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Mother Emanuel AME Church Announces Emanuel Nine 4th Anniversary Events

CHARLESTON CHRONICLE — In advance of the four-year anniversary of the Emanuel Nine tragedy, Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church announced today plans and events scheduled to observe the fourth commemoration of June 17, 2015. 

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By The Charleston Chronicle

In advance of the four-year anniversary of the Emanuel Nine tragedy, Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church announced today plans and events scheduled to observe the fourth commemoration of June 17, 2015. 

Denise Quarles, daughter of Myra Quarles Singleton Thompson and Blondelle Coakley Gadsden, sister of Myra Thompson, along with Polly Sheppard, one of the survivors of the tragedy, led a group of family members and church members to plan the 2019 commemoration events. 

“Each year we observe this day to mourn, with the Charleston community and the world, the senseless loss of precious lives from this horrific act of hate and to reflect on how we can contribute as individuals and as a society to ending racism during our lifetime,” said Rev. Eric S.C. Manning, pastor of Mother Emanuel AME.

Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church invites the public to attend and participate in the following events:

June 12, 6:00 p.m. – Bible Study at Mother Emanuel AME Church, 110 Calhoun St.

Rev. Eric S.C. Manning, pastor of Mother Emanuel and Rev. Anthony B. Thompson, pastor of Holy Trinity Reformed Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston, will lead the session. Rev. Thompson has pastored at Holy Trinity since 2010 and his wife was among the nine individuals murdered in 2015. Following Bible study, the trunks of 15 cherry trees planted for the victims and survivors located at the Gaillard Center will be lit each evening until the conclusion of the Emanuel Nine commemoration. 

June 13, 11:00 a.m. – The Susie Jackson/Ethel Lance Senior Citizens Luncheon at Mother Emanuel AME Church, 110 Calhoun St. 

Senior members of Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church will have lunch in remembrance of Susie Jackson, 87, and Ethel Lance, 70, two members of the church’s senior group who were murdered in the 2015 tragedy. 

June 14, 9:00 a.m. – Youth Empowerment Session entitled “Your Mind Matters” at Mother Emanuel AME Church, 110 Calhoun St.

Students from sixth to tenth grade will participate in a four-hour workshop designed to build self-esteem and empowerment skills needed to excel in school, the community and the workforce.  Barbara H. Whye, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer and Vice President of Human Resources for Intel Corporation, will lead the workshop.  

June 15, 11:00 a.m. – Book Signing and Author Talk by Rev. Sharon Risher, daughter of Ethel Lance, at the Charleston County Public Library, 68 Calhoun St. 

For Such A Time as This: Hope and Forgiveness After the Charleston Massacre, is a story of transformation of how an anonymous hospital chaplain was thrust into the national spotlight, joining survivors of other gun-related horrors as reluctant speakers for a heartbroken social-justice movement. As she recounts her grief and the struggle to forgive the killer, Risher learns to trust God’s timing and lean on God’s loving presence to guide her steps. Where her faith journey leads her is surprising and inspiring, as she finds a renewed purpose to her life in the company of other survivors.

June 16, 9:30 a.m. – Joint Worship Service at Mother Emanuel AME Church, 110 Calhoun St.

Rev. Eric S.C. Manning, pastor of Mother Emanuel AME and Rev. Anthony B. Thompson, pastor of Holy Trinity Reformed Episcopal Church, will lead a special Father’s Day service during which 15 individuals will receive Outstanding Service Awards in the areas of Emergency and Caring Response. 

June 16, 1:00 p.m. – The Charleston Forum Expo, Charleston Bus Shed, 375 Meeting St.

The Expo will provide an opportunity for nonprofits with compatible missions addressing issues of race and social justice to share their stories with the publicNonprofit organizations will be provided with free space to display information in the hope that each partner is able to find new volunteers, donors and followers to help guide their mission, as well as begin collaborations with similar entities leading to synergies and shared efforts. Local vendors and corporations will also be invited to display their business and share their mission towards social justice.

June 16, 4:00 p.m. – Charleston Forum, Charleston Music Hall, 37 John St., led by Rev. Eric S.C. Manning and Rabbi Jeffrey Myers of the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh 

Admission $5.00 

The Charleston Forum addresses sensitive issues of everyday life in a welcoming environment. The Forum encourages community  members to share their perspectives and to serve as an open and respectful audience for others. This honest exchange among leaders from different backgrounds and among interested citizens is essential for significant progress. The Forum will advance the collective march to solutions in honor of the nine lives taken on June 17, 2015. To register, visit here: https://bit.ly/2IhZzgx

June 16, 6:30 p.m. – “Morning Grace” Gospel Concert at Mother Emanuel AME Church, 110 Calhoun St.

June 17, 7:00 p.m.– A Day of Family Remembrance 

No scheduled events.

June 17 and June 19 – Emanuel Nine Documentary Public Premiere 

Filmed in the homes of victims’ family members and inside Mother Emanuel AME Church, the 75-minute award-winning documentary “Emanuel” was directed by Brian Ivie and Academy Award winner Viola Davis, a native of St. Matthews, and NBA basketball star Steph Curry as executive producers. “Law and Order: SVU” star Mariska Hargitay serves as a co-producer. Ivie is based in Los Angeles and co-founder of Arbella Studios, a production company dedicated to telling stories of faith and social justice.  

Participating locations and screen times:

  • Terrace Theater: 7:00 p.m., 1956D Maybank Highway on James Island 
  • Regal Palmetto Grande Stadium 16: 7:00 p.m., 319 Theatre Drive in Mount Pleasant
  • Regal Charles Towne Square 18: 7:00 p.m., 2401 Mall Drive in North Charleston

Register to see the documentary herehttps://bit.ly/2SXKu7m  

June 18, 10 a.m. – Press Conference to Reveal Plans for the Susie Jackson Freedom Memorial Garden, Alexander & Calhoun Streets; Followed by the unveiling of “Susie Jackson Way” Signage and Fundraising Campaign Launch, Chapel and Alexander Streets 

The family of the late Susie Jackson will hold a 10 a.m. press conference at the corners of Calhoun and Alexander streets to reveal plans for the Susie Jackson Freedom Memorial Garden. Immediately following, the family will unveil the Susie Jackson Way street sign at the corners of Chapel and Alexander Streets and will launch the fundraising campaign for the design and construction of the garden.  The site will highlight an area formerly referred to as Cedar Court, a shortcut Jackson took to get to Buist Elementary School and Mother Emanuel AME Church. It will also create a public green space for neighborhood residents and library customers while honoring Jackson’s love for gardening. The park will be paid for by fundraising efforts led by the Jackson family, the Charleston Parks Conservancy, the Mazyck-Wraggborough Neighborhood Association and others.

June 18, 5:00 p.m. – A Book Signing and Author Talk by Rev. Anthony B. Thompson, Husband of Myra Singleton Quarles Thompson, at the Charleston County Public Library, 68 Calhoun St.

In Called to Forgive: The Charleston Church Shooting, A Victim’s Husband, and the Path to Healing and Peace, Thompson makes an eloquent and intelligent case for Christian forgiveness, and his account of his pain, anger and recovery as the spouse of one of the murdered brings emotional immediacy to the story. An added strength is Thompson’s discussion of other examples of mass violence and responses to it, including the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, a 2006 Amish school shooting, and the 2018 Parkland, shooting. This riveting and optimistic account of coping with violent tragedy in a humane, honest way is highly worthwhile for any reader.  

June 19, 6:30 p.m. – “Prayers for America” Bible Study and Candlelight Service at the Gaillard Center Lawn, 95 Calhoun St.

June 20, 8:30 a.m. – “Calling All Colors” Youth Forum at Mother Emanuel AME Church, 110 Calhoun St.; Buist Academy, 103 Calhoun St.; Citadel Square Baptist Church, 328 Meeting St.

Mother Emanuel AME Church and the Charleston arts community present a one-day camp for students to celebrate diversity and pursue racial reconciliation by discussing stereotypes and other race-related issues; The program will include brainstorming ways to promote ethnic openness and experiencing different cultures through art.  The camp offers two age groups: 10-14 and 15-18. To register, visit: https://bit.ly/2Xrd1oQ.

June 23, 1:00 p.m. – A Book Signing and Author Talk by Rev. Sharon Risher, Daughter of Ethel Lance, at the Charleston County Public Library, 68 Calhoun St. 

For Such A Time as This: Hope and Forgiveness After the Charleston Massacre (repeat event of June 15). 

June 1-29 – Food Drive for the Lowcountry Food Bank at the Cynthia Graham Hurd St. Andrews Library, 1735 N. Woodmere Dr.

Please bring non-perishable items for the Lowcountry Food Bank during these dates.

June 1-29 – Reading Partners Book Drive at Charleston County Public Libraries, all locations

This month-long book drive is in honor of librarian Cynthia Graham Hurd, who was heavily involved with the region’s public libraries for more than 30 years and was murdered in the 2015 tragedy. Please bring new or gently used children’s books for students in kindergarten to fifth grade. This event is hosted by the Cynthia Graham Hurd Foundation, Reading Partners, CCPL, Live 5 News and Mellow Mushroom.

June 4 to 30 – The Life and Legacy of Cynthia Graham Hurd Exhibit at Charleston County Public Library, Main Library, 68 Calhoun St. 

Visitors of this exhibit can view photos of librarian Cynthia Graham Hurd, who was heavily involved with the region’s public libraries for more than 30 years and was murdered in the 2015 tragedy.

June 11, 6:00 p.m. – Grace Will Lead Us Home: Book Signing and Author Talk by Jennifer Berry Hawes, Charleston County Public Library Main Library, 68 Calhoun St.

June 17, 3:30 p.m. – Love and Peace Beads, Charleston County Public Libraries, all locations

Catered to young adults, visitors to this event can create a band of love or peace for themselves or for others. Materials will be provided.

June 17 to June 22 – “A Moment of Silence…to Love” Display at John L. Dart Library, 1067 King St. 

Visitors can post notes of gratitude to someone special. Children and teens will receive a free book from the Cynthia Graham Hurd Foundation while supplies last.

June 17 to June 22 – Pledge to Read for Kids and Teens, at Charleston County Public Libraries, all locations 

Visitors can stop by any library location to sign a reading pledge. Children and teens will receive a free book from the Cynthia Graham Hurd Foundation while supplies last.

June 17 to June 29 – Stick Together: Community Art Project at Charleston County Public Libraries, all locations 

The public can help assemble a 3,996-piece sticker mosaic. Appropriate for all ages.

June 18, 6:00 p.m. – A Book Signing and Author Talk  by Rev. Anthony B. Thompson at Charleston County Public Library, Main Library, 68 Calhoun St.

Called to Forgive: The Charleston Church Shooting, a Victim’s Husband and the Path to Healing and Peace

This article originally appeared in the Charleston Church

Community

Ramachandran is the Only Candidate Who Lives in Oakland in the District 18 Assembly Race 

Oakland makes up 66% of Assembly District 18. Yet all the other major candidates live in Alameda or San Leandro. Our district has not had a representative from Oakland since the 1990s.

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Janani Ramachandran

Note: Janani Ramachandran is a social justice attorney. She has the sole endorsement of organizations rooted in Oakland, including ILWU, Oakland East Bay Democratic Club, Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club and Oakland Tenants Union. 

Oakland makes up 66% of Assembly District 18. Yet all the other major candidates live in Alameda or San Leandro. Our district has not had a representative from Oakland since the 1990s. Oakland deserves true representation in our Legislature, and here are some reasons why:

Howard Terminal

Look no further than the Howard Terminal to see the power that state legislation can have on local issues. Our most recent District 18 assembly member who lives in Alameda, facilitated the development of Howard Terminal by introducing AB 1191 and AB 734 – ultimately to benefit the billionaire Fisher family and their allies. By contrast, a legislator from Oakland would understand the disastrous consequences of the project for West Oakland residents, such as worsening air quality and stimulating rapid gentrification. 

A legislator from Oakland would also understand that such a project would threaten the job security of 85,000 workers at the Port of Oakland. As the only major candidate in this election publicly opposed to Howard Terminal, I promise to stand firmly by Oakland community groups in vocalizing my opposition to this project, and any others that prioritize billionaire interests over those of our neighbors.

OUSD Takeover

Oakland has been unable to run our own public schools since the deeply problematic state takeover of OUSD in 2003. This takeover, and the actions by the State-appointed administrator  in running up OUSD’s debt, led to the closure of many majority-Black public schools and the proliferation of charter schools (in fact, OUSD has the highest percentage of charter schools out of any school district in the state). 

Oakland deserves a legislator who will prioritize winning immediate return of full local control of our schools to our residents as soon as possible. It takes a genuine understanding of the hardship and trauma that the state takeover inflicted on our City to meaningfully fight for Oakland’s youth at the State Legislature – something that I unequivocally vow to do.

Tenant Protections

Tenants comprise over 60% of our city’s residents. Thanks to decades of local activism, Oakland has one of the strongest rent control ordinances in the state. However, our city’s hands are tied on many state laws that prevent tenants from being meaningfully protected. For example, the state law Costa Hawkins prevents Oakland from being able to expand rent control to units constructed after 1983 and to single-family homes. Having supported tenants facing eviction in Oakland in the course of my legal career – including during the pandemic –  I’m acutely aware of the need for stronger statewide tenant protections to support our city.

 For example, despite Oakland City Council passing a resolution calling upon the State Legislature to repeal the Ellis Act, or at least suspend these evictions during the pandemic, our legislature refused to act. As a tenant advocate who helped launch the coalition that spearheaded Ellis Act legislation, and as a tenant myself (if elected, I would be just 1 of 3 tenants, out of 120 state lawmakers), I would bring a tenants rights framework to our legislature to support the needs of Oakland tenants.

Gun Violence

Last year, nearly as many Black Oaklanders died from a gunfire as did from COVID-19. It isn’t enough to just say we need tougher statewide gun control laws – California already has some of the strongest in the country.

 Oakland deserves a state legislator who understands the root causes of this violence and the state action needed to address it – including more funding for community-based organizations that do meaningful prevention work, economic development and expanded career opportunities for our youth, and more broadly, treating gun violence as a public health crisis – all of which are pillars of my platform.

This special election, vote for the only Oakland candidate on the ballot, a person who will take action based on the needs of our city, and work towards achieving economic, educational, racial, and environmental justice. Learn more at www.jananiforca.com 

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Community

Legislative Summary from State Senator Nancy Skinner

I invite you to follow me on Twitter @NancySkinnerCA and Facebook and to visit my Senate website for regular updates on the status of my legislation and information on the state budget. It is a pleasure serving you in the state Senate.

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Sen. Nancy Skinner. Photo courtesy of Nancy Skinner.

Here’s a brief summary of the bills I introduced this year that are still moving through the legislative process. All so far were passed by the state Senate and are now on their way to the Assembly:

  • SB 8 Extends Housing Crisis Act of 2019: The Housing Crisis Act helped expedite housing that meets local rules by asking local governments to process permits faster and not change the rules midstream. SB 8 extends the sunset on the Housing Crisis Act until 2030.
  • SB 16 Coming Clean on Police Records: Thanks to my 2018 bill, SB 1421, Californians now have access to a limited set of police misconduct records. SB 16 expands access to records on officers who have engaged in biased or discriminatory behavior, unlawful arrests and searches, and excessive force.
  • SB 65 California Momnibus Act: California’s infant and maternal death rates, especially for families of color, persist at high rates. SB 65 expands pre- and postpartum services, such as doula care and financial support, to reduce death rates and ensures data is collected to understand what’s causing these disparities.
  • SB 65 California Momnibus Act: California’s infant and maternal death rates, especially for families of color, persist at high rates. SB 65 expands pre- and postpartum services, such as doula care and financial support, to reduce death rates and ensures data is collected to understand what’s causing these disparities.
  • SB 81 Judicial Guidelines for Sentencing Enhancements: California has over 160 enhancements that add time to a prison sentence over and above the time required for the crime committed. SB 81 establishes parameters for judges to determine whether a sentence enhancement is needed to help ensure that sentences are the length the judge believes is necessary to protect public safety.
  • SB 262 Bail Reform: I’m a joint author of SB 262 to reform CA’s bail system so no one is kept in jail simply because they can’t afford bail.
  • SB 290 Clarifying CA’s Density Bonus Law: Allows low-income student housing and for-sale low- and moderate-income housing to benefit from California’s Density Bonus law.
  • SB 354 Relative Placement: Reduces barriers that prevent children in foster care from being placed with relatives and extended family.

And great news, the funding to support my bill, SB 364, Free School Meals for All, was included in the Legislature’s budget proposal, which means millions of our K-12 students will get a free meal at school.

I invite you to follow me on Twitter @NancySkinnerCA and Facebook and to visit my Senate website for regular updates on the status of my legislation and information on the state budget. It is a pleasure serving you in the state Senate.

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Community

Closing Youth Prisons Is Not Enough

But without a plan to invest in and institute a restorative justice framework, most of that money might find its way back into local youth jails rather than into treatment and rehabilitation.

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Ella Baker Center staff and members attend a Books Not Bars rally in Sacramento advocating to close youth prisons in California. Courtesy of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights.

COMMENTARY

As a parent who was involved in the juvenile system as a teenager, I know too well that children who are struggling should never be incarcerated and treated like criminals. 

Instead, they should be cared for as young people in need of restorative help. This May, dedicated as National Mental Health Awareness Month, was the perfect opportunity to embrace human rights and racial justice by moving from a carceral system of punishment to a community-based health system of restorative care.

“We have a system in place that is not really focused on rehabilitation,” Los Angeles State Senator Sydney Kamlager told CalMatters in January. Unlike some states, we have not had a governing body in California to oversee trauma-responsive, culturally informed services for youth–the majority of whom are youth of color–in the juvenile justice system.

Fortunately, we in California finally have a chance to make a change. California Senate Bill 823, signed by Gov. Newsom last December, shuts down California’s Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) and redirects millions of dollars to counties to provide care and resources for young people. But without a plan to invest in and institute a restorative justice framework, most of that money might find its way back into local youth jails rather than into treatment and rehabilitation.

Sonya Abbott and her son Anthony Johnson can attest that a transformation is long overdue. When Anthony was 16, Sonya found a bag of Xanax in his back pocket. Believing that he intended to sell the drugs, she made the difficult decision to turn him in. At the time, she viewed her decision as a way to save her son’s life, and the lives of others.  Now she says, “I feel like it just made things worse.”

As is too often the case, Anthony was cycled through a number of ineffective programs and has been shuttled back and forth among several facilities. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit and the DJJ went into lockdown, Anthony was at the N.A. Chaderjian Youth Correctional Facility in San Joaquin County. Feeling lonely and depressed because of the isolation, Anthony asked for extra counseling.

“They refused to give it to me. They laughed at me,” Anthony says.

 Anthony attempted suicide roughly two days later. He remembers a Chaderjian staff member witnessing his suicide attempt and saying, “You’re not doing it right, I’ll call this one in later,” then walking away. Afterward, Anthony was kept in the medical unit for a month, locked in a room for 23 hours a day, without any counseling or companionship.

Throughout all of this, the DJJ did not inform Abbott of her son’s suicide attempt, nor his consequent transfer to Patton State Hospital. After Anthony missed a scheduled Skype visit, Abbott had to call every juvenile facility in California to locate him, and only then learned that he had tried to take his own life. He remains at Patton today.

Statistics show that suicide and suicide attempts are too common. According to a 2014 report from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Protection, “11% of the youth (in the juvenile justice system) had attempted suicide at least once,” far exceeding the percentage  in the general population.

Nor are the dangers of youth incarceration justified by the outcomes. A 2015 study from the University of Washington, observed that, “juvenile incarceration is not only ineffective at reducing criminal behavior,” but that those who were incarcerated in their youth were more likely to suffer negative consequences in every aspect of their adult lives.

Abbott describes Anthony as a good kid who just got himself a little lost. “I don’t understand why there’s no resources for these kids,” she says. “They are just locked up and forgotten. I can’t let my kid be one of their victims.”

We now have an unprecedented opportunity to chart a new direction. Part of SB 823 creates Juvenile Justice Coordinating Councils (JJCC) in each of our 58 California counties, bringing together experts and constituents like Abbott and Anthony, whose lives have intersected with the juvenile justice system. 

These new councils will help guide how the millions of dollars in new state funding can best be deployed to provide a continuum of care. To inform that process, youth advocates have been working to implement a community vision of care to replace the old carceral model that has failed so many of our most vulnerable young people of color.

Advocates are also pushing the state to properly resource the new department within Health and Human Services (HHS) that will provide oversight for the new system. The proposed budget is a woefully inadequate $3 million; Assemblymember Cristina Garcia and state Senator Maria Elena Durazo, joined by the California Alliance for Youth and Community Justice and members of the Free Our Kids Coalition, are pushing for a larger allocation to help scale up community-based interventions by local groups. 

If a community system rooted in healing had already been in place, Sonya Abbott and Anthony might have received the help they really needed. We can do better for our kids and our communities.

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