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Texas Woman Discovers She’s White After 70 Years

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Verda Byrd, center, with her adoptive parents. Byrd did not know she was born white. She was raised as a black girl. (Byrd family photograph via KENS-TV, San Antonio)

Verda Byrd, center, with her adoptive parents. Byrd did not know she was born white. She was raised as a black girl. (Byrd family photograph via KENS-TV, San Antonio)

 

CONVERSE, Texas (USA Today) — A well-kept family secret about racial identity has given a Texas woman a unique perspective on the uproar surrounding Rachel Dolezal.

The mere mention of Dolezal’s name sets Verda Byrd off like a stick of dynamite.

“She lied about her race,” said Byrd. “I didn’t lie because I didn’t know.”

Dolezal’s much publicized choice to identify herself as black has been under scrutiny. The former NAACP president in Spokane, Wash., is accused of deceiving the public by insisting she was not only of black descent but black herself.

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Bay Area

Nigerian Bank Chief Killed in Helicopter Crash on Way to Superbowl XVIII

According to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Dept., the crash occurred near Nipton, on the edge of the Mojave Desert Preserve. The poor weather conditions — rain, wind and snow showers—may have contributed to the accident, although the investigation is not complete. All six aboard were killed. Herbert Wigwe, 57, founded Access Bank in 1989, and it became the country’s largest competitor, Diamond Bank in 2018.

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Herbert Wigwe with his wife, Chizoba Wigwe, left, and Abimbola Ogunbanjo, right. ENigeria Newspaper image.
Herbert Wigwe with his wife, Chizoba Wigwe, left, and Abimbola Ogunbanjo, right. ENigeria Newspaper image.

By Post Staff

The co-founder of one of Nigeria’s largest banks died with his wife, son and three others when the helicopter transporting them from Palm Springs, Ca., to Boulder City, Nev. to attend the fifty-eighth SuperBowl at the stadium outside Las Vegas crashed on Feb. 9.

According to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Dept., the crash occurred near Nipton, on the edge of the Mojave Desert Preserve. The poor weather conditions — rain, wind and snow showers—may have contributed to the accident, although the investigation is not complete. All six aboard were killed

Herbert Wigwe, 57, founded Access Bank in 1989, and it became the country’s largest competitor, Diamond Bank in 2018.

More recently, Wigwe was planning to open a banking service in Asia this year after making successful expansions to other parts of Africa, including South Africa, Kenya, and Botswana.

Nigerian President Bola Tinubu described Wigwe’s death as an ‘overwhelming tragedy.”

Oakland resident and Nigerian immigrant Kayode Gbadebo agrees with Tinubu. He met Wigwe in Nigeria but crossed paths with him in London in 2006. Wigwe, he said, “took risks.”

He was young and people thought he couldn’t do what he intended, which was not so much about money but community.

“He was more like Jesus in washing the feet of the poor– Wigwe was culturizing community,” Gbadebo said.

“There will never be another like him. This is a deep, deep loss” and he hopes everyone will eventually “be comforted.”

He was also disappointed that a replacement has already been named even before Wigwe is buried. “It is not reasonable. You don’t want a vacuum, but it’s” not fair to the family, Gbadebo observed.

Wigwe had also been working to solve the migration issues from African countries, believing that “investing in higher education was key to controlling mass migration, which “is destabilising countries across the world,” BBC News reported.

“We need to take a holistic approach to address global migration, starting with our traditional framework for international development,” Wigwe wrote.

To that end, according to BBC News, Wigwe was preparing to open Wigwe University in Niger, where he was from.

“The best place to limit migration is not in the middle of the Mediterranean or the English Channel or the Rio Grande. It is in the home countries that so many migrants are so desperate to leave,” he wrote, saying his university was an opportunity for him “to give back to society.”

Besides Wigwe and his wife, Chizoba Nwuba Wigwe, and one son, two crew members and Bimbo Ogunbanjo, former group chairman of the Nigerian Exchange Group Plc, were also killed in the crash.

According to Wikipedia, three other children survive Wigwe.

In his statement reported in People magazine, Tinubu described Wigwe as “a distinguished banker, humanitarian, and entrepreneur.”

“I pray for the peaceful repose of the departed and ask God Almighty to comfort the multitude of Nigerians who are grieving and the families of the deceased at this deeply agonizing moment,” the president said.

He added, “Their passing is an overwhelming tragedy that is shocking beyond comprehension.”

Besides feeling the tremendous loss, Gbadebo fears the disorder and greed that will follow. “It’s a mess,” he said.

People magazine, BBC News and Wikipedia were the sources for this report.

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Activism

Faces Around the Bay: Rhem Bell

In 1863, Captain Horace James established a camp for freedmen near New Bern. James City was named in his honor. The attributes of having been reared and educated in the legacy of freedmen continues to run deep in my soul,” said Rehm Bell.

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Rhem Bell. Courtesy photo.
Rhem Bell. Courtesy photo.

By Barbara Fluhrer

Rhem Bell has lived in various places around the Bay Area and served in several capcities as an activist and labor rights supporter since his arrival more from North Carolina more than 25 years ago.

A very private person, he preferred to speak about the place that shaped him and how it influenced his perception of opportunities here.

“My original home community, prior to relocating to California, was James City, a small town east of New Bern, N.C.  James City was known as a Freedmen’s, Negro and eventually a Black village. Many of the people who reside there are descendants of former slaves who populated the area during the Civil War and Reconstruction.

“The village began with the seizure and subsequent occupation of New Bern by the Union Army in March, 1862. It was then that New Bern became a refugee center for thousands of North Carolina slaves who sought freedom and safety within Union lines.

In 1863, Captain Horace James established a camp for freedmen near New Bern. James City was named in his honor. The attributes of having been reared and educated in the legacy of freedmen continues to run deep in my soul,” Bell said.

“Throughout the San Francisco Bay Area are reminders of my hometown: of micro-cultures or villages amongst and just outside of the urban experience.

Hailing from a small town under Jim Crow and segregated schools left an indelible impact that fueled Bell’s determination to honor ancestral and deep family roots steeped in the spirit of freedmen.

“It did not take long, upon arrival in California, for me to realize that the San Francisco Bay Area was a place to pursue a career, invest in educational opportunities, build deep relationships with family, neighbors, friends, colleagues, and continue the legacy of my village, my community…a place to call home,” Bell said.

His life motto is: “Keep the Faith and Build a Life of Service.”

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Activism

Oakland Post: Week of February 21 – 27, 2024

The printed Weekly Edition of the Oakland Post: Week of February 21 – 27, 2024

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