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PRESS ROOM: USC to Host Event Marking the 80th Anniversary of Marian Anderson’s Historic Lincoln Memorial Concert

LOS ANGELES SENTINEL — Held in honor of the 80th anniversary of Marian Anderson’s historic concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial – often called “The Concert that Sparked the Civil Rights Movement” – and the generations of women who have and continue to fight for humanity, equity, and justice, the evening will feature an intimate conversation and performance exploring the legacy of music’s relationship to activism and social change.

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By Sentinel News Service

On Thursday, April 11, 2019, USC Visions and Voices in collaboration with the Institute for Diversity & Empowerment at Annenberg (IDEA) and the Popular Music Project will host “Alice Smith: The Sound of Freedom” at USC’s Bovard Auditorium.

Held in honor of the 80th anniversary of Marian Anderson’s historic concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial – often called “The Concert that Sparked the Civil Rights Movement” – and the generations of women who have and continue to fight for humanity, equity, and justice, the evening will feature an intimate conversation and performance exploring the legacy of music’s relationship to activism and social change.

“In this current political moment, where should we look to gain faith and a sense of rejuvenation? As usual, history provides perspective and the creativity of working artists provides hope and a way forward,” said USC professor Robeson Taj Frazier, who will host the special event. “Marian Anderson’s iconic performance brought people together in a spirit of resilience, resistance, and revolution, launching a movement that changed the world. And so, we are thrilled to mark that landmark moment with Alice Smith, a phenomenal performer with the same ability to bring people together and inspire us towards action.”

The free event will begin with an onstage conversation between Smith and Frazier before a moving multimedia performance by Smith, featuring video and images detailing the long chain of political and social activism, of which women have long been at the forefront – across cause and genre – from legends like Anderson to current-day artists like Smith.

Raised between Washington, D.C., and Augusta, Georgia, Smith grew up on a steady diet of gospel, pop, soul, and go-go. With commanding presence and a scale-defying voice, she blends styles to create a “rock-star update on girl-group pop and ‘70s soul” (InStyle). And she uses her platform to generate awareness around social issues, building on a legacy of Marian Anderson and others who have lent their voices to struggles to end systemic oppression and uplift the freedom of all people. Smith’s new record, Mystery, will be released this summer with fall tour dates to follow. Visit alicesmith.com to learn more.

USC Annenberg professor Robeson Taj Frazier is a cultural historian who explores the arts, political and expressive cultures of the people of an African Diaspora in the United States and elsewhere. His research examines histories and current-day dynamics of race and gender, cultural traffic and contact, urban culture and life, and popular culture. He is the author of “The East Is Black: Cold War China in the Black Radical Imagination” (Duke University Press, 2014), co-producer of the documentary film, The World Is Yours, was on the Scholarship Steering Committee for the audio-visual and traveling art platform Question Bridge: Black Males, and is on the editorial boards for the Journal of Race and Policy and Communication, Culture, & Critique.

“Alice Smith: The Sound of Freedom” will take place at 7 p.m. at Bovard Auditorium, located in the center of USC’s University Park campus at 3551 Trousdale Parkway, Los Angeles, California 90089.

Admission is free, though reservations are required. For more information and to register, please visit visionsandvoices.usc.edu.

About IDEA

The Institute for Diversity and Empowerment at Annenberg (IDEA) explores the redemptive and transformational capacities of media, the arts, and culture, with specific attention to what they illuminate about identity, difference, and power. By highlighting and facilitating creative storytelling, self-expression, interaction, and critical though, IDEA forges community and generates new visions of a different world. Visit annenberg.usc.edu/research/idea to learn more.

About USC Visions & Voices

Visions and Voices, USC’s dynamic and unparalleled arts and humanities initiative, was established in 2006 to enrich the academic experience of USC students through a deep engagement in the arts and humanities. Tying into USC’s central mission of developing “human beings and society as a whole though the cultivation and enrichment of the human mind and spirit,” the initiative encourages USC students to expand their horizons and discover the transformative power of the arts and humanities in our lives. Highlighting the university’s commitment to interdisciplinary approaches, the initiative features a spectacular array of events conceived and organized by faculty and schools throughout the university. For more information, visit visionsandvoices.usc.edu.

This article originally appeared in the Los Angeles Sentinel

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BHERC’s Operation Love Delivers Love, Easter Sunday Meals and Essential Goods to Seniors in Los Angeles Area

NNPA NEWSWIRE — “Operation Love” meals and gift baskets were delivered to seniors including retired nurses, caregivers and other that have labored in the community for many years among others. All have in some way or another added to the betterment of Los Angeles over the decades. “This small showing of love is both a practical and a heartfelt demonstration of the importance of our seniors. We want our seniors to know they have not been forgotten during this mandated and necessary physical distancing,” states Sandra Evers-Manly, president of the Black Hollywood Education and Resource Center (BHERC).

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By Sentinel News Service

The Black Hollywood Education and Resource Center (BHERC) continued its “Operation Love” outreach Sunday, April 12, 2020 in the Los Angeles area targeted towards seniors and those with “underlying” health conditions who have been extremely impacted and need assistance. This effort provided a heartwarming – from a distance — welfare check, Easter Sunday meal and gift basket of essential items for 100 seniors. The program has reached over 500 seniors since the start of the COVID 19 pandemic.

“Operation Love” meals and gift baskets were delivered to seniors including retired nurses, caregivers and others that have labored in the community for many years among others. All have in some way or another added to the betterment of Los Angeles over the decades. “This small showing of love is both a practical and a heartfelt demonstration of the importance of our seniors. We want our seniors to know they have not been forgotten during this mandated and necessary physical distancing,” states Sandra Evers-Manly, president of BHERC.

The gift basket included hard to find items such as: gloves, toilet paper, face masks, hand sanitizer, paper towels and various other essential items. The meals and baskets were prepared and delivered using City/State and CDC guidelines by a host of volunteers. Contributors to the gift baskets include the Barbershop Health Outreach Program (www.blackbarbershop.org), Dr. Bill Releford, founder, Mothers in Action, Tracy Mitchell, president and Larry Chapman, production coordinator, Record One Studio. “You thought of everything,” exclaimed recipient Millicent Newkirk. “You even thought to include the L.A. Sentinel and I have truly missed my paper!”

During this unprecedented time in our lives, this COVID-19 worldwide health and humanitarian pandemic is redefining the very way we live out our lives daily. In many instances, eclipsing the future of what daily work, education, entertainment and play will look like in the future for all of us. In addition to the need for essential supplies is the need for emotional support. “Operation Love delivers a strong message that you are not alone in these difficult times. We are with you!” remarked Evers-Manly.

At BHERC, this is the kind of action that has characterized the BHERC family, its friends and colleagues; a unique demonstration of enthusiastic, abiding support and responsive manner when called upon over the years. BHERC encourages everyone that can to act. “Let’s remind the ones around us how much they matter. Encourage them to stay strong and steadfast,” noted Evers-Manly.

The BHERC family encourages everyone to consider supporting a senior. You can:

  • Call a senior to check on their well being
  • If shopping (do so under City/State and CDC guidelines), pick up an item or two for a senior or someone in need (practice social distancing)
  • Help with an online task
  • Make a meal and drop off (practice social distancing)
  • Send an online order to someone in need

It was an emotional day full of love and thanksgiving and the camaraderie BHERC members, community volunteers and members of the National Black Nurses Association participating in the distribution.

In addition to the focus on seniors, the BHERC Operation Love is focused on distributing masks to the homeless in Los Angeles and supporting the National Black Nurses Association (NBNA). Last week, the BHERC president contributed to the NBNA to create a special fund to support nurses on the front-line battling COVID19 and to curate an online instructional program for Nurses to Help Nurses. The NBNA donation will also provide 1000 masks for NBNA nurses and provide support for their distribution of masks and meals where chapters are located across the country. “Each and every one of us must reach out in a safe way to make sure vulnerable populations have someone to talk to, have medications and have enough food to eat during these difficult times,” expressed Dr. Martha A. Dawson, president of the National Black Nurses Association. “We are pleased to partner with Ms. Sandra Evers-Manly during these challenging times.”

Everyone can all join in the fight by making just a quick phone call or sending a simple text message. Keeping each other positive and reminding your neighbors and loved ones that even in our isolation, we are not alone. #BHERCStrongTogether

For more information about BHERC email bherc@bherc.org.

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Wells Fargo sponsors Taste of Soul’s “Small Business Owner Giveaway”

LOS ANGELES SENTINEL — “I think ultimately we just want to inject some kind of capital into a small business because any amount of money when your a small business definitely impacts something whether it’s buying supplies or allowing you to buy more inventory,” said Wells Fargo Branch Manager Mario Holton.

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The bank located on Crenshaw and Stocker sponsored Taste of Soul’s Small Business Owner Giveaway in an effort to support local businesses in the area.

By Faith Petrie, Contributing Writer

Amidst the bustling activities the 14th Annual Taste of Soul Family Festival summoned, Wells Fargo Branch Manager Mario Holton was preparing to do what he proclaimed “the coolest thing I’ve experienced thus far.”

That “cool thing” was the duty to present Yolanda Woodard, Next Generation Youth Television & Film Academy founder and chairwoman, with a check for $500. The bank located on Crenshaw and Stocker sponsored Taste of Soul’s Small Business Owner Giveaway in an effort to support local businesses in the area.

“We really wanted to empower the small businesses in the community,” Holton said. “We could have had a booth at Taste of Soul and did free giveaways but we felt like [the giveaway] was a lot more impactful because we already have a huge presence in this community.”

With three years as branch manager and four and a half years total working at Wells Fargo under his belt, Holton has witnessed numerous Taste of Soul events. In the past, participation by Wells Fargo could be seen in the form of classic spin-the-wheel booths and even the appearance of the Wells Fargo stagecoach. This year, the bank wanted to directly make a change in someone’s life.

“We felt it would be a lot more impactful if we actually gave money to a small business owner in the community and invested in the local community versus just having something there just to be seen,” Holton said.

Woodard, the giveaway recipient also wants to make an impact in a different way. Along with her partner Nicholas Jeffrey Moon, Woodard has created an academy aimed at inserting film programs into disadvantaged student’s lives.

“My whole life of being here in California, I have identified that South Central and East Los Angeles, our youth middle school and high schools, really don’t have an extensive film program the way the schools in the valley have,” Woodard said.

With a goal of opening in 2021, the academy will train young children of color in 33 departments of the film industry spanning anywhere between costumes to production managing and place students in actual productions to get direct work experience.

“It’s just my heart to train our children and just make sure that they’re given knowledge at a young [age] and it keeps them off of the streets if they decide to come to a program and they have hope, a real program that they get certified training working in the industry,’” Woodard said.

To Holton, the giveaway is a way for Wells Fargo to give businesses a push in the right direction to start their business.

“I think ultimately we just want to inject some kind of capital into a small business because any amount of money when your a small business definitely impacts something whether it’s buying supplies or allowing you to buy more inventory,” Holton said.

With the money, Woodard and Moon plan to open a bank account for the academy as well as fund a grant writer to gain additional funding. Being awarded the money meant “unity” to Woodard, a semblance of community within a larger scale.

“The love of Taste of Soul saying we support this community as a family, we support all business owners as a family, we have love for all business owners where none of them are going to be left behind,” Woodard said. “They have love for a business owner just like your parents would have or just like your family would have, that’s what’s needed for people to be successful, that’s what’s needed for our youth to be successful you have to have enough love in your heart to transfer a skill.”

For more information regarding resources for starting a business visit https://wellsfargoworks.com/.

The post Wells Fargo sponsors Taste of Soul’s “Small Business Owner Giveaway” appeared first on Los Angeles Sentinel.

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OP-ED: California Must Reform Discriminatory Gang Suppression Scheme

LOS ANGELES SENTINEL — “These laws create a separate system of justice for communities of color, with criminal charges that don’t require actual wrongdoing, and lead to longer sentences, restricted fundamental freedoms, and a tilted playing field in the courtroom. The legal consequences are clear: more Black and Brown bodies pulled from their families and communities, locked up, and forgotten. But these legal consequences are just the beginning. The truth about California’s gang suppression scheme is that it’s not just putting people in prison, it’s stripping entire communities of their futures. And because of that, it’s making us all less safe.”

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The current gang suppression scheme only exists because it is politically expedient. It makes it easier for prosecutors to rack up wins, even if those wins are wildly unfair and result in wrongful incarceration. (Photo: iStockphoto / NNPA)
Khalid Alexander (Courtesy photo)

Khalid Alexander (Courtesy photo)

By Khalid Alexander, The Los Angeles Sentinel

Thirteen years ago, I moved to a heavily-policed neighborhood in Southern California. I realized things were different when suddenly I was pulled over by the police three times in one week. I’d been pulled over before, but something other than the frequency of these stops stood out to me. It was the first time police asked me if I was a gang member.

What I have learned since then, as the founder of Pillars of the Community and a father of two young men of color, is that this questioning about “gang affiliation” is a part of a long history of law enforcement’s attempt to label, criminalize, and abuse people in Black and Brown communities. What those officers were really trying to figure out was whether they could get away with violating my rights as a human being and constitutional protections as a citizen.

Recent years have brought new attention to the real impact of California’s gang laws. We’re at a strange inflection point: There are truly dangerous criminal gangs within law enforcement, who continue to act with impunity thanks to the inaction of prosecutors (L.A. County District Attorney Jackie Lacey, for example, is known for failing to prosecute bad police, and refusing to even exclude known bad cops from building bad cases). Those same police are maintaining a database of supposed gang members that’s so flawed, it includes the names of kids under one year old.

These laws create a separate system of justice for communities of color, with criminal charges that don’t require actual wrongdoing, and lead to longer sentences, restricted fundamental freedoms, and a tilted playing field in the courtroom. The legal consequences are clear: more Black and Brown bodies pulled from their families and communities, locked up, and forgotten. But these legal consequences are just the beginning. The truth about California’s gang suppression scheme is that it’s not just putting people in prison, it’s stripping entire communities of their futures. And because of that, it’s making us all less safe.

Contact with the criminal legal system can permanently destroy a person’s economic mobility. A criminal record is damaging enough, but add gang allegations and it becomes almost impossible for a person to transition out of prison, successfully find work, reconnect with family, and succeed. Research has shown that stable work and family relationships are the key to lowering recidivism and improving community safety. The more connected and engaged people are to their communities, the less likely those people are to end up back in prison. Factors that harm re-integration–like “reintegrative shaming” and labeling formerly incarcerated people as part of an out-group–create a self-fulfilling prophecy and have been linked to increased criminal activity. In other words, the very deliberate way in which gang suppression laws label, separate, and oppressively monitor people makes those people less able to succeed and more likely to cause future harm. Documented gang members are often barred from visiting or living with family members, prohibited from returning to their neighborhoods, and prevented from participating in any type of civic engagement in the communities they belong to. Rather than encouraging positive reentry into society, they are excluded from it.

California has already begun to recognize this. But what current conversations on reform fail to realize is that the most biased, unfair, damaging aspects of these enforcement schemes could be stopped with a single decision by powerful local prosecutors. County DAs can choose not to use gang enhancements, documentation, guilt by association, and potentially-unlawful gang allegations in their practice. And that choice would be one of the single strongest choices they could make for public safety. In fact, in San Francisco, voters just elected Chesa Boudin, a DA candidate who promised to end the use of gang enhancements, and noted their racist application.

The current gang suppression scheme only exists because it is politically expedient. It makes it easier for prosecutors to rack up wins, even if those wins are wildly unfair and result in wrongful incarceration. To embrace gang policing, allegations, and enhancements, is to sacrifice the public good on the altar of cheap victory. The right move for public safety is to stop using outdated laws that fracture communities and perpetuate crime; to step back away from gang enforcement schemes that have destroyed Black and Brown communities. Any prosecutor who truly cares about the public good will make the smart choice to stop relying on gang documentation, allegations, and enhancements to put communities of color behind bars.

Khalid Alexander, founder of Pillars of the Community, an advocacy organization based on faith, positivity, and a need to build a better world.

The post California Must Reform Discriminatory Gang Suppression Scheme appeared first on Los Angeles Sentinel.

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