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The Black Press: Our Trusted Messenger

Our Black newspapers are now celebrating 194 years of being the keeper of the flame of liberty and the source of information in “our” struggle for freedom and equality.

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Cover of the Oakland Post

Sometimes it’s necessary to be reminded who we are and who our friends are.  It’s also important to remember from whence we have come. 

Such is the case this week with the Black Press. Our Black newspapers are now celebrating 194 years of being the keeper of the flame of liberty and the source of information in “our” struggle for freedom and equality.

With the advent of the recent pandemic and the visible disparity of Blacks dying at greater numbers than others, getting fewer vaccines, working in the highest risk occupations and death at the hands of law enforcement, our need for a “trusted” source of information is greater than social media, which has become an alternative for many.

 At the same time, the interest in reaching our communities has increased on all levels. The question has become “who is in touch with the Black community” as injustice, murder and social disparity continues to grow among Blacks. 

The NAACP and the Urban League gave the impression that they were in touch with the Black community. But the reality is neither organization has ever been in touch with the Black community without the Black Press.  It is Black newspapers and not CNN, ABC, NBC or CBS that carries the articles and commentaries of these organizations to the Black community. 

Yet, neither of these organizations ever mentions the Black Press when taking both credit and dollars for outreach to the Black community.

The African American and Black communities of America should not be duped into believing that social media has become a substitute for the Black Press. The Black Press is now both print and electronic, it’s a newswire service as provided by the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), providing coverage of both news here in America and around the world.

 It is the Black Press that has been the “Trusted Messenger” to our communities for 194 years, and that says a lot. Our newspapers are the rear guard, the battle ground against the efforts to resegregate America and return to “Jim Crow” racism.

As we celebrate Juneteenth, let us remember that we are not only free but capable of defending and determining our futures if we get serious. Let’s remember how we got here, on the backs of those like the Black Press who bought us thus far; let us not forget in the words of James Weldon Johnson: that “ we have come over a way that with tears has been watered, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered.” We are still being slaughtered today by others as well as each other.

Let’s remember who is truly telling our story and our obligation to keep and support that effort. Pick up a Black newspaper and get involved. You owe that and more to keeping the Juneteenth principle of freedom alive today.

Editor-in-Chief note:  The Post News Group consists of nine newspapers:  Oakland, South County, San Francisco, Vallejo, Marin, Stockton, Richmond, Berkeley Tri-City and El Mundo.  We are also online at postnewsgroup.com.

Black History

Amenhotep III: A Peaceful Reign in Ancient Egypt

Amenhotep suffered from severe dental problems, arthritis, and possibly obesity in his later years. After ruling Egypt for 38 years, he died in 1353 BCE.

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Stone image of Egypt’s King Amenhotep III. Wikipedia.org photo.

Tuthmosis IV left his son an empire of immense size, wealth, and power: the 18th Dynasty of Egypt.

At 12 years old, Amenhotep III (c. 1386–1353 BCE) came to the throne and married Tiye in a royal ceremony. Tiye, who was among several of Amenhotep’s wives, would bear seven children. However, immediately after the marriage she became the one—the great royal wife, an honor that her own mother-in-law never held. Tiye could then outrank her in courtly matters.

Although Amenhotep and Tiye were by today’s standards still in their youth, Egypt’s wealthy and powerful often ruled at an early age. According to Egyptologist Zahi Hawass, “Amenhotep III was born into a world where Egypt reigned supreme. Its coffers were filled with gold, and its vassals bowed down before the mighty rulers of the Two Lands [Egypt].”

After his marriage to Tiye, Amenhotep continued his father’s work in implementing new building programs throughout Egypt. During his reign, he ordered the construction of more than 250 buildings, temples, and stone slabs erected as monuments. All were immense in size and boasted intricate details. Today, the statues known as the Colossi of Memnon, are all that is left of Amenhotep III’s mortuary temple. According to historians, Amenhotep envisioned an “Egypt so splendid that it would leave one in awe.”

A master of diplomacy, Amenhotep placed surrounding nations in his debt by giving them gold. Doing so encouraged loyalty and made them followers. These relationships soon grew profitable and his generosity to friendly kings became well established.

Amenhotep was known for his hunting skills which were noted in inscriptions: “the total number of lions killed by His Majesty with his own arrows, from the first to the tenth year [of his reign] was 102 wild lions.” He was also an adept military leader. Some historians say that he “probably fought, or directed his military commanders, in one campaign in Nubia and he had inscriptions made to commemorate that expedition.”

Many foreign rulers wanted Amenhotep to provide them Egyptian wives. Respecting the women of his land, he swore that “no daughter of Egypt had ever been sent to a foreign land and would not be sent under his reign.”
Amenhotep was also humble in his practice of the ancient Egyptian religion, which proved to be the foundation for his interest in the arts as well as construction. His greatest contribution to Egyptian culture was his ability to maintain peace and prosperity, which enabled him to devote his time to the arts.

Amenhotep suffered from severe dental problems, arthritis, and possibly obesity in his later years. After ruling Egypt for 38 years, he died in 1353 BCE.

Letters penned by foreign rulers expressed their grief and condolences to Queen Tiye. The letters confirmed that these monarchs hoped to continue the same good relations with Egypt under the new king as they had with Amenhotep III. With Amenhotep’s passing, his son, then called Amenhotep IV, began his reign.

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African American News & Issues

Reparations Task Force Agrees It Needs the Ideas, Input of Black Californians

Regions in the southern, northern, and central part of the state (where many Black farmers reside) should be involved in the process, said Grills. The “listening sessions would go beyond” formal task force meetings and would not infringe upon scheduled discussions, Grills added.

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Reparations Word Scramble Stock Via Google

On July 9, California’s Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans held its second meeting in a series of 10.

During the Zoom conference, the group’s nine members shared differing views on how to best get Black Californians involved in their deliberations.

But they all agreed on one key point: having voices and ideas of African Americans across the state influence their conversations would be the best approach to successfully accomplish their work.

“A lot of things that’s important is we as a task force not let ourselves operate in a vacuum,” said Dr. Cheryl Grills, a member of the task force and professor at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. “Not to assume that the public comments that happen at the end of our meetings are adequate to represent the community voice.”

Grills delivered a presentation titled “A Community Engagement Strategy for Taskforce Consideration.” In it, she put forth a plan to get Black Californians involved.

Grills suggested the task force host “listening sessions” across the state since it only has limited time to assess California’s role in slavery and Jim Crow discrimination — and follow up that work with developing resolutions to compensate African Americans for past and ongoing race-based injustices.

Regions in the southern, northern, and central part of the state (where many Black farmers reside) should be involved in the process, said Grills. The “listening sessions would go beyond” formal task force meetings and would not infringe upon scheduled discussions, Grills added.

The intent, she said, would be to involve Black Californians from varying backgrounds.

“Black folks exist in an ecosystem and the system includes a diverse, cultural base of people, social class, education levels, etc.,” said Grills. “So how do we make sure that those people are impacted. They need to be at the table.”

Through news coverage, Grills also suggested the National Association of Black Journalists could play a role in keeping the ongoing discourse about reparations “in the forefront and minds” of the Black community.

Lisa Holder, Esq. a nationally recognized trial attorney and task force member, emphasized that the proposal she prepared was not “in conflict” with Grills’ outreach plan and that her proposal offered a framework within which the task force can draw up its strategy to move forward.

Holder told fellow task force members that she and Grills are on the same page.

“This plan, for a lack of a better word, is in alignment with the blueprint we just saw (presented by Grills),” Holder clarified. “Grills focuses a little bit more on the details of how we can implement the community engagement plan. This outline I put together is a little bit broader and more of a concept.”

The meeting’s other seven participants were task force chair Kamilah V. Moore, a Los Angeles-based attorney, reparations scholar and activist; vice-chair Dr. Amos Brown, a civil rights leader and respected Bay Area pastor whose journey to leadership started under the tutelage of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1960s; Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena); Assemblymember Reginald Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles); San Diego Councilmember Monica Montgomery Steppe; Dr. Jovan Scott Lewis,  chair of the Department of Geography at the University of California Berkeley; and Attorney Don Tamaki, Esq. is an attorney best known for his role in the Supreme Court case of Korematsu v. the United States. Tamaki overturned the conviction of Fred Korematsu who refused to be taken into custody during the imprisonment of Japanese Americans in World War II.

After hearing Grills’ presentation, Brown raised concerns about transparency.

He also said that other groups around the state should have an opportunity to present a plan for community engagement.

“What will we do around this state without our giving due diligence to announce to everybody, that you can present a plan, too?” Brown asked. “Whether it’s northern, central California, whatever. We talk about transparency, but if we are going to be about it, then we should be about it.”

The task force voted 8-0 to consider both Holder’s and Grills’ community engagement plans. Brown opposed the motion and abstained, withholding his vote.

Bradford said he favored a “blending” of the two proposals. Both Grills and Bradford suggested that the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA and the Mervyn Dymally African American Political and Economic Institute at California State University Dominguez Hills could assist in facilitating the statewide listening sessions, possibly through the California Department of Justice. Both academic research institutes are located in Southern California.

Steppe expressed confidence in her colleagues and the process.

“The (Black) community is going to play a huge role in getting whatever we present across the finish line,” she promised.

The task force also agreed to move public comments during the meeting from the end to the beginning of the sessions. Public comments will also expand from two minutes to three, Moore announced.

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Bay Area

Town Hall Says Don’t Let Fisher’s Stadium Project Choke the Port of Oakland

Post publisher Paul Cobb said the newspaper has been discussing the different sides of this issue and hopes to help clear up the confusing messages the public is receiving about whether this project will help or damage the prospects of good jobs for Oaklanders.

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Howard Terminal Courtesy Port of Oakland website

A town hall meeting this week examined the negative consequences of placing John Fisher’s privatized, multibillion dollar real estate development on publicly owned land at the Port of Oakland, the region’s thriving and growing economic engine.

More than 100 people attended the town hall on Wednesday, which was live on Zoom and Facebook.  Councilmembers Carroll Fife and Noel Gallo were among those who attended.

Speakers included voices of those who are directly impacted by the project: members of the longshore union, the ILWU, who said the project was a dangerous threat to the livelihood of port workers, over 70% of whom are Black; representatives of the Pacific Merchants Shipping Association and several of the largest businesses based at the port; and Paul Cobb, publisher of the Oakland Post.

ILWU Local 10 President Trent Willis, with other union members, speaks on June 19, 2020 about shutting down West Coast ports for Juneteenth. Photo by Workers World, Judy Greenspan.

Though called a baseball stadium project, the massive, luxury real estate development is what backers have called a “city within a city.” Besides a stadium, the plan calls for 3,000 luxury condominiums, with no guaranteed affordable housing; 1.5 million square feet of high-rise office space; a 400-room hotel; retail shopping; and a performance venue with seating for 3,500.

Linda Adams, a member of the ILWU who is who is one of the workers “responsible for moving the cargo on a daily basis,” said, they are “compromising our jobs.”

“They say they can build these high rise luxury condos, and (we) can work around them. But we’re moving cargo around the clock, (with) thousands of (workers), trucks and cargo coming into the port.” She pointed out that luxury tenants will go to court to stop the noise, pollution, bright lights and thousands of daily trucks and railroads that are wrecking their days and nights, pushing companies to leave Oakland for other West Coast ports.

Susan Ransom, representing SSA Marine, the Port’s largest tenant, said the Port has over 84,000 total employees and moves the products on which everyone depends – food, household goods and medical supplies

“We have grave concerns about the A’s (stadium) project,” she said.   ”We operate 24/7, (our work) would not be stopped during a game” or for a fireworks display.

Mike Jacob of the Pacific Merchants Shipping Association which represents employers, said, “We have real issue here. Do we want to preserve our industrial base? Do we want to make Oakland a smaller kid’s version of San Francisco? Should Oakland continue to be a blue-collar city with good blue-collar jobs.”

Jacob said he was talking with the A’s, but they stopped meeting with him in 2019 when he raised concerns that would be expensive to mitigate. “You don’t have to be either pro- or anti-baseball to be pro-port,” he said.

ILWU business agent Aaron Wright, broadcasting live from on top of a port crane, showed the basin where ships have to turn around, which would be impacted by the project, and the Howard Terminal property, where thousands of trucks park daily instead of where they parked in the past on West Oakland and other neighborhoods’ residential streets.  “One day at the port can do more for the economy than all of the team’s home games,” he said. “You can’t bring in thousands of sports fans to block all of this.”

Andrea Luna Bocanegra, who works for a manufacturing company that does business with the port, said that disrupting shipping at the port would cause a ripple effect, damaging manufacturing businesses throughout Northern California that utilize the port as a dependable way to ship their products and the receive goods they need to run their operations.

Post publisher Paul Cobb said the newspaper has been discussing the different sides of this issue and hopes to help clear up the confusing messages the public is receiving about whether this project will help or damage the prospects of good jobs for Oaklanders.

Cobb displayed an Alameda Labor Council flyer promoting jobs for Blacks. He said “it’s encouraging to see Labor unions join the fight to hire and protect Black workers. By working together with civil rights groups we can finally expand the narrow definitions of PLA’s (project labor agreements) and redefine them as CLA’s (community labor agreements) that will hire Blacks and formerly incarcerated across all trades.”

“We are being lobbied on both sides of this issue,” he said. “Some say Howard Terminal is no longer vital to port operations, but others it very important to the economy” and to keep the port running daily.

A number of people submitted written comments during the Zoom meeting.

Housing rights activists James Vann wrote, “There are innumerable negatives from placing an A’s stadium at Howard Terminal. Can anyone name just one benefit from placing the stadium at this location within the Port?”

BART Director Robert Raburn, wrote, “A significant and unmitigated impact is public safety at the unprotected railroad grade crossings.”

“In addition to BART, I also serve on the governing board for the Capitol Corridor, which operates 30 passenger trains. a day on West Embarcadero (and) another 20 trains deadhead to the Amtrak yard each day,” he said.

“No stadium in the US permits postgame crowds of up to 35,000 to risk crossing mainline railroad tracks at-grade! The costs to mitigate these hazards are not included in the (A’s) ‘term sheet.’”

Organizers of the townhall are asking community members to attend the City Council meeting Tuesday, July 20. The council will consider voting on a non-binding resolution regarding the term sheet for the development. Public comment begins at 9 a.m.

People are encouraged to email council members at https://form.123formbuilder.com/4755450/

The video of Wednesday’s town hall can be watched on Facebook at  https://fb.watch/6M9NiSMAxc/

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