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NNPA Leadership Launches New Community-Focused Initiative at Mid-Winter Conference in Fort Lauderdale

NNPA NEWSWIRE — “We must leave a footprint in all of the communities where we have a presence and where we are making an impact,” stated NNPA Chair Karen Carter Richards. “As we visit different cities, we must connect with the communities we serve and leave a lasting impression. In doing this initiative, we must also highlight the newspaper(s) in those respective cities to make sure they’re included in the effort. We must work collaboratively together and make every community remember that the NNPA was on the scene and should never be forgotten.”

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Bobby Henry, Publisher, The Westside Gazette; Ms. Gwendolyn Shaw, Owner/Director, The Red School House; and Karen Carter Richards, NNPA Chair.

The Red School House Chosen as Inaugural Recipient

NNPA Community Impact

By Jeffrey L. Boney, Associate Editor, Houston Forward Times

As part of the first phase of an established marketing plan for the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), the leadership of the storied organization announced the launch of their inaugural “NNPA Community Impact” initiative to kick-off the 80th Anniversary of the NNPA.

This initiative was championed by NNPA Chair Karen Carter Richards, who believes the NNPA should regularly highlight organizations that are making an impact, or people who are making a difference, in their respective communities, but rarely get the recognition they truly deserve.

“We must leave a footprint in all of the communities where we have a presence and where we are making an impact,” stated NNPA Chair Karen Carter Richards. “As we visit different cities, we must connect with the communities we serve and leave a lasting impression. In doing this initiative, we must also highlight the newspaper(s) in those respective cities to make sure they’re included in the effort. We must work collaboratively together and make every community remember that the NNPA was on the scene and should never be forgotten.”

Just this past week, at the start of the 2020 NNPA Mid-Winter Conference that was held in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the NNPA put this initiative into action as they worked alongside local publisher Bobby Henry of The Westside Gazette to honor The Red School House as the “NNPA Community Impact” inaugural recipient.

“The Red School House has served the Fort Lauderdale community for more than 52 years and has taught and developed many upstanding African Americans who have moved on to make their own impact in various communities around the nation,” said Bobby Henry, Publisher of the Westside Gazette. “I was honored to work with the NNPA to select The Red School House as the ‘NNPA Community Impact’ inaugural recipient in my city.”

The NNPA and The Westside Gazette saluted The Red School House by presenting them with a check for $500, as well as hosted a pizza party for the kids.

From vision to planning to becoming a reality in 1968, The Red School House has provided a safe, caring and learning environment for children whose parents were working, and has become a staple in the community for over 50 years.

Mrs. Julia was employed as a bus driver for the School Board of Broward County and was married to her husband, Mr. Harvey Shaw, who was employed as a Longshoreman for Port Everglades. The couple had 5 children and because everyone in her family found themselves working, Mrs. Julia recognized that there was no one at home to raise the children in the family.

After recognizing this dilemma, and to ensure the family’s children were properly cared for, Mrs. Julia declared “someone has to stay here and keep these kids.”

That is when and how The Red School House was birthed. It was the old-fashioned tradition of including the home, church and community that became the catalyst behind Mrs. Julia using her home as a primary place to start caring for her family’s children.

That house now stands as a legacy for the family and for the community.

In addition to caring for her own family’s children, Mrs. Julia also wanted to give back to the community in which she lived for so long. As a result, the doors of The Red School House were officially opened in September of 1968 with only 25 students. The early years of The Red School House were built on the shoulders of her family. Although the whole family worked at the school at one time or another, The Red School House was mainly run by the women of the family.

After the untimely death of an aunt who worked at the school, in 1983, Mrs. Julia asked her daughter, Ms. Gwendolyn Shaw, to come home in 1984 to take over operations.

At the time of her mother’s request, Gwendolyn was living in Chicago and was working at Jet Magazine and at Motorola Corporation. Because her mother wanted her to become the Director of The Red School House, Gwendolyn made the decision to move back home and honor her mother’s request. In 1986, they were able to renovate the school, which had previously operated out of two buildings. They consolidated the school into one building without ever closing their doors. In 1993, the playgrounds at the school were reconstructed to make them safer for the children and all of the teachers became CDA certified.

Mrs. Julia passed away in 1998, leaving Gwendolyn with the sole responsibility of running the business. As part of their regular school routine, every morning they start the day with devotion, with all children and staff front and center. Gwendolyn comes forth and sets the atmosphere for the day and afterwards, the students return to their classroom setting.

They are taught the basics of reading, writing and math skills; Black history; World History; geography; science; life skills; participation in events such as field trips to the laundromat to wash their clothes, to the grocery store to expose them to grocery shopping, to Wal-Mart for Back-to-School shopping; community clean-up; cooking; sewing; hygiene classes; Bible class; social skills and development; sign language; three foreign languages (German, Japanese and Spanish); performing arts; manipulative skills; and homework is sent home twice a week.

Outdoor play is part of their daily schedule (twice a day) and gymnastics (physical education) is every Friday at the community L.A. Lee YMCA.

The students also attend field trips to all Disney on Ice productions, circus performances, Sesame Street performances and any cultural and fine arts performances that will enhance their exposure to appreciate the world of fine arts, entertainment and community activities. Twice a year, the performing arts skills of the students (ages 2 thru 5) are displayed at their annual Christmas program in December and at the Graduation performance held in May.

In the month of April, they host a Kiddie Prom that is held at the Elegant Signature Grand in Davie, FL. In the month of November, they have an etiquette class for all the 4- and 5-year-old students, where they dress up (the boys in their dressy attire with a $2.00 tip in their wallet, and the girls in their dressy attire with a purse on their arms).

The Red School House students are picked up by limousine service and taken to the Cheesecake Factory in downtown Fort Lauderdale where they dine for lunch and are taught how to model good behavior and manners.

Since inception, The Red School House has grown from 25 students to over 160 students. Even more impressive are the number of former students who are now staff members and some staff members who have worked for The Red School House for up to 40 years.

The Red School House has been in business for 52 years and has never received any federal funding, primarily because they didn’t want to change their curriculum.

“We are still as strong today as we were on that September day in 1968,” Gwendolyn states. “Our purpose has become our passion, to make a difference in our community, to care for children in providing a safe and nurturing environment, to provide educational excellence for each child. We are a traditional school with traditional values and a whole lot of love.”

This is a monumental initiative for the NNPA and is consistent with its overall mission and vision. Since its founding exactly 80 years ago, the NNPA has consistently been the voice of the Black community and an incubator for the news that makes history and impacts the country today and tomorrow.

From delivering news, information and commentary to being the largest and most influential Black-owned media resource in America to reach local markets with African American consumers. From helping to shape ideas and opinion to shaping thinking. From thought leadership to leading change. Each week 20 million Americans from all backgrounds seeking news from the Black perspective turn to NNPA newspapers.

This initiative will expand the impact and reach of the Black Press across America and in local markets to ensure the mission and vision of the NNPA remains relevant.

To learn more about The Red School House or to make a donation, please call 954.249.2901 or send it to 1205 N.W. 4th Street, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33312.

Jeffrey Boney is a political analyst and frequent contributor for the NNPA Newswire and BlackPressUSA.com and the associate editor for the Houston Forward Times newspaper. Jeffrey is an award-winning journalist, dynamic, international speaker, experienced entrepreneur and business development strategist. Follow Jeffrey on Twitter @realtalkjunkies.

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Black Woman to Lead United States Park Police

 Chief Smith’s experience serving in leadership roles in every U.S. Park Police field office has provided her with an unmatched foundation to lead the diverse agency,” said Flynn, who oversees law enforcement programs at USPP.

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Pamela A. Smith

Pamela A. Smith, a 23-year veteran of the United States Park Police, will lead the nation’s oldest federal law enforcement agency.

Smith, who became the first African American woman to lead the 230-year-old agency, immediately remarked that she would establish a body-worn camera program for USPP within 90 days.

The program will initially begin in San Francisco and be implemented across the country by the end of the year, Smith said.

“Body-worn cameras are good for the public and good for our officers, which is why I am prioritizing implementing a body-worn camera program within my first 90 days,” Smith offered in a statement.

 “This is one of the many steps we must take to continue to build trust and credibility with the public we have been entrusted to serve.”

Smith earned a bachelor’s degree in Education from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and graduated from the FBI National Academy. She is a member of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives and the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

During her law enforcement career, the proud Zeta Phi Beta Sorority sister has served as a patrol officer, field training officer, canine handler, and academy instructor at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center.

 According to a news release, Smith also served as executive lieutenant to the chief of police, assistant commander of the San Francisco Field Office, commander of the New York Field Office, acting deputy chief of the Homeland Security Division, and deputy chief for the Field Operations Division.

Smith was the first woman to lead the New York Field Office as its Major.

At the USPP, she will lead a 560-member workforce that protects the public, parks, and the nation’s most iconic landmarks in Wash., D.C., New York City, and San Francisco metropolitan areas.

“Chief Smith’s commitment to policing as public service and her willingness to listen and collaborate make her the right person to lead the U.S. Park Police at this pivotal moment in our country,” Shawn Benge, deputy director exercising the delegated authority of the NPS director, noted in a statement.

 “Over the coming months, the leadership of the National Park Service will explore opportunities with Chief Smith designed to strengthen our organization’s commitment to transparency. Her personal and professional experience make her acutely aware of and ready to meet the challenges and responsibilities that face U.S. Park Police and law enforcement agencies across the nation.”

 Jennifer Flynn, the associate director for Visitor Resource Protection at the National Park Service added that she’s looking forward to Smith’s leadership.

“Chief Smith’s experience serving in leadership roles in every U.S. Park Police field office has provided her with an unmatched foundation to lead the diverse agency,” said Flynn, who oversees law enforcement programs at USPP.

 “As federal law enforcement officers, the U.S. Park Police officers have a new opportunity each day to give their best to the American people. Chief Smith exemplifies that approach as a colleague and mentor, and she will be instrumental in refining and shaping the future of the organization,” Flynn said.

Smith declared that she would lead by example and expects all officers to display integrity.

 “I have dedicated my career to the professionalism of law enforcement, and it is my highest honor and privilege to serve as chief of police,” Chief Smith declared. “Today’s officers face many challenges, and I firmly believe challenges present opportunities. I look forward to leading this exemplary team as we carry out our mission with honesty and integrity.”  

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Children’s Defense Fund: State of America’s Children Reveals that 71 Percent of Children of Color Live in Poverty

“While we reported on the 73 million children in the U.S. in 2019, which is 22 percent of the nation’s population, we also note that 2020 was the first year in American history that a majority of children are projected to be children of color,” said the Rev. Dr. Starsky Wilson, the president and CEO of the Children’s Defense Fund.

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Dr. Wilson did note that the Children’s Defense Fund is pleased about President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, which, among other things, makes it easier for parents to keep their jobs and provides a lifeline for disadvantaged children. (Photo: iStockphoto / NNPA)
Dr. Wilson did note that the Children’s Defense Fund is pleased about President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, which, among other things, makes it easier for parents to keep their jobs and provides a lifeline for disadvantaged children. (Photo: iStockphoto / NNPA)

Part One of an ongoing series on this impactful and informative report.

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

The child population in America is the most diverse in history, but children remain the poorest age group in the country with youth of color suffering the highest poverty rates.

“While we reported on the 73 million children in the U.S. in 2019, which is 22 percent of the nation’s population, we also note that 2020 was the first year in American history that a majority of children are projected to be children of color,” said the Rev. Dr. Starsky Wilson, the president and CEO of the Children’s Defense Fund.

Dr. Wilson’s remarks come as the Marian Wright Edelman founded nonprofit released “The State of America’s Children 2021.”

The comprehensive report is eye-opening.

It highlights how children remain the poorest age group in America, with children of color and young children suffering the highest poverty rates. For instance, of the more than 10.5 million poverty-stricken children in America in 2019, approximately 71 percent were those of color.

The stunning exposé revealed that income and wealth inequality are growing and harming children in low-income, Black and Brown families.

While the share of all wealth held by the top one percent of Americans grew from 30 percent to 37 percent, the share held by the bottom 90 percent fell from 33 percent to 23 percent between 1989 and 2019.

Today, a member of the top 10 percent of income earners makes about 39 times as much as the average earner in the bottom 90 percent.

The median family income of White households with children ($95,700) was more than double that of Black ($43,900), and Hispanic households with children ($52,300).

Further, the report noted that the lack of affordable housing and federal rental assistance leaves millions of children homeless or at risk of homelessness.

More than 1.5 million children enrolled in public schools experienced homelessness during the 2017-2018 school year, and 74 percent of unhoused students during the 2017-2018 school year were living temporarily with family or friends.

Millions of children live in food-insecure households, lacking reliable access to safe, sufficient, and nutritious food, and more than 1 in 7 children – 10.7 million – were food insecure, meaning they lived in households where not everyone had enough to eat.

Black and Hispanic children were twice as likely to live in food-insecure households as White children.

The report further found that America’s schools have continued to slip backwards into patterns of deep racial and socioeconomic segregation, perpetuating achievement gaps.

For instance, during the 2017-2018 public school year, 19 percent of Black, 21 percent of Hispanic, and more than 26 percent of American Indian/Alaska Native school students did not graduate on time compared with only 11 percent of White students.

More than 77 percent of Hispanic and more than 79 percent of Black fourth and eighth grade public school students were not proficient in reading or math in 2019, compared with less than 60 percent of White students.

“We find that in the course of the last year, we’ve come to the point where our conversations about child well-being and our dialogue and reckoning around racial justice has really met a point of intersection, and so we must consider child well-being in every conversation about racial justice and quite frankly you can only sustainably speak of racial justice if we’re talking about the state of our children,” Dr. Wilson observed.

Some more of the startling statistics found in the report include:

  • A White public school student is suspended every six seconds, while students of color and non-White students are suspended every two seconds.
  • Conditions leading to a person dropping out of high school occur with white students every 19 seconds, while it occurs every nine seconds for non-White and students of color.
  • A White child is arrested every 1 minute and 12 seconds, while students of color and non-whites are arrested every 45 seconds.
  • A White student in public school is corporally punished every two minutes, while students of color and non-Whites face such action every 49 seconds.

Dr. Wilson asserted that federal spending “reflects the nation’s skewed priorities.”

In the report, he notes that children are not receiving the investment they need to thrive, and despite making up such a large portion of the population, less than 7.5 percent of federal spending went towards children in fiscal year 2020.

Despite Congress raising statutory caps on discretionary spending in fiscal years 2018 to 2020, children did not receive their fair share of those increases and children’s share of total federal spending has continued to decline.

“Children continue to be the poorest segment of the population,” Dr. Wilson demanded. “We are headed into a dark place as it relates to poverty and inequity on the American landscape because our children become the canary in the coal mine.”

Dr. Wilson did note that the Children’s Defense Fund is pleased about President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, which, among other things, makes it easier for parents to keep their jobs and provides a lifeline for disadvantaged children.

The $1.9 trillion plan not only contained $1,400 checks for individuals, it includes monthly allowances and other elements to help reduce child poverty.

The President’s plan expands home visitation programs that help at-risk parents from pregnancy through early childhood and is presents universal access to top-notch pre-K for 3- and 4-year-olds.

“The American Rescue Plan carried significant and powerful anti-poverty messages that will have remarkable benefits on the lives of children in America over the course of the next two years,” Dr. Wilson declared.

“The Children’s Defense Fund was quick to applaud the efforts of the President. We have worked with partners, including leading a child poverty coalition, to advance the ideas of that investment,” he continued.

“Most notably, the expansion of the child tax credit which has the impact of reducing poverty, lifting more than 50 percent of African American children out of poverty, 81 percent of Indigenous children, 45 percent of Hispanic children. It’s not only good policy, but it’s specifically good policy for Black and Brown children.”

Click here to view the full report.

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She Bought Freedom for Herself and Other Slaves Today a Park is Named in Her Honor

Alethia Browning Tanner saved enough money to purchase her freedom in 1810. “The total amount, thought to have been paid in installments, was $1,400. In 1810, $1,400 was a significant amount; about the equivalent of three years’ earnings for an average skilled tradesperson,” attucksadams.com researchers surmised. 

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Alethia Browning Tanner worked to purchase the freedom of more than 20 of her relatives and neighbors, mostly the family of her older sister Laurana including Laurana herself, her children, and her grandchildren.

In her early years, Alethia Browning Tanner sold vegetables in a produce stall near President’s Square – now known as Lafayette Square – in what is now Northwest Washington, D.C.

According to the D.C. Genealogy Research, Resources, and Records, Tanner bought her freedom in 1810 and later purchased several relatives’ release.

She was the first woman on the Roll of Members of the Union Bethel AME Church (now Metropolitan AME Church on M Street), and Turner owned land and a store at 14th and H Streets, which she left to her nephews – one of whom later sold the property for $100,000.

Named in her honor, the Alethia Tanner Park is located at 227 Harry Thomas Way in Northeast DC.

The park sits near the corner of Harry Thomas Way and Q Street and is accessible by foot or bike via the Metropolitan Branch Trail, just north of the Florida Ave entrances.

“The first Council legislative meeting of Black History Month, the Council took a second and final vote on naming the new park for Alethia Tanner, an amazing woman who is more than worthy of this long-delayed recognition,” Ward 5 Councilman Kenyan McDuffie said in 2020 ahead of the park’s naming ceremony.

“[Her upbringing] itself would be a remarkable legacy, but Ms. Tanner was also active in founding and supporting many educational, religious, and civic institutions,” McDuffie remarked.

“She contributed funds to start the first school for free Black children in Washington, the Bell School. Feeling unwelcome at her predominately segregated church, she & other church members founded the Israel Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church. When the church fell on hard times and was sold at auction by creditors, she and her family stepped in and repurchased the church.”

Born in 1781 on a plantation owned by Tobias and Mary Belt in Prince George’s County, Maryland, historians noted that Tanner had two sisters, Sophia Bell and Laurena Cook.

“Upon the death of Mary Pratt (Tobias had predeceased his wife) in 1795, the plantation, known as Chelsea Plantation, was inherited by their daughter Rachel Belt Pratt,” historians wrote.

“Mary Belt’s will stipulated that Laurena be sent to live with a sibling of Rachel Pratt’s while Sophia and Alethia were to stay at the Chelsea Plantation.”

Tanner sold vegetables at the well-known market just north of the White House in Presidents Park. It is possible – and probable – she met Thomas Jefferson there as he was known to frequent the vegetable markets there along with other prominent early Washingtonians, according to historians at attacksadams.com. 

“There are also White House records suggesting she worked for Thomas Jefferson in some capacity, likely doing various housework tasks,” the researchers determined.

Tanner saved enough money to purchase her freedom in 1810. “The total amount, thought to have been paid in installments, was $1,400. In 1810, $1,400 was a significant amount; about the equivalent of three years’ earnings for an average skilled tradesperson,” attucksadams.com researchers surmised.

“Self-emancipation was not an option for all enslaved peoples, but both Alethia and her sister Sophia were able to accomplish this, almost entirely through selling vegetables at the market,” the researchers continued.

“Alethia Tanner moved to D.C. and became one of a significant and growing number of free Black people in the District. In 1800, 793 free Black people were living in D.C.

By 1810, there were 2,549, and by 1860, 11,131 free Black people lived in D.C., more than the number of enslaved peoples.”

Historians wrote that beginning at about 15 years after securing her manumission, Alethia Tanner worked to purchase the freedom of more than 20 of her relatives and neighbors, mostly the family of her older sister Laurana including Laurana herself, her children, and her grandchildren.

All in all, Tanner would have paid the Pratt family well over $5,000. All accomplished with proceeds from her own vegetable market business, they concluded.

“Alethia Tanner, it’s an amazing story of resilience, hard work, and perseverance,” D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation Director Delano Hunter said at the park’s dedication.

“I just learned about this history through this, so it shows how when you name a park, you really educate people on the historical significance.”

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