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Vietnam Vet Fighting for the Rights of Black Soldiers

NNPA NEWSWIRE — “They are not in compliance with the law,” stated Merretazon, whose story of the Viet Nam War was highlighted in the 1984 book, “Bloods: Black Veterans of the Vietnam War, An Oral History,” by Wallace Terry. The book was later the inspiration for the 1995 motion picture, “Dead Presidents,” which reviewers called the most powerful depiction of Black veterans in the history of American cinema.

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Minister Ari Merretazon at Veterans' Protest for a Director of Veterans Affairs and Veterans Grave Registration Record, Philadelphia City Hall, 2015

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

Vietnam War veteran Ari Merretazon is spending another Veteran’s Day fighting for fellow soldiers in Philadelphia.

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson pins Merretazon with the 50th Year Commemorative Vietnam War Pin during a salute to veterans on Capitol Hill during a 201718 Congressional Black Caucus Braintrust acknowledgment of Black Veterans involved in the Vietnam War.

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson pins Merretazon with the 50th Year Commemorative Vietnam War Pin during a salute to veterans on Capitol Hill during a 201718 Congressional Black Caucus Braintrust acknowledgment of Black Veterans involved in the Vietnam War.

A court is expected to hear soon more arguments in a case Merretazon has brought against the city.

Philadelphia officials have failed to follow a 1955 provision in the city charter that created a budget for an Office of Veterans Affairs with a salaried director, Merretazon’s suit claims.

While there’s a Veterans Commission, an Office of Veterans Affairs could have reached more local returning soldiers and helped them receive more substantial benefits.

Merretazon, who founded the Pointman Soldiers Heart Ministry, wants Philadelphia officials to formally establish a Veterans Office.

“They are not in compliance with the law,” stated Merretazon, whose story of the Viet Nam War was highlighted in the 1984 book, “Bloods: Black Veterans of the Vietnam War, An Oral History,” by Wallace Terry.

Merretazon (center) testifies in support of Resolution 120042, to determine the readiness of the City of Philadelphia to serve and assist returning soldiers from Afghanistan, Desert Storm, and Iraq, City of Philadelphia, City Council, September 11, 2012

Merretazon (center) testifies in support of Resolution 120042, to determine the readiness of the City of Philadelphia to serve and assist returning soldiers from Afghanistan, Desert Storm, and Iraq, City of Philadelphia, City Council, September 11, 2012

The book was later the inspiration for the 1995 motion picture, “Dead Presidents,” which reviewers called the most powerful depiction of Black veterans in the history of American cinema.

The film starred Terrence Howard, Larenz Tate, and Chris Tucker as returning Vietnam War veterans whose lives after discharge were plagued by crime, addiction, and a host of psychological challenges.

“As Black veterans, we not only face post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD), but we have racially induced PTSD as well because there’s so much racism in the military,” Merretazon said.

Acknowledgment by the White House, President Jimmy Carter, for establishing the first Veterans Affairs Office inside of a prison (D.C. Dept of Corrections, Lorton Reformatory, 1978)

Acknowledgment by the White House, President Jimmy Carter, for establishing the first Veterans Affairs Office inside of a prison (D.C. Dept of Corrections, Lorton Reformatory, 1978)

He believes race has played a significant role in his battle with Philadelphia that’s led to the current court case.

“Philadelphia needs to acknowledge that racism in the military is a PTSD injury,” Merretazon said.

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs have conducted various studies of PTSD in ethnic minority Vietnam Veterans. The results of the research are not entirely consistent. Still, VA officials noted that the overall finding seems to be that most ethnic minority veteran groups have a higher rate of PTSD than White veterans.

According to the VA, some of this may be due to psychological conflicts related to identification with the Vietnamese. Another factor may be higher exposure to war zone stressors, VA officials stated.

Receipt of the 2013 Congressional Black Caucus Braintrust Award, presented by Ron Armstead, Director, at Triumph Baptist Church, Philadelphia

Receipt of the 2013 Congressional Black Caucus Braintrust Award, presented by Ron Armstead, Director, at Triumph Baptist Church, Philadelphia

“It’s been years, if not ever, that Philly hasn’t met any of its obligations to veterans,” Merretazon stated. “My anger is based on the fact that we have had to fight two wars. One was in the field of battle in Vietnam. And, the other at our base where rebel flags flew and Black soldiers had the worst jobs.  They threatened us with going back to the field with those who were less qualified.”

Merretazon said his court battle had progressed well. An appeals panel earlier indicated that the only thing keeping him from prevailing was that he lived outside of the city.

“I live in a neighboring county, but I do my work in the city of Philadelphia,” Merretazon stated. “But, it’s clear that Philadelphia is trying to cover up their misdeeds toward veterans. The fact that there’s no office of veterans affairs is wrong. Philadelphia, in particular, City Council President Darrell Clarke, has messed up the money for veterans, and that’s why we are where we are.”

A spokesperson for Clarke declined to comment, citing the pending lawsuit.

Merretazon has obtained full benefits, but, he must continue to fight for others.

“The veterans who come home to Philly have nobody saying what to do, and through our ministry, we’ve been able to provide direction on direct services,” Merretazon said. “It’s well-known that many are hurting. There are significant guaranteed benefits for the veterans and their families, but they aren’t getting them. “I’m 100 percent disabled. I’ve got mine. I’m trying to help other people get what they deserve.”

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Carolyn’s Kids Foundation Honors Graduates

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Each 8th-grade student received a $100 gift card to go towards their high school fees. Additionally, two high school seniors received the CKF HBCU-Jackson State Bound Scholarship. Jamari White and Kevin Barber Jr. both received $1000 each. Two $500 scholarships were awarded to mothers who are continuing their postsecondary education.
The post Carolyn’s Kids Foundation Honors Graduates first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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On Sunday, June 5, 2022, the Carolyn’s Kids Foundation honored 140, 8th-grade students across Chicagoland areas. Hosted at Visions Events Chicago at 11901 S. Loomis, parents, students, and schoolteachers participated in the 6th Annual CKF Scholarship Luncheon.

HBCU Bound Scholars-Jackson State University Carolyn Griffin Palmer, CKF-CEO, Kevin Barber Jr., Jamari White, and Brendolyn Hart-Glover, President of the Jackson State University Chicago Alumni Chapter

HBCU Bound Scholars-Jackson State University
Carolyn Griffin Palmer, CKF-CEO, Kevin Barber Jr., Jamari White, and Brendolyn Hart-Glover, President of the Jackson State University Chicago Alumni Chapter

HBCU Bound Scholars-Jackson State University
Carolyn Griffin Palmer, CKF-CEO, Kevin Barber Jr., Jamari White, and Brendolyn Hart-Glover, President of the Jackson State University Chicago Alumni Chapter

Each 8th-grade student received a $100 gift card to go towards their high school fees. Additionally, two high school seniors received the CKF HBCU-Jackson State Bound Scholarship. Jamari White and Kevin Barber Jr. both received $1000 each. Two $500 scholarships were awarded to mothers who are continuing their postsecondary education.

Carolyn’s Kids Foundation has awarded over $50,000 in the past 5 years, and this year $17,000 was distributed to the Class of 2022. To support the Carolyn’s Kids Foundation and learn more, please visit their website: www.ckfchicago.org and follow them on FB @ckfchicago.

The post Carolyn’s Kids Foundation Honors Graduates appeared first on Chicago Defender.

The post Carolyn’s Kids Foundation Honors Graduates first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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Justice Department Announces Investigation of the Louisiana State Police

NNPA NEWSWIRE — “Every American, regardless of race, has the right to constitutional policing,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Based on an extensive review of publicly available information and information provided to us, we find significant justification to investigate whether Louisiana State Police engages in excessive force and engages in racially discriminatory policing against Black residents and other people of color.”
The post Justice Department Announces Investigation of the Louisiana State Police first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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

The U.S. Department of Justice has opened a pattern or practice investigation into the Louisiana State Police (LSP) to assess whether the law enforcement agency uses excessive force and whether it engages in racially discriminatory policing.

According to a news release, the investigation will include a comprehensive review of LSP policies, training, supervision, and force investigations, as well as LSP’s systems of accountability, including misconduct complaint intake, investigation, review, disposition, and discipline.

“Protecting the civil rights of all Americans and building trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve are among the Justice Department’s most important responsibilities,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in the release.

“This investigation, like all of our pattern or practice investigations, will seek to promote the transparency, accountability, and public trust that is essential to public safety.”

The DOJ said it’s conducting the investigation pursuant to the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, which prohibits state and local governments from engaging in a pattern or practice of conduct by law enforcement officers that deprives individuals of rights protected by the Constitution or federal law.

The statute allows the DOJ to remedy such misconduct through civil litigation, and law enforcement practices under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, as well as under the Safe Streets Act of 1968 and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Officials called the investigation separate from any federal criminal investigation of LSP troopers.

Before the announcement, DOJ officials informed Governor John Bel Edwards, Colonel Lamar Davis, and Deputy General Counsel Gail Holland of the investigation.

According to the news release, each pledged to cooperate with the investigation.

As part of the investigation, DOJ officials will reach out to community groups and members of the public to learn about their experiences with LSP.

The Special Litigation Section of the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the Eastern, Middle, and Western Districts of Louisiana are conducting the investigation jointly.

“Every American, regardless of race, has the right to constitutional policing,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

“Based on an extensive review of publicly available information and information provided to us, we find significant justification to investigate whether Louisiana State Police engages in excessive force and engages in racially discriminatory policing against Black residents and other people of color.”

Clarke continued:

“The Justice Department stands ready to use every tool in our arsenal to confront allegations of misconduct and to ensure legitimacy during encounters with law enforcement.”

The DOJ ask that anyone with relevant information to contact them via email at Community.Louisiana@usdoj.gov or by phone at (202) 353-0684.

Individuals can also report civil rights violations regarding this or other matters using the Civil Rights Division’s reporting portal, available at civilrights.justice.gov.

The post Justice Department Announces Investigation of the Louisiana State Police first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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PRESS ROOM: 81 Grassroots Organizations Awarded a Total of $750,000 in Grants through Industry’s ‘Make Golf Your Thing’ Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Initiative

NNPA NEWSWIRE — The grant program is part of the industry’s broader commitment to making the sport more inclusive for all. Last month, a new Make Golf Your Thing search directory was launched for consumers, consisting of more than 8,400 registered golf programs and organizations across the U.S.
The post PRESS ROOM: 81 Grassroots Organizations Awarded a Total of $750,000 in Grants through Industry’s ‘Make Golf Your Thing’ Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Initiative first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – 81 grassroots golf organizations will receive a total of $750,000 in funding to further their efforts to engage underrepresented populations of the sport. These groups (*full list below) are being awarded with a grant through Make Golf Your Thing, the industry’s commitment to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion in making the sport more welcome for all.

Initially introduced in 2021 (by the Make Golf Your Thing youth & adult player development work group), the grant program to date has provided 155 grants to 111 unique grassroots organizations, totaling more than $1 million overall (May 2021: 43 grants totaling $150,000; Jan. 2022: 31 grants totaling $150,000).

The program was established to support organizations dedicated to increasing participation among golf’s underrepresented populations (i.e., Black, Latinx, Asian, Indigenous communities, as well as women, LGBTQI+ individuals, veterans, and individuals with disabilities).

“When the game comes together and pools every resource to grow and broaden the reach of the game, only great things can happen,” said Mike Whan, CEO of the USGA and executive sponsor of the youth & adult player development work group for Make Golf Your Thing.

“This unifying movement is helping to make a difference in communities across America and advance the game in ways none of us can do alone.”

“Access to golf in a business context is a pathway to opportunity,” said Anna Alvarez Boyd, co-founder of FairWays to Leadership (one of the 81 grant recipients).

“Our group’s mission is to increase diversity in business and in golf by teaching college students from diverse backgrounds the skills they need to become effective leaders. The financial commitment of the grant program to organizations like ours will only further golf’s collective efforts to bring new and diverse audiences into our sport.”

The grant program is part of the industry’s broader commitment to making the sport more inclusive for all. Last month, a new Make Golf Your Thing search directory was launched for consumers, consisting of more than 8,400 registered golf programs and organizations across the U.S.

The directory allows individuals to search for programs and events using filters such as location, age, ability, gender, etc., giving new and diverse audiences an opportunity to become more engaged in the sport through programs in their own community.

Formally launched in May 2021, Make Golf Your Thing is the industry’s movement to make golf accessible to individuals from all backgrounds.

Led by six cross-industry work groups, the initiative is specifically focused on: education & skill development, talent acquisition, procurement, human resources, youth & adult player development, and marketing/communications.

Funding for the grant program is being administered by the American Golf Industry Coalition, a partnership among golf’s leading organizations to promote and advocate for the collective interests of the sport.

Financial support for the program is led by a contingent of industry supporters committed to making the sport more welcoming and inclusive for all.

About Make Golf Your Thing

A multi-faceted, multi-year movement, Make Golf Your Thing is a collaborative effort across the industry to invite more people to golf from all backgrounds.

Six cross-industry work groups are committed to making the sport more diverse, equitable and inclusive, with a specific focus on: education & skill development, talent acquisition, procurement, human resources, youth & adult player development, and marketing/communications. For more, www.makegolfyourthing.org.

About the American Golf Industry Coalition

The American Golf Industry Coalition advocates on behalf of golf’s diversity, equity and inclusion efforts; environmental and sustainability initiatives; contributions to the economy (local and national); health and wellness benefits, as well as charitable giving.

The organization unites the golf industry in pursuit of goals designed to enhance the vitality and diversity of both the business and recreational levels of the sport. The American Golf Industry Coalition is a division of the World Golf Foundation.

To learn more, visit www.golfcoalition.org.

Grassroots Organization City/Town State
A Perfect Swing Foundation Inc. Charlotte NC
Adaptive Golfers North Myrtle Beach SC
Annika Foundation Orlando FL
Be Counted On Foundation Gahanna OH
Black College Golf Coaches Association Vestavia AL
Button Hole Providence RI
Cameron Champ Foundation Citrus Heights CA
CitySwing Foundation Washington D.C.
County of Los Angeles Department of Parks and Recreation Alhambra CA
DC on the Green McKinney AL
Edu-Sports Academy Willingboro NJ
El Dorado High School Golf Team El Paso TX
Excel Youth Academy Lawrenceville GA
FabNewport, Inc Newport RI
FairWays to Leadership, Inc. Orlando FL
First Tee – Central Florida Orlando FL
First Tee – Central Mississippi Flowood MS
First Tee – Greater Charleston Mt. Pleasant SC
First Tee – Greater Richmond Richmond VA
First Tee – Greater Sacramento (Sacramento Area Youth Golf Association) Sacramento CA
First Tee – Greater Trenton Trenton NJ
First Tee – Greater Tyler Bullard TX
First Tee – Greater Washington, DC Washington D.C.
First Tee – Greater Wichita Wichita KS
First Tee – Indiana Indianapolis IN
First Tee – Jersey Shore Point Pleasant NJ
First Tee – North Florida (Rising Leaders of North Florida, Inc.) St. Augustine FL
First Tee – Omaha (Hogan’s Junior Golf Heroes) Omaha NE
First Tee – Pittsburgh Pittsburgh PA
First Tee – Southeastern New Mexico Roswell NM
First Tee – Tennessee Knoxville TN
First Tee – Triangle Raleigh NC
First Tee – Tulsa (Youth Development of Tulsa) Tulsa OK
First Tee – West Michigan (Lake Michigan Junior Golf Association) Kentwood MI
Fore Life Inc. Lauderhill FL
Fore the Ladies Sylvania OH
Future Successors Atlanta GA
Gator Junior Golf Association Gainesville FL
Girls Golf of America, Inc. Greensboro NC
Golf. My Future. My Game. Washington D.C.
Greater Cleveland Junior Golf Scholarship Fund Bedford OH
Harris Park Midtown Sports & Activity Center Kansas City MO
Hi-Tee Junior Little League Golf Program Renton WA
Hit It Straight Golf Academy Homewood IL
I AM a Golfer Foundation Dallas TX
iGolf4VETS, Inc. Riverview FL
Inland Golf Academy Riverside CA
Inner City Youth Golfers’ Inc. Palm Beach Gardens FL
Inspiring Greatness In You Covington GA
Jackson Park Golf Association Chicago IL
Ladies of Futurity, Inc West Palm Beach FL
Latina Golfers Association Foundation Los Angeles CA
Little Linksters Sorrento FL
Matrix Human Services Detroit MI
Michigan Women’s Golf Association Detroit MI
Midnight Golf Program Bingham Farms MI
Milwaukee Area Youth Golf Academy, Inc. Glendale WI
Moore-Myers Children’s Fund Jacksonville FL
My Vision Golf Fayetteville GA
New Jersey Golf Foundation Inc. Bedminster NJ
Next 18 Fox Point WI
Northern Texas PGA Foundation – Fairway to Success Dallas TX
One Hundred Black Men, Inc. New York NY
Par Excellence Youth Development Huntsville AL
Range Fore Hope Foundation Blythewood SC
Rose Hill Schools Rose Hill KS
Southern California Golf Association – Junior Golf Foundation Studio City CA
Southern Area Youth Program, Inc. Los Angeles CA
Special Olympics Connecticut Hamden CT
SwingPals, Inc. Durham NC
Ted Rhodes Foundation, Inc. Chicago IL
The Caddie & Leadership Academy Kenosha WI
The Darby Foundation Lafayette LA
The Glove Foundation Mobile AL
The Honors Junior Golf Program Corona CA
The Pinkney Foundation Pittsburg CA
Upstate-Carolina Adaptive Golf Greenville SC
Western States Junior Golf Association Las Vegas NV
Women Golfers Give Back Plymouth Meeting PA
Women in Golf Foundation, Inc. Ellenwood GA

The post PRESS ROOM: 81 Grassroots Organizations Awarded a Total of $750,000 in Grants through Industry’s ‘Make Golf Your Thing’ Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Initiative first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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