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Lecrae, Rapper with San Diego Ties, Shares Wealth-Building Ideas

Before knowing that his passion for financial education would grow into what he calls a “new-age Teen Summit” (referring to the early 1990s BET weekly show that dealt with issues facing young African Americans), Lecrae says he was working to expose those around him to the benefits of good money habits.

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Lecrae provides guidance on healthy spending habits in a series called “Protect the Bag.”
Lecrae provides guidance on healthy spending habits in a series called “Protect the Bag.”

By Kassidy Henson | California Black Media

Lecrae, a Grammy Award-winning Christian hip-hop artist, is on a mission to increase financial literacy among African Americans.

Growing up in a “marginalized” community in San Diego, Lecrae says he was exposed to incredible wealth and opportunity when he visited communities along the Pacific coastline or neighborhoods nestled in the hills overlooking the city.

But life was different in his predominantly Black neighborhood. Less possibility. Much more poverty.

“You begin to wonder ‘how do I acquire that?’ How do you change the narrative?” Lecrae told California Black Media.

“Returning to a community that faced marginalization, brutality and the effects of poverty was a reflection — excluded from the gleaming SoCal Hills.”

Recalling those childhood experiences, Lecrae — who now lives in Atlanta — said he decided to launch an effort to create opportunities for African Americans that would help to close the wealth gap between Blacks and whites.

Using his own production company, 3 Strands Films, Lecrae developed a short-form financial education show called “Protect the Bag.”

The six-part web series provides viewers with a “blueprint” for financial wellness by delving into topics like saving, retirement, investment, budgeting, and identity protection, according to the rapper who released a new album with fellow artist 1K Phew titled “No Church in a While” on December 3.

Lecrae, who won a Grammy for Best Gospel Album in 2012, says he hopes the show helps to restore stability and hope in a new generation of young Black people.

The concept for “Protect the Bag” was developed during the COVID-19 lockdown last year. During that time, Lacrae says he partnered with the credit scoring company Experian to come to the aid of 21 families facing foreclosure due to financial hardship.

“Protect the Bag” is a series of short, roundtable conversations. During each one, Lecrae explains the basics of building a financial legacy. In discussions with financial professionals, community members and guests like Denver Nuggets forward Michal Porter Jr., the panelists address obstacles to building wealth that large numbers of African Americans face.

By the end of each episode, Lecrae says his goal is to equip viewers with the knowledge, exposure and confidence to create better financial habits.

Before knowing that his passion for financial education would grow into what he calls a “new-age Teen Summit” (referring to the early 1990s BET weekly show that dealt with issues facing young African Americans), Lecrae says he was working to expose those around him to the benefits of good money habits.

A self-described “doer,” Lecrae explained that at his label he met with artists and hosted financial literacy classes exploring buying power, disparities in the stock market, and the value of the Black dollar.

“Those are all important pillars of good financial stewardship,” says the artist who joined other lecturers to teach a six week “pop-out course” at Stanford University.

“One of the struggles that we had in academia is that academics often speak through a backwards megaphone. They speak through the wide end. To them, the information is easy to grasp when it comes out the smaller side,” he said.

“How do we turn that megaphone around? How do we take these narrow concepts and make them more broad and applicable for everybody listening? How do we speak the language of the community and allow it to be less complicated than everyone makes it sound?”

Lecrae also talked about the many benefits that can be reaped when African Americans decide to invest in their communities.

“It creates a network. Like that old game, Barrel of Monkeys: when someone reaches down to give you a hand the next step is to reach your hand down to help the next person up,” he says. “This practice puts funds and resources back into the community, which is an essential part of a financially stable economy.”

Lecrae said young people should ditch the mindset that you only live once.

“You can really lose a movement over a moment. I think we chase pleasure over happiness. Think about what you want long-term because your decisions today can work to ensure that your 60-year-old self is living in a way that is liberated and free.”

New episodes of “Protect the Bag” are released each week on Lecrae’s YouTube channel.

Activism

Friendship Christian Center Provides Tests, Vaccines to Thousands

FCCC has served thousands with lines forming an hour-and-a-half before opening to get tested and vaccinated with one of the three vaccines, boosters, and vaccines for children. Agee said it has been going at this pace for over a month, with the new Omicron variant surging.

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A lone forms outside the Friendship Christian Center on a recent, rainy cold day in Oakland. Photo courtesy of FCCC.
A lone forms outside the Friendship Christian Center on a recent, rainy cold day in Oakland. Photo courtesy of FCCC.

Friendship Christian Center Church (FCCC), pastored by Dr. Gerald Agee, is located at 1904 Adeline St. and is one of the dozens of Black churches across the state of California, who, in conjunction with the California Health Agencies and California Black Media, has stood on the front line, with the Black Press for over a year providing COVID-19 testing and vaccinations to minority communities.

FCCC has served thousands with lines forming an hour-and-a-half before opening to get tested and vaccinated with one of the three vaccines, boosters, and vaccines for children. Agee said it has been going at this pace for over a month, with the new Omicron variant surging.

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Activism

COMMENTARY: After Jan. 6, An MLK Day Deadline for Voting Rights and Democracy

This is a dangerous thing that goes beyond mere policy matters. First the Cruzes fall in line. Then the people. Republicans are not shy about what’s next. They want to own our democracy. And they’re willing to get it by going state by state to limit our voting rights and take away our votes.

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Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator. Listen to his show on YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter @emilamok at 2pm Pacific M-F. Or on www.amok.com
Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator. Listen to his show on YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter @emilamok at 2pm Pacific M-F. Or on www.amok.com

By Emil Guillermo

We all know the images of Jan. 6, 2021. Lawless rioters ransacking the Capitol. Police being tortured and beaten. Members of Congress hiding in fear in the House gallery. The gallows and a noose meant for former Vice President Mike Pence.

We all saw the video images one year after and astonishingly they did nothing to pull our nation together.

Nothing.

They simply confirmed the only thing everyone can agree on.

Our democracy’s in trouble. Real trouble.

We already sensed that after the Civil Rights battles of the 1960s such things as race, policing, and income inequality are still major issues in 2022.

But we’ve got trouble in a different key.

C Major. No sharps or flats. This trouble goes right to the core of our democracy. They’re coming after your vote.

That is, after all, what the Jan. 6 rioters were attempting when they tried to stop the certification of the election.

But now the GOP politicians who may have been behind the Jan. 6 rioters all along, are going legit.

The majority of Republicans, notably California’s Kevin McCarthy, continue to sing the fictional tune “The 2016 Election Was Stolen.”

As if in a song battle, the Democrats counter with the loud truth, “The Election Was Fair. Trump Lost.”

But enough people keep singing the lie as if it’s their battle hymn.

And now they are looking for the ultimate control of any election. Legally. In plain view.

Republicans are taking over or running for top election official posts in key states. State legislatures are proposing laws to limit absentee ballots, mail-in voting and other conveniences. They are putting up obstacles to make voting harder with the hopes of suppressing your vote.

This is why Biden spoke in Georgia this week, saying “I will not yield, I will not flinch in protecting voting rights.”

Let’s hope he’s serious, starting with new voting rights legislation to make election days federal holidays and require federal approval of any state and local election changes.

It may take changing the filibuster law to make sure Republicans can’t block any Democratic reforms, but it must be done. And done now.

That’s why even the family of Martin Luther King Jr. is calling for “no celebration” of MLK Day without the passage of voting rights legislation.

This is how Democrats are talking to Biden.

The Republicans’ post-Jan.6 strategy is simply Orwellian. Where truth and lies are indistinguishable. And Republicans loyal to Trump are dead set on forcing their lies on everyone.

Witness Sen. Ted Cruz last week caught in a moment of truth calling the Jan. 6 rioters “domestic terrorists.” But how quickly he recanted when called on the carpet by Fox’s Tucker Carlson, the Trump Confessor, for all the Republican congregants to see.

Like a loyal Trumper, Cruz knelt, confessed, and did his penance.

It used to be called hypocrisy. Now it’s just called Modern Day Republicanism.

This is a dangerous thing that goes beyond mere policy matters. First the Cruzes fall in line. Then the people. Republicans are not shy about what’s next. They want to own our democracy. And they’re willing to get it by going state by state to limit our voting rights and take away our votes.

That’s even worse than the Jan. 6 rioters’ wildest dreams.

Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator. Listen to his show on YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter @emilamok at 2pm Pacific M-F. Or on www.amok.com

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El Cerrito Hosts 33rd Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Parade and Rally

The celebration is sponsored by its founders, St. Peter CME Church and the El Cerrito Branch of the NAACP, as well as the Human Relations Commission, and the West Contra Costa County Unified School District.

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“Keeping the Dream Alive - Embracing Our New Normals with Faith, Family, and Community,” is the theme for this year’s celebration.
“Keeping the Dream Alive - Embracing Our New Normals with Faith, Family, and Community,” is the theme for this year’s celebration.

By Clifford L. Williams

The City of El Cerrito invites all of its residents and surrounding cities in the Bay Area to join in its 33rd Annual Community Celebration honoring the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., on Monday, Jan. 17, 2022.

“Keeping the Dream Alive – Embracing Our New Normals with Faith, Family, and Community,” is the theme for this year’s celebration.

The celebration is sponsored by its founders, St. Peter CME Church and the El Cerrito Branch of the NAACP, as well as the Human Relations Commission, and the West Contra Costa County Unified School District.

Event chairperson, Patricia Durham said “this peaceful protest began in 1989 on the back streets of El Cerrito because of the City’s refusal to acknowledge King’s birthday as a federal holiday.

“Members of St. Peter Christian Methodist Episcopal Church (CME), the City’s only African-American church, and the El Cerrito Branch of the NAACP, in true Dr. King style, took to the streets. The City eventually came around and acknowledged the peaceful and powerful works of Dr. King.”

Durham added, “El Cerrito’s birthday celebration of MLK is one of the longest-standing parades and rallies in the Bay Area.”

Because of the global pandemic, this is the second year the city will have a car parade because of COVID-19 protocols. Participants will meet at 9 a.m. at the El Cerrito Del Norte BART station (in the parking lot of Key Boulevard & Knott Avenue). At 10 a.m., the parade will caravan down San Pablo Avenue to the El Cerrito Plaza BART station and at 11 a.m., the rally will begin. To ensure everyone enjoys the parade safely, all CDC guidelines will be enforced. Masks and social distancing are required.

“Keeping the dream alive even during a pandemic is a necessity,” said Durham. “We are fighting for our democracy and if the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s taught us that we need each other to embrace our new normals of survival.”

“The City is expecting more than 100 cars, so we encourage everyone to decorate your vehicles so that yours stands out the best,” noted Durham. “Entertainment will be provided by the Japanese American Citizen League, The Black Cowboy Association, Ujima Lodge #35, the Mardi Gras Gumbo Band, Mighty High Drill Team, Smooth Illusions Band, and El Cerrito’s Poet Laureate, Ms. Eevelyn Janean Mitchell, among other talents.”

The MC of this illustrious event will be Jeffery Wright, president of the El Cerrito Chamber of Commerce. The event’s keynote speaker is Diana Becton, the first female African American to be elected District Attorney in the history of Contra Costa County.

For more information, contact Patricia Durham at (510) 234-2518.

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