From January 2013

Dr. King’s Legacy and the Struggle to End AIDS

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

By Paul Kawata

As the nation commemorated the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., President Barack Obama was also sworn in for his second term as President of the United States. For those of us who have dedicated our lives to realizing Dr. King’s vision of not just racial equality, but social justice, these events mark the culmination of decades of struggle.
But with each success, we are reminded that our nation’s march toward equality is never complete. It is a constant evolution of hearts and minds, policy and tradition. Thanks to the work of Dr. King and so many others, our nation’s made incredible progress, but substantial work remains.
The fight against HIV/AIDS has always been about more than the search for medicine or a cure. It has been a battle for human dignity, to demonstrate that each life, regardless of race, sexual orientation, gender identity, nation of origin, or religion, has inherent value.
From the beginning, this epidemic has taken the largest toll on our most marginalized communities. From gay men and transgender women, to injection drug users and people of color, those who are most often shut out of our nation’s halls of affluence and power are also the most vulnerable to a whole host of health challenges, including HIV.
Over the last four years, we’ve made huge strides in leveling the playing field. The nation is rightly directing much needed resources to addressing persistent and devastating health disparities.
But expanding access to health coverage alone is not enough. On its own, an insurance card is little more than a piece of paper. Communities that have historically been locked out of the health care system must have the supportive services necessary to navigate that system.
In that vein, the National Minority AIDS Council is releasing a list ofpriorities for 2013, to ensure that those communities that have historically suffered the greatest health disparities are able to get the most out of these reforms.
This means continued funding for traditional wrap-around/health completion services under Ryan White, but it also means tackling immigration reform and repealing HIV-specific criminal statutes.
It means ensuring that every American has access to employment security, regardless of sexual orientation or gender expression. And it means ensuring that every young person has access to confidential, evidence-based and culturally appropriate sexual health education.
Dr. King once said that “human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable…Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”
As our nation celebrates the legacy of Dr. King and the second inauguration of President Obama, (we must) stand ready to fight for the vision of equality and justice that both of these men embody.
Paul Kawata is executive director of the National Minority AIDS Council. For information visit http://nmac.org/

44th NAACP Image Awards Features a Star-Studded Lineup, Feb. 1

“Cloud Atlas” leading lady Halle Berry.

Jamie Foxx (left) in “Django Unchained” and Denzel Washington in “Flight.”

“The 44th NAACP Image Awards,” a live, two-hour special on Friday, Feb. 1 (8 p.m.-10 p.m. ET), will showcase the best achievements and performances of people of color in the arts, featuring a star-studded lineup of performers, winners and presenters.
Nominations were announced in December and included contributions in television, film, music and literature.
In the motion picture categories, Quentin Tarantino’s acclaimed slavery era  “Django Unchained” was pitted against Robert Zemeckis’ pilot drama “Flight”.
“Flight” led the pack with a total of five nominations, while “Django” and “Beasts of the Southern Wild” trailed with four. The two highly-praised movies were also set to compete with critics’ darling “Beasts,” Tuskegee film “Red Tails” and Tyler Perry’s “Good Deeds.”
“Django” and “Flight” would also face off against each other in Best Actor category where their lead actors, Jamie Foxx and Denzel Washington respectively, got nominated. They were racing for the coveted gong alongside Morgan Freeman, Tyler Perry, and newcomer Indian star Suraj Sharma.
In Best Actress category, meanwhile, “Cloud Atlas” leading lady Halle Berry was set to compete with the star of “Beast,” much-talked-about young actress Quvenzhane Wallis. Also up for the prize were Viola Davis, Loretta Devine and Emayatzy Corinealdi.
Founded on Feb. 12, 1909, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its one-half million adult and youth members throughout the country and the world are advocates for civil rights in their communities, and monitor equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.
For more information on the NAACP Image Awards, please visit www.naacpimageawards.net.
The awards event is a production of Vicangelo Films.

Chicago Must Pay $10.2 Million to Innocent Man Imprisoned for 26 Years

Alton Logan

The City of Chicago will pay pay $10.2 million to a wrongfully convicted man who spent 26 years prison for a murder he did not commit.
He was convicted despite the fact that some attorneys familiar with the crime knew almost from the very beginning that he was innocent.
Cook County, IL, prosecutors convicted Alton Logan, 55, for the Jan. 11, 1982, murder of Lloyd Wickliffe, a security guard working at a McDonald’s on Chicago’s far South Side. Police arrested Logan, then 28, and Edgar Hope a month after the killing, based on identifications made by a second security guard, who was wounded in the shooting.
A few days after their arrest, police also arrested Andrew Wilson for shooting to death two Chicago police officers. Hope told his lawyer that he and Wilson, not Logan, committed the murder at McDonald’s.
Dale Coventry and Jamie Kunz, Wilson’s public defenders, confronted Wilson, who admitted that he shot and killed one security guard and wounded the other guard, according to the Northwestern University Center for Wrongful Convictions.

Transportation Commission Offers High School Summer Internships

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission High School Summer Internship Program is accepting student applications online for about 38 internships that will be available throughout the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area.
The pay rate is $10.55 per hour. Each internship will last up to a maximum of 250 hours. Students may work full-time or part-time, for up to 10 weeks, between June 19 and Aug. 30.
The program is designed to promote interest in transportation as a potential career; help students understand the role of transportation agencies; provide skill-building and enrichment opportunities; and provide assistance to MTA’s partner transportation agencies.
Interested tenth, eleventh, and twelfth grade students are invited to apply. The deadline for applications is Feb. 28.
To apply, students must complete an online application, with a page that describes in the applicant’s own words a transportation problem in the community and what could be done to resolve the matter. Also attach one letter of recommendation from a teacher, principal, counselor, religious leader or employer (two letters are required if GPA is below 2.8).
For program requirements and information, go to www.mtc.ca.gov/jobs/high_school/  A listing of internship opportunities and the application form are available at http://jobs.mtc.ca.gov/InternshipOpportunities/jobinternship.html

Are Local Authorities “Kidnapping Parents in the Middle of the Night?”

Pablo Paredes of 67 Sueños migrant youth worker advocate organization testifies at ICE hearing on Jan. 10. County Supervisor Richard Valle listens at far left.

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor

With members of the Alameda County Board of Supervisors saying they have no power to prevent the county sheriff from continuing federal immigration violation holds at the county jail, a packed meeting room of immigrant families and advocates told supervisors recently that the practice causing widespread economic and psychological uncertainty in county immigrant communities.
At the request of federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the sheriff’s office puts two-day detainers on more than 80 Santa Rita Jail inmates a month on suspicion of immigration law violations, with more than 75 percent of them ending up being turned over to immigration authorities.
Students of immigrant parents, people identifying themselves as undocumented workers, and immigration rights advocates told members of the two-person Public Protection Committee of the board of supervisors this month that the ICE Secure-Communities (S-Com) holds and arrests were particularly hard on families that lose their breadwinners.
“Oakland lost 131 lives to violence last year,” Pablo Paredes of 67 Sueños migrant youth worker advocate organization testified to the two-member Public Protection Committee hearing this month.
“What I’m here to tell you is that [Alameda County’s] investment in S-Com is your investment in killing the next baby in Oakland. Violence is not born in a vacuum,” he said. “Violence is born in situation where alternatives disappear, where frustration increases, where my Daddy’s not home tonight. Where my Mom is not home tonight.
“When a breadwinner is deported, [the remaining single parent has to] balance the low wages that they throw at them because they are undocumented, [and so they have to] neglect their children. That leads to ‘who is raising our kids?’ The streets are raising our kids. The dealers on the corner are raising our kids. That’s why so many of our sisters are turning into prostitutes. That’s why so many of our children are coming to school high.”
Paredes said that instead of investing in families, cooperation with federal immigration authorities is “investing in kidnapping parents in the middle of the night.”
One teenage Latina girl identifying herself only as Diana said the S-Com holds and deportations are “breaking up families just like they did to mine. My aunt and uncle got deported, and that affected me as well as their children. It ruined their family, their childhood, their lives, and their dreams. The [Alameda County sheriff’s deputies] should do their own job and let ICE do theirs.”
Several of the speakers said that while the forced deportations do not make Alameda County safer-since the majority of those deported from the county are either non-violent offenders or have not committed any state or local crimes at all-with some adding that the deportees themselves can face danger in returning to their home countries.
Sylvia Brandon Perez, a volunteer with the East Bay Interfaith Immigration Coalition, a naturalized American citizen from Cuba and a retired immigration attorney, told the story of one Alameda County man from Guatemala who had applied for asylum “because he was afraid if he was returned to his country, he would be killed.
He was arrested because he was parked at a yellow line, waiting for his wife who was at a PTA meeting at a school in Hayward. He was deported to Guatemala. Within three months he had been shot and killed, leaving two U.S.-born children and a wife.”
And Maria Kelly, a Berkeley-area immigration rights worker and a Syrian-American, said she had several family members who are in the country on tourist visas. “If they overstay their visas and they get pulled over for something like a broken tail light or whatever and they’re sent back to Syria, what are they being sent back to?

A Major Gifts Officer Joins “A Better Chance”

Cynthia Housel

A Better Chance, a national nonprofit that recruits academically talented and motivated students of color and helps them reach a variety of educational opportunities, has announced that Cynthia Housel will join its team as major gifts officer for the Western United States.
In this newly created position, Housel will serve as a  member of the development team. She will work with volunteers, alumni and donors in the western states.  Her objective will be to keep A Better Chance’s supporters and advocates informed, engaged and connected to the work the organization does.
She will be based in Oakland.
“I hold the mission of A Better Chance close to my heart,” said Housel.  “I firmly believe that it is critical to increase substantially the number of well-educated young people of color who are capable of assuming positions of responsibility and leadership in American society.”
For over 16 years, Housel has supported or led individual and major gifts campaigns, capital campaigns, institutional giving, volunteer and board management, and events for large and small organizations in Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Her past experience includes tenures at Big Brothers of Greater Los Angeles, Boy Scouts of America – Los Angeles Area Council and the California Academy of Sciences.  She was most recently the Financial Development Director at the YMCA of San Francisco – Chinatown Branch.
A Better Chance, at www.abetterchance.org, is one of the oldest national organizations of its kind supporting academically talented youth of color via access to prestigious educational opportunities for students in grades 6-12.
A Better Chance operates the College Preparatory Schools Program, which recruits, refers and supports about 500 scholars at more than 300-member schools nationwide annually.
The Organization has been helping students since1963. Since its inception, more than 13,000 alumni have been given an A Better Chance opportunity.  The group is headquartered in New York and has five regional offices.

Summer Classes for High Schools Arts Students

The Alameda County Arts Commission is promoting an opportunity for county high school students involved in the arts to participate in the State Summer School for the Arts, a four-week, intensive pre-college program for talented and motivated high school students in the arts, held on the campus of the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) in Valencia.
The program has an annual student body of over 500 young artists from all over California and beyond, offering students the opportunity to spend one month immersed in a creative laboratory, experiencing the inspiring and rigorous daily life of a professional artist.
As a bridge from high school to college, the program awards top students the Herb Alpert Foundation’s Emerging Young Artist Scholarships for collegiate study or pre-professional training programs, as well as three units of California State University course credit and names them “California Arts Scholars,” distinguishing CSSSA graduates from their peers as they proceed to college and career.
Applications are now being accepted for the 2013 summer session. Requirements, forms, and instructions can be found on the CSSSA website under each artistic discipline in the admissions section.
No student is denied admission due to financial circumstances.  Each year, approximately 40 percent of students receive financial aid. All application materials must be postmarked by Feb. 28. For information go to www.csssa.ca.gov

Oakland Offers Business Consulting and Technical Assistance to Small Businesses

The City of Oakland and the consulting firm Sand Dollar Group, LLC have teamed up to help local small businesses grow and increase their revenue.
They are offering free technical assistance to Oakland entrepreneurs who are certified as small businesses with the city. Qualified small businesses will receive monthly consulting services through June 2014 at no cost and will learn  a variety of business growth and management strategies with hands on assistance from small business experts.
Additionally, all Oakland certified small business owners will have the opportunity to participate in seminars that will teach a variety of topics from local experts.
“Topics will range from financial management to sales and marketing and venture capital opportunities,” said Sand Dollar Group CEO Paul C. Wright.
Most seminars will take place in downtown Oakland at the Department of Housing and Community Development.
Visit www.sanddollargroup.com to obtain an application for this free program. Visit the Sand Dollar Group website for more information on the upcoming seminars.

Sista Monica Parker Goes Acoustic

Sista Monica Parker

By Lee
Hildebrand

“I get paid to belt and shout, but I actually can sing,” Sista Monica Parker quips in the living room of her Mountain House home prior to a Wednesday night rehearsal with her new Acoustic Honey band.
Since the Gary, Indiana, native became a professional singer 20 year ago, she’s been knocking out audiences at festivals, clubs and blues cruises throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, Europe and Turkey with her electric band and big, brassy, church-hewn contralto pipes.
She has recorded 11 CDs for her own Mo Muscle label, most of them focused on blues. Two are devoted to gospel music, the most recent of which is 2010’s “Singin’ in the Spirit” featuring guests Linda Tillery, Deanna Bogart and Bishop Yvette Flunder.
With Acoustic Honey, comprising pianist Danny Beconcini, tenor saxophonist Danny Sandoval, drummer Leon Joyce Jr. and onetime Charles Brown side person Ruth Davies on upright bass, Parker plans to present a softer sound and a broader repertoire.
The group will make its debut, beginning at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 2, at Piedmont Piano Company, 1728 San Pablo Ave. in Oakland. Two shows are booked for the following Saturday at Kuumbwa Jazz in Santa Cruz.
“It’s gonna be a mix of roots music, blues, gospel and jazz,” Parker says before breaking into the opening line of “What a Diffr’rence a Day Makes.” “”We’ll be doing some standards and we’ll be doing some popular songs, and then we’ll be doing some Sista Monica.
“The band will not be able to overpower me, which sometimes bands do when they can plug in and turn up. Although my band rarely does that because we talk a lot about dynamics, the truth is when we’re on the festival scene, sometimes it just gets that way.”
Parker recently left her day job as a freelance corporate headhunter in order to devote more time to her music.  She served as a Marine Corps recruiter during her three-years of service in the late ‘70s, then worked for more than three decades for such companies as Hewlett Packard, Apple, Yahoo, Sun Microsystems and Dolby Laboratories.
“I meditate and I write songs,” Parker says of her new-found free time. “I’m studying my craft a lot more. I’m going into the history of Etta James and Koko Taylor and Ruth Brown and Katie Webster — the older girls who preceded me – so I can learn how they developed their craft and got to where they are.”
Parker began singing in a Baptist church in Gary when she was 7 and later developed an affinity for blues after attending the Chicago Blues Festival. “Blues has some of the same rhythms and chord changes that gospel does,” he vocalist plans to travel to Memphis in May to attend the Blues Foundation’s 34th Blues Music Awards ceremony. She, along with Barbara Carr, Denise LaSalle, Dorothy Moore and Irma Thomas, are nominated for this year’s award in the organization’s Soul Blues Female Artist category.

Picklewater Clown Cabaret Presents Prescott Circus Fundraiser

The Picklewater Clown Cabaret will host a fundraiser for Prescott Circus Theatre, featuring some of the Bay Area’s finest circus and variety stars and local and international professional circus artists, comedians, and Clown Conservatory alumni, 8 p.m., Monday, Feb. 4 at  NEW Stage Werx Theatre location, 446 Valencia St. in San Francisco.
In an original variety arts show, award winning physical comedians of the Picklewater Clown Cabaret will celebrate their good friends at the Prescott Circus Theatre.
Prescott Circus Theatre is an innovative, youth circus/youth development program for Oakland children and youth. Currently in its 29th year, Prescott is one of the country’s largest and longest running social circus programs dedicated to serving underserved children and their communities.
Each year, over 170 children work with professional artists to develop physical circus skills such as juggling, acrobatics, improvisation, balancing, unicycling, stilting, hip hop dance, hambone body percussion, and clowning.
Training programs are offered free of charge and almost exclusively to low income children. This program is supported by grants, donations, and performance fees. The Oakland Unified School District provides in-kind support.
Tickets are $15, $10 in advance online at http://picklewaterclowncabaret.bpt.me/

Wells Fargo Honors 150th Anniversary of Emancipation Proclamation at S.F. Art Exhibit

Brenda Wright, Wells Fargo senior vice president of Community Relations.

Grace C. Stanislaus, executive director of the Museum of the African Diaspora.

To honor the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, Wells Fargo is joining with the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco and other of the nation’s leading African American museums to host a year-long tour of “The Kinsey Collection: Shared Treasures of Bernard and Shirley Kinsey, Where Art and History Intersect.”
The exhibit contains a world-class collection of art and artifacts chronicling African American history and culture dating back to the 1600s, including an early copy of the Emancipation Proclamation.
The tour officially launches during Black History Month making its first stop in San Francisco on Friday, Feb. 8 at the Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) at 685 Mission St. in San Francisco.
The opening reception of the exhibit will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 8.
The Kinsey Collection brings to life many important and untold stories involving the rich history of African Americans, their achievements and contributions, as well as their struggles for equality and civil rights that remains relevant today.
“Wells Fargo embraces the arts as a voice for history and culture,” said Brenda Wright, Wells Fargo senior vice president of Community Relations. “We are excited to present ‘The Kinsey Collection: Shared Treasures of Bernard and Shirley Kinsey, Where Art and History Intersect’ as a way to share an important story involving the rich history of African Americans, a history of identity and struggle for equality that is both unique and shared by others.”
“We are greatly honored to be the first venue in the national tour of the Kinsey Collection, a collection that is incomparable for the historical significance and quality of the objects but also for the extraordinary stories they tell about the indomitable spirit, creativity and resiliency of African Americans,” said Grace C. Stanislaus, executive director of the Museum of the African Diaspora.
“The Kinsey Collection strives to give our ancestors a voice, name and personality, enabling the viewer to understand the challenges, obstacles, triumphs and extraordinary sacrifice of African Americans who’ve greatly contributed to the success of this country,” said Bernard Kinsey.
For information go to www.moadsf.org<http://www.moadsf.org/ or call (415) 358-7200.

$16 Million to Fight Childhood Mortality, River Blindness in Africa

Thomas Lietman, MD, treats a young boy in Matameye, Niger, in 2012. Lietman is leading a team that’s received $12 million for a multi-year trial to study the effectiveness of the antibiotic azithromycin in reducing childhood mortality in Niger, Tanzania and Malawi.

Two UCSF teams have received a total of $16 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to study new ways to significantly reduce childhood mortality and disease in developing nations.
An international team led by Thomas M. Lietman, MD, associate director of the UCSF Francis I. Proctor Foundation for Research in Ophthalmology, received $12 million for a multi-year trial to study the effectiveness of mass oral administration of the antibiotic azithromycin in reducing childhood mortality in Niger, Tanzania and Malawi – three nations with severe childhood mortality rates.
A second team, led by James H. McKerrow, MD, PhD, professor of pathology and pharmaceutical chemistry, received $4.3 million to identify and develop a drug that kills the parasitic roundworms known as filiariae that cause river blindness, the leading cause of blindness in parts of West Africa.
If successfully developed, the same drug will have a high probability of killing the closely related parasite that causes lymphatic filariasis, or elephantiasis, a crippling and disfiguring disease that affects millions of people in Africa, Asia, the Indian subcontinent and South America.
Lietman’s project is based on an earlier study in which communities in Ethiopia that received mass doses of azithromycin to treat trachoma – a strain of chlamydia that causes blindness – experienced an overall reduction in childhood mortality from all causes.
Community-wide antibiotic administration is common in African nations where trachoma is usually found, he said.
Preschool children in Lietman’s study will be randomized to receive either a cherry-flavored oral suspension of azithromycin or a placebo every six months for two years. If there is a significant reduction in mortality in the communities that receive the antibiotic, the study will be extended for another two years and all communities will receive antibiotics.
The goal of McKerrow’s study is to find a drug that kills the adult form of the parasitic filarial worm, which is spread by a fly that breeds near fast-flowing rivers.
When the fly bites, it deposits larvae under the skin that grow into worms several inches long. The parasite associated with river blindness attacks the eye, while its relative that is responsible for lymphatic filariasis blocks the lymphatic channels in the groin, resulting in extreme swelling of the lower extremities.
McKerrow’s research group will employ new software developed by UCSF research specialist Chris Marcellino that significantly speeds the screening of potential compounds. Conventional drug screening technology uses plates with many hollows, or wells, each of which contains a candidate compound that is screened individually for promising activity.
The new software allows an entire plate to be scanned for results in seconds. Scanning and evaluating a whole plate rather than individual wells is necessary, McKerrow explained, because of the large size of the worms, which restrict each plate to dozens rather than hundreds of wells.
“With conventional, well-by-well scanning, it would take a long time to screen many compounds,” said McKerrow. “But if you can scan a whole plate and then move on to the next plate in a few seconds, you can filter through thousands of compounds much more efficiently.”
The compounds will come from two sources. The first is what McKerrow calls traditional drug discovery, which starts from chemicals that aren’t yet drugs. That research will take advantage of unique chemistry developed by Bay Area biotech company Anacor Pharmaceuticals.
The second source is “repurposed drugs” that have already been approved by the FDA for human use. Working in collaboration with the UCSF Small Molecule Discovery Center, McKerrow’s group expects to create a library of approximately 1,700 FDA-approved drugs that can be used in this and similar screens.
- By Kristen Bole, UCSF

Religious Leaders Speak on Roe v. Wade 40th Anniversary

Dr. Alvin C. Bernstine

By Danielle
Savage

Richmond and other local religious leaders talked about their views on legalized abortion as the country this week marked the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s historic Roe v. Wade decision.
On Jan. 22, 1973 in a 7-2 decfisionv, the court ruled that a woman could choose abortion in the early months of her pregnancy without any legal restraints.  The justices declared laws prohibiting abortion violated a woman’s constitutional right to privacy. They also said states could regulate abortion procedures in the interest of a woman’s health or in protecting a potential human life starting at the end of the pregnancy’s first trimester.
To commemorate the date, the National Organization for Women held a candlelight vigil while opponents organized their annual March for Life.
Pastor Michael Calloway, Non-Denominational pastor and chief apostle of  God’s Way Deliverance Temple in San Pablo, opposes Roe.
“Laws are made all the time and are changed all the time,” he said. “I believe in following the Word of God; and when you take a life, [a] life [that] belongs to God, it puts us in the category of being a murderer. The Bible says ‘no murderers shall have eternal life.’”
“In the African American community,” says Calloway, “We don’t need to be aborting anybody. Due to unfortunate circumstances, we need all [of] our kids – kids are our future. We need these young people to do their job as our fathers did their jobs.”
On the other side of the issue is Dr. Alvin C. Bernstine, pastor at Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church in Richmond. “Christianity has been used as a religion to oppress,” he said. “A lot of times it’s old white men trying to tell our women what to do with their bodies. The oppressors interpretation is always different from the oppressed.”
However, Bernstine says that he doe not preach pro-choice or anti-abortion. “It’s ridiculous what people do to impose their opinions,” he said. “Legislating what people do with their bodies is kind of challenging for me. It’s going to require a different approach.”
Pastor Ambrose F. Carroll, American Baptist pastor of Church by the Side of the Road in Berkeley, emphasizes the difficulties women face when making a decision to have an abortion.
“African Americans, a lot of us land both sides of this spectrum,” he said. “Personally speaking, I have sat with many young ladies as they have made the decision to give birth or to abort. I have never envied being [in] a place to have to make such a life altering choice as a woman.”
According to the Guttmacher Institute, in 2011 and 2012, 135 laws were implemented and designed to limit access to abortion in various states across the country.
“I believe that freedom is very costly,” Carroll continued. “We spend millions of dollars fighting for the unborn, but at the same time [we] restrict millions of people to a life in poverty and attempt to bring them into a world where the quality of life does not seem important at all.”
In 1965, before the Supreme Court’s decision, almost one-fifth of all maternal deaths in the United States were caused by illegal and risky abortions, according to Planned Parenthood.

Richmond Volunteers Celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday

Nearly 500 volunteers worked on community gardens Monday, beautifying Richmond Greenway at the 6th Annual Martin Luther King National Day of Service, a project of Urban Tilth.
The event was in partnership with Friends of the Richmond Greenway, City of Richmond and over 20 organizations including East Bay Center for Performing Arts, which performed during the community event.
Other activities included work on a community mural, which stretches from Harbour Way to 8th Street, health and wellness projects, a petting zoo, garbage pickup, and planting edible gardens. Among the funders were Kaiser Permanente, City of Richmond, HandsOn Bay Area and Marin Clean Energy. Photo by Gabino Arredondo.

Bratton Debate Continues

By Ken A. Epstein

Tempers remain frayed and opinion divided over the City Council´s overwhelming vote this week to hire a controversial consultant Bill Bratton to advise the Oakland Police Department.
At a meeting that lasted until after  2  a.m., hundreds of speakers lined up to argue for and against the hiring of Bratton, an internationally recognized expert on policing. He is an outspoken advocate of police use of stop and frisk tactics, viewed by critics as racial profiling that targets and criminalizes Black and Latino youth.

Desley Brooks

The council voted 7-1 to hire Bratton. Councilmember Desley Brooks, District, 7, was the only one who voted no.
Brooks said her opposition is based on the first contract and the new contact with the Wasserman group, which includes a provision to bring in Bratton.
“Before I would spend new money, I would like to know what kind of job they did on the first contact.  I don’t see why we couldn’t have waited before passing this contact,” said Brooks.
According to the contract, “Bratton will only be here for two months – the first month to survey what we are  already doing and the second month to develop a crime reduction strategy and go out and hold community meetings,” she said.
The contact says Bratton will create one crime reduction strategy for the hills and another one for the flatlands, she said.
“The impression is that Bratton is going to come here and wave a magic wand and make crime go away in Oakland,” she said, but the reality is that change will take time.
Brooks also criticized some of her fellow councilmembers.  “They spoke from an emotional basis playing on people’s fears. That’s not what people elected us to do,” she said.
“They want to ramrod something down peoples’ throats, and they only want people who agree with their position at the meeting. That is not how democracy works.”

Lynette McElhaney

Lynette McElhaney, councilmember for District 3, voted for hire Bratton.
“Everybody agrees that OPD is broken. It does not serve and it does not protect, very well. People in charge of oversight say this is a department that is in trouble,” she said.
McElhaney decided to vote to hire him, she said, because, “If I vote against this motion, I’m voting for the status quo. And the status quo is killing us, literally.”

Rev. Ken Chambers

Rev. Ken Chambers is pastor of West Side Missionary Baptist Church and Civic Chair of the Baptist Ministers Union.
“We´re in a state of emergency almost,” said Chambers, who backed the hiring of Bratton. “This is a time when we have to take some action to bring safety to our community.”
In addition to short-term steps, he said, there needs to be a comprehensive approach that emphasizes jobs, job training and quality education.
He also called on city leaders be sensitive to segments of the community who are apprehensive about aggressive policing methods.
The mayor and Council President Pat Kernighan “have to rise above the criticism and figure out how to get some consensus in the community,” Chambers said. “They need to figure out how to bring people together, though there are strong differences.”

Bishop Bob Jackson

Bishop Bob Jackson of Acts Full Gospel C.O.G.I.C. mobilized many of the faith leaders who went to the council meeting.
“We came to the City Council to say that somebody ought to say something about stopping the shootings that have resulted in 686 persons shot with 131 dying –  enough of the carnage, enough of those  left wounded, enough is enough,” said Bishop Jackson.
“Bratton may not have all the answers, but we need a plan to stop the killings now while we work on education, jobs and other causes.”
Jackson noted that during the first 23 days of January, 23 people had been shot, with 6 dying. “Let’s stop the killing, let’s make it safe for our children to feel safe going to school,” he said.
Rashidah Grinage, executive director  of PUEBLO, says the vote for Bratton is spurring intensified organizing against police abuse.
“The city has woken the sleeping tiger,” she said. “As loud as we were, I don’t think they heard us. The city is not responsive to a broad section of the community.  It is very disrespectful.”

Backed by PIC and County Agencies, “Highway to Work” Provides Youth Jobs

Ramon Gonzales at Soulciety

Dominic Gates at Berkeley Youth Alternatives.

Highway to Work (H2W), Alameda County’s summer and year-round youth employment program, has provided approximately 500 young people with employment opportunities over the past year.
A highlight of H2W is that youth can keep their jobs by working after-school, providing them fully subsidized employment through June.
The program began with the support of the Alameda County Social Services Agency, which awarded Oakland Private Industry Council (PIC) a youth employment contract. PIC partnered with 10 organizations throughout the county to administer the contract and put youth to work.
So far, worksites include Rubicon, City of Oakland, Dig Deep Farms, Alameda County Board of Supervisors, Cal State University Eastbay, Joyce Gordon Gallery and Silliman Aquatic Center.
“All of our partnering agencies have their own unique gifts, and they continue to utilize those gifts to the maximum benefit of our youth,” said  Rayna Lett-Bell, programs coordinator at PIC, who has spearheaded the H2W program from its inception, and has been one of the driving forces keeping the program on track.
One participant is Ramon Gonzales. Since he started with Soulciety in Hayward, he has become extremely active in school and the Culinary Regional Occupational Program.
Because of his interest in cooking, the program placed him at a restaurant for work experience. The restaurant, Buddy’s, speaks very highly of Gonzales and sees the potential for him to move up within the company.
“Soulciety taught me a variety of things such as managing money, how to keep a job, punctuality and so much more,” said Gonzales. “They showed me how to communicate with others in a positive way and to not be afraid to ask questions or ask for help.”
Another H2W participant is Dominic Gates, who found a job through Berkeley Youth Alternatives.
He is now working at Rubicon and Farm Fresh Choice.   He says that working at Rubicon has made him more confident around professional adults, while his job at Farm Fresh Choice makes him feel like he’s making a difference in people’s lives.
“Highway to Work really changes lives,” Gates said. “It is helping me become more successful in my life.”

“Lift Every Voice and Sing” Black Church Ball Honors “Flame Keepers”

First Lady of Allen Temple Baptist Church Elaine Smith with Pastor J. Alfred Smith and Congresswoman Barbara Lee at African American Church Inaugural Ball on Sunday at the Grand Hyatt in Washington, DC.

By Carla
Thomas

As leaders from across the country and world came together in Washington D.C. to celebrate the commencement of the second term of President Barack Obama, African American churches held an inaugural ball Sunday at the Grand Hyatt commemorating the historic moment and celebrating the future.
The Balm in Gilead organization, along with leaders of African American churches, held the event to honor President Obama and the countless history makers who dedicated their energies and lives to freedom and justice.
The re-election of the president is “the ultimate manifestation of the long struggle of Black people in this country,” according to Rev. Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson, III, chair of the Conference of National Black Churches.
“I am forever grateful and honor our leaders of the past and present,” said event producer and Balm In Gilead founder and CEO Pernesssa Seele, who added that she and others will stand by the president in prayer and action for the 1,460 days of his second term
Actor Morris Chestnut highlighted Keepers of the Flame for social justice through music, screen, sports and medicine, art, activism and faith.
“It’s historic for America and African Americans. We will enjoy this moment and ensure our issues and concerns are spoken and addressed during this term. African Americans should expect a return on the investment of 96 percent of our vote,” he said.
A special tribute to President Nelson Mandela and his legacy was presented by Congresswoman Barbara Lee.
“As we celebrate President Barack Obama, we thank President Nelson Mandela for lighting the torch and the flame President Obama continues to carry,” she said in attendance with her family and members of Allen Temple Baptist Church in Oakland.
“As we now celebrate the second term of President Barack Obama, I recall President Mandela said, ‘It always seems impossible until it’s done. ‘”
In honor of the 100th birthday of Rosa Parks, Rev. Teresa Snorton of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church offered a musical tribute of “My God is Awesome” by saxophonist Ski Johnson and “The Presence of the Lord is Here” by Gospel Recording Artist Byron Cage.
Honorees for social justice through music included musician Hugh Masekela and opera singer Jessye Norman.  Actress Cicely Tyson and Ruby Dee were honored for social justice through stage and screen.   Sports Icon Muhammad Ali and Dr.Joycelyn Elders were honored for social justice through sports and medicine.

Back-to-Back Barack Obama Presidential Inauguration

Those pictured clockwise from top right are: Beyonce, Malcolm X, Sasha and Malia Obama, Michelle Obama, Joe and Jill Biden, John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy,Ted Kennedy, Alex Haley, Harry Belfonte, Martin Luther King,Jr., Russell Means, Delores Huerta, Gay Plair Cobb, Wilma Mankiller,Fred Korematsu, Jesse Jackson, Cesar Chavez, Colin Powell, Jesse Owens, Oprah Winfrey,Rosa Parks, Dorothy Height, A. Phillip Randolph, Joseph Lowery, Shirley Chisholm, Barbara Lee, Myrlie Evers-Williams, Ella Baker, Daisy Bates, Fannie Lou Hamer, Adam Clayton Powell, Sr., Julian Bond, Dr. W. Hazaiah Williams, Jackie Robinson,Joe Louis, Paul Robeson, Marlon Brando, James Baldwin, John Lewis, Ralph Abernathy, Roy Wilkins, Floyd McKissick, Walter White, Coretta Scott-King. Photos by AP, Reuters, Getty Images and Adam L. Turner.

It's a Har-Bowl!!!

By: Malaika Bobino

San Francisco, CA – It’s something out of a story book!  Usually you read about this happening with a family whose last name is Manning but that era is over.  There’s a new family in town taking over and this time their coaches rather than the players.  For the first time in the NFL, two brothers will square off in the Super Bowl.

The two teams that advanced are being led by Jim and John Harbaugh, coaches for the San Francisco Forty-Niners and the Baltimore Ravens.  Two different Hollywood stories have captivated millions on both coasts.  A veteran player who life has been up and down throughout his NFL career.  But he leaves behind many who know he is Hall of Fame bound.  A coach only his second year took a gamble that cost one players chance to prove he was worthy.

“It’s a blessing and a curse,” Jim Harbaugh said.  “A blessing because that is my brother’s team.  And, also personally I played for the Ravens.  Great respect for their organization.  The curse part would be the talk of two brothers playing in the Super Bowl and that takes away for the players that are in the game.  Every moment that you’re talking about myself or John, that’s less time that the players are going to be talked about.”

“I like reading history.  I guess it’s pretty neat,” said John Harbaugh.  “But is it really going to be written about?  It’s not exactly like Churchill and Roosevelt or anything.  It’s pretty cool, but that’s as far as it goes.”

Ray Lewis announced his retirement on the last game of the regular season.  Little did he know his journey will lead him back to the Super Bowl.  Fortunately, for the Ravens each game was about winning as a team, so that’s what they expected.  But to America, the greatest player to play the game was leaving a legacy and a memory.  How do you ignore that?  Impossible…  And now that Baltimore has made it to the Super Bowl, the one facilitator that wanted no accolades toward one player is now the victim of a Hollywood story, the head coach.

“Our focus is to play team football,” John explained (when asked if Lewis announcement will impact the team in anyway).  “Coaches and players working together to make each other better…  That’s been out mantra.”

Younger brother Jim made a daring move in his second year by benching Alex Smith for the younger, more athletic Colin Kaepernick.  After suffering having a concussion, Smith had no idea he would lose his starting job to a guy in his second year in the NFL.  Kaepernick is living a dream!  Except he’s replacing a guy that already paved the way.  Alex led the 49ers to the NFC Championship game last year against the New York Giants.  So, is it a coincidence that San Francisco made it back to where they were last season.  This time the team was led by a different quarterback that did not disappoint.

“I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t bittersweet (when asked about not being the starting quarterback in the Super Bowl),” said Alex.  “Yeah, I want to be out there.  It’s what you work for coming into the season.  That was the mindset.  That was the goal for me.  But at the same time, it’s a team sport and these are my teammates.  If you can’t be happy, there’s something wrong with you.”

Harbugh rolled the dice and beat the odds the entire way.  What he didn’t foresee was his brother making it all the way as well.  So, how do you not talk about two brothers playing against each other in the Super Bowl?  Something like this would only have one name behind it, Manning.  But both brothers were eliminated early and a new family name has emerged.  Despite both coaches wanting no extra media attention, we all know it’s a HarBowl!

Sheriff Seeks Information on Lavanial Williams Shooting

Lavanial Williams

Lavanial Williams, 17, was shot numerous times in the 300 block of Drake Avenue in Marin City early Friday.
He died at the scene, lying on the sidewalk.
Williams, who lived with his father in Weed, CA, recently arrived in Marin City to visit his mother Yolanda Arceneaux when the fatal shooting occurred. Arceneaux was still living in the apartment at which an unknown shooter fired six shots in July.
The Marin County Sheriff’s Office is asking for the help of the community. They are currently looking for witnesses or anyone with information related to Williams’ murder.
Anyone with information may call or text information to the Marin County Sheriff’s Office Investigations cellphone at (415) 497-4245. Voice mail, text or direct contact with detectives will be accepted. This will be a 24-hour hotline.
Or call the Marin County Sheriff’s Office Dispatch at (415) 479-2311, which will be direct to a dispatcher 24-hours a day.
Callers may remain anonymous. All information will be investigated.

Gaston Receives Cultural Treasure Award

Top photo: Posing around the qward plaque is Cheryl Jennings, Anchor of ABC7 KGO-TV, Felecia Gaston, Executive Director of Performing Stars and Marin Center Cultural Treasures Award winner, and Dr. Wyna Barron, memebr, Performing Stars Board of Directors. Lower photo: Supervisor Judy Arnold, Al Boro, former Mayor City of San Rafael and Marin Center Cultural Arts Commissioner Felecia Gaston, and Brian Snell, who was the drummajor for Drumline Live. (Photos by Godfrey Lee).

By Godfrey Lee
Felecia Gaston, who has earned a reputation for bringing the arts to the community and especially to children who are underserved, on Friday, Jan. 11 received the 2013 Cultural Treasure of Marin County Award from the Marin County Cultural Services Commission.
The award was based on Gaston´s contributions to her community in Marin City, to the community as a whole and also to the Marin County Fair.
The ceremony took place in the Green Room at the Marin Veteran’s Memorial Auditorium at an event attended by about100 people.
Supervisor Susan Arnold and Cultural Services Commission Chair Al Boro talked about how much Gaston has opened up the arts to children living in Southern Marin through her organization, Performing Arts of Marin, which started in about1990.
Gaston has collaborated with many county organizations, including Probation, Sheriff, District Attorney, Public Defender and cultural services, in her service to the community.
She began her work, she said, because, “It was very important to know that Marin City had a bright future. There were many kids who needed opportunities, and Marin County had much to offer them.
“We had to get out to make it happen,” said Gaston, who thanked individuals and organizations that helped her with Performing Stars.
A plaque is hanging in the Green Room acknowledging Gaston as a Cultural Treasure of Marin County.
The event featured a performance by Drumline Live, a touring group that is representative of the marching bands of the Historical Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). The performers are from 11 schools but mostly from Florida A&M University.
Sheriff Seeks Information on
Lavanial Williams Shooting
Lavanial Williams, 17, was shot numerous times in the 300 block of Drake Avenue in Marin City early Friday.
He died at the scene, lying on the sidewalk.
Williams, who lived with his father in Weed, CA, recently arrived in Marin City to visit his mother Yolanda Arceneaux when the fatal shooting occurred. Arceneaux was still living in the apartment at which an unknown shooter fired six shots in July.
The Marin County Sheriff’s Office is asking for the help of the community. They are currently looking for witnesses or anyone with information related to Williams’ murder.
Anyone with information may call or text information to the Marin County Sheriff’s Office Investigations cellphone at (415) 497-4245. Voice mail, text or direct contact with detectives will be accepted. This will be a 24-hour hotline.
Or call the Marin County Sheriff’s Office Dispatch at (415) 479-2311, which will be direct to a dispatcher 24-hours a day.
Callers may remain anonymous. All information will be investigated.
Lavanial Williams
Continued on Page 10
Jesse Jackson

Rhythm Tap Hall of Fame Offers Tap Dance Workshops

Celebrating 14 years in the Bay Area, Rhythm Tap Hall of Fame is offering traditional tap dance classes starting Feb. 9.
The nonprofit organization promotes the lost art form, providing educational programs for youth, adults, and seniors, teaching the history of tap dancing through audio visual and tap instruction.
The Hall of Fame has offered after school programs including various dance art forms, instructors’ workshops, and a performing arts newsletter. Master tap dancer “Skip Cunningham” has taught a Tap Dance Instructor Workshop with the organization.
The group has also awarded renowned dancers with Hall of Fame Induction Awards. Winners include Fayard Nicholas of the Nicholas Brothers tap-dance duo, who received the Legendary Artist Award (2001); Skip Cunningham, who received the Master Tapper Award (2001); David Kennedy, Jr., winner of the Humanitarian Award (2001); as well as Gregory Hines and Sammy Davis, Jr.
The organization hasa collection of books, periodicals, audio visuals, and tap dance shoes that were donated to the Hall of Fame.
Registration for Traditional Rhythm Tap Dance classes will be held Friday and Saturday, Feb. 1 and Feb. 2 at 14895 E. 14th St., Suite 320 in San Leandro. For more information, call (510) 531-1654 or visit www.rhythmtaphalloffame.org.

Ancestral Memories Quilt Exhibit and Reception

Big Read Quilt Exhibit “My Guardian Angels” by Benita Jones.

As a part of the San Leandro Public Library’s 2013 Big Read, the library will be hosting “Ancestral Memories,” an exhibit of quilts by the African American Quilt Guild of Oakland.
The quilts will be on display in the atrium of the Main Library at 300 Estudillo Ave. from Jan. 29 to Feb. 28.
“Ancestral Memories” is an exhibit that honors the memory of the quilters’ families and heritage.
The public is invited to a special opening reception for “Ancestral Memories” on Saturday, Feb. 2 from 2 p.m. to 5 pm. in the Karp-Estudillo Room of the San Leandro Main Library.
The event is free and open to the public. No prior registration is necessary.
The program will consist of a presentation about African American quilting and a discussion of the specific quilts in the exhibit. The well respected and highly praised Allen Temple Baptist Church Men’s Choir, an ensemble of 25 men, will add their voices to the program.
Light refreshments will be served. Call the library for information at (510) 577-3971.

Wells Fargo Donates $3 Million to UNCF

Gigi Dixon, senior vice president, director of National Partnerships for Wells Fargo.

UNCF President and CEO Michael L. Lomax, Ph.D.

Wells Fargo & Company has expanded its support for United Negro College Fund (UNCF), the nation’s largest minority education organization, investing $3 million to help more African American students attend and graduate from college.
Wells Fargo presented UNCF with a check during the 34th edition of UNCF “An Evening of Stars,” the annual television special that will air on BET Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 26 and 27.
“UNCF is grateful for Wells Fargo’s investment in better futures for African American students,” said UNCF President and CEO Michael L. Lomax, Ph.D.
“By investing in UNCF, Wells Fargo is making a major contribution to helping students earn college degrees and to making the case for the right of every student to a collegeready high school education,” he said.
Wells Fargo plans to distribute $1 million annually to help UNCF support students who are earning college degrees and also fund college preparatory programs for high school students.
“We’re proud of our relationship with UNCF and the opportunities it creates for lowincome and underrepresented students to attend and graduate from college – one of the single most important things they can do for their professional and financial success,” said Gigi Dixon, senior vice president, director of National Partnerships for Wells Fargo.
The Wells Fargo investment will target UNCF initiatives that include promoting the importance of college education, college readiness, UNCF achievements and student success stories; helping students plan for college and learn about financial responsibility and management through the UNCF Empower Me Tour presented by Wells Fargo, a free, traveling college- and careerreadiness road show.
Wells Fargo will also provide financial aid to students attending historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) through a Wells Fargo Scholarship Program and support more than 57,000 students who attend UNCF-member HBCUs.
“At Wells Fargo we’re committed to education and economic empowerment,” said Dixon.
Learn more at www.uncf.org.