From April 2012

County Honors Charles Turner

From left to right: Keith Carson, Charles Turner, and Supervisor Nate Miley. Photo by Stephen
Brooks, Jr.

The Alameda County
Board of Supervisors recognized Charles H. Turner as the recipient of the California Workforce Association’s Workforce Professional of the Year 2012 at their April 17 meeting. Supervisor Keith Carson presented the resolution. Turner has served as a Senior Career Counselor at the Oakland Private Industry Council, Inc. (PIC) since 1998. In that capacity, he manages the Oakland Private Industry Council’s Re-Entry Team, which has established itself as one of the responsive and trusted services available to the formerly incarcerated
community. For the full story on Turner’s award go to www.

Glorious Easter Crowns at Allen Temple and Tree of Life Ministries

Allen Temple Baptist Church: Bottom Left to Right: Honorable Teresa Cox, Ruth Mims- Jemerson, Varnell Owens, Norma Mondy, Luella McFerren, AyseThompson, De Ida Spencer; Middle Row: Robin Dozier, Okorie Dozier, Ms. Elizabeth, Taylor Nelson, Teralynn Nelson, Joycelyn Mondy-Hutchinson, Blondie Robinson, Jamilah Buckner; Back row: Margaret Peterson, Geraldine Goree, Annie Allen. Photo by Stephen Brooks, Jr.

Children Portray the Meaning of Easter

Top – left to right: Dr. Patricia Scott-Brooks, Dr. Jenee Scott, LeBron Anderson, Jireh Mathews-Johnson, Nairobi Barnes, Precious Burnside, Londyn Tuttle, Majesty Scott, Joy Coleman, Wendy Wells, Cathy Dinas; Bottom—left to right: Paul Burnside, Emperor Hall, Dailen Johnson, La James Blue, Darion Johnson, Paul Burnside, Empire Hall, Isaiah Zoller, Chezriel Goudeau, Eriel Goudeau, Parise Burnside, Zye Wells. Photos by Stephen Brooks, Jr. and collage by Adam L. Turner.

By Steve Brooks

“Everything was dark,” said 9-year-old Cinque Barnes, who was playing Bartimaeus, the blind man healed by Jesus in the Bible story. “I lived my life as a beggar asking travelers for money,” he continued, explaining his situation before Jesus miraculously healed him.
Cinque and 16 other children, ages 4 to 12, were demonstrating some of the spiritual and life lessons –reverence, redemption, healed relationships, forgiveness and others –revealed in the Christian Easter story as Oakland’s Miraculous Foundation Christian Center Church on April 8 presented the play: “Jesus, the Man; the Miracles; and the Messiah,” with children portraying characters from the life of Jesus.
Live scenes were interspersed with clips from Mel Gibson’s movie, “Passion of the Christ” streamed via the church’s video monitors.
These dramatizations can send powerful lessons to many 21st Century Americans who have never been inside a church or any other religious institution. This can be especially true for children and youth. For “non-churched” individuals, Easter may only be about candy rabbits, Easter eggs and a nice dinner.
Other children who played biblical characters in the performance were: Emperor Hall, John, “The Beloved Disciple; Empire Hall, Peter, the disciple and boy with five loaves and two fishes; Jireh Mathews-Johnson, woman at the well; Dailen Johnson, Jesus; Darion Johnson, Luke, the disciple; Nairobi Barnes, woman with the issue of blood; Isaiah Zoller, Pontius Pilate; Precious Burnside, Pontius Pilate’s wife; Paul Burnside, James, the disciple; Zye Wells, woman #1 at the tomb; Parise Burnside, woman #2 at the tomb; Chezriel Goudeau, woman # 3 at the tomb; Eriel Goudeau, woman #4 at the tomb; LaJames Blue, Caiaphas, the High Priest; LeBron Anderson, Judas Iscariot; and Londyn Tuttle, woman who was loosed.
Miraculous Foundation Christian Center Church, located at 1642 Fruitvale Avenue, is Co-Pastored by Dr. Patricia Scott-Brooks and Dr. Jenee Scott.

EBRPD BeginsTrail Construction

From left to right: Dick Quigley, Zone 7 Water Agency Board; Beverly Lane, East Bay Regional Park District Board; Eric Swalwell, Dublin City Council; Dawn Aguilar, Office of Alamada County Supervisor Scott Haggerty; Jerry Thorne, Pleasanton City Council; Kathy Hoffman, Office of Congressman George Miller; Tim Sbranti, Mayor of Dublin; Ayn Wieskamp, East Bay Regional Park District Board; U.S. Representative Jerry McNerney; U.S. Representative Pete Stark; and Carol Severin, East Bay Regional Park District Board President break ground April 10 for the Alamo Canal Trail undercrossing project in Dublin.

Local and federal elected officials held a ceremonial groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday for the Alamo Canal Trail undercrossing project in Dublin.
The East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) in collaboration with the Cities of Dublin and Pleasanton, Alameda County Transportation Commission , Zone 7 Water Agency, and Caltrans, is closing one of the last gaps in the regional bicycle trail network between the communities of Pleasanton and Dublin.
This freeway undercrossing trail will provide a safe, non-motorized route that children and adults can use to travel between schools, homes, and major public destinations in Dublin and Pleasanton. The trail link will provide an important transportation route to travel to and from destinations including the Pleasanton BART station, AC Transit bus routes, community parks, Alameda County Fairgrounds and popular downtown areas of Dublin and Pleasanton.
The project is expected to be completed and open for public use in autumn 2012.
More information about the East Bay Green Transportation Initiative is at

“It’s Murder,” She Says

After 46 days, George Zimmerman was arrested Wednesday and charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin
He was held in protective custody away from the other inmates in the Sanford, Florida city jail.
Zimmerman, 28, made his first court appearance Thursday. He did not enter a plea. His arraignment is scheduled for May 29.
The Seminole County Sheriff’s office said Zimmerman underwent a series of physical and mental health tests after arriving at the jail Wednesday night.
There was no sign of scarring on the back of his head, and the booking photo showed no indication his nose had been broken in his confrontation with Martin, as Zimmerman’s former lawyers had claimed.
Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder. To get a murder conviction, the state will have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Zimmerman acted dangerously to another, “evincing a depraved mind regardless of human life.”
The prosecutor will have to prove that Martin’s death was not simply an accident or mistake, but that significant negligence was involved.
If convicted, Zimmerman faces a minimum sentence of 25 years in prison and a maximum of life.
Special prosecutor Angela Corey, who brought the charges against Zimmerman, said at a Wednesday press conference, the “overwhelming amount of publicity in this case” could complicate efforts to get an impartial jury. She complained there was “so much information on this case that was released that shouldn’t have been released.”
Speaking in an interview, Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton said, “We have a sense of peace right now because we know that the person that shot and killed our son will be held accountable for it. We can’t really say what the outcome will be, but we have committed to this journey.”
The U.S. Justice Department is also carrying out an investigation into the shooting. Attorney General Eric Holder said the federal government would have to establish the shooting was a hate crime.
“For a federal hate crime we have to prove the highest standard in the law – it is something that was reckless, that was negligent … We have to show that there was a specific intent to do the crime with the requisite state of mind,” Holder said.

National LGBT Coalition Backs Justice for Trayvon Martin

A coalition of LGBT groups on April 2 released the following open letter on the Trayvon Martin case.
The tragic killing of Trayvon Martin is a national call to action. Our hearts go out to Trayvon’s family and friends for the loss they have experienced.
We stand in solidarity with them as they demand answers and justice. We represent organizations with diverse lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender constituencies.
Many in our community have been targets of bigotry and bias. We have a great deal of experience grappling with the role bias plays in violent crimes against our communities.
We well know the stories of young people targeted for violence just because of who they are: Rashawn Brazell, Lawrence King, Ali Forney, Deoni Jones, Brandon White, Matthew Shepard, Angie Zapata, Sean Kennedy and countless others.
Trayvon’s killing is a wakeup call to the enduring cancer of racism and racial profiling. The pain his family continues to endure transcends communities and unites us all.
Every person, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity, must be able to walk the streets without fear for their safety.
Trayvon’s killing is tragic, and the stark reality that racial bias played a role in his death has alarmed our nation.
Questions must be asked. Answers must be sought. And justice must be served.
We join our voices to the chorus of so many others to demand that local and federal authorities find those answers. We stand in solidarity with Trayvon’s family and friends as they seek justice for his killing. In the timeless words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
The letter was signed by:
CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers, Equality Federation, Family Equality Council, Freedom to Marry, GLAAD, Human Rights Campaign, Immigration Equality, International Federation of Black Prides, Lambda Legal, LGBT Progress at the Center for American Progress, National Black Justice Coalition, National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), National Coalition for LGBT Health, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, National Stonewall Democrats, Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, PFLAG National, Pride at Work, Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE), Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), The Trevor Project, UNID@S

Leading Sculptor and Printmaker Elizabeth Catlett, 96

Elizabeth Catlett

Elizabeth Catlett, a leading sculptor, painter and printmaker whose depictions of the strength and dignity of African American women made her one of the 20th Century’s most important artists, died April 2 at her home in Cuernavaca, Mexico. She was 96.
Working in wood, stone and other natural materials, she produced simple, flowing sculptures of women, children and laborers, and prints of Mexicans and Black Americans that she used to promote social justice.
Catlett often addressed themes related to civil rights and African-American culture in her art. Some of her most famous works depict African-American women, like the 1968 linocut “Sharecropper,” the 1968 sculpture “Homage to My Young Black Sisters,” as well as “Negro Mother and Child,” the wooden carving for which she won first prize at the 1940 American Negro Exposition.
“I wanted to show the history and strength of all kinds of Black women, working women, country women, urban women, great women in the history of the United States,” Catlett said in a 1992 interview.
Born on April 15, 1915, she was raised by her mother, a teacher, because her father, who was also a teacher, had died little before she was born. She said she knew from age 6 that she wanted to be an artist.
After graduating from Howard University in 1935 with a bachelor’s degree in art, she earned a master’s at the University of Iowa where she was a student of Grant Wood, painter of iconic “American Gothic.”
In 1946, Catlett traveled to Mexico on a fellowship. There she married the artist Francisco Mora and accepted an invitation to work at Taller de Gráfica Popular (TGP), a workshop in Mexico City for murals and graphic arts.
She was arrested during a railroad workers’ protest in Mexico City in 1958, and in 1962 the U.S. State Department banned her from returning to the United States for nearly a decade because of her political affiliations.
The Mexican National Council for Culture and Arts said that throughout her career Catlett demonstrated “her interest in social justice and the rights of Black and Mexican women.”

Mujahidun Sumchai JD, PhD

Dr. Mujahidun Sumchai is an African- Indigenous- European-Asian-Mestizo-Pacific Islander American, a unique multicultural American. He has a PhD in Integral System Humanities Behavioral Social Science from the California Institute of Integral Studies.
Dr. Sumchai is a National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) certified Family-to-Family Trainer and Parents and Teachers as Allies trainer.
He has taught in the West Contra Costa County Unified School District, Oakland Unified School District, Contra Costa College, Laney College, New College and San Francisco State University.

Cain's Almost Perfect Day

By: Malaika Bobino

San Francisco, CA – It was an almost perfect day for Matt Cain, but yet still memorable.  One play, one mistake on the count, one hit costed  the right-handed pitcher a perfect game.

The Giants 5-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates seemed too easy.  Taking the first game of the series was nothing better than a great start for the homestand.

“I’m always kind of conscious of it [close to pitching a perfect game],” Cain said.  “It’s something I’ve definitely always wanted to do through high school or Little League.”

Opposing pitcher James McDonald didn’t have the best outing but he did manage to breakup Matt’s no hitter by grounding a 2-1 pitch to left field after he retired the first 17 batters before him.

“You think about, it’s like, man, the pitcher stood in his way for a perfect game,” McDonald said.

Cain pitched his third career one-hitter, fifth shutout and 14th complete game.  Not a bad start to the season after signing a new $127.5 million, six-year contract (a record for a right-hand pitcher).

“What a day by Matt,” said manager Bruce Bochy.  “We’ve all seen him locked in like this, he was as good as he’s been.”

Buster Posey recovering from Shingles got things rolling in the first frame when he hit a two-run double and catched nine innings.  Aubrey Huff followed with a single RBI giving the Giants a 2-0 lead in the first frame.

The Giants looked good in all areas especially defense, Brandon Crawford made a spectacular play to end the inning in the fourth.  Cain missed Andrew McCutchen’s  grounder which rolled into the hands of Crawford who threw to Huff off-balance for the out.

The offense continued to put up the points, they now average 5.4 runs per game leading the National League.  Pablo Sandoval lined a one-out double to right field, Nate Schierholtz’s single RBI added another run in the sixth and Aubrey blasted a two-run homer out to McCovey Cove.

Notes: The festivities for Opening Day started off with the Giants honoring the 1962 World Series team.

Tyler Stow, son of Bryan Stow threw out the first pitch with the entire 2012 Giants roster standing behind him.  In a emotional ceremony, Tyler’s father was shown in a wheelchair along with his mother Ann on the video screen.  Brian reached out to hand his son the ball while telling him “good luck son.”

The touching presentation brought tears to many as this was the first time Stow was seen live after the terrible beating he received last season at the Los Angeles Dodgers game.  One year later Bryan has shown great improvement but his cognitive function will remain impaired and he may remain in a wheel chair for the rest of his life.

Champs Fighting for Position

By: Malaika Bobino

Oakland, CA – The defending champs are fighting for a good position in the Western Conference standings.  Missing majority of the key players that helped in their success last season, the Dallas Mavericks continue to try to move up from the sixth spot they maintain.

“We’re trying to move up and that’s our goal,” said Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle.  “We control our own destiny and you do that by winning.  Being good offensively and taking care of the ball.”

Tonight they faced the Golden State Warriors and won 112-103 before continuing on their 4-game road trip.  The Warriors didn’t provide much defense and were down by as much as 19 points before they rallied back for the loss.

Dallas looked good on both offense and defense.  It’s a tough road ahead but their only priority is to win and focus on the playoffs.  With seven games left in the season they can only hope to they play their best basketball.  Otherwise it doesn’t matter who they play first in the playoffs.

“It’s so much parity this year in the West, the teams at the top have been the better teams all year,” Carlisle said.  “The thing is get there and give yourself a chance.”

“This is what it’s all about, ” said Jason Kidd.  “We got seven games left and we want a good position.  Going into the post season we just want to play our best basketball, this what we did two years ago to win the NBA Championship.”

Warriors Woes

By: Malaika Bobino

Oakland, CA – It’s been a trying season thus far for the Golden State Warriors.  They began the Summer with the assembly of an All-Star Executive cast of Jerry West, Bob Myers and Rick Welts.  Yet, the one thing missing was an All-Star roster.

The lack of power forwards have been a problem with the Warriors for years but the depth of point guards has not.  Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry continued to get better, while that was not enough to return to the post season.

Due to the NBA lockout, the season had been shortened and the pressure mounted.  Even with a grueling schedule, Ellis failed to make the NBA All-Star but still produced a fierce game on the court.

Curry improved but still has problems with his ankle that has left him out of 15 plus games this season.  Andres Beidrens still plays flat and the paint needs more strength in facing the various big men in the league.

Golden State known for its perimeter shooting, has vastly improved on defense but that is still not enough.  First year head coach Mark Jackson hasn’t made much of a difference.  The Warriors have the third worst record  in the Western Conference.

After trading Monta and Epke Udoh, the team suffered more loses and struggles to find leadership on the floor.  Leaving David Lee to shoulder the load, the Warriors now look ahead to the draft.  With two weeks left in the season, Golden State looks to finish with a worse record than the 2010-2011 season.

The injuries took a toll and the shortened season maybe a factor on just how well this team could’ve been.  For now, it’s no surprise to missing another post season in Oakland, the fans can only hope to see changes in the future as they have hoped for the past five years.

Study: A black male disabled student is most likely to be suspended in California

A student on his way to school walks past a Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) school, in Los Angeles, California on February 13, 2009.

By Tami Abdollah

If you’re a black male student who is disabled, you are more likely to be suspended from the classroom than any other California student, according to a report released today by UCLA’s The Civil Rights Project.
The report, and its spreadsheet, covers 500 districts statewide and are based on 2009-10 data from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. It shows signficant disparities in suspension rates based on gender and race as well as disability status in statewide and district specific data.
“In too many districts we’re no longer saving out-of-school suspension for to be a measure of last resort,” said Daniel Losen, co-author of the report and director of the Center for Civil Rights Remedies at UCLA’s Civil Rights Project.
In 2009-10 more than 400,000 students were suspended and sent out of the classroom at least once, according to the data. The California Department of Education has reported more than 750,000 total suspensions in 2009-10, which means some of the 400,000 students were suspended multiple times that year.
According to the report, statewide African American students had an 18 percent risk of being suspended at least once, followed by Native American (11 percent), Hispanic (7 percent), White (6 percent), and Asian Pacific Islander (3 percent).
The data was also broken down by districts.
At L.A. Unified, African American male students had the highest risk of suspension at 23 percent versus an 11 percent risk for females. That pattern proved true across races and gender. More males are suspended at a consistently higher rate than females of the same race or ethnicity, according to the report.
When disability was brought into the picture, risk of suspension grew higher. Statewide African American males with a disability had a 28 percent risk of suspension. At L.A. Unified, African Americans males with a disability have a 36 percent risk of suspension versus a 20 percent risk for those without. Here too the numbers were higher across the board for students with disabilities. (See Table 3 within the report.)
In general, students with disabilities are twice more likely to be suspended statewide than other students without a disability. About 1 in 7 students with disabilities received a suspension statewide compared with about 1 in 16 students without disabilities, the report states.
Losen said the data suggests that some schools and districts have used zero-tolerance measures or overly harsh punishment instead of alternatives that greatly reduces the likelihood the student will ultimately drop out or become introduced to the juvenile justice system.
“There’s no doubt that schools have to be able to maintain safety and protect the integrity of the learning environemnt, but really, what are the effective approaches for doing that?” said Russ Skiba, a professor and director of the Equity Project at Indiana University.
Skiba said higher rate of suspension and expulsion correlate with lower academic achievement, higher risk of student dropout, failure to graduate on time and less engagement in school.
“It becomes very difficult to argue that suspension and expulsion…improve the school climate when schools that use it more have more negative outcomes,” Skiba said. “…As we suspend students more, we are putting them at greater risk for contact with the juvenile justice system.”
Skiba also dismissed the notion that students of color are from more poor background and more likely to be suspended. In studies that control for poverty, at poor urban or rich suburban schools, the disaprity remained, Skiba said. “It’s pretty clear that results are not simply due to poor kids behaving badly,” he said.
Tami Abdollah can be reached via email and on Twitter (@latams).

The Black Billionaires 2012


Nigerian billionaire Aliko Dangote is no longer the richest black person in the world. He’s been ousted by Ethiopian-born Saudi billionaire Sheikh Mohammed Al-Amoudi who is worth an estimated $12.5 billion. That’s $1.3 billion richer than Dangote.

American TV mogul Oprah Winfrey remains the only black female billionaire in the world.

Of the 1,226 people who made it to the 2012 FORBES list of the world billionaires, only 6 are black. These are 6 who made the cut:

Mohammed Al-Amoudi, $12.5 billion

Saudi Arabia. Oil

Born to a Saudi father and Ethiopian mother, Mohammed Al-Amoudi immigrated to Saudi Arabia as a child where he made a fortune handling lucrative construction contracts for the Saudi Royal family. He subsequently invested in Sweden, Morocco and Ethiopia. His most prominent assets include oil companies Svenska Petroleum Exploration, which produces crude oil in Africa, and refinery operator Preem. Al-Amoudi stays committed to the country of his birth: Ethiopia. In February, he announced a $3.4 billion investment in Ethiopia via his newly formed Derba conglomerate. The funds will be invested in agriculture, cement production, steel and transport. He also owns gold mines in the country and the very prestigious 5-star Sheraton Hotel, Addis. Passionate soccer fan.

Tulsa shooting suspects confessed, police documents show

The 19-year-old Tulsa, Oklahoma, man whose Facebook page lamented his father’s death “at the hands of a f–king n—-r” told investigators he shot three of the African-Americans injured or killed in a Friday shooting spree, according to police documents.
Fellow suspect Alvin Watts confessed to shooting the other two people, according to the documents, which include only summaries of the reported confessions and few details.
Based on his statement, police believe Watts pulled the trigger in two of the three fatal shootings, according to the documents.
A police spokesman declined to comment Tuesday when asked about the reported confessions.
Authorities accuse the pair of gunning down apparent strangers at four different locations in a largely African-American section of Tulsa early Friday.
Authorities identified the victims as Dannaer Fields, William Allen and Bobby Clark. The other two shooting victims survived.
Police arrested Watts, 19, and Jake England, 33, early Sunday after tips led investigators to England’s burned pickup. The vehicle matched one reported at the crime scenes, according to the arrest reports.
A judge ordered England and Watts held Monday on $9.16 million bond each pending formal charges on allegations of murder, shooting with intent to kill and gun possession.
Police reports characterize both men as white, but authorities have declined to say whether they think race played a role in the shootings.
An update posted to England’s Facebook page the day before the shootings noted it was the second anniversary of his father’s death “at the hands of a f–king n—-r.” The entry also mentioned his girlfriend’s recent suicide.
Prosecutors will review whether hate crime charges are appropriate against England and Watts, Tulsa County District Attorney Tim Harris said Monday.
“If the motivation is racial in this case, then that needs to be vetted in a court of law just like any others,” Harris said. “It’s the law of the state of Oklahoma, and if the facts and the evidence support that, then we’re going to go forward with it.”
Police Chief Chuck Jordan described England and Watts as apparently close friends who shared a home in Tulsa.
One survivor of Friday’s shootings, Deon Tucker, told reporters Monday that he was standing on his porch when a white pickup pulled up and the driver asked him for directions.
“Next thing I know, they start shooting,” he said.
“What are they shooting me for? I ain’t got no enemies. I didn’t know what was going on,” recalled Tucker, who said he was shot once in the chest.
He added that he understands that his race might have led to his shooting. But Tucker said he simply “got caught in the wrong spot” and isn’t “mad at anybody,” describing his shooter as a “lunatic.”
On Friday, a friend had warned England not to “do anything stupid” after he posted a message Friday, apparently after the shootings, that read “It just mite be the time to call it quits.”
“I hate to say it like that but I’m done if something does happen tonite be ready for another funeral later,” England wrote.
“It’s hard not to go off between that and sheran I’m gone in the head,” he wrote, referring to his girlfriend.
The Facebook page was taken down Sunday afternoon.
Watts’ brother, Michael Watts, said the shootings “broke our heart,” CNN affiliate KTUL reported.
“If that boy done this, there’s no excuse for it,” KTUL quoted Watts as saying. “I just want to apologize to those families. My heart goes out to them.”
A man who identified himself as England’s uncle — speaking Monday outside the suspects’ home — said his nephew had been troubled by the recent suicide of his girlfriend and his father’s death in April 2010.
“His mind couldn’t take it anymore, I guess,” the man said. “I guess it just snapped his mind.”
Prosecutors declined to file homicide charges in the death of England’s father, ruling it a justifiable homicide, the Tulsa County District Attorney’s Office said in a statement Monday.
England and Watts remained jailed Tuesday pending an April 16 arraignment. Meanwhile, prosecutors prepared formal charges against the pair.
While Harris declined to say Monday if hate crime charges would be included, City Councilor Jack Henderson said the online posts and the circumstances of the shootings lead him to believe that the shooters targeted their victims chiefly because of race.
“You have an individual — a white male — going into a predominantly black community (to) shoot at black people. And with the other evidence … and some of the things that were said, that leads me to believe that this was totally a hate crime,” Henderson said.
Tulsa was the scene of a 1921 race riot — considered one of the worst in the nation — that destroyed the famed Greenwood District, a wealthy black enclave known as the black Wall Street.
Harris said the community’s response to the shootings said more about current race relations in Tulsa than the shootings should.
“This community will not be defined by the treacherous, evil crimes of two individuals,” he said. “That’s not what Tulsa, Oklahoma, is about, and that’s not what our people are about,” he said. “The fact that this community drew together as one to stop this threat is what Tulsa is all about.”
CNN’s Maria P. White and Jason Carroll contributed to this report.

Africa's Richest Man Dangote to invest $7 Billion in Nigeria’s electricity

Aliko Dangote, President and Chief Executive of Nigeria’s Dangote Group speaks during the final session of the World Economic Forum on Africa meeting in Cape Town June 6, 2008.
Mr Dangote, who disclosed his intentions during a send-off party for Thierry Tanoh, the IFC Vice-President for Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and Caribbean and Western Europe on Sunday in Lagos, said that he will be investing in the construction of a 2,000 megawatt power-generation facility.
“We want to do power that will be about 2,000 MW, that is infrastructure.” He did not disclose details about the planned mining and petrochemical investments.
Dangote’s largest investment is currently in cement, via his company Dangote Cement, which listed on the Nigerian stock exchange in 2010. He also owns stakes in publicly-traded companies operating in sugar refining, flour milling and salt processing.
This new investment would mark Dangote’s first large-scale foray into power generation.

City Kids: Putting A Laser Focus On High Achievement In Detroit Schools

By Amy Kuras, Model D
Let’s just kick this off with the good news: Although we’re profiling just three schools that are doing well educating urban kids in tuition-free schools, we easily could have filled up all our news space beyond the summer break with more success stories.
These three schools — Detroit Edison Public School Academy, Chrysler Elementary, and Thirkell Elementary — have a lot of differences. One is a large charter school, one a small public elementary that students must apply to attend, and the other a medium-size neighborhood school that takes all comers.
What they have in common, though, is excellent teaching, strong leadership, and high expectations. And most importantly, they’re putting the lie to the idea that city schools have little to offer parents who want the best for their kids.
Detroit Edison Public School Academy (DEPSA)
Boredom should never be a problem for students at this 1000-student K-8 charter near Eastern Market. The list of activities for them and their parents is long — Future Cities, Green Team, service learning, and more. In many cases, DESPA students are the only urban school or the only Michigan school to participate in statewide competitions.
But as superintendent Ralph Bland says, it’s not about the activities they have for students, it’s about putting them on a fast track to academic success. “Our culture is focused on student achievement, not around having a plethora of programs,” Bland says. “It’s about our students being successful, and their families being successful as well.”
To that end, parents agree to volunteer 10-20 hours over the course of the school year if their child snags one of the coveted slots (the school gets between 50-100 applications for each grade level every year for only a few openings). Interestingly, in a district where people often leave because of unsatisfactory school choices, between 15-25 percent of student at DEPSA come from outside the city, some as far as Clinton Township.
Partnerships are a Hallmark of the school. Comerica runs a bank from the school store, the Engineering Society of Detroit helps with Future Cities, and Henry Ford Health System runs a well-appointed health clinic nicer than some full-service doctor’s offices, to name a few.
Most of those services are designed to knock down any barriers students may come to school with. 70 percent of the students receive free or reduced price lunch, which means they may come to school hungry, in need of a proper uniform (all students wear one) or without access to proper medical care. All of those things impact learning, so all of them are addressed.
Also, students in the lowest quartile of achievement are assigned an interventionist, who works with them until they are working at grade level or above. “If a student comes to us with academic deficiencies we create a path for them…it might not be the same straight path another student is on, but we want to raise them up beyond where they would expect to be,” says Paul Szymanski, elementary principal. “Excellence is not an option.”
People are noticing — the school has a list of accolades almost as long as the list of extracurricular activities. It’s been fully accredited by the North Central Association, is the only charter school in the state to be named a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence, and was named a National School of Success by the Education Commission of the States.
Data on individual students, classrooms and grade levels are constantly reviewed to make sure they stay on track. “We have a commitment to constant improvement,” Bland says. “We’re always looking at what worked and what didn’t, and we really listen to parents when they have opinions and suggestions. We’re always looking at how we can change for a better outcome (for students).”
Much of the mostly young staff came there from other schools and see a real difference at DEPSA. Second-grade teacher Amy Goodman has “looped” with her students through the primary academy, starting with them in kindergarten and continuing until the end of second grade, when they will go on to the elementary academy. She said the school’s rigorous curriculum impresses even the adults. “What I think is amazing is that it feels, even to parents, like this is already a college and the kids know it,” she says.
For 6th and 7th grade language arts teacher Alton James, the ability to collaborate with other teachers and really put his own stamp on his teaching is valuable in helping students connect to the material. “We’re really stressing themes, and they’re making deeper and more meaningful connections to that — what does it mean to be a citizen, to be a male, to be a female…I really enjoy that.”
Chrysler Elementary
Nestled next to the Mies van der Rohe townhouses in the green calm that is Lafayette Park, Chrysler Elementary serves students in grades K-5 with a focus on journalism. That translates into a great school newspaper as well as a program that lets students write and publish their own story collections. That was the brainchild of Dr. Linda Whitaker, principal at Chrysler. She noticed that students were not performing as well on some of the writing sections of the MEAP as one would expect, given the school’s journalism focus. She contacted culture coach Lillie Thomas to come work with students, and secured funding from the Skillman Foundation. “I knew teaching wasn’t the problem, it was that the children were not interested enough to retain the material,” she says. Sparking their interest in storytelling and seeing it on a printed page helped make that connection.
Another aspect of the program brings in artists like Frank Kelley, Gigi Bolden, and Ronald Scarborough to work with students on their own art, which is then displayed at the Charles Wright Museum of African-American History along with a statement from the artist about their work.
MEAP scores rebounded thanks to the program, as expected, but it has had much wider ranging effects. Whitaker tells a story about a student she overheard being put down by girls from another school because she didn’t have the best grades. The girl retorted that she went to Chrysler and was a published author and exhibited artist, and what had the mean girls done that compared?
“It almost brought me to tears, that she could say they were not more important than her,” Whitaker says. “Knowing the difficult situation she has at home, I know she will make it because she feels empowered.”
Whitaker praises the energy and dedication of her staff, who all play multiple roles in the relatively small school — just one classroom per grade level. “I look for people willing to be a servant leader,” she says. “I can give you the fundamentals but I can’t change your heart.”
About 75 percent of Chrysler’s students receive free and reduced price lunch, and as an application school, they draw from all over the city. A Local School and Community Organization (LSCO) and a Dad’s Club encourage involved parents.
Chrysler has long had a reputation as a high achieving school with high expectations of its students — expectations reflected in the enthusiasm of its young pupils. “It’s about changing the culture of what everyone think of themselves,” Whitaker says. “I have told our students and our teachers to make sure they are destined for greatness.”
Thirkell Elementary
Naysayers would look at Thirkell Elementary’s demographics — 91 percent receiving free or reduced price lunch — and its location in a not especially prestigious area of the city and write it off. But they’d be wrong to underestimate this school — students best both the district and the state by a wide margin in number of students proficient on the MEAP test.
Dr. Clara Smith, principal at Thirkell, is quick to point to her staff as the reason for the school’s success. “It’s all about our students, and putting our students first in assuring that they receive a quality education,” Smith says. She’s retained 98 percent of her staff in her years at the school, losing only a few to retirement. That consistency helps students, as does the fact the vast majority of parents keep their children there from kindergarten through 5th grade, a good measure of how satisfied they are with the school. Often, students are the 3rd or fourth generation in their families to attend the school, a refection of its stable neighborhood.
Like so many successful schools, a lot more goes on at Thirkell than simply classroom learning. Henry Ford Health System has a clinic here as well, and volunteers from Beyond Basics work with children and their parents to improve literacy. They even have a grief counselor available through the health clinic, and the school’s math coach works with parents on understanding the new math so they can help their children understand it. “When children come in to the schoolhouse, by no way should they be intimidated because they are coming from an economically deprived home,” Smith says. “With the resources we have in the building, we are able to lift their self esteem.”
Unlike the other two schools, Thirkell is a neighborhood school, which means no application and no lottery — they are duty-bound to educate whoever walks though the door. Rather than see that as a difficulty, Smith and her staff see it as strength, she says. “We have high expectations for all students,” she says. “We have a passion here for making sure our students do a good job because we are a neighborhood school.”

Michelle Obama And Bo Visit Wounded Veterans At The Fisher House In Bethesda, Maryland For Easter Celebrations

To kick off the Month of Military Child, first lady Michelle Obama took part in a pre-Easter celebration yesterday with wounded veterans and their families at the Fisher House on Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., USA Today reports.
Fisher Houses are “comfort homes” built by the Fisher House Foundation on the grounds of major military and Veterans Affairs department medical centers. These homes allow family members of military personnel who are hospitalized to have a comfortable place to stay for the duration of their loved ones’ treatment and recovery.
“It is always one of my favorite things to come visit Fisher House,” Obama told the group of about 45 recovering service members, their spouses and children, Veteran News Now reports. “This house is a home away from home to so many of our military families. The work they do here is amazing.”
Ever the generous guest, the first lady didn’t come empty-handed.
Bearing armfuls of Easter cookies made in the White House kitchen, she gave away tickets to the White House Easter Egg Roll and spoke individually with service members and their families, Veterans News Now reports.
Bo — the Obamas’ beloved Portuguese water dog — was another highlight of the first lady’s visit.
“I brought one of my best friends in the whole world, my only son,” Obama said, before Bo — adorned with a pair of bunny ears — emerged to the squeals of children.
“Our military families, our troops — you all deserve this kind of high-level treatment for what you go through for this country, for what you sacrifice,” Obama said, according to
In January, the Obama administration announced a system-wide approach to strengthening support and services for military families — and just yesterday, the White House announced that the first lady has won the commitment for 15,000 new jobs for veterans and military spouses.

Whitney Houston Funeral Cost $187K for City of Newark

A hearse carrying Whitney Houston waits outside the New Hope Baptist Church after her funeral service in Newark, New Jersey.
James Devaney/WireImage

Whitney Houston’s funeral cost the singer’s hometown of Newark, New Jersey $187,000 in police overtime, CBS News reports. Unsurprisingly, many taxpayers in the city are furious, as this amounts to five percent of the cash-strapped police department’s $4 million budget for the year. “I think it’s absolutely ridiculous when you have people who are unemployed and homeless, people walking up and down the streets,” Newark resident Quincy Ruffin told the local affiliate of CBS News before suggesting that the singer’s family should foot the bill.
Thousands of people lined the streets of Newark to catch a glimpse of the hearse carrying Houston’s body on the day of her funeral. Police were required to keep fans away from the private service at three locations – the cemetery, the New Baptist Church and a family gathering at the Newark Club. “I was able to be witness to the thousands upon thousands of people who were desperate to attend the service but held back by barriers and officers of the law,” Democratic Councilwoman Mildred Crump told CBS. “If they had not been there someone may have been trampled, seriously hurt.”

A's defense comes alive

By: Malaika Bobino

Oakland, CA – The A’s want to turn things around this series.  With a rough start to the season, Oakland is confident they will get better, after all it’s still a whole lot of baseball to be played.

Taking a 1-0 victory over the Kansas City Royals, the A’s defense came alive.  Daric Barton also returned to the lineup to help provide a spark on defense which has been heavily missed thus far.

“We have to play good defense,” manager Bob Melvin said.  “It was a little bit disappointing the first two games we didn’t, but to come back today and play well in a game that had the feel of a low-scoring game early on, was what we needed.”

After being reinstated from the 15-day disabled list, Barton got back to doing the things he’s known for and that’s making great plays.  He made a diving catch off Brayan Pena’s liner in the fifth.

Oakland’s defense began early in the first frame when Jason Bourgeois doubled on a fly ball to center field.  Lorenzo Cain then flew out to Josh Reddick in right field, Reddick threw to third for the out and to prevent the scoring run.

“We know we have a good defensive team, we just haven’t proved it the last couple of days,” said Josh Donaldson.  “We’re going to hopefully go out there and continue playing like we did.  We want to score a lot of runs here but if we don’t we know we have our pitching and defense to back us up.”

Donaldson’s single RBI was the only play that put the A’s on the board.  They had enough opportunities after Royals pitcher Luis Mendoza walked two batters in the second inning putting them in scoring position.

A wild pitch moved Kurt Suzuki to third and Mendoza walked Cliff Pennington to load the bases with two outs.  Jemile Weeks was at bat but he grounded into second to end the inning.

Despite the offense taking the night off, southpaw Tommy Milone tossed eight shutout innings in his season debut.  Giving Oakland their first win since March 29 in Tokyo.

Milone in his sixth start of his career, tossed at least six innings in one of his five starts, allowing two runs of fewer twice and walked one batters or fewer four times.  Tonight nothing got passed him for eight innings.  Allowing only three hits and three walks, Tommy didn’t have a much to complain about.

“He pitched great,” Suzuki said.  “Not the best command he would have liked, but he found the way.  Him being a young guy able to do that at this level is awesome.”

NBCI Supports Drive to Register a Million Voters on Easter Sunday

Photo of: Rev. Jamal Bryant

The National Black Church Initiative (NBCI), a coalition of 34,000 churches, announced its support for Pastor Jamal Bryant’s Empowerment Temple’s movement to register 1 million voters on Easter Sunday.
Reverend Anthony Evans, President of NBCI says: “Pastor Bryant should be commended on this great effort and we intend to work with him until this goal is reached. I have authorized all of our churches to follow the leadership of Pastor Bryant on this issue. We keep being reminded that voting is not just essential, it is the essence of a democracy. One vote can count as a million votes when it is cast with power. All Black churches, all 150,000 of us, 34,000 of which are represented by NBCI, should register at least 20 members of their congregations who remain unregistered to vote.”
\The (NBCI) is a coalition of 34,000 churches working to eradicate racial disparities in healthcare, technology, education, housing, and the environment. Visit the website at

Frustration for Rose

By: Malaika Bobino

Oakland, CA – It’s been twelve games since the All-Star point guard has been sidelined with a groin injury.  Before that Derrick Rose also missed time with a bad back.  This is the most time away from the game for the rising star.  The frustration is mounting as the post season nears with only three weeks left in the season.

“Of course it’s frustrating,” said Rose.  “I want to be out there playing with my team, I’m a competitor and it’s hard watching on the sidelines.”

The aftermath of last season still looms over the MVP.  A few games into the season, Derrick continues to blame himself for the loss in the Eastern Conference Finals.  But this season he believes the only goal is to win the NBA Championship.  A few minor adjustments like adding veteran Richard Hamilton to increase their offense is suppose to help.

But he too has been sidelined with injuries.  So, in the mind of the humbled 23-year old who signed a multi-million dollar contract with both the Chicago Bulls and Adidas.  Rose sees nothing different other than getting much further than last year.  The Bulls will try to finish with the best record in the NBA but without their star player things can change quickly.

The Bulls opened the season strong against the Los Angeles Lakers and got their first win.  But when the trip headed up North, the Golden State Warriors had their own agenda.  Under new head coach Mark Jackson, something different happened, “defense”.  Not often seen at Oracle arena but when the Warriors hosted Chicago they shut down Derrick and the Bulls.

“When Derrick attacks, he makes us better,” said coach Tom Thibedueau.  “When the pressures on I’d like to see him go to the line more.  But give them [Warriors] credit in forcing the turnovers.”

Fast forward to the present, Chicago find themselves questioning how far they can get without their All-Star to maintain their top spot in the Easter Conference.  In the meantime, the lower rated teams are battling it out for a spot in the post season.  Movement in the standings can change until the last game is played.

In his return on Easter Sunday, Rose and the Bulls lost to the New York Knicks 100-99.  A time when the last shot would go in Derrick’s favor, this time the point guard didn’t have luck on his side.  Rose finished with 29 points and saw his team succumb to free throws that might’ve helped them in the end.

“I missed those free throws, Derrick explained. “Hopefully, next time if I get the opportunity I’m going to knock them down.”

Charles Ramsey to Receive Judge George Carroll Community Service Award

Photo of: Charles Ramsey/Photo by: Don Gosney

Story by: Kia Croom

Charles Ramsey, president of Board of Education of West Contra Costa County Unified School District (WCCUSD), is among five individuals selected to receive the Fifth Annual Judge George Carroll Community Service Awards established by the Black American Political Action Committee (BAPAC).
Ramsey grew up in the Richmond area, where his family lived since 1965. While growing up, Ramsey watched his father, Henry Ramsey become the first African American deputy district attorney in Contra Costa County and also as he became an Alameda County Superior Court judge. Later, his father became Dean of Howard University Law School.
Similar to his father, Ramsey took interest in the legal system; although he developed a passion for shaping the lives of children that would later drive his career.
Ramsey attended Berkeley High School and went on to attend the University of California Los Angeles where he earned a bachelor’s degree in history. He received a law degree from the Hastings College of Law in San Francisco.
He was first elected to the WCCUSD Board of Education in 1993 and has since been reelected five times. He is the longest serving board member in the school board’s 100-year history and is the only African-American board member who has ever been reelected.
Ramsey has consistently demonstrated a commitment to improving the district’s schools and has been instrumental is raising $1.5 billion dollars to rebuild 91 percent of its schools. He is credited with helping to balance the district’s budget without having to resort to program cuts and teacher layoffs.
“There is still so much work to do, and I won’t be satisfied until every child is getting the education he or she truly deserves,” he said.
Ramsey is co-founder of Ivy League Connection (ILC) — a program designed to promote a college-going culture among high school students in West Contra Costa County and the Bay Area. Participating students visit summer enrichment programs at prestigious Ivy League campuses.
Ramsey and his wife live in El Cerrito with their two daughters.
Kia Croom is contributing writer for the Richmond Post.

Physical, Psychological and Electronic Violence

Photo of: Shari Miller

A new study of 1,430 7th-grade students reveals that many 7th-graders are dating and experiencing physical, psychological and electronic dating violence.
More than one in three (37%) students surveyed report being a victim of psychological dating violence and nearly one in six (15%) report being a victim of physical dating violence.
The study also found that while some attitudes and behaviors associated with increased risk for teen dating violence are pervasive, nearly three-quarters of students surveyed report talking to their parents about dating and teen dating violence. Parent-child communication is considered a protective factor that reduces the risk for teen dating violence.
The study was conducted by RTI International (RTI) on behalf of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Blue Shield of California Foundation as part of an independent evaluation of their “Start Strong: Building Healthy Teen Relationships (Start Strong)” initiative.
The data released on March 29 is the baseline for this larger evaluation to assess the overall impact of the program. Start Strong is one of the largest initiatives ever funded that targets 11- to 14-year-olds to promote healthy relationships in order to prevent teen dating violence and abuse.
The Start Strong evaluation is one of the few studies, and one of the largest, to look in-depth at the dating relationships of middle school students. Although it is not nationally representative, the study sample included 1,430 7th-grade students from diverse geographical locations.
The study collected data on teen dating violence behaviors, as well as risk and protective factors linked to dating violence, such as gender stereotypes, sexual harassment, the acceptance of teen dating violence and parent-child communication.
“There is limited information on 7th-graders and these data provide important insights into teen dating violence behaviors and risk factors among middle school students,” said Shari Miller, Ph.D., lead researcher from RTI.
“From this study, we are learning that many 7th-graders are already dating and teen dating violence is not happening behind closed doors with so many students in this study witnessing dating violence among their peers,” she said. “While we need to do much more to understand this young age group, our data point to the need for teen dating violence prevention programs in middle school.”
The study findings were announced during a pre-conference institute on teen dating violence prevention in middle school at the 6th National Conference on Health and Domestic Violence at the San Francisco Marriot Marquis, organized by Futures Without Violence. .
For more information and the full study, visit:

Building a Better Future for Marin County


Photo of: Supervisor Kate Sears/Photo by: Godfrey Lee

Marin residents are invited to come and meet Kate Sears, Marin County Supervisor, on Tuesday, April 17, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Marin City Community Development Corporation, located at 441 Drake Avenue in Marin City.
Residents can enjoy tasty Hors D’oeuvres, and chat with Supervisor Sears on how they can all build a better future for Marin County.
RSVP to Liz Darby at 415-339-2837