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NFL Draft Week: How Does it Impact Black Chicago?




Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans cheer after the Buccaneers selects Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston as the first pick in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft,  Thursday, April 30, 2015, in Chicago.  (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans cheer after the Buccaneers selects Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston as the first pick in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft, Thursday, April 30, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)


by Mary L. Datcher
Special to the NNPA from the Chicago Defender

The prospect of a child developing his or her talent and potential is the dream of most parents. It is the glue that can hold not only a household together, but also a community. In African-American history, the dreams of many young Black youth center on athletics and entertainment. The goals of achieving fame in athletics or entertainment often overshadows dreams about other important professions such as becoming a teacher, an attorney, a physician, an engineer or a sports agent. Many of these professions lay the foundation for building a solid base.

The estimated revenue of the NFL Players’ Association is $327 million; however, in real numbers, overall among the 32 league teams, the combined total is an estimated $10 billion dollars. Players’ salaries can range from the minimum of $400,000 to over $22 million driving the league to produce much more revenue than the other professional athletic associations. Often, young men become overnight millionaires, catapulting their careers and lifestyles in a world that is inaccessible to their peers.

This week, Chicago will host for the NFL Draft week festivities. The city hasn’t had this honor since the 1964 draft was held here. Back in the day, the draft was a simple 24-hour process between rival team owners selecting collegiate stars for their team rosters. Now, it has become a major week-long production that rivals the same media production as Super Bowl but without the quirky, high priced commercials and half-time fanfare. How does the local economy benefit outside of the hospitality industry centralized in the immediate downtown and Michigan Avenue shopping district? The better question is how does the business economy benefit in the same communities that some of the Black athletes are from?

This major task of solidifying the tourism and attraction business is led by Choose Chicago, the nonprofit organization that is responsible for raising funds and private donations under the close management of the City of Chicago. Chicago Defender reached out to Choose Chicago to request an estimated dollar amount that is projected from the NFL Draft week festivities going to local businesses and the hospitality industry, but the request has gone unanswered. Since the Defender couldn’t nail down any projections on ROI (return of investment) from them, the next concern is how does this event benefit the young Black student players from the inner-city community?

In negotiation with the NFL Association, one of the main attractions was the city’s eagerness to offer up parkland to build ‘Draft Town’ – the beautifully decorated tent housing situated on prime property in Grant Park. This location is a wonderful way for the public to connect to the activities surrounding draft week and it’s free for those who attend. There are youth clinics that have invited key youth football programs and their top young players to participate, but how many of these camps are based in the inner-city versus suburban area camps?

Chicago Jokers Football Camp is a program that has groomed young players from ages 8-14 years old for the past 14 years on the West Side. The program is run by Eric McClendon, affectionately known as Coach Mac, who utilizes the St. Lutheran Church gym every Saturday for the Spring and Summer camp schedule. With close to 100 students in the football camp, he makes sure his players are treated with just as much respect and priority as more high profile youth football camps.

“You have your suburban Blacks and you have Black people based in the city. The majority of the professional athletes are from the suburbs. They really won’t go to the city areas or the agents won’t allow them to pursue the inner city programs. If there is someone who can reach out to the professional athletes or to the NFL to let the players know about the inner city kids, it would benefit players and the parents. Even though the kids are from the inner city, they do look up to the professional ball players,” said McClendon.

There hasn’t been much of an outreach initiative from the NFL Association or the City of Chicago to involve inner city football camps such as the Chicago Jokers. With basketball being the focus and direction to help curve some of the violence that has plagued Black communities, football can sometimes take a backseat. Coach McClendon feels that some of the city’s best young high school basketball players had their initial athletic beginnings playing in youth football camps.

Coach McClendon explains, “A lot of our kids play basketball when they move on to high school. The number one high school basketball player last year was Cliff Alexander from Curie High School. He was one of our lineman on offense and defense when he played for us.”

Demetrius Lewis, a parent and athletic director of a South Suburban program, takes a similar approach to working with the players in his program. He started out coaching his son’s team when his son was four years old and took a committed role for the next eight years. Now his son attends Mt. Carmel High School, ranks as one of the top high school football players in Illinois and recently was inducted in the National Honor Society with a 4.0 GPA. Although, he feels the high schools and camps are there for young players, it is ultimately the responsibility of the parents to assist their talented kids with the challenges of facing key business decisions because those decisions will follow them into the hustle of the NFL.

“The role models have to be in the household and we need to educate ourselves– especially in the Black communities. A lot of minorities are behind the eight ball because we really don’t know. Outstanding athletes have scholarship offers all day, but their ACT scores are barely 15 or 16. They don’t know how important it is. They don’t realize they can take the test more than once. They have ACT prep programs out there, but instead they are buying Air Jordans. They can put the monies into an ACT prep program for the same price,” said Lewis.

Many in the business feel that although the NFL draft makes up a high percentage of African American collegiate athletes, it is the responsibility of the NFL Association and the City of Chicago to coordinate community outreach to the football youth camps and inner city programs. Many of the draft hopefuls will be in town from all of over the country for a few days and after a short break, they will soon be adjusting to their new home teams.

No one understands this process better than sports agent Tory Dandy of Relativity Sports which represents both professional and collegiate draft picks. One of his professional clients includes Chicago Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffrey.

“I hold myself accountable in regards to doing the business with not only the client but anybody who is considered in his inner circle – that is knowledgeable about the NFL draft process. Knowledgeable about the business side of the NFL, the financial side and the blessings of what it brings. I believe in reaching further in-depth about being aware of what’s going on,” explains Dandy.

Dandy has steadily become one of the leading NFL sports agents representing seven NFL draftees in this week’s ceremonies, including #7 ranked Kevin White (West Virginia), #27 ranked Eddie Goldman (Florida State), #30 ranked Ronald Darby (Florida State), #34 ranked Nelson Agholor (Southern California), #84 ranked Paul Dawson (Texas Christian University), #116 ranked Jamison Crowder and #121 ranked Mike Davis (South Carolina); according to CBS Sports the latest draft prospects.

Being one of the few African American agents in the field, Dandy makes no secret that his mentors include sports agent veteran, Eugene Parker.

Dandy adds, “We want to empower them, we want to give them the information and resources to truly make informed business decisions. Our philosophy is a lot different from others in this industry.”

The lives of the young collegiate players that Dandy represents will change before they depart Chicago with the weight on their shoulders to do their best for their new team and for those they are depending on to make them successful. Many of them will not know that approximately 1.5 miles west of the NFL “Draft Town” and 2.5 miles west of the structure are African American communities that will not have the opportunity to celebrate in their achievements.

The City of Chicago and Choose Chicago won’t reveal the amount of expenses involved in bringing the NFL Draft to town or how it will impact the revenue streams. Choose Chicago and the Chicago Sports Commission had to raise between $3 to 4 million to complete commitments to covering the demands that the league has requested. They have made assurances that Chicago taxpayers will not be burdened with the week-long production.

The Mayor’s efforts to secure high profile events such as the NFL Draft week for the beautiful City of Chicago are to be commended, but Black communities and other neighboring communities would also like to feel the unique economic benefits that downtown businesses will experience. When the opportunity arises to secure the NFL Association for the following year’s Draft Week, the “ROI or return on investment” should also include the African American communities from which many of the young players have come.

Bay Area

Most Californians Worry Schools Won’t Reopen Fully Next Fall, Poll Says

The majority say they approve of how Newsom handled schools this year.




More than 4 in 5 California adults, including public school parents, believe that the pandemic has caused children, especially low-income children and English learners, to fall behind academically.

  Six in 10 Californians are concerned that schools will not be open for full-time, in-person instruction in the fall, according to a survey by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) released on April 28.

  The annual survey of Californians’ perspectives on education also found that a majority approved of the way Gov. Gavin Newsom has handled K-12 public schools, although opinions were split along partisan lines, with 22% of Republicans and 79% of Democrats supporting him on the issue.

  And perhaps in an indication of the erosion of support for public schools, 42% of parents say they would send their youngest child to a private school if cost and location were not at issue. This compares with 31% who would choose a traditional public school, 14% a charter school, and 13% a religious school. The preference for a private school increased from 35% last year and 31% two years ago.

  The survey of 1,602 adults over 18 was taken from April 1-14 and was offered in English or a choice of Spanish and three other languages. The margin of error was 3.4%, plus or minus, overall, and 7.4%, plus or minus, for the 295 respondents who are public school parents.

  Facing a recall election, Newsom can take solace in the poll’s finding that a majority of Californians (57% of adults, 64% of public-school parents) approve of how he has handled K-12 education.

  “Majorities of Californians approve of the way that Governor Newsom is handling the state’s K-12 public schools and school reopening, while they remain deeply divided along party lines,” said Mark Baldassare, president, and CEO of PPIC.

  However, a year ago, when the last survey was taken weeks after schools closed quickly in response to the first throes of the pandemic, his approval marks were higher, with 73% of adults and 78% of public school parents expressing approval.

  The poll, which focused on education, also found:

  Of those who said children were falling behind academically during the pandemic, 60% said that was happening by a lot and 22% by a little. The views were similar among ethnic and racial groups. Eight in 10 adults said they were concerned that low-income children were falling farther behind other children. More Blacks and Latinos were very concerned about this than whites;

  Amid continuing debates and lawsuits claiming that schools aren’t opening quickly enough, slightly more adults overall than public school parents said that schools should at least be partially open now (53% vs. 48%), while 28% of all adults and 27% of public school parents said that schools should be fully open now;

  Looking ahead to the fall, 61% of all adults said they were concerned that K-12 schools would not be open for full-time in-person instruction (24% very concerned, 37% somewhat concerned), and two-thirds of public school parents said they were concerned (25% very concerned, 41% somewhat concerned).

  When it comes to their own schools, two-thirds of adults said they approved of how their school district handled closures during the pandemic. Support was highest in the Los Angeles area (74%) and the Inland Empire (68%) and lowest in Orange County and San Diego (54%). Approval among public school parents was 72%.

  The clear majority of all adults said that teachers’ salaries in their communities are too low. About 1 in 3 said salaries are just about right while 7% said they are too high, and 3% said they didn’t know. Among racial and ethnic groups, 76% of Blacks said pay is too low, compared with 59% of whites, 61% of Asian Americans, and 62% of Latinos.

  Last month, the U.S. Department of Education ruled that California school districts could substitute local assessments for the state standardized test, the Smarter Balanced assessment, under some conditions. Many districts are expected to exercise that option.

  Asked whether they favor conducting year-end state testing this spring to measure the pandemic’s impact on student learning, 75% of all adults (and a similar proportion of public school parents) said they were in favor of continuing testing, with 23% opposed. Latinos were the most in favor (83%) and Blacks the least supportive (68%) with 70% of Asian Americans and whites in favor of continuing year-end testing.

  As for the perennial issue of school funding, 49% of all adults, 53% of likely voters, and 51% of public school parents said that the current level of state funding for their local public schools is not adequate — about the same level as a year ago.

  When it comes to school construction and renovation, 59% of all adults, 55% of likely voters, and 74% of public school parents said they would vote yes on a state bond measure to pay for school construction projects. Legislative leaders plan to place a bond on the state ballot in 2022.


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$6.2 Billion State Fund Will Shield Small Businesses from COVID-Related Taxes

The tax relief bill comes at a critical moment in Newsom’s time in office as state officials prepare for recall efforts his Republican opponents initiated.




California lawmakers have approved Assembly Bill (AB) 80 legislation spearheaded by Assemblymember Autumn Burke (D-Inglewood). The legislation will give a $6.2 billion tax cut to small businesses across the state that received loans under the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).  

      California lawmakers approved the bill, they say, to safeguard the financial future of small businesses as a supplement to the American Families Plan proposed by President Joe Biden in March this year.  AB 80, signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom protects small businesses that received PPP loans from the federal government by ensuring that the loans will not count as taxable income. Expenses covered by the federal funds are also tax-deductible under this legislation.

      State legislators passed a unanimous vote on the tax, “marking it as one of largest tax cuts in state history,” Burke said on Facebook.  

      “My bill will provide assistance to businesses who were financially harmed during the COVID-19 pandemic by allowing them to deduct all expenses paid for using forgiven PPP loans,” she said.  

      Small businesses play a key role in the economic recovery of the state especially since the state plans to reopen on June 15 this year. 

      “California’s small businesses have been hampered and hammered by this pandemic, and we are using every tool at our disposal to help them stay afloat,” Newsom said. 

      Also, “This small business tax relief is exactly what is needed to keep businesses open so they can continue paying their employees,” he said.  

      Maria Salinas, the president of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, supported the state’s efforts to allow major tax cuts for small businesses that employ people from Black and Brown communities.  

      “We know that small businesses are what fuels the economy not only in Los Angeles but across the state of California and across this country,” said Salinas.  

   Despite small businesses receiving PPP loans to soften the financial blow of the pandemic, the tax bill also aims to remedy, “the tax burden that we saw in the differences between the federal and the state,” said Salinas.  

      According to state officials, in addition to the tax bill, California also legislated $2.5 billion in relief funds to support small businesses across the state earlier this year. Eligible businesses can receive grants up to $25,000 to make up for the financial loss incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

     The tax relief bill comes at a critical moment in Newsom’s time in office as state officials prepare for recall efforts his Republican opponents initiated.  

     But the governor remained optimistic. 

     “We’re going to defeat the recall,” he said.   

      Despite the optimism, the state has validated over 1.6 million signatures exceeding the number of signatures required for California to move forward with re-election.  

      “We’re going to focus on getting people back to work,” said Newsom.  

      According to the California Association of Clerks and Elections Officials, a bipartisan government agency, re-election could cost the state $400 million based on previous election data and the current economic factors.  

      “We’re going to get this economy moving again and more important than anything else, we’re going to get vaccines in people’s arms so we can do all of that faster,” said Newsom. 

      Dr. Shirley Weber, the California Secretary of State, is leading efforts to prevent the projected fiscal setback expected to be triggered by the prospective re-election. According to the Secretary of State’s office, there is an allocated time period for people to withdraw their signatures from recall petitions in their respective counties.  

State economic strategy for American Families Plan   

     State officials are combining federal and state initiatives to boost efforts to reopen by mid-June this year. The state is initiating programs to provide relief funds for individuals – some of the grants — for small businesses and organizations, including $600 stimulus checks for Californians who have low incomes. 

     “Right here in California, our stimulus programs have provided tax relief for small businesses and money in pockets for struggling families, and we’ve expanded childcare and made community college free,” said Newsom. 

      According to state officials, relief programs have helped more than 40,000 small businesses and nonprofits across California so far.

     “These strategic investments, which are complemented by President Biden’s American Families Plan, will bolster California’s equitable economic recovery and bring us roaring back,” he said.  

      State officials are set on achieving their goal to reopen and restore job losses for small businesses and academic setbacks for schools across California.     

California Black Media’s coverage of COVID-19 is supported by the California Health Care Foundation.

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Barbara Lee

Congresswoman Barbara Lee Announces GOTV (Get out the Vaccine) Campaign in California’s 13th District

Congresswoman Lee will join with local faith-based organizations, community health centers, and other groups to campaign for the East Bay community to get vaccinated.




Oakland, CA – Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13) today announced a COVID-19 vaccination campaign from May 1-8th, 2021 in California’s 13th Congressional District. Similar campaigns are being hosted by members of the Congressional Black Caucus in districts across the country.

Congresswoman Lee will join with local faith-based organizations, community health centers, and other groups to campaign for the East Bay community to get vaccinated.

“The Congressional Black Caucus has mounted a national grassroots campaign, which I am proud to bring to my district in the East Bay,” said Congresswoman Lee. “I am asking faith-based organizations, health organizations, my fellow elected officials and everyone else to join us in calling for our community to get vaccinated.

“In just 100 days, the Biden Administration has helped administer over 200 million doses and has made it a top priority to address vaccine equity in medically underserved communities. I am proud to have fought for investments in our community health centers and to build trust in vaccines at the local level through trusted messengers.

“With Mother’s Day around the corner, I encourage everyone to get vaccinated to protect our loved ones and our entire community. Now, our work must continue to “Get Out the Vaccine” and ensure that our communities have access to vaccine resources so we can stay healthy, crush this virus, finally get through this pandemic.”

13th Congressional District Ongoing Vaccine Locations & Resources


To find a vaccine site in your neighborhood, go to:


Fremont High School vaccination site, 4610 Foothill Blvd., Oakland

Thursday through Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Open to all Alameda County residents.


Oakland Coliseum, 7000 Coliseum Way, Oakland

Sign up at:


CVS Pharmacy, 2187 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley & other locations

Sign up at:


Walgreens, 1916 Webster St., Alameda & other locations

Sign up at:


Upcoming Clinics


Monday, May 3rd

Native American Health Center, 3050 International Blvd., Oakland

Pfizer 2nd dose

Appointments: call 510-434-5360 or go to


Friday, May 7th

Family Laundry, 2609 Foothill Blvd., Oakland

Curative-run clinic from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Walk-ups are welcome, or make an appointment at


Saturday, May 8th

Beth Eden Baptist Church, 1183 10th St., Oakland
Umoja Health will be offering a pop-up vaccine clinic from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. for Moderna second doses.
Appointments: call 1-888-763-0007 or go to



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