From May 2012

ArtEsteems Presents “Reflections of Me and My World” Display

By Aneesah Dryver

ArtEsteem, a program of Attitudinal Healing Connection (AHC), on Saturday, Jun 2 will hold its 14th annual exhibition titled, “Reflections of Me and My World,” a free community event that highlights students’ visual and performing art projects.

The event will be held at 3 p.m. at Studio One Art Center at 365 45th St in Oakland.

Attitudinal Healing Connection (AHC) since 1989 has been a source of positivity in the community through its education and social justice programs. ArtEsteem is one of its projects, supporting underserved youth ages 6-18.

Student artwork will be on sale, and students will receive 20 percent of the proceeds. There will also be a fashion show featuring the creations of the ArtEsteem design students.

ArtEsteem provide avenues for at-risk youth to express themselves and develop insightful change, first within themselves and then in the world around them.  Youth come to view themselves as “superheroes,” with the powers of nonviolence, positivity, and intelligence.

ArtEsteem’s goal is to “to inspire and invoke the inner spirit to become alert to essential social and environmental concerns.  The event will spotlight art that expresses the critical thinking, realities, and dreams of self and society.”

For information, call (510) 652-5530 or visit www.ahc-oakland.org.

Attorney John Burris Speaks on Trayvon Martin and Racial Profiling

Oakland civil rights attorney John Burris will present “Trayvon Martin and Racial Profiling: Real or imaginary?” 10 a.m. to noon, Saturday, June 9 at the Museum of the African Diaspora, 685 Mission St. in San Francisco.

Burris is known for his work on police brutality cases representing plaintiffs. He briefly represented Rodney King in his suit against the Los Angeles Police Department and filed a civil suit over the BART Police shooting of Oscar Grant.

Burris has appeared as a legal commentator on MSNBC, CNN, and other cable and local television networks.

The event is free with MOAD admission. For information call (415) 385-7200.

Valerie Cordier-Rice, NAACP Youth Council Award Winner

By Tanya Dennis 

 

Valerie Cordier-Rice, a Bay Area high school senior, is the winner of the Oakland Branch of the NAACP Imani Youth Council ACT-SO award, recognized for her performances in dramatics and oratory.

A reception will be held immediately following baccalaureate a service for graduating seniors, 3 p.m., Saturday, June 9, at Mills Grove Christian Church, 5410 Fleming Ave. in Oakland.

Cordier-Rice, is graduating with a 4.0 G.P.A. and in addition has been awarded a full scholarship to University of California, Berkeley. She will represent the Oakland branch of the NAACP at the National ACT-SO competition in Houston, Texas, July 5-9.

The NAACP’s Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics is a yearlong achievement program designed to recruit, stimulate, and encourage high academic and cultural achievement among African-American high school students. ACT-SO includes 26 categories of competition in the sciences, humanities, business and performing and visual arts. More than 260,000 young people have participated in the program since its inception.

African-American high school students compete at the local level, and winners are sent on to the national ACT-SO competition where they compete against students from all over the country.

 

For information, contact the NAACP Oakland Branch at (510) 652-8493, or go to www.naacpoakland.org

Foster Care Services Protected

By Tasion Kwamilele

Two of California’s largest counties, Alameda and Los Angeles, have announced they will protect foster teens facing a disruption in foster care coverage because of gaps in a law that gradually expands services to age 21 by 2014.

Teens whose services are disrupted stand to lose housing, financial assistance, and medical benefits, as well as mentorship and transitional services.

Under AB 12, foster care coverage provides these services for vulnerable youth up to the age of 19.  While they can re-apply in January 2013 for services when AB 12 extends to age 20, it still leaves a “bubble” or gap of non-coverage for these youth.

As a result, more than 2,100 foster youth turning 19 this year will find themselves without services and benefits.

The action taken by Alameda and Los Angeles counties essentially halves the number of teens who will lose services as the foster care age ratchets up to 21.

Los Angeles County is home to 853 “bubble” teens, and Alameda is home to 139, according to a database shared by the California Department of Social Services and University of California at Berkeley.

Combined with the 75 in San Francisco, which has also announced its intention to cover “bubble” youths, just over half of the teens affected by the situation will retain foster care services.

California has a county-administered system of social services. So counties must decide whether or not to use their funds to support youth while waiting for the phase in of AB 12.

Child welfare advocates would like to see the other 56 counties follow the lead of Los Angeles and Alameda.

However, even Alameda and Los Angeles county officials are unsure how they are going to pay for the teens yet.

Both counties are trying to find out if they can spend federal money to support the teens, or must if it all must come from county accounts?

The options remain unclear. The established rules may restrict these counties from using the extra money to fund AB 12 implementation.

While Alameda and Los Angeles Counties are using their county dollars to cover youths on the bubble, it is unclear how the state’s other 56 counties, who are not covered by the same regulations, are going to fund the gap of coverage for the foster youth in their systems.

Among the other counties with the largest populations of “bubble” teens are San Bernardino with 141, San Diego with128 and Sacramento with 123.

For information on California’s foster care system, visit http://chronicleofsocialchange.wordpress.com.

Willis Burnett, Richmond Real Estate Pioneer

By Kia Croom, 

Contributing Writer 

 

Willis Burnett, one of the pioneers in Richmond’s real estate industry, has enjoyed a successful 37-year career at B & B Real Estate, which he established in 1975.

He has made a lasting mark in the area as a founder of the North Bay Board of Realtors, which made history as one of the first to offer scholarships to minority high school students.

Burnett received his real estate broker’s license in 1960 and began making a name for himself in the Richmond market after he received his real estate license in 1964.

Burnett says his greatest accomplishment was founding the North Bay Board of Realtors (NBBR), along with his brother, Johnny and their colleagues, the late Jimmy Varnado and Edward and Shirley Black.

After creating the organization in 1983, the realtors promoted “freedom and integrity” in housing. That same year, Burnett was named NBBR’s president.

NBBR provided community members with valuable services such as education about the industry and home-buying process.

In 1989, Burnett expanded NBBR’s activities to include a scholarship program to help high school minorities further their education.

NBBR made history as the first real estate board in California to target and offer minority students scholarships, holding its first scholarship banquet benefiting two local high school graduates.

Burnett was born in McGhee, Arkansas.  He graduated from Desha High School and was immediately drafted into the United States Army.

After completing two years of service, he came to Richmond, where he studied business at Contra Costa College. He continued his studies at Golden State University in San Francisco.

In addition to his work in local real estate, Burnett has been involved in a number of civic organizations including serving as the president of the California Association of Real Estate Brokers. He was also a member of the West County Housing Economic Development Commission, Masonic Lodge and NAACP.

He has been a member of Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church since 1951.

Sharon Kidd, New Girls Inc. Board President

Girls Inc

Sharon Kidd, the new board president of Girls Inc. of West Contra Costa County, has extensive experience working with at-risk youth, and heading several commissions such as BART Citizens Review Board, African American Advisory Committee on Crime, and the Commission on Aging.

Kidd has been working with Girls Inc. for five years, serving as secretary, 2nd vice-president, and 1st vice-president as well as mentoring several local girls.

She recalls counseling one Girls Inc. participant who was having problems communicating with her mother.

“I told her that a mother’s love and advice is the best she can receive, after her spiritual advice from God,” Kidd said. “She must realize that no weapon formed against her will prosper.’”

Longtime friend Mario Tarver said Kidd has a giving nature. “She has a genuine passion for mentoring today’s youth,”  he said.

With a B.A. in psychology, and a M.A. in public administration, Kidd enjoys the volunteer services that she provides as a board director for Girls Inc.

“I began volunteering with Girls Inc. to help others, but the person I helped the most was me,” she said. “There is nothing more satisfying than giving some of your precious time to the girls, because it is almost always the best time of your life.”

Girls Inc.  is seeking volunteers who are interested in mentoring, grant writing and teaching programming to girls. For information contact (510) 232-5440 or email office@girlsinc-wcc.org.

LifeLong Medical Care Wins $1.1 Million Grant

LifeLong Medical Care in Berkley recently won a $1.1 million grant under the Affordable Care Act to support an innovative program to reduce the need for emergency room and hospital visits for more than 3,200 seniors and other low-income adults with disabilities.

The three-year grant will support clients who receive Medi-Cal, Medicare or both.

LifeLong won the grant in a nationwide competition overseen by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The grants are intended to spur innovation and improve quality in the delivery of healthcare, while lowering costs.

LifeLong will train adults with disabilities to support adoption of healthy behaviors among their peers and to encourage self-management, with support from a team of nurse care managers.

LifeLong will partner with Berkeley’s Center for Independent Living and the Alameda Alliance for Health to achieve project goals. Improved care and better health for these high-risk patients is expected to save about $1 million.

Foster Care Services Protected

By Tasion Kwamilele

Two of California’s largest counties, Alameda and Los Angeles, have announced they will protect foster teens facing a disruption in foster care coverage because of gaps in a law that gradually expands services to age 21 by 2014.

Teens whose services are disrupted stand to lose housing, financial assistance, and medical benefits, as well as mentorship and transitional services.

Under AB 12, foster care coverage provides these services for vulnerable youth up to the age of 19.  While they can re-apply in January 2013 for services when AB 12 extends to age 20, it still leaves a “bubble” or gap of non-coverage for these youth.

As a result, more than 2,100 foster youth turning 19 this year will find themselves without services and benefits.

The action taken by Alameda and Los Angeles counties essentially halves the number of teens who will lose services as the foster care age ratchets up to 21.

Los Angeles County is home to 853 “bubble” teens, and Alameda is home to 139, according to a database shared by the California Department of Social Services and University of California at Berkeley.

Combined with the 75 in San Francisco, which has also announced its intention to cover “bubble” youths, just over half of the teens affected by the situation will retain foster care services.

California has a county-administered system of social services. So counties must decide whether or not to use their funds to support youth while waiting for the phase in of AB 12.

Child welfare advocates would like to see the other 56 counties follow the lead of Los Angeles and Alameda.

However, even Alameda and Los Angeles county officials are unsure how they are going to pay for the teens yet.

Both counties are trying to find out if they can spend federal money to support the teens, or must if it all must come from county accounts?

The options remain unclear. The established rules may restrict these counties from using the extra money to fund AB 12 implementation.

While Alameda and Los Angeles Counties are using their county dollars to cover youths on the bubble, it is unclear how the state’s other 56 counties, who are not covered by the same regulations, are going to fund the gap of coverage for the foster youth in their systems.

Among the other counties with the largest populations of “bubble” teens are San Bernardino with 141, San Diego with128 and Sacramento with 123.

For information on California’s foster care system, visit http://chronicleofsocialchange.wordpress.com.

Cutbacks in Federal Student Grants

By Chanelle Bell

Pell Grants, a need-based federal program on which many university students depend, will be eliminated in the fall for as many as 100,000 students across the country.

Effective July 1, students will only be eligible to receive Pell Grants for 12 semesters instead of the former 18. This affects many students who have changed majors or who have more than one major and are required to stay in college longer in order to complete all the required courses for their majors.

Until now, students with  family-incomes of up to $30,000 could automatically receive the maximum $5,500 annual grant. The new maximum permissible family income will be $23,000.

These changes, which were approved by Congress in December, do not just affect students applying for Pell funds for first time but also the students who are already in college and receiving the grant.

Without the help of Pell Grants, many could be forced to drop out before they can graduate or have to borrow more money, increasing their indebtedness.

With tuition prices sky rocketing every year, Pell Grants are for many students the only way they can get a college education, according to the program’s supporters.

Pell Grants fund the education of nearly 10 million students at 5,400 participating institutions in the U.S. Most students receive these grants by filling out what is known as a FAFSA student-aid form.

Two Men Sentenced for Selling Pirated CDs

State Attorney General Kamala D. Harris announced this week that two Los Angeles residents have each been sentenced to 300 days in county jail and three years probation for selling counterfeit CDs containing popular music.

Juan Lucas Camacho, 39, and Jose Pablo Almaraz, 38, each pled guilty to one felony count of failure to disclose the origin of a recording that they offered for sale.

Camacho had been convicted in 2008 for a similar crime. They were sentenced on May 21 in Los Angeles Superior Court.

“Copyright theft like this infringes upon the rights of writers, musicians, and producers,” said Harris.

“California’s eCrime Unit is dedicated to prosecuting cases involving the trafficking of intellectual property, whether online or on the street.”

The charges are based on the sale of 800 counterfeit CDs to undercover Department of Justice agents on April 17 in the parking lot of a Los Angeles Home Depot store for $480, or approximately $.60 per CD.

Camacho claimed the ability to fabricate 80,000 to 100,000 CDs per week and that 800 CDs was too small of a sale to repeat.

In April, the defendants were arrested and charged with five felony counts, including conspiracy and counterfeit of a registered trademark.

Upon admitting guilt, the remaining counts were dismissed as part of a plea agreement. Camacho was given credit for 36 days already served, and Almaraz for 19 days served.

16,000 Take UC Summer Classes

By Yasmin Anwar, courtesy of UC Berkeley. 

Summer school at the University of California, Berkeley, started Monday, and once again, enrollment is projected to exceed 16,000, making it another record-breaking season for the campus’s increasingly popular program.

As of mid-May, more than 14,000 UC Berkeley and other students, including international scholars, had signed up for UC Berkeley Summer Sessions.

At least 2,000 more students are expected to enroll through July 23, when the last three-week session begins. At least 1,200 enrollments are anticipated for Summer Sessions’ nine online courses.

“It looks like we may have another record-breaking year,” said Richard Russo, dean of Berkeley Summer Sessions, Berkeley Study Abroad and the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.

UC Berkeley Summer Sessions offers more than 600 courses during five sessions that range in length from three to 10 weeks and end in mid-August.

In addition to courses, students can sign up for international study abroad, global internships, early-start programs for new admits, and a pre-collegiate program for high school students. Enrollment began in February.

UC undergraduate students pay $406 per unit during Summer Sessions. Financial aid and Pell Grants are available to eligible students.

Neighbors Share Produce at Lorin Station Crop Swap

By Tony Wilkinson

Back in 1876, the Lorin Train Station, located at what is now the intersection of Adeline Avenue and Alcatraz Street, connected Berkeley with Emeryville and Oakland.

Today, the Lorin Station site is a new kind of community connection.

The Crop Swap at the Lorin Station, serving South Berkeley and North Oakland neighborhoods, began in August, designed to bring back to life the old tradition of sharing home grown food.

For one hour on Sunday, May 20, the northeast corner of Alcatraz  and Adeline came alive with the spirit of community.

Neighbors came together to share and swap the bounty of their gardens to the rhythm of the beat of a band, The Crane and the Crow (www.facebook.com/thecraneandthecrow).

Neighbors gathered to trade lemons for lettuces, beets for beans. No offering was too small or too large. One elderly man brought a bag of lemons from his tree, which he says, “just won’t quit making lemons.” He proudly took home two tomato starts for his grandson to plant.

Victory Lee,  one of the initiators of the Lorin Crop Swap, along with Transition Berkeley, is enthusiastic about the crop swap’s success.

“It is absolutely important that neighbors come together to share and receive not only the wonderful backyard produce; but also the spirit of community,” she said.

The crop swap is a unique place, Lee said, because it serves two cities, allows neighbors to  share and showcase their skills for one hour and leads to making lasting connections.

“I imagine there was something like this in the 1900s when Lorin Station was a transit station, where people met going to and from Berkeley. Best of all, it’s a place to smile,” she said.

The Lorin Station Crop Swap, along with a sister crop swap in Ohlone Greenway, is presented by the Victory Garden Foundation and Transition Berkeley.

The general feeling of the day was that growing food at home is rewarding but that sharing with neighbors and building community is even more fun and rewarding.

The event was so successful that the Crop Swap will be held at the same place from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. every Sunday.

“If you do not have produce to swap, please come out anyway and engage in inspiring conversation while meeting new and old neighbors,” said Lee.

“Pick out something to take home. Come out and enjoy an hour of fun and music.”

Pachan to Head AC Transit Operations

James. D. Pachan, a former transit manager in Los Angeles, has been named Chief Operating Officer of AC Transit.

Pachan has 30 years of transit management experience, primarily at the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA), the fourth largest transit agency in the nation.

In the Los Angeles position, he led several major projects including conversion of fare payments to smart card technology, administered capital and operating budgets and the maintenance of the agency’s fleet of more than 2500 trains, buses and vans.

“We needed someone who had proven experience with all aspects of transit operations, and James has a remarkable record of success in transportation and maintenance, ” said AC Transit General Manager David Armijo.

Pachan said he looks forward to his new assignment, “There is no greater privilege for me than to be asked to lead the 1,500 professionals who work together to deliver quality transit service to the East Bay,” he said.

Pachan will be responsible for all of the agency’s bus and paratransit services, including vehicle and facility maintenance.

Earl Hamlin Appointed to Port Commission

Earl Hamlin

Earl S. Hamlin is a newly appointed member of the Port Commission, nominated by Mayor Jean Quan and unanimously confirmed by the Oakland City Council.

Hamlin will serve through July 10, 2013, filling the seat previously held by Commissioner Michael Lighty.

The Port Commission is made up of seven members who oversee fiscal, environmental and safety policies covering the approximately 16,000 acres of port property that stretches from the Emeryville border in the north to the San Leandro border in the south.

The Oakland seaport is the fifth busiest container port in the U.S. ”We extend a very warm welcome to Commissioner Hamlin whose 30 years of broad experience and financial expertise will add real value to this organization,” said Pamela Calloway, president of the Port Commission.  Hamlin chaired the Alameda County Planning Commission for 12 years, where he was named a State of California Planning Commissioner of the Year in 2001.

He was treasurer for the Chabot Space & Science Center for six years and has served on several other commissions and committees including the Alameda County Economic Development Advisory Board and, currently, the Community Advisory Working Group of the Alameda County Transportation Authority.

He received his A.B. in 1961 from Oberlin College, followed by his J.D. in 1964 and M.B.A. in 1968—both from the University of California, Berkeley.

Job Gains, Job Losses

The good news is that the East Bay has gained 27,000 new jobs. The bad news is that a Bay Area-based corporation is slashing 27,0000 jobs.

Happy days are here again? It might be too early to break out the champagne.

A new report released Thursday by the East Bay Economic Development Alliance (East Bay EDA) shows economic recovery in the region is putting people back to work and improving the quality of life for at least some East Bay residents.

According to the report, since July 2011, almost 27,000 residents of the East Bay found jobs. Unemployment reached 9.3 percent in January 2012 – its lowest point since February 2009.

“We are encouraged to see the increase in jobs and spending and hold hope that this continues,” said Keith Carson, Alameda County Supervisor.

At the same time, Tech giant Hewlett-Packard announced this week that it will slash 27,000 jobs, 8 percent of its worldwide workforce, by 2014, hoping to save billions of dollars.

The company’s restructuring plan, which aims to save $3 billion to $3.5 billion, is the biggest in the Bay Area-based company’s 73-year history and “absolutely critical for the long-term success of the company,” CEO Meg Whitman said.

“While I wouldn’t say we turned the corner, we are making progress,” said Whitman.

HP is eliminating thousands of jobs because its revenue and profits are sliding. The workforce cuts are the third largest in tech history.

Appeal Court Rules Tenants Can’t be Evicted Without Just Cause

By Lynda Carson

A recent California Court of Appeal victory for a 70-year-old disabled tenant activist named Sharon Green who was evicted from her home could have an impact on similar evictions throughout California.

“The California Court of Appeal for the Second District held that constitutional due process applies to an eviction from a housing unit supported by a redevelopment agency, prohibiting the tenant’s eviction without good cause,” according to the National Housing Law Project.

In other words, landlords in California cannot evict renters residing in publicly subsidized housing that is funded by local governments, without a good cause, according to a unanimous ruling from the California Court of Appeal.

The court ruling reversed an eviction against Sharon Green, who believed that her eviction was done in retaliation for exercising her protected rights of free speech, freedom of association and her right to petition the government.

Green originally moved into the 157-unit Heritage Oaks Senior Apartments in Glendora in 2007. In 2009, she opposed a 90-Day Notice to Quit, a notice that did not give a reason for the eviction.

She lost the case in court, but she appealed because believed that she could not be evicted without a good cause.

After being thrown out of her home two years ago, she has lived in a tent at times, and sometimes in an old trailer at different campgrounds.

“My cat and I have survived rain, snow, lightening and extreme cold,” she said. “Everyday is a struggle with the elements, or the predators and insects. We both just want to go home.”

This ruling may affect over 150,000 rental units receiving subsidies by local governments throughout the state.

“This ruling is significant because it requires private landlords receiving local, public money to give very-low and low-income families the stability they need to get jobs and raise their families,” said Maria Palomares of Neighborhood Legal Services, who argued the case on behalf of the legal aid groups.

“It extends critical protections to tenants of city-subsidized housing.”

Services for Cyrus Eugene Bradford

Eugene Bradford

Oakland resident Cyrus Eugene Bradford died Tuesday, May 15 in Hayward,

A public viewing will be held 11:30 a.m. to 6:15 p.m. at Fouche’s Hudson Funeral Home, 3665 Telegraph Ave.  in  Oakland followed by a Quiet Hour at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 30.

A funeral service will be held 11 a.m., Thursday, May 31 at Taylor Memorial UMC, 1188-12th St. in Oakland.  Interment will be held at Rolling Hills Memorial Park, 4100 Hilltop Drive in Richmond.

Feds Cut Student Grants

By Chanelle Bell

Pell Grants, a need-based federal program on which many university students depend, will be eliminated in the fall for as many as 100,000 students across the country.

Effective July 1, students will only be eligible to receive Pell Grants for 12 semesters instead of the former 18. This affects many students who have changed majors or who have more than one major and are required to stay in college longer in order to complete all the required courses for their majors.

Until now, students with family-incomes of up to $30,000 could automatically receive the maximum $5,500 annual grant. The new maximum permissible family income will be $23,000.

These changes, which were approved by Congress in December, do not just affect students applying for Pell funds for first time but also the students who are already in college and receiving the grant.

Without the help of Pell Grants, many could be forced to drop out before they can graduate or have to borrow more money, increasing their indebtedness.

With tuition prices skyrocketing every year, Pell Grants are for many students the only way they can get a college education, according to the program’s supporters.

Pell Grants fund the education of nearly 10 million students at 5,400 participating institutions in the U.S.  Most students receive these grants by filling out what is known as a FAFSA student-aid form.

Peralta Honors Black Graduates

 

Laney graduate Melinda Rucker, majoring in banking and finance, with mom Linda Rucker at African and African American.

By Carla Thomas

Caps, gowns, kente cloth and cameras filled North Oakland Missionary Baptist Church as hundreds of graduates participated in the 2012 African and African American commencement of the Peralta Community College District.

The May 19 event honored students from Berkeley City College, College of Alameda, Laney College and Merritt College.

“It is an honor for me to honor you and the milestones you‘ve accomplished,” said Dr. Nathan Hare, a civil rights leader and pioneering founder of the first Black studies program in the U.S.

In African tradition, Chinaka and Chukwudi Hodge drummed the processional while guests were introduced by master of ceremonies and graduation Chair Dr. Lawrence VanHook.

Dr. Carol Ward Allen, who has served as a member of the BART Board of Directors, as well as Assistant Vice Chancellor for the Peralta College District, talked to the graduates about the significance of the ceremony occurring on the same day as Malcolm X’s birthday.

“Malcolm would have been 87 today, and I stand on his shoulders – you must have knowledge of the past in order to handle your future,” she said.

Dr. Julia Hare emphasized the importance of parents in educating the next generation.

“Higher education is essential to our future. However, active parents are key to a young student’s success in school,” said Hare, who was a founder of the Black Think Tank and widely regarded as one of the most dynamic motivational speakers in the country. Ebony magazine recognized her as one of the 150 most influential African-Americans for 2008.

Keynote speaker Dr. William Love, emeritus faculty member of Merritt College, reminded the graduates that they came from ancestors who beat slavery.

“You are graduating in a time of President Obama, the first Black man to speak for the entire USA, and you are also the descendants of ancestors who endured the worst form of slavery throughout the history of mankind…We will survive as long as we continue to love each other and teach each other,” he said.

Ronald Moss, a graduating student, spoke passionately about the day’s theme of gratitude and how his own life had spun out of control until he enrolled at a Peralta college.  He earned his A.A. degree in social behavioral sciences and achieved membership in the Phi Theta Kappa honor society.

“Don’t let distractions kill your inner voice or the dreams of our ancestors,” he said.

Scholarship Winners Named by East Bay College Fund

By Carla Thomas

Caps, gowns, kente cloth and cameras filled North Oakland Missionary Baptist Church as hundreds of graduates participated in the 2012 African and African American commencement of the Peralta Community College District.

The May 19 event honored students from Berkeley City College, College of Alameda, Laney College and Merritt College.

“It is an honor for me to honor you and the milestones you‘ve accomplished,” said Dr. Nathan Hare, a civil rights leader and pioneering founder of the first Black studies program in the U.S.

In African tradition, Chinaka and Chukwudi Hodge drummed the processional while guests were introduced by master of ceremonies and graduation Chair Dr. Lawrence VanHook.

Dr. Carol Ward Allen, who has served as a member of the BART Board of Directors, as well as Assistant Vice Chancellor for the Peralta College District, talked to the graduates about the significance of the ceremony occurring on the same day as Malcolm X’s birthday.

“Malcolm would have been 87 today, and I stand on his shoulders – you must have knowledge of the past in order to handle your future,” she said.

Dr. Julia Hare emphasized the importance of parents in educating the next generation.

“Higher education is essential to our future. However, active parents are key to a young student’s success in school,” said Hare, who was a founder of the Black Think Tank and widely regarded as one of the most dynamic motivational speakers in the country. Ebony magazine recognized her as one of the 150 most influential African-Americans for 2008.

Keynote speaker Dr. William Love, emeritus faculty member of Merritt College, reminded the graduates that they came from ancestors who beat slavery.

“You are graduating in a time of President Obama, the first Black man to speak for the entire USA, and you are also the descendants of ancestors who endured the worst form of slavery throughout the history of mankind…We will survive as long as we continue to love each other and teach each other,” he said.

Ronald Moss, a graduating student, spoke passionately about the day’s theme of gratitude and how his own life had spun out of control until he enrolled at a Peralta college.  He earned his A.A. degree in social behavioral sciences and achieved membership in the Phi Theta Kappa honor society.

“Don’t let distractions kill your inner voice or the dreams of our ancestors,” he said.

All those who love skateboarding are invited to Marin City’s first skateboard jam, hosted by Hood Games and the Marin City Community Services District.
The free event, which will include music and art, will be held noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 26 at the Courts on Donahue Street and Drake Avenue in Marin City.

Charles Edward Dickens, 56

Charles “Knottie” Edward Dickens – skilled as a cook, landscaper and painter – died March 28 in San Jose at the age of 56.
Born to Louise Hall and Costroma Dickens II on April 10, 1956, he attended elementary school in Marin City and graduated from Tamalpais High School in Mill Valley.
Preceded by his parents in death, he leaves to cherish his memory seven sibling: Pastor Jewell Ruffin, Suisun; Carolyn Iles, San Francisco; Hattie Dickens-Rice, Portland; Gloria Garrison, San Jose; Barbara Dickens, Marin City; Castroma Dickens III, El Cerrito; and Margaret Dickens, Marin City.
Dickens is also survived by his uncle, Foster Hines; aunts, Mary Peterson and Gail Hines; and many nieces, nephews and great-nieces and great-nephews.
A memorial celebrating the life of Charles Edward Dickens is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Saturday, May 19 at Abundant Life Christian Fellowship, 2440 Leghorn St. in Mountain View.

St. Andrew Spring Benefit

Sam and Ann Lamott

Saint Andrew Presbyterian Church will have its annual Spring Benefit Concert 7 p.m., Saturday, May 26 at the Cornerstone Community Church of Christ, 626 Drake Ave. in Marin City.
Guests will include Ann Lamott and her son Sam, presenting their book “Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My Son’s First Son.”
Also performing will be Kelly Thomas, Nicole Hughes, members of Rejoice Praise Dance ministry, and the Saint Andrew choir led by music directors Sandra Inglehart and Stephanie Ryder.
Tickets are $35 can be purchased online at Brownpapertickets.com or at the church on Sundays up to last Sunday before the concert.

Garage Sale and Recycling Event

San Leandro residents are busy pulling old, unused items out of basements and attics in preparation for the city’s annual Citywide Garage Sale and Recycling Event, being held this Saturday, May 19. More than 300 garage sales will be held at locations throughout San Leandro on Saturday for those hard-to-find items or one-of-a kind deals.
The sale takes place from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Recycling Event, which runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. that day, allows residents to recycle a variety of unwanted household items such as appliances, tires, scrap metal, clean wood, computer equipment, and mattresses at the Alameda County Industries recycling facility. Download a map and listing of participating households at www.recyclesanleandro.org.
For information, call the city’s Recycling Hotline at (510) 577-6026

Reconnection Support Group for Seniors

A Reconnection Support Group for seniors 50+, designed to provide support for people who feel isolated, overwhelmed or disconnected, will meet weekly for eight sessions in San Leandro.
The meetings will be held from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., Tuesdays June 12 through Aug. 14 at the San Leandro Senior Community Center, 13909 East 14th St.
As part of the group, participants share with others who are experiencing similar life challenges through facilitated discussion, art and activities.
Pre-registration is required. Call (510) 577-3462, and refer to course #26726. Register at customer service locations at San Leandro Senior Community Center, City Hall South Offices or Marina Community Center.