and hope of the future.
As we celebrate Juneteenth this year, we are reminded of the promise and hope of the future.

Juneteenth is a day like no other. It is both a celebration of freedom and a reminder of the work that still must be done to bring about a more equitable society. So, as we recognize Juneteenth this year, now is the time to harness what unites us and help bring about changes that benefit all communities.

Taking actions focused on racial equity, along with diversity and inclusion, requires collaboration and building trust in the community. JPMorgan Chase is helping to drive sustainable changes through its five-year $30 billion racial equity commitment. With a business-led approach, this commitment aims to help address key drivers of the racial wealth divide in Black, Latino and Hispanic communities by investing in them directly.

Since its launch in October 2020, we have deployed or committed more than $18 billion toward our $30 billion goal. To sustain this progress, we must measure this effort and listen to feedback so we can have even greater impact in closing the wealth gap.

Here is just some of the progress we’ve made toward our commitment while working alongside our community partners across the country thus far:

  • Helped homeowners save money on their monthly mortgage payments by refinancing 19,000 of our 20,000 incremental loans goal
  • Approved funding for approximately $13 billion in loans to help create and preserve more than 100,000 affordable housing and rental units across the U.S.
  • Expanded our homebuyer grant program to $5,000 to help with down payment and closing costs
  • Helped customers open over 200,000 low-cost checking accounts with no overdraft fees
  • Spent an additional $155 million with 140 Black, Hispanic and Latino suppliers
  • Invested more than $100 million of equity in 15 diverse financial institutions that serve more than 89 communities in 19 states and the District of Columbia
  • Mentored more than 1,000 Black, Hispanic and Latino small businesses

Creating Community Impact

At the heart of our business is the local community bank branch. But a local bank branch, especially in underserved neighborhoods, can be successful only when it fits the community’s needs. That’s why, over the last several years, we have shifted our approach from community banking to “community building” – a boots on the ground approach to better serve the needs of our local communities.

Our Community Center branches are the most tangible symbols of our commitment to community building, as they were created to be a unique space in the heart of urban communities that hosts grassroots community events, small business mentoring sessions and financial health seminars.

Currently, we have 12 Community Center branches in neighborhoods like in Oakland, Stony Island in the South Shore of Chicago, Crenshaw in Los Angeles, and Wards 7 and 8 in Wash., D.C.

We’ll continue to add these Community Center branches in underserved communities in Miami, Atlanta, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Tulsa by the end of this year. We’ve also retrofitted over 300 existing branches, to now include spaces for the community to use to help expand access to banking and boost financial health and inclusion among Black, Hispanic and Latino communities.

A More Diverse Workforce

Creating a lasting impact is just as much about the people we hire as it is about the programs we implement. More diverse teams will allow us to generate better ideas and better outcomes, enjoy a stronger corporate culture and deliver a more transformational banking experience to our customers.

Despite the pandemic and talent retention challenges, we continue to boost our representation especially among women and people of color.

We want our branches to represent the neighborhoods they serve, which is why we continue to hire from our local communities. During this time, we’ve hired more than 300 people to community-focused roles: nearly 150 Community Managers, 150 Community Home Lending Advisors, as well as 25 diverse Senior Business Consultants.

The Community Center Manager, in particular, is a new role within the bank whose main job is to serve as local ambassadors to build trust and nurture relationships with community leaders, nonprofit partners, and small businesses.

Over the last year our Community Managers have hosted more than 1,300 community events reaching more than 36,000 nationwide with discussions ranging from ways to increase homeownership, and how to build generational wealth and stability.

As we celebrate Juneteenth this year, we are reminded of the promise and hope of the future.

We are committed to ensuring that you have the resources you need to own a home, start a business, save for college – or achieve any other goals or dreams. We look forward to working together and continuing to create lasting impact for your community and family for years to come.

Sponsored content from JPMorgan Chase & Co

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Black History

COMMENTARY: Juneteenth Holiday Touches Collective Memory of African American: It Deserves Honor

Dec. 31, 1862, then, would become the Watch Night of all Watch Nights. Ninety-nine days earlier, Pres. Abraham Lincoln had announced his intention to free people enslaved in most of the Southern states. It was sometime late the morning of Jan. 1, 1863, when Lincoln finally signed the document known as the Emancipation Proclamation and word immediately crossed the country, tapped out in Morse code on telegraph wires.

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Martha Yates Jones (left) and Pinkie Yates (right), daughters of Rev. Jack Yates, in a decorated carriage parked in front of the Antioch Baptist Church located in Houston's Fourth Ward, 1908. Photo courtesy of Houston Public Library Digital Collection.Martha Yates Jones (left) and Pinkie Yates (right), daughters of Rev. Jack Yates, in a decorated carriage parked in front of the Antioch Baptist Church located in Houston's Fourth Ward, 1908. Photo courtesy of Houston Public Library Digital Collection.
Martha Yates Jones (left) and Pinkie Yates (right), daughters of Rev. Jack Yates, in a decorated carriage parked in front of the Antioch Baptist Church located in Houston's Fourth Ward, 1908. Photo courtesy of Houston Public Library Digital Collection.

By Wanda J. Ravernell

It was a long time coming.

For centuries, they had prayed, fought and died seeking freedom from slavery.

The day they had awaited they called ‘Jubilee.’

Depending on where they resided, the day of ‘Jubilee’ came in fits and starts. In New Hampshire, the last slave was freed in 1853, New York in 1827 and Pennsylvania by 1810.

Enslaved people vicariously celebrated the 1791 revolt in Haiti leading to the first Black republic in the Western Hemisphere in 1804. The 1834 manumission of Blacks in Jamaica was another milestone.

During the slave era, New Year’s Day was dreaded as it was when enslavers settled their debts with the lives of their ‘property.’ New Year’s Eve, then was not celebrated, but rather spent in fervent prayer that their loved ones not be sold away.

Dec. 31, 1862, then, would become the Watch Night of all Watch Nights. Ninety-nine days earlier, Pres. Abraham Lincoln had announced his intention to free people enslaved in most of the Southern states. It was sometime late the morning of Jan. 1, 1863, when Lincoln finally signed the document known as the Emancipation Proclamation and word immediately crossed the country, tapped out in Morse code on telegraph wires.

But news of Jubilee didn’t reach Texas.

It would be two and half years and more than two months after the Confederate army surrendered to a Union Army that included Black men that soldiers brought the news to Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865.

The date would be contracted to Juneteenth and become the most widely and continuous celebration of the end of slavery in the U.S. Other states had Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, but those observations had died out as, for the sake of assimilation, Blacks distanced themselves from that dark past.

But not Black Texans, who took their custom with them during the Great Migration that began in earnest in 1915.

In Western cities with sizeable Black populations Juneteenth observations sprang up without the sanction of local government. (Texas would declare Juneteenth a statewide holiday in 1980.)

San Francisco (48 years), Berkeley (35 years), San Jose (41 years) and Vallejo (28 years) are Bay Area cities that have formalized the observation.

In Oakland, for the third year, Councilmember Loren Taylor and Project Lend A Hand– which provides school supplies for needy children — will hold a Juneteenth fundraiser called In the Town.

Barbara Howard of Brilliant Minds Inc., has held a Juneteenth the Last Saturday of the month since 2008. It will take place on June 25, 2022 ,at 925 Brockhurst St. It is free and open to the public

Others, like American Canyon, are holding their first Juneteenths, now that it has become the latest federal holiday, signed into law by Pres. Joe Biden on June 17, 2021.

Juneteenths have typically followed the pattern of those in Texas with parades, barbecues, and festivals, but making Juneteenth a national holiday has some Black people wondering what to do.

Unlike the other holidays that mark the summer, this one has meaning closer to our collective heart.

Frederick Douglass famously asked, “to what is the slave the Fourth of July?” because they had no freedom to celebrate.

Flowers brought to gravesides mark the monuments to loss on Memorial and Veterans’ Day.

But for many of us, these holidays (holy days) are mostly opportunities to gather with loved ones, have some food, play cards, eat some ’que and dance to recorded music in the summer and sleep late on chilly November 11.

So, what do we do with this holiday? This clearly holy day for our enslaved ancestors? How do we honor those who didn’t live to see the day of Jubilee?

And then there’s the quintessential question pushing forward from the back of the collective Black mind: How free are we? With mass incarceration and the persistent ills of the modern Jim Crow era, some would say that slavery never ended.

Research shows that in the initial decades after the news reached Galveston, the formerly enslaved went to church and prayed and gave thanks for the freedom they had attained.

More than 150 years later, perhaps we can set our natural cynicism aside long enough to be happy for our ancestors’ moment.

Perhaps, we won’t go to church. But we can light a candle. We can sing a freedom song together or sing the Black National Anthem in its entirety. We can hang the black, red and green Liberation colors or the Juneteenth flag in the front window.

We can set aside a symbolic plate of ’que, potato salad and greens and pour on the ground a libation of some red drink – hibiscus or Johnny Walker Red.

We can express our gratitude that they lived so we could live.

But perhaps most important, we need to teach our children. And maybe, just maybe they’ll bless us with a freestyle rhyme in the holy names of our ancestors.

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Antonio‌ ‌Ray‌ ‌Harvey‌

Black Women Win State Primaries, Secure Spots on November Ballot

“The June 7 primary election was another demonstration of the consistency of Black Women in the political process,” said Kellie Todd, founding convener of the Black Women’s Collective (BWC), an organization of Black women leaders and advocates working in politics, business, entertainment, health care and other professions across the state.

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Antonio Ray Harvey, California Black Media, Black women, political office, every level, state of California, June 7 primary election, won the minds and the hearts, diverse groups of Californians, November general election ballot, political organizers, Black women, fully engaged in California’s political process, succeed against stiff competition, demonstration of the consistency of Black Women, political process, Kellie Todd, Black Women’s Collective (BWC), organization of Black women leaders, advocates, politics, business, entertainment, health care, cast our votes, on the ballot at every level, diverse communities, Black Californians, 26.9% of all candidates, June 7 primary ballots, U.S. House seats, 2.6 million African Americans, state population of 39.5 million, Bay Area, U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA-13), comfortable lead, reelection bid, Republican challenger Stephen Slauson, Contra Costa District Attorney Diana Becton, declared victory, county’s chief law enforcement officer, Mary Knox, District Attorney, first woman, first African American, County’s 167-year history, only African American district attorney in California, make all Californians safer, decimated entire communities, separated families, relegated generations of Black and Brown communities as second-class citizens, reduce racial disparities, real safety, mail-in ballots, U.S. Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA-37), better-funded, billionaire opponent, Rick Caruso, Los Angeles mayor’s race, Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk, ballots postmarked by Election Day, statewide races, California Secretary of State Shirley Weber, Republican Rob Bernosky, Malia Cohen, State Board of Equalization, State Controller, Lanhee Chen, only Republican, California Controller Betty Yee, 37th Congressional District seat, Los Angeles City Councilmember Jan Perry, State Sen. Sydney Kamlager (D-Los Angeles), Secretary of State’s office, Republican Ronda Kennedy, 30th Congressional District (Burbank), Democrat G “Maebe A. Girl” Pudlo, Adam Schiff (D-San Diego), 43rd Congressional District, incumbent Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles), Republican Omar Navarro, Black Republican Tamika Hamilton, incumbent Ami Bera (D-Elk Grove), District 6 congressional seat, Sacramento, Yolo counties, special election for the 11th District Assembly seat, Lori Wilson (D-Suisun City), Jenny Lailani Callison, large financial backing, special interests, State Assembly races, Assemblymember Akilah Weber (D-San Diego), 79th District, Assembly District in Oakland, Assemblymember Mia Bonta, State Senate race for the 28th District, Sen. Sydney Kamlager (D-Los Angeles), Lola Smallwood-Cuevas (D), Cheryl C. Turner (D)
Black women running for political office on every level across the state of California.

By Antonio‌ ‌Ray‌ ‌Harvey‌, California‌ ‌Black‌ ‌Media‌

Black women running for political office on every level across the state of California showed up strong during the state’s June 7 primary election. They won the minds and the hearts of diverse groups of Californians and drew the numbers they needed to secure spots on the November general election ballot.

The results, some political organizers say, signal that Black women are fully engaged in California’s political process, and they are primed to succeed against stiff competition ahead.

“The June 7 primary election was another demonstration of the consistency of Black Women in the political process,” said Kellie Todd, founding convener of the Black Women’s Collective (BWC), an organization of Black women leaders and advocates working in politics, business, entertainment, health care and other professions across the state.

“And this time we didn’t just show up to cast our votes, we were on the ballot at every level, in diverse communities throughout that state,” Griffin pointed out.

Black Californians represented 26.9% of all candidates on the June 7 primary ballots running for U.S. House seats, a significant showing in a state where there are 2.6 million African Americans out of a total state population of 39.5 million.

In the Bay Area, U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA-13) has secured a comfortable lead in her reelection bid. She is ahead with 73,038 votes (86.3%) to Republican challenger Stephen Slauson’s 5,272 (6.2%). Lee and Slauson are likely to move on to the general election.

In another state race involving a Black woman, Contra Costa District Attorney Diana Becton declared victory in the race for the county’s chief law enforcement officer.

Becton is currently winning her reelection campaign with a substantial lead of 56.2% (93, 909 votes) to her challenger Mary Knox’s 43.7% (73,100 votes). Knox is a prosecutor who works in her office.

Becton took office as District Attorney in 2017, the first woman and first African American to hold the position in the County’s 167-year history. Becton is currently the only African American district attorney in California.

Becton thanked Knox for her years of service and emphasized the need to keep fighting for smart reforms that make all Californians safer.

“The status quo has decimated entire communities, separated families, and relegated generations of Black and Brown communities as second-class citizens,” Becton said in a June 8 statement. “That is why we will continue working to reduce racial disparities in our systems. We also must continue to hold anyone who harms our communities accountable – even if they are in elected office or wear a badge – because that is what real safety demands.”

After 168,338 mail-in ballots were counted after June 7, U.S. Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA-37) closed the gap against her better-funded, billionaire opponent Rick Caruso in the Los Angeles mayor’s race, according to results released June 10 by the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk.

Caruso leads with 155,929 votes (40.5%) to Bass’s 149,104 (38.8%), according to the Clerk’s office. More than 500,000 votes remain uncounted, and ballots postmarked by Election Day will be accepted through June 14.

In statewide races, California Secretary of State Shirley Weber has 2,631,686 votes (59.2%) so far. She will face Republican Rob Bernosky in the general election in November. As of June 12, Bernosky is currently in a distant second place behind Weber with 848,373 votes (19.1%).

Malia Cohen, a current member of the State Board of Equalization, has won 21.3% of votes (973,549) in the race for State Controller, enough to land her in second place and secure a place on the ballot in November.

Cohen will face Lanhee Chen, the only Republican in a six-person race to replace California Controller Betty Yee. Chen leads the race in the primary election with 38.8% of counted votes (1,534,620).

For the 37th Congressional District seat, currently held by Bass, former Los Angeles City Councilmember Jan Perry came in second place with 10,520 votes (18.6%). State Sen. Sydney Kamlager (D-Los Angeles) led the field of seven candidates with 24,354 (43.0%), according to election results released by the Secretary of State’s office on June 11.

Republican Ronda Kennedy, a civil rights attorney running to represent the 30th Congressional District (Burbank), is currently in third place (9,290) behind Democrat G “Maebe A. Girl” Pudlo (10,153). Either Kennedy or Pudlo will face leader Adam Schiff (D-San Diego) in November, Schiff has a commanding lead with 60,658 votes, according to the SOS office.

In the race to represent the 43rd Congressional District, longtime incumbent Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) leads Republican Omar Navarro by a wide margin of 33,801 votes to 5,949.

Black Republican Tamika Hamilton could face incumbent Ami Bera (D-Elk Grove) for the District 6 congressional seat in Sacramento and Yolo counties.

Two months after winning the special election for the 11th District Assembly seat, Lori Wilson (D-Suisun City) came out ahead in the primary with 64.9% (48,657 votes). She leads Independent challenger Jenny Lailani Callison, who has 35.1% of votes counted so far (26,349).

“We proved that Black women candidates can be competitive and can also win even without large financial backing from special interests,” Todd said. “This is just the beginning as we continue to build our political power and ensure we have a strong cohort of elected officials ready to serve.”

In State Assembly races, Assemblymember Akilah Weber (D-San Diego) is positioned to retain her seat representing the 79th District with 63.9% (30,005 votes). In the 18th Assembly District in Oakland, Assemblymember Mia Bonta, the only candidate on the ballot, won 100 % of the vote (36,226).

In the State Senate race for the 28th District, two Black women are leading in the primary to succeed Sen. Sydney Kamlager (D-Los Angeles).  With 40.9% of the vote (33,687 votes), Lola Smallwood-Cuevas (D) is ahead of Cheryl C. Turner (D), who is in second place with 31.0% (25,508 Votes).

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