From December 2009

Obama Defends Self Against Black Critics

President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama

By Darlene Superville
US News

President Barack Obama on Monday rebutted critics who say he isn’t showing enough compassion toward black America, citing his health care effort as one example he says “will be hugely important” for blacks.
Obama said another example is the billions of dollars in aid to states included in the economic stimulus bill, money that was used to save thousands of teachers, firefighters and police officers from losing their jobs. He said many of those workers are black.
“So this notion, somehow, that because there wasn’t a transformation overnight that we’ve been neglectful is just simply, factually not accurate,” Obama said in an Oval Office interview with April Ryan of American Urban Radio Networks.
But the president acknowledged there are limits to what a president can do for any class of people.
“The only thing I cannot do is, by law, I cannot pass laws that say ‘I’m just helping black folks.’ I’m the president of the entire United States,” Obama said, giving his standard answer to questions about the economic and other disparities facing blacks.
“What I can do is make sure that I am passing laws that help all people, particularly those who are most vulnerable and most in need,” he said. “That in turn is going to help lift up the African-American community.”
Black members of Congress have begun pressing their demands that the nation’s first African-American president do more for minorities hard hit by the recession, noting the billions of dollars spent on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and to prop up big banks and large corporations.
Nationally, unemployment stands at 10 percent while 15.6 percent of blacks are jobless.
Obama said the grumbling was justified because the U.S. has just begun to emerge from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. At the same time, he said polls show overwhelming support among blacks for what his administration is trying to do.
The president said the health care bill the Senate is expected to pass this week will help the one in five blacks who don’t have health insurance — almost double the general population — by making coverage more affordable.
“This will be hugely important for the African-American community,” he said, also citing increased spending on education.
Asked to comment on the state of black America, Obama paraphrased author Charles Dickens when he said it continues to be the best of times and the worst of times. Still, he said he was optimistic about the future.
“But it’s going to take work. It was never going to be done just because we elected me,” he said.
- The Associated Press.

Geoffrey Pete Reversing Trend of Selfishness

Community leaders, church members and volunteers helped serve more than 400 at Christmas  Day Feeding sponsored Oakland Black Caucus and Word Assembly Church. Toys were also distributed to needy children.  The feeding was held at Word Assembly Church’s downtown Oakland location at 410-14th Street. Photos by Gene Hazzard and collage by Alapi Bhatt.

Community leaders, church members and volunteers helped serve more than 400 at Christmas Day Feeding sponsored Oakland Black Caucus and Word Assembly Church. Toys were also distributed to needy children. The feeding was held at Word Assembly Church’s downtown Oakland location at 410-14th Street. Photos by Gene Hazzard and collage by Alapi Bhatt.

Geoffrey Pete

Geoffrey Pete

By Dion Evans,
Religion Editor

The line reached around the corner on Christmas Day, as residents of Oakland descended upon Word Assembly Church to participate in the Oakland Black Caucus holiday feeding. Geoffrey Pete, Community Activist and Event coordinator, said, “This is the kind of infectious behavior we need to push forward in this city, so we can reverse this trend of selfishness.”
Selfishness was not on the menu on Christmas Day. Volunteers from all over the Bay Area joined hand in hand for the sole purpose of serving others. Curtis Newton, holiday volunteer and member of Word Assembly stated, “This is just our way of giving back. At a hard time like this we want to show people God’s love. We have gone out on the street and found homeless and needy people and let them know that we feed here on Christmas, MLK Jr. Day, Easter, whatever holiday is being celebrated in our community – we serve.”
Bishop Keith Clark, pastor Word Assembly Church.
Nicole Thompson, community volunteer, in charge of the Gift Room said, “We are feeding the hungry and giving toys to the less fortunate. The rule is three items per family.” She underscored the belief of all of the volunteers and sponsors, thatthe significance of this event is giving back to folk who are in need.”
Pete mentioned that the success of the holiday feeding wouldn’t have occurred had it not been for the provisions of CJCTrucking. Attending the feeding was CJC Co-Owner, Cris Williams-Guiton who said, “I feel very fortunate to be recognized by a person like Mr. Pete. My husband, Connectis Guiton and I work very hard in the community and we just wanted to give something back.”
Give something back is exactly what they did. Their sizable donations allowed the purchase of the food and the provisions of many toys. “ We plan to be a part of each event for all of the holidays,” said Guiton.
According to Pete, the Oakland Black Caucus sponsors holiday feeding on all major holidays, and the next feeding will be held on Dr. Martin Luther King’s Birthday. Pete continued, “I remember one time, about three years ago, we were feeding the homeless and someone said, ‘I’m not homeless, I’m just hungry and need a place to eat’. You can see people who possibly had it together 6 months ago, but now they are in line. So we are providing service for individuals.”
Special thanks are in order for the Chief Chef Arthur Conner who stated, “It is a good feeling to help out someone less fortunate than I”. Nglele Williams, a local volunteer stated, “This is one of the best Christmases ever; it was very rewarding and I am going to make it a tradition to come back each year to help other people.”
DaTanya Washington, a local volunteer and Word worker, sums up the event this way, “I believe it is very important to give back to the community, especially in these economic hard times where some people are going without food – not just homeless. Everyday working people are having a hard time feeding their families. They are being fed and are appreciative of this opportunity. “

CountyTells Menlo Owner to Fix Problems

RMD Services 1 Management fixes City Code Violations

By Lee Hubbard

Sam Manning

Sam Manning

The owner and operators of the Menlo Hotel have been asked to make a series of changes in an inspection report by the Alameda County Health Care Services Agency. The Alameda County Vector Control officers inspected 58 of the 98 units on November 9, 2009. Bed bugs were found in 25 of the units, 5 units had evidence of cockroaches and one unit had mice.
The County report, which looked at the Menlo’s insect and rodent infestations, comes on the heels of an Oakland City Attorney’s report which detailed room violations such as missing heaters, cracked windows, jammed doors, unsafe wiring and missing smoking detectors in rooms.
David James, a vector ecologist with Alameda County, recommended that the Menlo’s owners and operators: replace the carpeting in the building with smooth covering; seal cracks and crevices around windows, doors, moldings and baseboards; apply residual insecticide dust in walls, electrical outlets and radiator pipes, and enclose mattresses and box springs in mattress bags.
James prescribed insect and pest control education for both tenants and management.
“Tenants need to inform management at the first indication of bedbugs,” wrote James. “Written guidelines need to be established for the control of bedbugs and other pests for management and maintenance personnel.”
James suggested that the Menlo owner hire a licensed pest control company, with experience in dealing with bedbugs, to treat the affected units. Ryan Nathan, the executive director of RMD Services 1, LLC, manages the Menlo Hotel; said James’ recommendations “were already being worked on.”
City inspection records show the hotel has received numerous tenant complaints over the past ten years.
The Oakland Post reported that Wade McAlister, a Menlo resident, filed a lawsuit against Richard Singer, a San Francisco developer and owner of the Menlo. RMD Services 1, which manages day-to-day operations at the hotel, was also named. Since the filing, several tenants have joined the lawsuit.
Daniel Wilson, the community relations coordinator with the Alameda County Vector Control Office said that dramatic actions by the owner needs to be taken to eliminate the pest problems. “Ideally, if you want to get rid of the cockroaches and bed bugs, you need to vacate the units for a week and treat all the units at once,” said Wilson. “But the problem is that you have people living there, and where are they going to go during the clean up?”
“There are a lot of things to fix to make things in the units better,” said Alex Nguyen, an attorney with the city of Attorney’s Neighborhood Law Corps program. Nguyen said “none of the violations rise to the level of imminent hazard,” which would shut the Menlo down, but he said the violations were “problematic.”
The City Attorney scheduled additional inspections for December 21 and January 9, 2010. The owner of the Menlo Hotel could face fines from the Oakland City Attorney’s office for any uncorrected code violations.
But according to Sam Manning with RMD Services 1 and Executive Director of the Menlo Hotel, the problems cited in the city report have been addressed and fixed. Even though RMD Services 1 had only begun its management just a few weeks before the Post articles, Manning said “We fixed all 34 of the items on the city report and their inspectors were pleased with what we accomplished in a short period of time.” Manning said when they have receive the County’s report “we will address those problems also.”
Manning’s claim has raised doubts with some of the residents who say further improvements are needed.
“They are fixing the place and trying to make it better,” said a tenant who didn’t want to be named. “But the conditions are still substandard and the bed bugs are rampant.”

Oakland African American Chamber of Commerce Elects Wil Hardee President & CEO

Wil Hardee

Wil Hardee

Ray Carlisle

Ray Carlisle

The Oakland African American Chamber of Commerce (OAACC) has elected Wil Hardee as its President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Founded five years ago by Acts Full Gospel Church Pastor, Bishop Bob Jackson, and several other Oakland business leaders, the OAACC’s mission is to represent the interest of African American businesses as viable and sustainable entities committed to enhancing the economic viability of the African American community.
Hardee, a retired Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) Company Director of Public Affairs, has extensive marketing and business experience. He is also a former City Planner for the City of San Francisco. Currently, a member of the board of directors of OAACC, Hardee is a graduate of San Jose State University and holds a Masters Degree from the University of Wisconsin. He is a former director of the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and the San Leandro Chamber of Commerce. According to Bishop Jackson, who is retiring as Chairman of OAACC, “Wil Hardee has long been a strong advocate for securing contracting opportunities for minority businesses in the Bay Area. He is a proven business leader with enormous credibility.”
OAACC’s new Chairman Ray Carlisle, a noted Oakland business leader, expressed similar delight with Hardee’s election observing that “Wil has the business skills and acumen needed to position OAACC as a formidable Chamber that will fight for small businesses.”
Hardee views his election “as a unique opportunity to give back to the community by devoting time and energy to an organization that can be even more instrumental in creating wealth and economic vitality in the African American community.” “I see OAACC,” continued Hardee, “as ripe for providing new and more effective business strategies to assist minority businesses not only in operating more efficiently, but also assisting them in being more competitive in securing government and corporate business.”
Noting that the OAAC Foundation recently received a grant from the Small Business Administration, due to the efforts of Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Hardee views “this grant as the linchpin for training small businesses to be more competitive.” For too long, we have stood at the doorsteps of opportunity with the door locked. Now is the time to unlock those doors and I am confident that through collaborative efforts we will do so.”
Hardee says his immediate focus will be on attracting “more members to OAACC to make it more forceful in leading a collective challenge to the status quo which in many instances excludes African American businesses from economic prosperity.” “I envision a comprehensive membership drive among small businesses, churches, community and civic organizations, professional associations, corporations and other entities in the Bay Area,” Hardy added.
Other officers elected, in addition to Carlisle as Chairman, were Marie Roberts De la Parra, a nationally known Green Developer, as Vice Chairperson; Marvin Tate, an Oakland CPA, as Treasurer; and Robert L. Harris, a retired Vice President ( PG&E), as Secretary and General Counsel. Merlin Edwards, an OAACC Founder, will continue as Chairman of the OAAC Foundation, and Bishop Jackson was elected Chairman Emeritus of OAACC. Two new board members, Valerie D. Lewis (Senior Corporate Counsel & Assistant Secretary, Safeway) and Diann Castleberry (Director of Social Responsibility, Port of Oakland), were also elected.

To Be Equal Happy New Decade!

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By Marc H. Morial
President and CEO
National Urban League

As we say goodbye to 2009, one thing is clear: The first ten years of the 21st century have been as tumultuous and noteworthy as any in American history. The decade began with a Presidential election in which the man with the most votes lost, and the horror of 9-11, when nearly 3000 people died in the worst terrorist attack ever on American soil.
The decade ends with the first African American in the Oval Office, the first Latina on the Supreme Court and the nation in the grips of a Great Recession even as Congress nears a final vote on historic health care reform. And while the goal of “Peace on Earth,” remains as elusive as ever, we are ending a major war in Iraq, setting the stage for the return of our troops from Afghanistan and celebrating Barack Obama’s 2009 Nobel Peace Prize.
During the past decade we’ve experienced an almost equal mix of tragedy and triumph. But as the National Urban League prepares to celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2010, I share the belief of millions that America’s best days are yet to come.
If September 11, 2001 will be remembered as the day of terror in America, August 29, 2005 will forever be known as the day of Katrina. More than 1800 people in the Gulf Coast and my hometown of New Orleans lost their lives in the storm, hundreds of thousands were displaced, and property damage exceeded more than $100 billion. But while the levees failed, the spirit of New Orleans remains unbroken. The city is rebuilding and with any luck, in a few weeks, you will see our New Orleans Saints in the Super Bowl.
The past decade also included a number of breakthrough achievements by African Americans and women. The election of Barack Obama in 2008 tops the list, but there have been other notable “firsts.” In the business world, Dick Parsons, Ken Chenault and Stan O’Neal became the first African American Chairmen and CEOs of Time Warner, American Express and Merrill Lynch respectively. And in May of this year, Ursula Burns became the first African American woman CEO of a Fortune 500 company when she took over the reins at Xerox.
In politics, Colin Powell was appointed the first African American Secretary of State in 2001. Deval Patrick became only the second elected African American governor when he took office as Massachusetts’ chief executive in 2006. David Paterson was sworn-in as New York’s first African American governor in 2008. Nancy Pelosi made history as the first woman Speaker of the House in 2007. And in 2009, Eric Holder became the nation’s first African American Attorney General.
During the past decade words like Facebook, YouTube and IPod became a part of our everyday lexicon. But one simple word – Hope — has defined the American spirit since our beginning, 234 years ago. As we begin the New Year, it is my fervent hope that we will find the courage to build on our successes, meet our many challenges and create an even better tomorrow. Happy New Decade!

“The Way It Is” for Adoption Kids Keyshia Cole Brings Christmas Cheer

“Expecting Keyshia Cole” was well worth the wait for many of Oakland’s foster and adopted children. Keyshia seated brought Santa, her own adopted mother Dr. Yvonne Cole and Rev. Raymond Lankford with her to give gifts at the East Oakland Healthy Oakland office.

“Expecting Keyshia Cole” was well worth the wait for many of Oakland’s foster and adopted children. Keyshia seated brought Santa, her own adopted mother Dr. Yvonne Cole and Rev. Raymond Lankford with her to give gifts at the East Oakland Healthy Oakland office.

Nationally-acclaimed R&B singer Keyshia Cole had a special holiday gift for her hometown this month when the Oakland native provided Christmas presents to 15 East Oakland children currently awaiting adoption. Cole, with the assistance of a volunteer Santa Claus, gave the presents to the previously selected children at a special December 24th ceremony. The gift presentations took place at Healthy Oakland’s Alameda County Faith Initiative office in East Oakland.
Cole has a special interest in adopted children because she is an adopted child herself. The singer’s adoptive mother, Dr. Yvonne Cole, selected the 15 children to receive the gifts.
“We are doing this because we know there are so many children quietly hurting and in need of a genuine loving family,” Dr. Cole said, in announcing the gift-giving activities. “We want to touch, hug and give them a small token of our love.” Dr. Cole added that she and her famous daughter are seeking to raise the awareness of the many children around the country who are “in need of loving homes. We hope more concerned and caring families will get involved in helping these special children in whatever way they can.”
“We’re so excited to have Keyshia agree to partner with Healthy Oakland’s Faith Initiative in this special activity,” said Pastor Raymond Lankford, the Executive Director of Healthy Oakland. “Keyshia is a true inspiration and product of a loving adoptive family. We appreciate how thoughtful she is and her giving back to the community where she was raised, in such a meaningful way.” Lankford said that Healthy Oakland / Alameda County Faith Initiative has initiated a drive to find families for children awaiting adoption, and shared their goal for 2010 to place 100 children in caring homes.

49ers Win Home Finale Against Lions

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San Francisco, CA – The San Francisco 49ers played their last home game of the season.  Last week the 49ers were knocked out of contention for the playoffs and will look to better their chances next year.  In the meantime, finishing the season strong is most important and San Francisco did that by handing Detroit their thirteenth loss 20-6.

It was a sluggish start as both teams put up field goals to end the 1st quarter.  The Lions were the first to march down the field as the 49ers did a great job holding them inches from the goal line.  Unfortunately the Lions returned the favor only allowing San Francisco to two field goals in the first half.

“Whatever that might be, I don’t know,” said coach Mike Singletary.  “I have to look at the film to reference a slow start.”  “You know, it could be because of distractions of the holidays and could be from not making the playoffs.”  “The bottom line is we came out in the second half and picked it up, began to execute and created some things.”

At the end of the first half the 49ers led 6-3 but that changed quickly in the third quarter. Smith got things started with a touchdown pass to Vernon Davis. The pass to Davis made it his 12th catch of the season, one shy of Antonio Gates’ record for tight ends.

The next 49er drive Smith found Frank Gore for a 48 yard pass that ended with Gore rushing for a 1-yard touchdown to make it 20-3.  The Lions had no answer for San Francisco as they were only able to complete their only field goal during the half.  The turnovers were too costly and the only exciting play was Grady Jackson’s blocking Ricky Schmitt’s 28-yard field goal attempt.

“Your not going to turn the ball over six times and have a chance,’ said coach Jim Schwartz.  “Our defense did a good job in the first half holding them to field goals and things like that.”  “But obviously we didn’t do enough to finish the game.”

Stanton finished with 130 yards and three interceptions before being pulled for Daunte Culpepper midway through the forth quarter.  Smith went 20 for 31 for 230 yards and had his career high 17th touchdown pass of the season.  The 49ers need a win at St. Louis next week to finish at .500.

“I think it’s a matter of pride,” said Alex Smith.  “That’s what we’re playing for right now.  “We haven’t finished better than 7-9 since I’ve been here.”  “I think it’s something we’re all playing for and every game means something.”  “It will be the last taste in our mouth coming up to finish on a good note.”

Written by: Malaika Bobino

Warriors out shoot Phoenix for the win!

Oakland, CA – It was like being at the “ok corral” except instead of a gun it was a basketball!  Both the Golden State Warriors and the Phoenix Suns battled throughout the entire game and to no surprise both of these teams can shoot from anywhere on the court.  By the end of third quarter the score was 95-100 Suns lead.  Phoenix is the best match-up for the Warriors in the NBA since they play the same style of basketball.

“Everyone knows their style of play,” said Jason Richardson.  “It’s always a great challenge to play Golden State.”  “It’s like a chess game because you never know what the match-ups will be?”

The Warriors jumped to an early lead at the start of the game and never allowed more than a 10 point lead throughout the game.  Corey Maggette played his best game this season with 33 points, 8 points and 1 assist.  He was the spark that put a “stamp” on Golden States victory 132-127 by playing both ends of the court.

“Corey got to the line with no problem,” said Steve Nash.  “They were able to maneuver in the forth quarter and that sealed their victory.”  “If we don’t play as a team we won’t win.”

The Suns coming off a big win at home have struggled on the road.  Too many turnovers and lack of defense was not enough to stop the surging Warriors.  Steve Nash finished with 36 points, 4 rebounds and 9 assists.  The first half was pretty much Nash against the Warriors,  he ended the 1st quarter with 11 points as he was hot from the perimeter.

“They deserved to win,” said coach Alvin Gentry.  “Our defense sucked!”  “You cannot give up 103 points and expect to win a ball game.”  “Are we going to be a team that fights or give in?  We gave in tonight.”

The Warriors snapped their seven game losing streak.  Their big men stepped up and shut down Amare Stoudemire to one of his worst performances of the season.  He finished with 9 points and 7 rebounds.  The return of Ronny Turiaf was a huge presence inside the paint and on defense.

The second half was a battle on who could shoot the most between Steve Nash and Monta Ellis along with Corey Maggette.  Nash took over in the third quarter by knocking down four 3-pointers with a total of 16 points.  The Warriors got 12 points each from Ellis and Maggette.  Ellis had another impressive game and finished with 33 points, 10 assists and 6 rebounds.

Written by: Malaika Bobino

Q & A with Keith David

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DR. FACILIER (voice of Keith David) is a devious scoundrel, the shadowy figure of threat who causes no shortage of predicament and menace to Prince Naveen and Tiana. He’s a smooth operator who works his magical spells and uses his connection to “friends on the other side” to get what he wants by way of his mysterious, menacing and dangerous charm.

“He’s musical, he’s threatening, he’s tall, he’s lean, he’s thin. He can be very sweet. He’s handsome. He’s graceful. And I think all that stuff is, in very contemporary animation anyway, rare to see that type of villain,” says Bruce Smith, supervising animator of Dr. Facilier, “It’s always great as an animator to get the villain, and the villain is always that character that holds up the film and keeps everything interesting and on edge. Luckily, in this case, I’ve really got a very unique villain—a great villain.”

Sandra Varner (Talk2SV): The Princess and the Frog will forever be etched in the hearts and minds of little girls, particularly little black girls throughout their lives.  As the father of two daughters, what is your comment about this monumental film?

Keith David: There are good projects, bad projects and important projects. This project happens to be good and important.

Talk2SV: I am of the belief that little girls who have a loving relationship with their fathers grow up to be more confident, or so it seems; tell me about the relationship that you have with your daughters and what was their reaction to The Princess and The Frog?

David: They both loved it. I have a lovely relationship with my daughters and I hope to continue that, I hope it continues to deepen and expand. I love my girls and I think it is important –for girls and boys to have good relationships with their parents: men and women need good relationships with their fathers just as they do with their mothers, whether they are together or not. I happen to be in a household where I am with my wife and we get to raise our children.

Talk2SV: How old are your daughters?

David: My two daughters are eight and five.

Talk2SV: Did they say anything in particular that sticks in your mind about this film?

David: I mean, they just love it; they have a princess who looks like them.  You know, I call them princesses all the time but, now they finally see somebody who looks like them. I don’t think they ever had any sort of identity crisis.  They go to school everyday with all kinds of people of mixed race and different ethnicities.  For their ages, my children are almost as traveled as I was through my 30’s. They’ve been a lot of places and they’ve seen a lot of the world and they’re very worldly like that; they’re very adventurous like that. As for this film, New Orleans is a very eclectic place which is one of the reasons why I think they chose New Orleans to be the background of this movie.  Plus, all the other stuff the magic and the music that could be explored.  So I think that was a big factor in choosing New Orleans as the place, but the world is no longer lily white; it never was.  The world is expanding so that other people are being embraced.  We’ve always been here; we just never have been so represented.  Now, here we are.  So for those people who need a visual image to really have a deeper sense of self, there’s Princess Tiana and President Obama.

Talk2SV: Yes! During the Disney press conference for this film I asked the male cast members if they ever dreamed of becoming a prince as a young boy and the resounding answer I got was they grew up wanting to be a king. What dreams did you have as a young boy and has the fairy tale become your reality?

David: I’m living my dream right now. All my life I wanted to be an actor; that’s what I wanted to be when I grew up, an actor and a singer and that’s what I am.  That’s what I do. I did have dreams of being an Indian prince because I have some Cherokee in my lineage but I dreamt of being kings all the time, I was always the chief.  And, as a young boy I was always the older guy, an older spirit so, I went straight to the king and the duke (laughter).

Talk2SV: Your voice has been your treasure. At what age did you receive the gift of that rich hypnotic baritone sound that is so uniquely yours?

David: I’ve never heard it put like that, but, my voice has always been on the deeper end. I joined the All Borough Chorus when was 12, and I was always the second tenor, I was never the first tenor.  I began a change and shift very early in my life so I was always on the lower end of the scale. I’ve worked on my voice many, many years of my life as a singer and as an actor I’m also a speech teacher.

Talk2SV: As a successful and award winning working actor who has done so many films and TV projects, what takes priority for you today?

David: Balancing being able to raise my family with my work; that’s what my priority is, to be a good husband and father. I do that by being able to be happy in my work.  I’m away from home right now as we speak.  So making sure I’m not away from home too long.

Talk2SV: In closing, you are no stranger to audiences yet there’s so much more to know about Keith David; what would people be surprised to learn about you?

David: Hmmm, my love of horses.

Talk2SV: Any particular kind?

David: No, not really.

Talk2SV: Do you ride?

David: I do ride.  I love riding horses; it’s one of my favorite things to do.

A partial list of Keith David’s film credits include:


Transporter 2

All About Steve

First Sunday


Mr. & Mrs. Smith


The Chronicles of Riddick

Hollywood Homicide

Head of State


Something About Mary


Dead Presidents


Final Analysis

Article 99

Jenifer Lewis and Keith David costar in The Princess and The Frog

On the bend of the Big River, New Orleans sparkles with opulence, adventure, romance, music and magic. Here in the “once upon a time” of the Jazz Age 1920s, among the wrought-iron balconies and beckoning alleyways of the French Quarter and environs, a most unusual tale unfolds, “The Princess and The Frog.

Everyone knows the story in which a princess finds true love by kissing a frog that magically turns into her handsome prince. However, in this telling of the story, the girl still kisses a frog, but the result is quite different; it’s only one of dozens of surprises in this mix of wacky humor, thrills, melody and emotion. Love eventually finds a way—between a prince and a princess…between frogs, perhaps…or maybe between a firefly and the object of his affection. But it’s clear that the most important details lie well beneath the skin.

The voice cast features a varied and renowned troupe of actors including Jenifer Lewis who casts a spell as the mystical Mama Odie.

MAMA ODIE is the sassy, eccentric and witty 197-year-old magic Queen of the Bayou who guides the princess and prince and has to undo an evil spell. According to the story, Mama Odie dwells in “the deepest, darkest part of the bayou.” In an old shrimp boat, improbably wedged upside down in a giant tree, Mama Odie and her snake Juju dispense spells, heyacalls and gris gris to those in need.

Some of the spirit of Mama Odie was guided by the filmmakers’ appreciation of the late New Orleans storyteller Coleen Salley, author of several picture books, esteemed University of New Orleans professor, and an ambassador for children’s literature.

Recently, I spoke to Jenifer Lewis by phone about The Princess and The Frog and her amazing career, one that could be described as a dream come true.  “You know, I believe in dreams.  I have told people over and over and over again in my life it was the dream that sustained me throughout my entire life no matter how down I got, no matter what happened, the dream sustained me.

“If you have a dream you have to be healthy to live it so that took care of the physical. You know you don’t want to hurt yourself; you want to be fit so that you can enjoy the fruit of your labor. Wow, that’s a great question.  Fairy tales, I don’t believe in luck, I believe in hard work, ambition I’ve always had and I think when it comes to discipline and you know just to make it simple, it’s about the dream. That’s what we have, that’s what we are, what we want to be.

“I think the thing to tell you is that everybody just has to put their best foot forward and here is what I say to myself and others; it is when you are hardest hit that you mustn’t quit.”

A steady string of film and related projects has made Lewis a recognizable and reliable talent in Hollywood.  To that she replied, “I have been very very blessed, I have to use that word. Once again, it was sustaining the dream. So few of us sustain in this business, but it is all I have ever wanted, it is all I have ever done.

“I sang my first solo in church at age five and since that moment I knew what I wanted to do with my life from the reaction of the congregation.  It was a song called, ‘Oh Lord You’ve Brought Me a Mighty Long Way.’ I knew then what I wanted to do; I mean, it was the first time I saw my mother cry   and when I was done, people were up on their feet and I was like, ‘Good Lord, alright, well this is what I’m going to do.’”

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With success comes challenges and Lewis has been open about hers.  “Yes, I’ve had quite a life and certainly it has its ups and downs.  I’m talking about down in the depths and great highs because you know, I’m bi-polar.  I went on Oprah and talked about living with bi-polar disorder so my highs were extreme highs and extreme lows.  I really had to do the work.  I had to focus and ‘the dream’ did sustain me. It’s amazing that you opened the interview with that [dreams], but, you have to find something you love in life.  You have to find what you love in life and go for it.  I know it sounds corny, typical, or easy, but everybody has to find something they love to do.  We are just very fortunate, in America, where we’ve got a step up where we can at least do that or fight for it.

Lewis’ character in “The Princess and The Frog” is Mama Odie, a role that is different from any other characters she has portrayed.   “I had no idea they were going to present her like that. It was so much fun!   I was sitting there watching the movie and I was thinking, ‘Oh my God, did they do something to her that I don’t know?’ But I loved the way they built her up and she just comes in with Ju Ju and carrying on and giving away candy and stirring up gumbo.  I’m going to be very honest with you, I love Mama Odie, I really do. I think she’s one of the funest characters I’ve ever ever done and I mean that.”

Major Development Changes For San Francisco’s Third Street

By Lee

San Francisco’s Langston Slocum has been a life long resident in various parts of Bay View Hunters Point. He has seen the neighborhood change from predominately white in the 1950s, to predominately black in the 1970s. Now the 64-year-old is witnessing another change. “There has been a lot of housing built in the area” said Slocum, a member of the Bay View Hill Neighborhood Housing Association. “This change is good and it was bound to happen.”
Along Third Street , the main economic corridor in Bay View, several housing developments have gone up or there are plans in the works for housing. Recently the San Francisco Housing Development Corporation celebrated the grand opening of 18 affordable homes at 4800 Third Street at Palou. Named after Cheryl Towns , a former spokesperson for the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency, civic leader and founder of the San Francisco Housing Development Corporation, the Towns Homes consist of one and two bedroom condominiums, costs beginning at $159,000.
“This is an example of the affordability levels of housing, which can meet the needs of the community,” said Ed Donaldson, a housing counseling director with the San Francisco Housing Development Corporation.
The condominiums range in size from 700 to 1,000 square feet, with solar panels on the roofs to help power the electricity in the complex. On the bottom floor, a commercial space will house YATS, a soul food and Louisiana style restaurant, which will serve Po Boy sandwiches, Gumbo, Jambalaya, Red Beans and Rice and Craw fish Etoufee.
“This is a bold effort to try to turn around a part of Bay View, which has been historically neglected,” continued Donaldson.
At Third Street and Armstrong, Bridge Housing Corporations Armstrong Place Town homes will open in 2010. The Town homes number 124 units of one, two, three and four bedrooms, which start at $166,000. At the former Coca Cola Plant at 5800 third and Carroll Streets, the Carroll Station Housing Development is under way. The first wave of the 340-unit housing project is almost finished with 140 units of housing completed, along with an accompanying Fresh & Easy grocery store. Other plans for housing developments on Third Street include seventy-three housing units at 6600 Third Street , a former motel, which Mercy Housing and Providence Foundation will develop beginning in late 2010.
“Bay View has been a dumping ground in San Francisco for the past 100 years”, continued Slocum. “Now you look up and the area has all of this open space and people are starting to build or look into building”. Housing construction in the Bay View has taken place in the past five to ten years. They include housing built on Third Street and Wallace, construction of senior housing on Third Street and McKinnon and apartment complexes on Third and LaSalle Street and Third Street and Kirkwood . Emmitt Powell of Powell’s Soul Food on Third Street sees the new building as a good sign. “There is a lot of housing and a lot of growth taking place, which will be good for business,” said Powell. “This is the place for the future, but it will take around two years before it really can kick off.”
This also pleases Willie Ratcliff, the publisher of the San Francisco Bay View newspaper and a construction contractor with Liberty Builders. “While everyone around here is worried about the development of the Hunters Point Shipyard, which is an important issue, it might not happen for another twenty years”, said Ratliff. “The most important thing happening is right under our eyes, which is Third Street . The strongest thing in any community is its commercial area and Third Street is the commercial area for Bay View Hunters Point.”
Ratcliff sees the building boom as a way for blacks to move to the area and buy affordable housing in San Francisco , as well as giving long time Bay View residents a chance to remain. However, he is concerned about who participates in the building growth, and the lack of black contractors and black workers working on the building developments. “When it comes to the work, I don’t see anyone black around here working on these projects,” said Ratcliff.
He said that black residents and business owners in the community need to start mobilizing and organizing to make demands on the housing developments in the Bay View which use city money. A similar issue was raised last week regarding federal money and local hiring at a press conference called by San Francisco Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi. At the press conference, the Reverend Arnold Townsend said that, “Stimulus funds and local dollars should be used for the benefit of San Franciscans in San Francisco .”
Ratcliff says that if a pro-active role is not taken, African Americans might be left out of the building projects and the opportunities to buy in the community.
“The development is cool as long as it is affordable for people within the community,” said Monique Humphrey, a Bay View community resident. “Otherwise this will be a big tease.”

Langston Slocum (left) with his daughter Viola Hubbard.

Langston Slocum (left) with his daughter Viola Hubbard.

Hundid Racks Bring Street Credibility to Energy Drinks

By Lee Hubbard

William Lassiter was always full of energy and looking for new ways to start businesses, growing up in the Western Addition of San Francisco or ‘Fillmoe’ as he calls it. Lassiter has owned two record stores, a record distribution business and a hip-hop record label.
That is until he stumbled across the booming new energy drink business in 2006 and drink brands such as Rock Star and Red Bull. Lassiter thought he could bring a similar brand to the inner city. “When I looked at the energy drink business, Hyphy Juice was doing well, but I felt more could be done targeting energy drinks in the urban community,” said Lassiter. He established Hundid Racks in December of 2006 as the energy drink for the streets. A fruity drink, it is sweet and fruity, but it is not as heavy as some of the more traditional energy drinks. The drink made its full bay area appearance in 2007. Hundid Racks is the street name for $100,000. “Growing up in the hood and making $100,000 was a dream, so that’s where the name for the drink comes from,” said Lassiter. “The goal was to make $100,000 as a young adult in business, and I thought the name would be good motivation for people.”
He called Hundid Racks the ‘energy for the hustleras, a motivational tool to get the energy to work on whatever you do as a model to hustle in school, at work and for life’.
While the energy drink started of f slow in parts of San Francisco , Oakland and Sacramento, at corner stores, clubs, colleges and social gatherings, in 2006 it spread out nationally. Hundid Racks can be bought in Kansas City , Kansas , Youngstown and Columbus Ohio , Omaha , Denver , Fresno , Bakersfield and San Diego . “We are working on and getting into other markets across the country,” said Lassiter.
He is in the process of strengthening the brand name in promotions geared towards nightclubs, bars and restaurants. He is also utilizing hip hop artists such as San Francisco’ s San Quinn and Oakland’ s Keek Da Sneak, Snoop Dogg, Gucci Man and others to cross promote the drink in videos, record release parties and neighborhood appearances.
The energy drink is the main brand of Hundid Racks but the company has expanded to various other areas. Hundid Rack sells car spray, incense, body oils and body wash. The business has become lucrative as various other markets and stores open up to Hundid Rack products, which has Lassiter proud of his four year old company that’s growing everyday.
“No matter what level you are on from banker, construction worker or fireman, you are hustling to try to make it,” continued Lassiter. “You hustle everyday: ”

William Lassiter

William Lassiter

Black, Hispanic Businesses Shut Out of Stimulus Loans

By Aaron Glantz
New America Media

Loans handed out to struggling small businesses as part of President Barack Obama’s stimulus package have largely shut out minority businesses — especially those owned by Blacks and Latinos — according to data provided by the federal government’s Small Business Administration (SBA) to New America Media.
On June 15, the SBA, using money from the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, launched the ARC program, America’s Recovery Capital, giving banks and credit unions 100 percent guarantees so they’re taking no risk when they make loans of up to $35,000 to previously successful, currently struggling small businesses to help them ride out the recession.
Under the program, the borrower pays no interest and makes no payments for 12 months, then has five years to repay the loan. SBA charges no fees and pays interest to the lender at prime – the rate of interest at which banks lend to favored customers – plus 2 percent.
The Obama Administration does not report the racial breakdown of who’s benefiting from these loans at, but data obtained by NAM from the SBA found that of the 4,497 ARC loans where the race of the borrower was reported, 4,104 (over 91 percent) went to white-owned firms, 140, (3 percent) went to Hispanic-owned businesses, and 151 (3 percent) went to Asian- or Pacific Islander-owned businesses. Only 65, (1.5 percent) went to black-owned firms.
Overall, white-owned businesses received over $130 million in loans through the program, while Hispanic-owned businesses got $4 million and black-owned businesses less than $2 million.
Javier Palomarez, the president and chief executive officer of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, says the ARC loan program was poorly designed and “destined to fail.”
When Congress was drafting the stimulus package, Palomarez said, his agency and other minority business groups argued the severity of America’s recession should have led to the government handing out loans to struggling small businesses directly – rather than simply backing up loans from the very banks that caused the country’s economic recession.
“African American and Hispanic entrepreneurs often self-financed their start-ups or expansions, meaning, that they tapped into their own net worth … taking out home equity loans or second mortgages to invest in their communities and create jobs.”
“These businesses did not get a bailout and, while the Administration has been generous with tax credits for struggling businesses, the banks that caused this problem are nowhere to be seen,” he said.
“The breakdown is that people of color are not present at the banks,” added Anthony Robinson of MBELDEF.” And the government that’s pushing these benefits through are not sensitive to the fact that we are not involved in this distribution network.
“So to solve this problem we need to incorporate people of color into the distribution chain of banks, business, and government. Otherwise, the flaws of the system will only magnify the inequality that’s at the center of our recession.”

Javier Palomarez

Javier Palomarez

Dale Wright, 86

Pioneering journalist, former Johnson Publishing Co. editor

Dale Raymond Wright, former associate editor of Ebony and Jet magazines, and Pulitzer Prize nominee, passed away in the Bronx, New York on December 13, 2009.
He was 86 years old and had been in ill health for several years. Wright was the first African American reporter to work at the New York World-Telegram and Sun.

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BART’s New Officers

The BART Board of Directors on Dec. 17 unanimously elected its longest-serving board member, James Fang, to serve as its new president.
The Board also unanimously elected Board Member Bob Franklin to serve as vice president.
Both assumed their respective posts after the Board of Directors cast their votes during today’s meeting at BART Headquarters in Oakland. The nine member BART Board is made up of three elected directors from each of the BART District’s three counties; San Francisco, Alameda and Contra Costa.
Every year in December, the board members choose their president and vice president. Historically, the board member who assumes the president and vice president posts will be from a different county than the board member who previously held each post.
After his election, Fang delivered a speech in which he first thanked outgoing president Thomas Blalock for his leadership during the triumphs and tribulations of 2009, including the New Year’s Day police shooting, union contract negotiations and the approval of three significant new expansion projects, which are the Warm Springs extension, eBART and the Oakland Airport Connector.
“I want to express my heartfelt appreciation for the quiet but very deft leadership of my very good friend Tom Blalock,” Fang said. “He has taken everything that has been thrown at us this year with a kind of stoic poise that we expect and demand from our president.”
Fang then said he would use his presidency to create special committees to tackle problems and issues that interest board members. He then encouraged his fellow board members to “spend and sacrifice” their time and energy to these committees in order to start “formulating solutions to these problems.”
For example, Fang said that he personally would sacrifice his time to work more on making BART the first transit agency in the country to allow all of its customers to pay for their fares with their mobile phone. In 2008, BART helped launch a first-in-the-nation technological trial that allowed a small group of riders to walk up to any BART faregate with a specially-equipped Sprint wireless phone and pay for their ride by tagging their phone on a reader located on top of the gate.
“This is the wave of the future,” Fang said. “This would really be a growth area for BART, so I would like to start a committee just to deal with that.”
About President James Fang
James Fang is the longest serving director on the BART Board. He represents the 8th BART District, which includes portions San Francisco. Voters first elected him to the BART Board in November 1990.
Today’s decision marks his third time serving as president. He previously held the position of president in 1998 and in 2004. He’s served as vice president in 1997, 2003 and 2008.
Fang is a native and life-long San Franciscan who attended public schools in the city before graduating from the University of California, Berkeley and attending Hastings College of Law.
Fang is the President of Asian Week, the largest circulation Asian-American publication in the United States. He is married and lives in San Francisco.
Learn more about him by visiting
About Vice President Bob Franklin
This is BART Board Member Bob Franklin’s first time serving as vice president. Voters first elected him to the Board on November 2, 2004.
Franklin represents BART District 3, which covers Kensington, Piedmont, San Leandro, San Lorenzo and portions of Berkeley, Oakland, Hayward and Castro Valley.
During his tenure on the Board, Franklin has chaired the Sustainability/Green Committee and has been a member of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Liaison Committee, the AC Transit Liaison Committee and the Administration Committee.
At Dec. 17 meeting, Franklin pledged to enrich the customerexperience by asking employees to come up with the “best ways to improve their jobs and improve service for the customers,” he said. “It’s been a tough year for BART, but we’re a safe transit system that is 95% on-time and we must return the focus to what we do best.”
Learn more about Franklin by visiting

Bob Franklin

Bob Franklin

James Fang

James Fang

Links Debutantes’ Evening of Splendor

By Tasion Kwamilele

The Oakland Bay Area Chapter of The Links Incorporated hosted its 54th Cotillion at the San Francisco Hilton on Saturday, December 19. The magical night, “An Evening of Splendor”, honored 20 debutantes, their Escorts and their families for their commitment to leadership, community service and academic success.
The Links Incorporated – an international volunteer organization – was founded in 1946 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with the commitment to service and sisterhood and a mission to improve the quality of life for African American children; the Oakland Bay Area Chapter of Links was established in 1950.
Michele Davenport, Publicity Chair of the Oakland Bay Area chapter of The Link’s Inc., said, “The Oakland Bay Area Links, a group of distinguished women of color, give time, expertise, and money to dozens of worthy community efforts throughout the Bay Area”.
Debutante Domonique Kelly, 17, a senior at Bishop O’ Dowd high school, who has dreams of attending New York University was excited about participating in the Links cotillion.
“I learned a lot about investment and saving which is a very important lesson that African Americans need to be taught,” said Kelly.
“It further pressed the significance and importance of confidence. These life messages were very rewarding and informative, especially for me as a black woman looking to go into the engineering field,” said Debutante Kaela Farrise, 17, a high school senior at Cross Roads High School in Santa Monica.
The annual cotillion’s proceeds benefit community based organizations. This year recipients include East Bay College Fund, Cinnamon Girls, and The Insight Prison Project: Library Services to Incarcerated Youth. The Oakland Bay Area Links chapter also adopted Lafayette elementary school by supporting year round academic and cultural programs. The Oakland Bay Area Links also provides book grants to high school seniors as a part of its Celebration of Excellence program.
“I am looking to pursue a career in Biology. I now know the importance and significance of the way you carry yourself. I hold my head high and I will have a voice,” said Debutante Natalia Giles, 17, senior at Saint Mary’s High School, Berkeley.

From left to right: Front Row: Dominique Kelly, Maritza Taylor, Regina Clincy, Kaela Farrise, Tamra Grigsby, Folasade Adesanya, Charlotte Jones, Victoria Hill, Natalia Giles, Samantha Harris, Camille Johnson, Shanel Jones; Second Row: Leonard Charles, Camille Hayes, Krista White, CyLena Granger, Hillary Streeter, Alexis Stuckey, Nailah Davis, Paige Sterling, Kristen Barker, Matt Mills; Third Row: Nicholas Leach, Alexander Tyson, Nicholas Capiti, Trae Guinn, Chase Wiley, Adarious Payton, Ikenna Nwadibia, Henry Organ, Nolan Caro-Greene, Tyler Mitchell, Brendan Taylor; Top Row: Malcolm Norman, Austin Jackson, DeVante DuBose, Albert Williams, Aaron McGee, Andrew Arnett, Nile Washington, Jalil Eppenger .

From left to right: Front Row: Dominique Kelly, Maritza Taylor, Regina Clincy, Kaela Farrise, Tamra Grigsby, Folasade Adesanya, Charlotte Jones, Victoria Hill, Natalia Giles, Samantha Harris, Camille Johnson, Shanel Jones; Second Row: Leonard Charles, Camille Hayes, Krista White, CyLena Granger, Hillary Streeter, Alexis Stuckey, Nailah Davis, Paige Sterling, Kristen Barker, Matt Mills; Third Row: Nicholas Leach, Alexander Tyson, Nicholas Capiti, Trae Guinn, Chase Wiley, Adarious Payton, Ikenna Nwadibia, Henry Organ, Nolan Caro-Greene, Tyler Mitchell, Brendan Taylor; Top Row: Malcolm Norman, Austin Jackson, DeVante DuBose, Albert Williams, Aaron McGee, Andrew Arnett, Nile Washington, Jalil Eppenger .

PIC Places 2,000 in 2009

Roger Staten, a job developer for the Oakland Private Industry Council (PIC), wishes he could have been Santa Claus for twice as many of the 2,080 full-time placements they helped secure for the unemployed, served by the career center, operated under contract with the Alameda County Social Services Agency (SSA.)
Staten, who works at the Eastmont Town Center, location of the SSA career center, was excited to report that more than 2,000 jobs were landed in 2009. But he hopes 2010 will yield greater results. He said he hopes more employers will support the mission to provide accessible, high quality training and employment services to them and the local residents.
“I was really numb and it did not hit me until I helped a refugee get a job making $25 an hour. It was his encouraging words that made me take notice of how many people have received jobs and how much I actually helped changed lives,” said Staten.
Oakland’s Private Industry Council has partnered with the Alameda Country Social Security Agency (SSA) and now operates two SSA career centers in North Oakland and in East Oakland

Roger Staten (right in red shirt) speaks to job seekers at a recent job  fair  held at Eastmont Town Center in Oakland.

Roger Staten (right in red shirt) speaks to job seekers at a recent job fair held at Eastmont Town Center in Oakland.

OSA’s WIZ “Pleased” on Down the Road to the FOX

By Tasion

On December 10th and 11th, family members, friends and supporters, gathered to see students of Oakland School for the Arts (OSA) in their first performance on the Fox Theatre’s stage. The students gave an exceptional performance of the hit musical, ‘The Wiz,’ that surpassed expectations for high school aged students. Regardless, on both nights the eighteen hundred seats were accounted for and the venue was filled to its capacity.
Adrian Hutton, class of 2007, played the role of the scarecrow when the school first produced the musical in 2003.
“Just like before, the cast of ‘The Wiz’ rendered a phenomenal performance. It reminded me of what OSA stands for all over again,” said Hutton, reflecting on his time spent and all that he gained as a student of Arts School.
Oakland School for the Arts hasn’t “eased on down the road’. The school has had to overcome many obstacles to get to the place it is today. It is this latest performance that has erased any doubt of the significance of the Arts School.
“We always knew what OSA was capable of. Oakland is finally realizing what we have known all along,” said Amanee Hearne, member of the inaugural graduation class of 2006 and soon-to-be graduate of Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia.
Over the last six months speculation has surfaced as to why the school was actually allowed to move into the fox theatre. More so, why wasn’t the Arts School being afforded opportunities to use the theatre stage for performances? Many believed that the school was used as a puppet to gain access to funding needed to renovate the Fox.
“A lot of people doubted that it was possible for the students to perform on such a level but the students proved them all wrong. I have been with the school since it first opened in 2002 and this accomplishment has nearly brought me to tears,” said Ashley Floyd, also a member of the inaugural graduating class. “I am so proud of OSA”
Dorothy Lawrence, class of 2006, said, “OSA guides and empowers youth, steering them into a direction that only leads to success and prosperity. This truth becomes clearer as time continues to pass”.
Oakland School for the Arts is a public Charter School serving graded 6 – 12th grade. Students are selected on an audition based process in the areas of Vocal Music, Instrumental Music, Dance, Acting, Visual Arts, and Arts Management. Visit for more information.

From left to right:  Mekkell Williams as the Scarecrow, Kaana Richardson as Dorothy, Kwame Grant, as the Lion, Semaj Miller, as the Tin Man.

From left to right: Mekkell Williams as the Scarecrow, Kaana Richardson as Dorothy, Kwame Grant, as the Lion, Semaj Miller, as the Tin Man.

Oakland’s Ethiopian Beauty Reaches Out to HIV/AIDS Orphans

Part 1
By Tasion Kwamilele

Even eight years after winning her beauty crown, Zewdi Reda is recognized as the former Miss USA Ethiopia. In 2001, Oaklander Zewdi ( pronounced Zodi) Reda, was crowned for her beauty and brains. Now she uses her brains and recognition-factor for the greater needs of orphaned children.
Zewdi’s passion for orphaned children stems from a “very disconnected childhood”. For her first five years, she was raised by her mother in Ethiopia. At age five, she was sent to live with her father in Sudan. She never experienced a two parent household and reflecting on those times in her life has motivated Zewdi to make a change.
As a native of West Oakland’s Acorn housing high-rise apartments located on 7th Street, she daily watched hundreds of single-parent children play in the streets “I have always related to kids. I lived alone with my mother. When I was 12, my mother died,” said Zewdi.
She watched other highly visible, wealthy women like Angelina Jolie and Oprah Winfrey visit Africa, her homeland, to help children. Their mission struck a sympathetic chord in her heart and she wondered, “What about me? I too want to do something for the children of my country.”
Zewdi graduated from Cal State East Bay in 2006 with a degree in Mass Communication. In 2008, after 25 years, she returned home to Ethiopia. Then, this year, after visiting an orphanage run by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church (EOC), her life was changed.
Zewdi said, “The things we take for granted here in America are luxuries to those children.”
In 2009, she founded the Have Hope Foundation (HHF), a non-profit charitable organization, to help children orphaned by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and she has partnered with the EOC.
Zekarias Gabrezgi, Zewdi’s assistant, was mentored at 16 years old by Post Publisher Paul Cobb when he was trying to establish an Ethiopian Youth Association. Gabrezgi is now the Program Manager for HHF.
“We are focused on results. We are going to raise more funds and strengthen awareness. In 2010 we are hosting cultural shows every 5th Saturday,” said Gabrezgi.
Arif Khatib, founder and president of African American Ethnic Sports Hall of Fame, who made history when he inducted 3 Ethiopian athletes, supports Zewdi’s mission. Khatib is helping HHF arrange transport for shoes, hygiene products for girls and clothing for the orphanage’s 126 children by January 15, 2010.
“Zewdi is our ambassador of hope to the orphans in Northern Ethiopia. Those children will get to see the most beautiful Santa in the world ”, said Cobb who is urging support for the 126 orphans. On Christmas Day Zewdi will join with Geoffrey Pete and Bishop Clark to help feed Oakland’s neediest families.
Zewdi said she has a list of more than two dozen other orphanages that HHF will assist.
Zewdi’s HHF will also establish a youth center in Oakland that offers alternatives to some of the negative aspects of the streets.
“I grew up in Oakland. My sister was murdered in 2002 and it was always her dream to open up a youth center in Oakland. Instead of having drug dealers become mentors, I want the center to help guide our children,” said Zewdi.
To learn more about Have Hope Foundation, visit or call (510)499-1941. Donations can be made payable to Have Hope Foundation and mailed to the following address: Have Hope Foundation, 1416A Sonoma Blvd., Vallejo, California 94590.

From left to right: Bishop Keith Clark of Word Assembly, Zewdi Reda, and Black Caucus V.P. Geoffrey Pete serve Christmas meals to needy.

From left to right: Bishop Keith Clark of Word Assembly, Zewdi Reda, and Black Caucus V.P. Geoffrey Pete serve Christmas meals to needy.

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Frances Clarke Brown Doggett

Frances Clarke Brown Doggett, noted educator and wife of co-founding minister of Downs Memorial Methodist Church of Oakland, Reverend John Doggett has passed. 91 years old, she passed on December 11th in Los Angeles from complications from pneumonia.
Born in Philadelphia, the youngest of 9 children, she was the last surviving niece of the first black registered nurse of Richmond Virginia, Mary Frances Clarke, who graduated 1900 from Freedman Hospital at Howard University.
In 1945, Frances moved to San Francisco with her then husband, Reverend John Doggett on a missionary project in Hunters Point, establishing a store front church. In 1946, Frances taught remedial reading at Bret Harte School in San Francisco and was active with the Brownies and Girl Scouts in both San Francisco and Berkeley 1946-49.
During this time she and her husband’s social progressive ministry created a life long friendship with the beloved Reverend Hamilton Boswell of Jones Methodist Church and Carlton Goodlett.
A memorial fund is being established in her honor. For information: contact: Frances Clarke Brown Doggett is survived by her three children: eldest: Lorraine Doggett Melton, second: John Nelson Doggett III and youngest, William Ballard Doggett, spouses: Curtis Wayne Melton, Haiping Tang

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Spiritual Refreshment at Marcus Books in Oakland

Spiritual Journey, a cd by local baritone Autris Paige is available at Marcus. It is narrated by Paige and a good teaching tool as well as renewing for those who continue to love the Spirituals. Also available are cds of Benjamin Matthewes, bass baritone, singing Spirituals. They even have long playing albums by Soprano Veronica Tyler and Tenor Charles Holland.
Stop by Marcus Books and take time “to hear the singing of angels” this holiday season, or any season.

Autris Paige, baritone

Autris Paige, baritone

Eathen & Anita Gums to Celebrate 60th Anniversary

On January 16, 2010, Eathen & Anita Gums (pictured above) will commemorate 60 years of marriage. The momentous celebration will be held at Hiram Hall, in Oakland where they both have dedicated their lives to many years of political involvement and community service.
Mr. Gums is a retired Aircraft Instrument Mechanic where he was employed by the Naval Air Station in Alameda which is now closed. Mrs. Gums is the retired Administrative Assistant to the late Oakland City Councilmember Carter Gilmore.
Anita also served as a delegate in past Democratic presidential elections. Mrs. Gums was also the founder of Coretta King Children’s Center, a community-based non-profit child development center for low and moderate income families, which was located at Elmhurst United Methodist Church in East Oakland . She served as Chairperson of the Social Concerns Committee at the church which was considered the ‘political arm’ of EUMC.
Eathen & Anita are the proud parents of 7 children, 22 grandchildren, and 12 great-grandchildren.

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