From March 2010

Churches Facing Up to HIV/AIDS as the Leading Killer of Black Women

By Jesse
Brooks

AIDS is now the leading cause of death for Black women ages 25 to 34.
Since the beginning of the HIV/AIDS epidemic during the early 80s, the disease’s face has dramatically changed from white gay males to a full-blown pandemic in the Black community, affecting Black women and children, as well as Black men.

Ayodele Nzinga

March 7-14 was the official week of The Black Church Week of Prayer for the healing of AIDS. The concept is modeled after the successful, innovative 1989 Harlem Week of Prayer for AIDS started by The Balm of Gilead.
The Week of Prayer services are to seek the power of prayer and divine love for all those suffering from AIDS.
The services are dedicated to empowering those living with HIV/AIDS by taking the time to pray. Its goals are to remove myths and unfounded fears by educating people about what AIDS is and is not by educating them about the full impact and prevention of this disease in our communities.
I’m happily exhausted after attending several events in observance of this day. I am excited that churches are finally ready to step up to the plate around the HIV/AIDS issues.
The “Mama Twilight, Death by Love” performance at Beebe Memorial Church on March 6th, kicked off many faith-based services around the bay area. The play was written and directed by Ayodele Nzinga starring The Lower Bottom Playaz. It was sponsored by Get Screened Oakland, Mayor Dellums’ HIV/AIDS initiative.
The play tells the story a family’s struggle to stay a family when HIV/AIDS comes knocking at their door. It’s riveting and real, digging deep into the secrets and denials that are prohibiting the black community from understanding the annihilation of HIV.
Nzinga’s insight of how our ability to honestly communicate, blocked and shielded by deep-rooted secrets and pain, ultimately damages the whole family structure.
“HIV/AIDS are just symptoms of the real diagnosis, the subject can be replaced with a number of other health disparities in our community”, Nzinga says. Twilight is a must see for all.
March 10th, at Abyssinian Missionary Baptist Church, Women Organized against Life-threatening Disease (WORLD), organized “HIV is Right Here at Home”, a testing empowerment event with a series of  open, interactive educational presentations.

Dr. Nanette Finley-Hancock, keynote speaker; Gloria Crowell, Chairperson. Allen Temple AIDS ministry.

Allen Temple Baptist Church’s AIDS Ministry hosted a series called “Real Talk”, two days of events including a mixer of social interaction with refreshments, music, and health information. After the social the program featured Bishop Keith Clark, of Word Assembly whose sermon asked for healing in our community from HIV/AIDS. Helen Stephen’s young adult choir and Ambassadors for Change performed. The next day the conversation continued, with a roundtable discussion, where Dr. Nannette Finley-Hancock of Paradise Cove Psychology Services Inc, in Richmond, California, delivered a powerful keynote speech setting off an intense, emotional discussion. Allen Temple has been having these discussions with clergy and ministers since the early days of the epidemic. Allen Temple plans another Real Talk next month. I finished the week off as guest speaker at Brookins AME Church in East Oakland.
The pastors and churches that participated in this week of prayer for the healing of HIV/AIDS have shown that the Black church can indeed be a Balm in Gilead, which “heals the sin sick soul.”
For questions and comments, email jessebrooksii@gmail.com or call 510-575-8245.

Soweto Gospel Choir Brings Messages of Hope to Oakland

By Lee
Hildebrand

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Soweto Gospel Choir. Photo by Lorezno Di Nozzi.

eing a member of the Soweto Gospel Choir has brought singer-guitarist Kevin Williams more closely in touch with the cultural diversity of his homeland than he was as a boy growing up in the South African port city of Durban under his country’s racist apartheid regime. Together only eight years, the 26-member, two-time Grammy Award-winning ensemble counts Oprah Winfrey and Archbishop Desmond Tutu among its fans. The singers now spend nine to ten months a year performing outside South Africa, blending their voices in glorious, multi-layered harmonies as they serve up religious and traditional South African selections — sung in six of the country’s 11 official languages, mostly in Zulu, Sotho and English — along with inspirational pop songs such as Jimmy Cliff’s “Many Rivers to Cross,” Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young,” Bob Marley’s “One Love” and Paul Simon’s “Bridge Over Troubles Water.”
“We spend so much time together on the road that we’ve created a bond like a family,” Williams, 29, says by phone following a concert at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis. “We learn the different cultures and languages from each other. We don’t just learn how to speak them, but we also learn how to understand them.”
Originally formed at Holy Jerusalem Church, a Pentecostal congregation in the overwhelmingly black Soweto district of Johannesburg, the choir now includes vocalists from churches of several different Christian denominations from throughout South Africa. “Everybody goes to church,” Williams says. “We don’t have non-believers.”
The choir has specific criteria for choosing non-gospel numbers to include in its repertoire. “They’re songs that speak to the soul — songs that have a message that can relate to where people come from and to where people are at right now,” Williams explains. “It’s also the lyrics that bring a message across — a message of hope, a message of peace and a message of faith.”
South Africa has changed “drastically” for the better since the end of apartheid in 1994, according to Williams. “Change only means growth,” he says. “Where we come from is not who we are. As a nation, people are so excited that the past doesn’t have an effect on us.”
The choir solicits contributions while on tour for Nkosi’s Haven, a Soweto residential care facility for orphans, as well as children and their mothers, infected with HIV/AIDS. When they are back home in South Africa, choir members personally distribute food and clothing to residents. “We show them that they are not alone,” Williams says.
Concerts are divided into two segments: one in which the choir performs either a cappella or with the accompaniment of two djembe drummers, the other with support by guitarist Williams, a keyboardist, bassist and drummer. Currently on a three-month tour of the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean in support of “Grace,” their fourth CD for the Shanachie label, the singers will stop in Oakland on Saturday, March 27, for an 8 p.m. show at the Paramount Theatre.
Send comments and story ideas to Lee Hildebrand at LeeHilde@aol.com.

2010 Lecture Series: Literacy, Non-Negotiable

By Tanya
Dennis

From left to right: Ernest Marshall, 1st place winner of Oakland Oratorical Fest Shakeri Evans, Montel McKinney, 1st place winner of the Oakland Oratorical Fest, Donald Layne, and Nate Parker.

In1865, African Americans opposed slavery, because not to do so would mean a denial of our humanity.
In 1965, African Americans opposed Jim Crow racism, because not to do would mean a denial of our humanity.
Will we wait another hundred years to oppose ignorance?  We can’t afford the luxury.  At the rate our African American men are being incarcerated, it is estimated that by the year 2030 fifty percent of all Black men will be in prison.  Right now the ratio is one in eighteen.  At this rate, one hundred years from now all Black people will be incarcerated or extinct.
While many of our children celebrate “Going Dumb”, there are concerned adults determined to help them become literate.
Nate Parker is no ordinary Hollywood star. He is a man on a mission.  He’s also intelligent and articulate. Parker shared his history with approximately 200 people March 9th at the 2010 Speakers Series entitled “Literacy Non-Negotiable” held in the Lissner Theater at Mills College.
A native of Norfolk Virginia concrete projects, he attended thirteen schools in twelve years with no father to guide him through the landmines of poverty.  He sees himself in the Henry Lowe character he played in the Movie “The Great Debaters” and he saw himself again last week when he visited Best High school, a school of approximately 375 predominately African-American and Latino students in East Oakland last Tuesday.

Andrea Nobles is the Director of the Oakland Oratorical Fest and the Literacy Speakers Series.

Parker stated, “If we can’t make education relevant to our kids it doesn’t matter.  They have to see themselves.   Right now our children have adopted a plantation mentality and value system which is vacant of self-esteem and self-worth. Without a direct connection to family, community or society our children will perish. This is a battle cry; our children are a reflection of us!  When we get it right, they’ll get it right!”
Parker continued, “We have to teach our children to be culturally competent, we can’t do this when we ignore obvious obstacles that are presented to our children. They face institutionalized racism, less resources, and culturally incompetent teachers.   Many teachers don’t know how to deal with our kids. They can’t relate or teach, and many of them say our kids can’t learn.  We must cultivate and hire culturally responsive teachers.
Kids today say “I don’t see myself; we’re not in the curriculum.”
Parker sees this disconnect and it has moved him to action.
As co-founder of The Leadership and Literacy Camp Program, his goal is to cultivate leadership amongst inner city youth and college students through educational programs and presentations.
Parents of two Oakland students, Anton and Lenore Walker, in attendance, have also taken action.  They conduct an after-school program at Bret Harte Junior High School, offering a cultural enrichment program that teaches students African history.
“By teaching the connection between Africa and ourselves, children learn their history and as a result they can have a better future.  Many students at school don’t have core values or core support.  We’re their extended family.  We do this from the heart,” said Anton Walker.
Parker concluded, “Because of gross achievement gaps and inequities that exist, teaching literacy to our children has to be a collaborative effort.  As Frederick Douglass said, “There is no progress without struggle.”

Minorities at Greater Risk for Kidney Disease

African Americans are nearly four times more likely to develop kidney failure than white Americans

Certain ethnic minorities, including African Americans and Hispanics, are at a higher risk than the general population for developing potentially life-threatening chronic kidney disease (CKD), which has been linked to higher rates of diabetes and high blood pressure, according to the National Kidney Foundation (NKF).
Chronic kidney disease is a progressive, usually permanent loss of kidney function that affects more than 26 million Americans, according to the NKF. When CKD leads to kidney failure, or end stage renal disease (ESRD), the only treatments are a kidney transplant or dialysis.
African, Asian, Hispanic and Native Americans are at higher risk than the general population for developing kidney disease because they also tend to have higher rates of diabetes and high blood pressure, the top two causes of kidney disease, according to the NKF.
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, (NIDDK),
African Americans are nearly four times more likely to develop kidney failure than white Americans.
Early detection and treatment can help prevent further kidney damage and slow the progression of kidney disease, according to the NIDDK’s National Kidney Disease Education Program. People in these at-risk groups are urged to get regular screenings for high blood pressure and diabetes plus make changes to diet and exercise to help reduce their risk of progressive kidney disease.
Dialysis is a life-sustaining process that cleans waste products from the blood, removes extra fluids, and controls the body’s chemistry when a person’s kidneys fail. Dialysis patients typically require treatment on an ongoing basis unless they receive a kidney transplant.

San Francisco “Complete Count Committee” Director Urges Residents to Be Census 2010 “Early Birds”

From left to right. Census Partnership specialist Wade Woods, Status on Women Commissioner Andrea Shorter, US Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, and Supervisor Carmen Chu during Locke’s visit to San Francisco early this month. Photo by Kevin Jefferson.

Adrienne Pon, OCEIA’s Executive Director, has announced  that “March 19 has now been designated as SF Counts Day.  Residents are invited to a Civic Center Plaza Rally and Census information Fair – with prizes and giveaways for the first 1,000 people who return their forms between Noon and 2:00 PM. on that day at the park across from City Hall.
The City’s comprehensive plan for “making every resident count” in the 2010  Census is now being tested as official survey forms begin to appear in mail boxes across the City – ready to be completed and returned to the U.S. Bureau of the Census.
San Francisco’s  Complete Count Committee – comprised of 25 volunteers selected by Mayor Gavin Newsom in May 2009 for their  leadership experience in the City’s “diverse” communities – has moved into high gear with a spate of  events scheduled in many areas of the City traditionally considered to be “hard to count” for a wide array of reasons.
Staffed by the City’s Office of Civic Engagement and Immigrant Affairs (OCEIA) and bolstered by a variety of community-based grantees and City agencies, sub-committees of “Complete Count” have been implementing a series of innovative plans developed for the purpose of enticing these “undercounted” communities of the past to mail that completed survey back to the U.S. Census Bureau as quickly as possible.
Messages about the importance of the Census have been re-vamped and translated into a variety of languages to appeal to the City’s richly diverse residents; meeting agendas have been modified to allow time for questions and answers on subjects of concern; incentives that encourage public attendance at meetings have been identified and utilized effectively, as has distributing Census materials widely where people are already expected to be gathered, for any reason.
The opening of Black History Month at City Hall, a soccer tournament in the Mission, the Chinese New Year and St. Patrick’s Day parades, and a Block Party in the Tenderloin all became good venues for “pitching” the Census.
In the Bayview Hunters Point community (identified as hard-to-count), members of the Mayor’s Complete Count Committee joined with leaders of local organizations and businesses – and Census staff – to hold informal family-focused  “TOWN HALL” meetings in four BVHP neighborhoods as a prelude to a community-wide Gospel Festival celebrating the anticipated early return of completed forms to the U.S. Bureau of the Census. The Festival will be held on Sunday, March 28, from 1:00 – 5:00 PM at the Alex Pitcher Room, Southeast Community Facility, 1800 Oakdale Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94124.
An unexpected, but welcome result of the process in the Bayview has been the high level of cooperation that developed among all the individuals and organizations involved in confirming that everyone does count!  That bodes well for the future!

San Franciscans Reflect on Women’s History Month

By Lee Hubbard

Dr. Julia Hare

Brigette R. LeBlanc

Rev. Staci Current

Sharen Hewitt

Women’s history month has various meanings for Black women in San Francisco.  This month highlights the progress and the various issues Black women face today in society in general and within the African American community.
“For so long, our contributions were invisible and unrecognized,” said the Reverend Staci Current, senior pastor at Jones United Methodist Church.  “It is wonderful to be able to celebrate this month, what women have achieved.”
As pastor of one of the largest Methodist Churches in San Francisco, Current has been a leader in speaking out against Black on Black violence in the Western Addition community.  She believes that women taking on more active roles in business and political leadership should be the avenue taken by the black woman.
“President Barack Obama has paved the way to make the possibility of a Black woman president a reality,” continued Current.  “The sky is the limit for Black women.  There are no boundaries for any positions for Black women.”
This opinion is also echoed by Brigette R. LeBlanc, president of the San Francisco chapter of Black Woman Organized for Political Action, which advocates for Black women in politics.
“Black women are doing a lot of great things politically,” said LeBlanc.  “But we need to make sure we plan for the future for the next generation.  We need to mentor our younger women, so they will be prepared when the baton of leadership has to be passed.”
London Breed, executive director of the African American Art and Culture Complex in the Western Addition, was mentored in the African American community and she also mentors younger women.  At the cultural complex, she helps to highlight Black women’s issues with the various exhibits, plays and performances.
“Women have come a long way and we are a part of all endeavors,” said Breed.
She cited women such as Ursula Burns, the CEO of Xerox and Kamala Harris, the current San Francisco District Attorney and leading Democratic candidate for the California Attorney General position, as role models for black women in business, politics and life.
“Black women have been the matriarchs in families and have historically held things together.  Now we are setting the paths in business, politics and within the community,” said Breed.  “But we still have a lot of things to do, to demand the respect we deserve.”
She acknowledged that economic gaps persist between black women and white men and even between black and white women, despite the growing clout of black women financially and, professionally.  A national report by the Insight Center for Community Economic Development, titled “Lifting as We Climb: Women of Color, Wealth and America’s Future,” confirms Breed’s point.  The study showed that single, middle age white women have a median wealth of $42,600, about 60 percent of single white men; the median wealth for single black women is only $5. Married white women have a median wealth of $167,500, but married black women have a median worth of $31,500.
In assessing the study, experts noted that Black women are more likely to be found in careers that pay less and offer little or no health insurance or retirement plans.  Also, over 40 percent of black women are single, making them the primary financial earners for their families.  This news however has not deterred Sharen Hewitt, the executive director of the Community Leadership Academy and Emergency Response Project, which deals with public policy for inner city families of color in San Francisco.
“Black women have to understand that even if they live in the lowest economic strata, they are still privileged and have the capacity to maximize and use the resources that they have,” said Hewitt.  “Especially, when you look at Haiti, Chile, Darfur, we do not have it that bad.  We have power and resources and we have the ability to be part of major transformative change in the 21st century.”
Change and the role of women in change was also the theme echoed by Dr. Julia Hare, head of the San Francisco based Black Think Tank, which deals with strengthening the Black Family, when talking about Women’s History Month.
“In order for things to change within the black community, within our families and schools, the Black woman has to do it,” said Dr. Hare.  “Black women can’t sit around and wait for someone to help. If we don’t do it, no one else will.  Black women have had to work for everything we have received.”

Gioia, West County Stimulate Heartsafe Community Program

From left to right: Chief Lance Maples, El Cerrito Fire; Art Lathrop, Director, County Emergency Medical Services; Supervisor John Gioia, Contra Costa County; Lawrence Gurganious, father; Leslie Mueller, American Medical Response; Pam Dodson, County Emergency Medical Services; Janet Abelson, El Cerrito Mayor; Christian Felgenhauger, American Medical Response; Joanne Liebe, American Medical Response; Andrea Bailey, Chevron; Batallion Chief Anthony Kirby (partial), Chevron; Brent Tippen, Chevron .

Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia joined by city leaders, emergency services experts, Chevron representatives, and community residents to kicked-off West County’s HeartSafe Community program and to challenged other West County cities and communities to participate.
Sudden cardiac arrest strikes people of all ages and often without warning.  The victim’s heart stop beating and they stop breathing.  The chances of surviving sudden cardiac arrest are increased if 9-1-1 is called, CPR and defibrillation are applied, and paramedics arrive.  But not everyone knows what to do if they see someone suffering from cardiac arrest.
That’s why leaders and stakeholders in West Contra Costa County including Supervisor Gioia joined together to call attention to the lifesaving program.
HeartSafe Community is a Countywide awareness program to educate residents about identifying the symptoms of sudden cardiac arrest and responding quickly so the chances of someone suffering from an emergency will have the best chances of survival.
Quick response is what saved 15-year-old David Gurganius’ life last month after he collapsed from an apparent heart condition at a basketball game.   El Cerrito firefighters and paramedics arrived at the El Cerrito High gym within six-minutes of receiving the 9-1-1 call from emergency dispatch.
“Attendees at the game knew to call 9-1-1 when they saw David suffering from the cardiac arrest,” said Supervisor Gioia, whose district includes El Cerrito and is this year’s Chair of the Board of Supervisors.  “I have no doubt their quick action saved David’s life.”
Shortly after the incident in early February, the Chevron Richmond Refinery agreed to donate defibrillators to schools in West Contra Costa Unified School District.
For Supervisor Gioia, education and awareness of cardiovascular disease is personal. His father died from a heart attack in 1987.  Supervisor Gioia has been a strong proponent of installing defibrillators at public places.
“Saving the life of someone suffering a cardiac arrest is everyone’s responsibility,” said Supervisor Gioia.
Current West County partners include the unincorporated community of El Sobrante, the City of El Cerrito, the West Contra Costa Unified School District, and the Chevron Richmond Refinery.

Judge George D. Carroll Installs BAPAC OfficersThe honorable Judge George D. Carroll (Retired) recently presided over the Black American Political Association of California (BAPAC) 2010 officer installation ceremonies. Lloyd Madden was elected President. He swiftly moved to endorse Chevron’s community support and philanthropic programs. “This year is important for Richmond because it is an election year and the time for us all to be counted in the Census,” said Madden. He said that local candidates for public office will be supported based upon their commitments to maintain and create jobs for Richmond residents. BAPAC also will implement an aggressive voter registration and absentee ballot campaign to “make sure that the voice of all is heard and respected in the upcoming elections.” Madden announced that BAPAC will interview and endorse candidates for District Attorney, Sheriff, Assessor and Mayor based upon their commitment to support the core principles of BAPAC and expressed accountability to the community. According to the BAPAC calendar of candidate reviews, candidates will be asked questions on their positions on issues related to the promotion of economic development and empowerment, employment for Richmond residents and their plans to reduce homicides, improve neighborhoods and support for the schools. “BAPAC will reach out to the faith-based leaders and community-based organizations along with other groups that want to see the African American community advance,” said Madden In 1961, Judge Carroll became the first African American elected to the Richmond City Council, Richmond’s first black Mayor in 1964, becoming the first black person to hold such an office in a major U.S City and in 1965 he became the first black judge in Contra Costa County. Last year the Richmond Courthouse was renamed in his honor the “Judge George D. Carroll Superior Courthouse”. Judge Carroll is also an honorary member of BAPAC. For information about BAPAC visit the website at: www.bapacccc.com.

From left to right: Kevin Hampton Secretary, Jake Sloan Vice-President, Lloyd G. Madden, President, Leon Hunter, Parliamentarian, and Joe L. Fisher, Treasurer.

The honorable Judge George D. Carroll (Retired) recently presided over the Black American Political Association of California  (BAPAC) 2010 officer installation ceremonies.
Lloyd Madden was elected President. He swiftly moved to endorse Chevron’s community support and philanthropic programs.
“This year is important for Richmond  because it is an election year and the time for us all to be counted in the Census,” said Madden.
He said that local candidates for public office will be supported based upon their commitments to maintain and create jobs for Richmond residents.
BAPAC also will implement an aggressive voter registration and absentee ballot campaign to “make sure that the voice of all is heard and respected in the upcoming elections.”
Madden announced that BAPAC will interview and endorse candidates for District Attorney, Sheriff, Assessor and Mayor based upon their commitment to support the core principles of BAPAC and expressed accountability to the community.
According to the BAPAC calendar of candidate reviews, candidates will be asked questions on their positions on issues related to the promotion of economic development and empowerment, employment for Richmond residents and their plans to reduce homicides, improve neighborhoods and support for the schools.
“BAPAC will reach out to the faith-based leaders and community-based organizations along with other groups that want to see the African American community advance,” said Madden
In 1961,  Judge Carroll became the first African American elected to the Richmond City Council, Richmond’s first black Mayor in 1964, becoming the first black person to hold such an office in a major U.S City and in 1965 he became the first black judge in Contra Costa County. Last year the Richmond Courthouse was renamed in his honor the “Judge George D. Carroll Superior Courthouse”. Judge Carroll is also an honorary member of BAPAC. For  information about BAPAC visit the website at: www.bapacccc.com.

Running For Wellness

Over 150 youth 4-14 years old participate in track meet sponsored by Contra Costa College and The 100 Black Men Bay Area Chapter

Team Velocity from Oakland won the girls 4 x 100 Relay Intermediate Class. From left to right: Rahni Johnson, Dea’zhane Lewis, Daria Crawford, Taleya Silas. Bottom: from left to right: McKinley Williams, President of Contra Costa College; Eddie Hart, Former Olympic Gold Medalist and 100 meter world record holder; Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia; Lloyd Madden, BAPAC President; Joe Fisher, Immediate Past President of the West Contra Costa Board of Realtors and BAPAC Treasurer.

The 100 Black Men sponsor year-round track and field clinics and track meets where participants are physically conditioned, athletically trained and benefit from team dynamics.
The purpose of the Youth Movement is to promote recreation and wellness under the mentorship of highly qualified coaches, world class athletes and Olympians. The youth track & field program is named in honor of 1968 Olympic 200m Champion, Dr. Tommie Smith. Several Olympian world class athletes, including long  jump world record holder, Mike Powell have agreed to conduct specialty clinics for the youth.
The San Francisco Bay Area chapter of The 100 Black men consists of a group of African American men in business, government, technology, and public affairs dedicated to helping African American youth by proving scholarships and mentoring. They also promote health and wellness, entrepreneurship, networking and economic development in order to improve the quality of life for all in our local communities.
Supervisor Gioia said:  “This track meet is a great example of what our community can do to give our youth more positive opportunities that are fun and healthy, and also keep them on the right track.”
The 100 Black Men of the Bay Area established a Health and Wellness initiative named Youth Movement in 2002. The brain trust behind this effort is Program Director Dr. Mark Alexander. For the 2010 Youth Movement Training & Track Meet Schedule visit www.100blackmenba.org.

Valerie Betts Woman of theYear

Honors for church service, work with drug users and women with HIV/AIDS

Davis Chapel C.M.E. of Richmond’s Missionary Society recently honored First Lady Valerie Roby Betts as the Woman of the Year for her outstanding service in the church and the community. She was recognized for her friendliness, warmth, faithfulness and commitment to the work of the church.
Betts is a native of Gary, Indiana and the proud mother of two daughters and the grandmother of four. She graduated from Indiana University Northwest with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education. During her career, Betts has held administrative and management positions in governmental entities including Court Administrator for the Municipal Court. In this position, Betts was able to work directly with the court’s drug program. The program received national recognition for the service provided in restoring families and communities.
“Working with people on drugs has been my focus for years because the transitioning aspect into the work field is so important,” says Betts. “We have to remind to them to stay focused, keep the faith and it will all work out”.
Betts relocated to the Bay Area in 2005 with her husband, Rev, Dr. Nicholas L. Betts, when he was assigned to Davis Chapel C.M.E. in Richmond. Since relocating to the Bay Area, Betts has taken the initiative to continue her passion for service.
She works as the Administrative Assistant at Reach Fellowship International in Oakland, a faith-based Oakland organization that provides assistance to impoverished people in the community. This program also focuses on women with the daily life challenges of HIV/AIDS.
Betts enjoys extending a helping hand wherever she can. It is her diligence that inspired the missionary society of her church to recognize her as Woman of the Year said Carol Macon.
“This is a very humbling to receive recognition from my members. When people see that you perform and you perform from the heart, they appreciate it and I appreciate them for giving me the recognition,” said Betts.
Betts is the Secretary of the Annual Conference of Ministers’ Spouses, Widows and Widowers Department and serves as the President of the San Francisco District Ministers’ Spouses, Widows and Widowers Department.
“I also serve as the President of the Board of Christian Education that inspires our youth to study God’s word. We teach them how to implement all that they learn about God’s word into their everyday lives. We all fall short but we have to learn how to pick ourselves back up,” says Betts. “I think words of encouragement to our youth are very important. People did this for my children, and I love doing it for others. ”
According to Jackie Turner, Vice-President of Women Missionary Society, Betts was honored because she utilizes the gifts given to her by God.
Betts enjoys spending time with her children and her four grandchildren. She notes the most memorable and exciting time she experienced recently was when she travelled to experience the inauguration of President Barack Obama with her family.
“I never thought I would get to see such an historical event but to witness it during my lifetime with my children was such a humbling experience,” says Betts.

Chevron announced a new program with the West Contra Costa Public Education Fund

Chevron  announced a new program with the West Contra Costa Public Education Fund (The Ed. Fund) and online education charity DonorsChoose.org to fund science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) oriented classroom project requests submitted by public school teachers in West Contra Costa County.
In collaboration with DonorsChoose.org, which connects individual donors with public school classrooms in need, Chevron will provide up to $60,000 to support classroom projects in West Contra Costa Unified School District via the charity’s “Double Your Impact” program. Chevron’s funds will be used to match contributions made by donors to STEM-oriented projects before April 1, 2010.  If the $60,000 has not been fully expended after that period, Chevron will apply any remaining funds to other DonorsChoose.org projects across the West Contra Costa District in need of additional support. Chevron also is working with The Ed. Fund to raise awareness of the program to local school districts in an effort to increase the number of projects posted on the site and increase donations from the community.
“Supporting classroom projects in the Richmond area will inspire more students to take interest in the science, math, engineering and technology fields,” said Mike Coyle, General Manager of Chevron’s Richmond Refinery.  “By working closely with DonorsChoose.org and The Ed. Fund, we can create opportunities for West County school districts to implement creative new programs and provide teachers with the tools they need to encourage students to pursue successful futures.”
Any public school teacher in West County is eligible to submit project requests on the DonorsChoose.org website.  Projects can range from the purchase of lab equipment to new computers or even portable greenhouses. Everyday visitors to the site can browse the project requests and help fund projects of their choice by contributing any amount.
“Students in our area still need ongoing support to be given the educational experience they deserve despite the budget crisis that our schools are currently facing,” said Jennifer Henry, Executive Director of The Ed. Fund. “Chevron’s generous support and financial funding means teachers and students can have opportunities to offer innovative projects that support student learning despite some of challenges they are facing in today’s world.”
Chevron’s participation with The Ed. Fund and DonorsChoose.org in West County is part of the company’s statewide collaborative effort with DonorsChoose.org.  As with the West Contra Costa Unified School District program, Chevron is matching donations through the “Double Your Impact” campaign for selected classroom projects posted on DonorsChoose.org from public school districts in the Bay Area, the San Joaquin Valley and the Los Angeles Basin.  The support for these programs is part of Chevron’s California Partnership, an initiative to invest in education and economic development in California by expanding the company’s relationships with nonprofits that are focused on supporting underserved communities. More information on the California Partnership can be found at www.chevron.com/ca.

2010 Census Forms Arrive In Mail This Week

The once-in-a-decade census questionnaires have arrived. Households throughout Northern California can expect to receive the much-anticipated, 10-question form as soon as Monday, March 15. Census officials hope that people will fill out their 2010 census questionnaires and mail it back as soon as possible, saving millions of taxpayer dollars.
It costs the government just 44 cents for a postage paid envelope when a household mails back the 10-question form, which should take just 10 minutes to complete. It costs the Census Bureau $57 to send a census taker door-to-door to follow up with each household that fails to respond. In 2000, the nation reversed a three-decade decline in mail rates, achieving a participation rate of 72 percent.
Mandated by the U.S. Constitution, the census takes place on April 1, 2010. Census data determine boundaries for state and local legislative and congressional districts. More than $400 billion in federal funds are distributed annually based on census data to pay for local programs and services such as free lunch for low-income students, vocational training, road construction and emergency services.
For more information about language assistance guides and translations of the form, which are available in 59 languages, visit 2010census.gov . Telephone assistance in filling out the form is available in Spanish (1-866-928-2010), Chinese (1-866-935-2010), Vietnamese (1-866-945-2010), Korean (1-866-955-2010) and Russian (1-866-965-2010) in addition to English (1-866-872-6868). Deaf and hard-of-hearing persons can call the TDD number: 1-866-783-2010.
The US Constitution requires that everyone living in the United States be counted every ten years. All census information collected, including addresses, is confidential and protected by law (Title 13, U.S. Code, Section 9).    By law, the Census Bureau can’t share respondents’ answers with any government agency such as the FBI, the IRS, welfare and immigration. No court of law or law enforcement agency can find out respondents’ answers. All Census Bureau employees — including temporary employees — take an oath for life to keep census information confidential. Any violation of that oath is punishable by a fine of up to $250,000 and five years in prison.

Gayles, The Consummate Artist

James Gayles

James Gayles is a consummate artist. In fact, art is his passion.
His art is featured in a wide variety of venues in and around Oakland .
There is a current exhibit of his work in the downtown Oakland Marriott Hotel at 11th and Broadway. Fifteen of his pieces are on exhibit in the main lobby. Joyce Gordon curated this exhibit.
James’ art is also on display at the Asian Resource Center Gallery, Oakland , California . He says, “Art is a tough field, especially for minorities. It’s a struggle for notoriety. It’s a struggle to get recognition. It’s a struggle to get an exhibit.”
The Alameda County Arts Commission purchased several of his works as a part of the County’s art program. These pieces are on display as a part of the permanent collection at the Alameda County Juvenile Justice Center .
James has received the City of Oakland ’s Individual Artist Grant in 2005 and 2007, and was recently commissioned by the Alameda County Art Commission and the City of Richmond to create a series of paintings. He also won a public art commission from the City of Oakland Craft and Cultural Arts Department, to do a series of 4 tile murals for the Bushrod Recreation Center .
His studio is located at the Swarm Gallery, 560 2nd Street , Oakland . For further information contract James Gayles at jgayles66@hotmail.com or visit his website at www.jamesgayles.com
- Photo and text by Conway Jones.

State Loses $700 Million Grant

By Post Staff

Carlos McLean

Oakland will lose 6 million dollars in State funds because of California’s projected 40 billion dollar deficit.  San Francisco will lose 112 million and Berkeley will lose 3 million.
Tragic as this is, the situation was made worse on March 4th.  California did not qualify for a share of the “Race to the Top” pie offered by President Obama’s competitive school-reform grant program.
California was not selected as one of the finalists for the $4.35-billion grant program.
California sought to qualify for the “Race to the Top” funding by linking teachers’ performance to their students’ test scores, and the Teacher’s Union voiced strong opposition to that proposal.  Fewer than half of the school districts and teachers unions agreed to sign the agreement that would have required them to abide by the reforms.  If California had qualified, the State could have received up to $700 million dollars.  The state will have another opportunity to apply this summer
Carlos McLean, Director of Map, Counselor and Instructor at Merritt Community College commented on California’s lost opportunity, “We go through a lot of battling for money, but focusing on money only is not sufficient, we have dealt with less money but had success in the past.  We need to focus on the students first.  Despite the lack of funding, we need to provide both instructional and student support services to enhance the quality of educational offerings.”
The Obama administration used “Race to the Top” as a way to pressure school districts to make reforms. The multi-million dollar budget cuts to education and the fact that Oakland teachers are the lowest paid in Alameda County might become an incentive for the Teacher’s Union, not just in Oakland but throughout the State of California to accept Obama’s federal scrutiny so that California could succeed in the next round of funding.

Rev. Dr. George W. Davis, 68

Rev. Dr. George W. Davis

Dr. George W. Davis, known as the friend of seniors in San Francisco’s Bayview Hunters Point suffered from diabetes before he died of cancer at age 68.
He was born in Oakland and graduated from McClymonds High School. He served in the United States Navy and became an associate pastor at the Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church
Before he achieved his PhD degree he graduated from Oakland’s pool halls with the moniker “Oakland Slim”. During the 60’s he used his street experiences to encourage youth to attend and achieve rather than getting involved in criminal activity.
Shaped by a philosophy of showing respect to the elders in the community, he graduated with a focus on gerontology and served the Hunters Point Multiservice Senior Center than 30 years.
He pioneered services to formerly incarcerated seniors in 1999.
At the time of his death he had been working on a plan for seniors known as the “Aging Campus” to provide housing and services throughout the neighborhood.  He is the founder of the National Black Aging Network and served as an associate faculty member at Stanford’s Geriatric Education center.
Affectionately called “Doc”, his dual leadership credentials of Reverend and Doctor caused him to be sought to remedy difficulties in the community.
The Rev. Dr. Davis is survived by his wife, Catherine Davis; daughters Teri Jordan of Madera and LolaGerine Allen, Kristy and Tonya, all of Oakland; sons Matthew of Oakland and William George, II of Sacramento; Grandchildren:  Cassadine Davis, Jalani Davis, Jalen Davis, Jaliyah Davis, Marcus Davis; Jordan Green and Jonique Green.
Donations may be made to the Dr. George W. Davis Legacy Fund, c/o Bayview Hunters Point Multipurpose Senior Services  (BHPMSS), 1706 Yosemite, S.F., CA  94124.

Lee, Obama Advisor Jarrett Tour Oakland Health Clinic

Right to left: Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Obama Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett and La Clinica de La Raza CEO Jane Garcia. Photo by Gene Hazzard.Congresswoman Barbara Lee has always taken pride in how agencies and non-profits have leveraged funding they have received through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), and on Friday, March 5 she shared her enthusiasm with Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor and Assistant for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement.
Congresswoman Lee led Jarrett on an early morning tour of Oakland’s San Antonio Neighborhood Health Center to illustrate how agencies and non-profits are using Stimulus funding to enhance services and how effectively ARRA funds are being put to use in the Ninth Congressional District.
“La Clinica is an excellent example of how important community-based health services are in this District, and throughout the country,” Congresswoman Lee said, who added that the funding of health centers like the San Antonio Neighborhood Health Center contribute “substantially to the economic vitality of” our communities.
“This is why the (Congressional Black Caucus), along with the Tri-Caucus, wants increased workforce training for the healthcare sector,” Congresswoman Lee continued. “We recognize how important this industry is in creating the jobs of the future.”
Jarrett praised the clinic, say it serves as an example of ARRA money that is being put to good use.
The San Antonio Neighborhood Health Center received $2 .1 million in funding from the United States Department of Labor that was authorized under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009. The allocation is part of nearly $2 billion in ARRA funding that Congresswoman Lee has helped secure for agencies, institutions and communities throughout the Ninth Congressional District during the past year. The facility also received $382,000 in general earmarks for capitol expansions and an additional $880,000 to support demand for increase services.
As Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, Congresswoman Lee fought to ensure that funding for community health centers was included in the ARRA legislation. ARRA funds received by the San Antonio Neighborhood Health Center are being used for staffing and training. Congresswoman Lee and Ms. Jarrett will tour the facility to see how ARRA funds are being used to enhance services at the center and to illustrate how effectively Stimulus funding is being put to use in the Ninth Congressional District.

Project Touchdown’s All-Stars

High Achievers Score Rewards

BART Board Director, Carol Ward-Allen (center, in orange sweater), along with Shonda Scott, CEO of 360 Total Concept present a $5,000 check to Antoine Golden who founded Project Touhdown. Scott and Ward-Allen raised the funds to encourage the BART Engineers and volunteers to continue keeping bay area children on the right rail. Photos by Gene Hazzard and collage by Alapi Bhatt.

BART Board Director, Carol Ward-Allen along with Shonda Scott, CEO of 360 Total Concept, a locally based woman-owned, public relations consulting firm gave a donation to Project Touchdown to help develop youth in the East Bay.
Ms. Scott knows that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which one has overcome while trying to succeed.  Ms. Scott states, “It takes a village to raise a child to overcome the obstacles in life.”
Carol Ward-Allen engaged the students and parents with a presentation on Black History at the donation ceremony.
Project Touchdown was created by a group of Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) Engineers who volunteered their time to help local youth develop to their full potential and prepare them for college and careers.
BART Engineer Antoine Golden spearheaded the volunteerism of his colleagues. His passion for giving back to his community has inspired youth to believe they can succeed. He named the program “Project Touchdown” because he wanted the youth to envision themselves as halfbacks running to score without being tackled. The program teaches kids to obtain their goals and objectives in life despite any obstacles that may be put in their path.
“Young people need positive role models. There are many role models in our community that we never hear about.  These are ordinary folk doing extraordinary things.” said Carol Ward-Allen.
Project Touchdown helps youth realize that they can achieve in many ways beyond Sports and Entertainment.   The volunteers tell how their dreams were fulfilled with the help of time and sacrifice of many people.
Project Touchdown now has Junior High School students doing High School Math and preparing the students to improve scores on the High School Exit Exams, PSAT, SAT and ACT exams.
Ward-Allen said the entire community benefits because Project Touchdown provides “a safe, fun environment and tracks the student’s progress through partnerships with their schools, homes and community.”
For information contact Mr. Golden at project.touchdown@comcast.net or 510-734-9361.

A Life Well Spent

By Elinor Davis

“My grandfather was born a slave,” says Unav Wade, 80 years old. She is reminiscing with fellow participants at the Center for Elders’ Independence (CEI) located at Oakland’s Eastmont Town Center. “His parents died when he was young and he grew up in a white household. A horse once kicked him and broke his leg,” but it didn’t break his spirit. Wade remembers him limping while plowing his field. “Grandpa Tom was kind and gentle and a good worker,” despite the lifelong limp.

Wade’s grandparents raised 15 children in the Tennessee mountains near Thorn Hill where Wade grew up as the oldest of five siblings. “We were poor but we ate well! We walked down the hill to school and on the way back home we’d pick wild berries, apples, pears and poke salad. We had a garden, a cow for milk and butter…a horse and pigs and chickens” on land they farmed as sharecroppers. Read more

Lakers too much for Kings

Sacramento, CA – The first two meetings between these two teams ended in double overtime and Kobe Bryant closing with one of his usual buzzer beaters.  Tonight was simply a “teacher vs student” game with the Los Angeles Lakers dismantling the Sacramento Kings 106-99.

“They have more experience playing with each other and they’re the world champs,” said coach Paul Westphal.  “I’m pleased with our efforts tonight, not so much with the number of fans rooting for the Lakers.”

If it weren’t for the Maloof’s Palms Casino commercials during the game one would think they’re in LA!  The cast of the upcoming Housewives of Beverly Hills were filming, reality star Khloe Kardashian was present, Danny Glover sat court side and fifty percent of the sellout crowd was cheering for the Lakers.

“It’s a different building than it was years ago,” said Bryant.  “It’s a good thing for us but sucks for ya’ll.”

Despite another great game from Tyreke Evans who was again shy of a triple-double with 25 points, 11 rebounds and 9 assists.  The Kings could not keep pace with the champs.  They shot 42.9 percent overall and lost the rebounding battle 50-43.  The Lakers got a big game from their big men tonight.  Both Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol finished with 12 rebounds.

“They have too much experience for us to handle,” Francisco Garcia said.  “They had multiple weapons and we couldn’t find any open shots.”

Los Angeles lead the entire game, giving the Kings some hope in the third quarter when they cut the lead to 10 points.  The Lakers ended the third 77-68 and started the fourth quarter on a 7-0 run to open a 16 point lead.  There was no looking back at this point, the NBA Champions sealed their victory and Bryant led all scores with 30 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists.

“We want home court advantage,” said coach Phil Jackson.  “We haven’t been great on the road this year.”  “These are the important things when winning championships.”

The Kings will have some time off to re-group before facing the Milwaukee Bucks this Friday at Arco Arena.

Written by: Malaika Bobino

Lance Gross Looks to the Future, Marriage and Oscar

Lance Gross

Oakland, CA native Lance Gross is known best for his role as Calvin Payne on Tyler Perry’s sitcom, “House of Payne,” seen weekly on the TBS cable network.  He has also costarred in Perry’s feature film, “Meet the Browns” and numerous other TV shows and music videos.

Currently, Gross stars in “Our Family Wedding,” directed by Rick Famuyiwa (“Brown Sugar,” “The Wood”) from an original screenplay written by Rick Famuyiwa, Malcolm Spellman, and Wayne Conley, boasting a cast that includes Oscar-winner Forest Whitaker (“Last King of Scotland,”treet Kings,” “The Great Debaters”) and Lupe Ontiveros (“This Christmas,” “Real Women Have Curves,” “Selena”). Read more

Kings dominate Timberwolves for win

Sacramento, CA – The recent loss to Portland is now behind them. The Sacramento Kings played team ball in their win over the Minnesota Timberwolves 114-110. Leading the way was rookie phenom Tyreke Evans who was just shy of his second career triple-double in a week.

“Coach let me stay in longer than I should have,” said Evans. “I was attacking the boards trying to get a triple-double.”

Five players were in double digits and the Kings controlled the tempo throughout the entire game. Evans sparked the run early by scoring 24 of his 29 points in the first half, before he finished with 29 points, 11 assists and 9 rebounds. Donte Greene picked up the slack late in the 2nd quarter finishing with 19 points and 8 rebounds.

“It felt good taking shots in rhythm and not forcing them up,” said Greene. “We were having fun playing basketball out there tonight.” “We like to say we have a quarterbacks attitude and leave past loses behind us while moving forward.” “Our focus now is Tuesdays game against the Lakers.”

Despite a record of 23-44 and being eliminated from the playoffs, Sacramento wants to finish this season strong. Every game matters and every win counts for this young team. Preparing for next season’s push for the playoffs is a goal that is taken very seriously.

“We don’t worry about stats on this team,” said coach Paul Westphal. “Our only concern is winning!” “This is the kind of game we look for every night.”

Minnesota had nothing to stop Sacramento’s run tonight. The Kings limited their shots all night while forcing turnovers throughout the game. Al Jefferson led all scores for the Timberwolves with 22 points and 10 rebounds. Wayne Ellington added 15 points and Ryan Gomes had 14 points and 6 rebounds.

During the second quarter Francisco Garcia had a mild scare when he collided with a Wolves player hitting his elbow and immediately asked to be taken out. He returned at the end of the period.

“I hit my funny bone and it hurt,” said Garcia. “This was an especially huge win for us, we had energy the entire game and Tyreke was big tonight.”

A strong and likely candidate for Rookie Of The Year, Evans displayed unselfishness in the third quarter finding open men all over the floor. He’s dynamic on all ends of the court and only looks to get better especially with his jump shot.

“I am going to work hard on it this summer and try and come back with that in my game,” Evans said. “Once I get that, it’s going to be a tough night for whoever is guarding me.”

Written by Malaika Bobino

Hope Magazine for Christian Women

Hope for Women (Hope), a new Christian lifestyle magazine that celebrates the diversity of women of faith launched its print publication and new Web site this week.
Hope is an independent general-interest magazine targeted at a diverse audience of Christian women,says Publisher Angelia L. White. She said, “Hope unites all women of faith regardless of their culture, age or roles in life.”
For more information, visit http://www.hopeforwomenmag.com

Take the 2009 Challenge! Read the Bible in One Year

Trust in the Lord! Be Strong and Take Heart! He will direct your path! God is so Good! Daily read the Bible, the Word of God, and pray and you will stay on track to be the person God has called you to be! Read the Post newspaper. The list of scriptures are printed once a month so you can read the Bible in One Year. If you fall behind in your reading, just start with the current date. Do not give up!

Here are the readings for March 1 – April 7, 2010: Read more