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SPAAT Honors the Excellence of Oakland’s Student-Athletes at the 5th Annual Oakland ESPY Awards

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The Oakland Athletic League (OAL) has a history of grooming phenomenal athletes such as NBA Hall of Famer Gary Payton, MLB Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson, Track & Field Olympian Jim Hines and countless others. The Student Program for Academic & Athletic Transitioning (SPAAT) hosted its 5th Annual ESPY Awards on June 10 to celebrate the academic and athletic achievements of Oakland’s student-athletes.

Held inside the California Ballroom in Downtown Oakland, more than 200  guest grooved to the the sounds of the Minor F Jazz Quartet on the red carpet as students and their family members were greeted by Montera Middle School Cheerleaders.

Don Henry Noble, a McClymonds graduate of 1966 said as he observed the night unfold. “I wish we had something like this in the 60’s.This is a beautiful thing,” he said.  “It’s the best thing Oakland Public Schools has and it’s only going to grow.”

Hosts Tyranny Allen & John Sasaki

Former member of “Digital Underground” and CEO of Marketing Kings Tyranny Allen and OUSD Communications Director John Sasaki hosted the Oakland ESPY Awards and special Blue Shield of California’s Black Employee Network partnered with SPAAT to sponsor $18,000 in academic scholarships

The OAL All-Academic team, comprised of 8 student-athletes who displayed the highest level of commitment to academics, were presented with $1,000 scholarships. High school student athletes of the Year Jada Delaney (Skyline) and Antonio Faeteetee (Fremont) were awarded $5,000 scholarships. In addition, Middle School Student Athletes of the Year Kevion Irvin (Claremont) and Kamaya Jackson (Edna Brewer) were each awarded $500 scholarships, thanks to NFL Executive and former OAL Athlete Kevin Winston.

“We strive to teach our students that you must work as hard in the classroom, as you do in your field of play and each year we see Oakland student athletes raise the bar,” said Harold Pearson, Executive Director of SPAAT. “Thanks to Blue Shield of California, the Oakland Promise and NFL Executive Kevin Winston, we were able to take it the next level and provide students with the financial assistance needed for them to pursue their higher education dreams.”

Kevin Parker, a Skyline graduate who has served as the Director of Player Development for more than 16 years at UC Berkeley was awarded the OAL Alumni Outstanding Achievement Award. He shared a touching story about how important it is to ask for help. MLB Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson was also honored.

In memory of SPAAT student Darryl Aikens, who passed away in 2017 from cancer just weeks year after graduating from McClymonds High School,  SPAAT Partnered with the Oakland Promise to present the first annual Darryl Aikens Memorial Scholarship. The $1000  awarded to Jamiana Akinjo, a fellow McClymonds student-athlete who is headed to UCLA in the fall.

Oakland A’s Legend Bip Roberts

“I am so proud of SPAAT’s ongoing efforts to provide Oakland students with the support they need to win on the court, on the field, and in the classroom.”  said Gary Payton. “As a former OAL student athlete, I know the work these students put in to balance their academics and athletics. Like many of these students, my family could not afford to  pay for my college education but my athletic abilities made room for me to attend Oregon State University, which led to my 13-year career in the NBA. Without the grades, none of it would have been possible.”

Payton also announced he would match the $5,000 scholarships for the Student Athletes of the Year at the 2019 Oakland ESPY Awards.

Here’s a full list of the 2018 Oakland ESPY Awards  honorees:

OAL Middle School Female Student Athlete of the Year: Kamaya Jackson, Edna Brewer Middle School, 4.0GPA, (Flag Football, Basketball, & Track & Field)

OAL Middle School Male Student Athlete of the Year: Kevion Irvin, Claremont Middle School, 4.0GPA, (Flag Football, Basketball, Track & Field)

OAL Middle School Male Coach of the Year: Godffrey David Brown, Greenleaf Elementary School, (Girls Volleyball, Basketball, Track & Field)

OAL Middle School Female Coach of the Year: Corin Yamasaki & Sarah Ben-Israel, Edna Brewer Middle School, (Flag Football, Basketball, Track & Field)

OAL Male High School Coach of the Year: Sean Kohles, Skyline

OAL Female High School Coach of the Year: Yesenia Mendez, CCPA

OAL Female High School Student Athlete of the Year: Jada Delaney, Oakland Tech, 4.0 gpa. She is  4-time OAL Golf Champion will attend Arizona State University in FALL 2018 as an Engineering Major.

OAL Male High School Student Athlete of the Year: Antonio Faaeteete, Fremont High School, 3.0 GPA.  He had over 2600 rushing yards during the football season and is headed to Rice University in the Fall.

OAL Alumni Outstanding Achievement: Kevin Parker and Rickey Henderson

OAL Most Valuable Players (students recognized for their leadership and sportsmanship in their perspective sports)

  • Antonio Fateetee, Fremont HS, Football; Charles Alberty, McClymonds HS, Football; Khirah McCoy, Oakland HS, Girls Basketball; Brooklin Sharpe, Oakland Tech HS, Boys Basketball; Tupou Paua, Skyline HS; Girls Basketball; Adam Crampton, Oakland Tech HS, Baseball; Jamie Burgasser, Oakland Tech HS, Softball; Josue Pereyra, Kipp King, Boys Volleyball; Juan Lopez, LPS, Boys Soccer;Jayden Kael, Skyline HS, Girls Soccer.

OAL All-Academic Team (students who displayed the highest level of commitment to academics)

  • Tupou Paua, Skyline HS, 4.0 GPA (Girls Volleyball)Victor Tolento Ventura, CCPA, 3.75 GPA (Boys Soccer)Kendall Prime, Oakland Tech HS, 4.71 GPA(Girls Soccer)Albert Mitchell, McClymonds HS, 3.85 GPA (Football/Track & Field)Yani Singer, Oakland Tech HS, 4.67 GPA (Track & Field); Henry Larkin, Oakland Tech HS, 3.2 GPA (Track & Field)Neisha Moore (Valedictorian),McClymonds HS, 4.17 GPA (Girls Volleyball)Donald Liu (Valedictorian), Skyline, 4.8 GPA (Track &Field)

More can be found from the event on SPAAT’s Facebook page.

Commentary

On Ishmael Reed’s Inclusion and Van Jones’ Amazon Prime

Complain about the media representation of Oakland all you want. Last week, in the national media, Oakland was portrayed as a great place to live, work, and dine, with restaurants where people come up to your table and greet you like a long-lost neighbor. 

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Ishmael Reed/Photo by Emil Guillermo

Complain about the media representation of Oakland all you want. Last week, in the national media, Oakland was portrayed as a great place to live, work, and dine, with restaurants where people come up to your table and greet you like a long-lost neighbor.

That Oakland. You know it? It’s the backdrop of a profile in the New Yorker magazine on Ishmael Reed, novelist, playwright, poet, and resident of Oakland. Hills? Oh no, the flats. Reed is a jazz guy; He B-flat. 

Hopefully, the joker in Reed laughs at that pun. It’s because of Reed that I am a writer. But let me not forget Flossie Lewis, my high school English teacher, and current Oakland resident. Lewis set me up. Reed delivered the punch.  

I first met Reed in St. Louis, Mo., where he was the “artist in residence” for Washington University’s first Writer’s Program. Intended to become a better Iowa Writers Workshop, it had all white writers like William Gass and Stanley Elkin. Reed was the token-in-resident. I was the token minority grad student. When one writer told me to stop writing about my Filipino family, Reed was there to tell me to put them back in. 

That’s what Ishmael did for me. 

The New Yorker profile published on July 19 compelled me to pull out Reed’s work again. “Mumbo Jumbo” (1972) re-read during the pandemic jumps off the page and is funnier than ever. People coming down with a virus that makes people dance the boogie?  It was a finalist for the National Book Award and considered for the Pulitzer Prize. 

The New Yorker also details Reed’s life with his wife, the dancer/choreographer/director Carla Blank, and their daughter, the poet Tennessee Reed. And you’ll learn how the writing all started–as a jazz columnist in the Black press for the Buffalo Empire Star.

That’s the enduring value of the ethnic media, the Black press, and newspapers like the Oakland Post. It’s still a place where diverse voices can let it all out.  

Asked about his legacy, Reed was simple and humble. “I made American literature more democratic for writers from different backgrounds,” he said. “I was part of that movement to be heard.”

I heard that. 

Van Jones’ $100 Millon Speech

Ishmael Reed is one of the only MacArthur Genius grant winners I know.

But Van Jones is the first winner of the Courage and Civility Award, which he received on July 20. Yes, that Van Jones of the Ella Baker Center. Way before CNN. I hope he remembers how he was a guest on my old New California Media roundtable talk TV show on the ethnic media more than 20 years ago on KCSM-TV. 

Because the Courage and Civility Award is $100 million unattached–from Jeff Bezos.

I wasn’t crazy about Richard Branson’s flight, so you know I’m not out-of-this-world over Bezos’s 63-mile jaunt, which I call the Neo-Space Age’s white flight. You can go beyond the suburbs.
Bezos has been hammered over not paying his taxes, and how spending billions of dollars into space travel during a time of real humanitarian need on Earth is on its face one word–obscene.

To his credit, he did what all rich people of money do when they stretch the limits of tasteful behavior.

They use their money by giving it away. It’s how the Rockefellers, the Fords, the Sacklers, the Mellons, etc., etc., can live with themselves. Albeit, far away from everyone else. Hence, the Courage and Civility Award. 

Jones was gracious about the hun mill gift. 

“I haven’t always been courageous,” said Jones.  “But I know people who are. They get up every day on the frontlines of grassroots communities. They don’t have much. But they’re good people and they fight hard. And they don’t have enough support.”
All true. And then he delivered the penance for Bezos sins.

“Can you imagine,” said Jones. “Grassroots folks from Appalachia, from the Native American reservation, having enough money to be able to connect with the geniuses that disrupted the space industry, disrupted taxis, hotels, and bookstores. Let’s start disrupting poverty. Let’s start disrupting pollution. 

“Start disrupting the $90 billion prison industry together. You take people on the frontlines and their wisdom and their genius and creativity, and you give them a shot. They’re not gonna turn around neighborhoods, they’re gonna turnaround this nation. That’s what’s going to happen.”

Then Jones had this for Bezos. “I appreciate you lifting the ceiling off of people’s dreams,” Jones said, then turned back to us. “Don’t be mad about it when you see somebody reaching for the heavens, be glad to know there’s a lot more heaven to reach for. And we can do that together.”

Bezos’ $100 million doesn’t buy a lot in the space biz. But handing it to Jones? Let’s see the disruptive good it can do on Earth.

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Crime

Congress Begins Hearing on January 6 Capitol Riot

This week’s hearing represents the first official Congressional probe into how the incredible breach occurred on January 6, and political tensions surrounding the riot have only flared since then. Republicans have sought to evade any meaningful probe of what took place, but Congress started work to get to the bottom of it this week.

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USA Today Newpaper Photo Courtesy of Little Plant via Unplash

A congressional panel investigating the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol Building began hearings this week, starting with testimony from Capitol police officers who were on scene that day. Televised on several networks, officers shared emotional testimony about being assaulted, tased, struggling to breathe, and more as they sought to prevent rioters from running over the Capitol building.

Officers also shared feelings of betrayal from Republican lawmakers who have downplayed or even denied the violence that occurred on January 6. “I feel like I went to hell and back to protect them and the people in this room,” Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officer Michael Fanone testified. “Too many are now telling me that hell doesn’t exist or that hell actually wasn’t that bad. The indifference shown to my colleagues is disgraceful.”  The MPD are the police for Wash., D.C.

Lawmakers were emotional as video from the riot was replayed. “The main reason rioters didn’t harm any members of Congress was because they didn’t encounter any members of Congress,” said Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.), thanking the officers for their service. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) who has repeatedly broken with her Republican colleagues to condemn the riot, also said she had “deep gratitude for what you did to save us.”

This week’s hearing represents the first official Congressional probe into how the incredible breach occurred on January 6, and political tensions surrounding the riot have only flared since then. Republicans have sought to evade any meaningful probe of what took place, but Congress started work to get to the bottom of it this week.

Fanone, who rushed to the scene to assist, told the panel he was “grabbed, beaten, tased, all while being called a traitor to my country.” He suffered a heart attack following the assault. Daniel Hodges, also a DC officer, described foaming at the mouth while rioters crushed his body between doors and beat him in the head with his own weapon. He said there was “no doubt in my mind” that the rioters were there to kill Congressmembers. Another officer, USCP officer Harry Dunn, said a group of rioters screamed the N-word at him as he tried to keep them out of the House chambers. When the day had ended, he said, he sat in the Capitol Rotunda and cried.

Rioters stormed the Capitol Building on January 6 to prevent the certification of President Joe Biden’s election victory. Then-President Donald Trump had egged on supporters to march on the capitol to “defend their country.”

Video showed rioters breaking windows and climbing through doors to get into the Capitol Building and, once inside, into the House Chambers where Congress members were conducting business. The head of the Capitol Police resigned the next day. Dozens of rioters have been charged in federal court, oftentimes using pictures and videos that they had posted themselves on social media. Others were reported to police by friends, relatives, or co-workers who recognized them in pictures and videos.

Earlier this week, lawmakers said they had reached a deal on a $2 billion spending package that would add more security resources. USCP officials have said they have long been spread thin due to a lack of funding.

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Barbara Lee

Barbara Lee Applauds 2nd Round of Workforce Funding from COVID Community Care Act Legislation

Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13) applauded the announcement that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) will be awarding $121 million to 127 award recipients of the Local Community-Based Workforce to Increase COVID-19 Vaccine Access Program.

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Barbara Lee

Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13) applauded the announcement that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) will be awarding $121 million to 127 award recipients of the Local Community-Based Workforce to Increase COVID-19 Vaccine Access Program.

Announced on July 27, these awards are funded with resources from provisions within the American Rescue Plan Act that Lee led through her COVID Community Care Act.  This reflects the second of two funding opportunities announced in May 2021 for community-based efforts to hire and mobilize community outreach workers, community health workers, social support specialists, and others to increase vaccine access for the hardest-hit and highest-risk communities through high-touch, on-the-ground outreach to educate and assist individuals in getting the information they need about vaccinations.

The first round of funding, which was administered in June, included an $11 million award to the Public Health Institute in Oakland and a $9.5 million award to the Association of Asian/Pacific Community Health Organizations in Berkeley. Three Oakland based organizations, the Public Health Institute, Women Organized to Respond to Life-Threatening Diseases, and Safe Passages, are recipients of this round of funding, bringing the total funding brought to organizations in CA-13 to nearly $23 million.

“We are facing another inflection point in this pandemic. We must make meaningful investments in getting everyone vaccinated—especially communities of color and medically underserved communities,” said Lee.  “I worked hard in Congress to invest in trusted messengers at the community level to build confidence in vaccines and COVID-19 prevention efforts. This is a much-needed continuation of that work, and we’ll see over a million dollars of investment on the ground in our own East Bay community.

“Our Tri-Caucus – the Congressional Black Caucus, Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, and Native American member Congresswoman Sharice Davids, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Frank Pallone, Education and Labor Committee Chair Bobby Scott and Appropriations Committee Chair Rosa DeLauro deserve credit for their hard work and support in getting this across the finish line in the American Rescue Plan.  We can see that the work of House Democrats is making a real-life impact on the ground for communities.  This is an important step, but we must continue our work to dismantle systemic racism in our public health system and ensure that vaccines are equitably and adequately distributed.”

The purpose of this program is to establish, expand, and sustain a public health workforce to prevent, prepare for, and respond to COVID-19.  This includes mobilizing community outreach workers, which includes community health workers, patient navigators, and social support specialists to educate and assist individuals in accessing and receiving COVID-19 vaccinations.  

This includes activities such as conducting face-to-face outreach and reaching out directly to community members to educate them about the vaccine, assisting individuals in making a vaccine appointment, providing resources to find convenient vaccine locations, assisting individuals with transportation or other needs to get to a vaccination site.

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