From February 2013

Oakland Housing Assistance for Tenants and Homeowners

Tanya Dennis is fighting to save her home.

By Tanya Dennis

The Oakland Housing Assistance Office, which will help homeowners and tenants in fear of losing their homes, held a grand opening at its new office at 250 Frank Ogawa Plaza on the 5th floor in Oakland.
Supported by Oakland officials, grass root organizations and legal assistance groups, the office will provide support for tenants and homeowners with need housing counseling, loan modifications, and legal services. The office will also offer a streamlined, one-stop approach to housing services and resource referrals.
Private rooms are available for client consultations and for conference space for housing groups.
The center will also provide access to low-or no-interest loans and grants for residential rehabilitation, home repair and energy retrofits for eligible residents; information regarding first-time homebuyers’ assistance; workshops; emergency and guided referrals to transitional housing; homelessness prevention services; and affordable housing.
“Everyone came together, and no outside resources were needed. People from grassroots organizations and officials worked together towards one goal, and that is to keep people in their homes,” said Field Representative Diego Gonzalez from Assemblyman Ron Bonta’s office.
Unlike some other programs, this office will support tenants who find themselves abruptly displaced when a bank forecloses on a rental home, and the tenants feel they have no rights and have to move.
Founding supporters thanked the Housing Assistance Center for recognizing the need for Oakland to develop a procedure that tracks people’s cases to make sure they do not fall through the cracks.
Oakland homeowners can call (510) 271-8443 x313. Tenant rights counseling or legal services are available at the Oakland Tenant Defense Hotline at (510) TENANTS (836-2687).

Writer-Activist in New Fight to Save Home

By Tanya Dennis

Two years ago in 2011, I broke the locks on my foreclosed house in Berkeley and repossessed my home.
By the time the sheriff was due to arrive a month later to evict me again, I had begun working with the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), and with the group’s support, I told Wells Fargo it would have to arrest me before I’d vacate my property.
My defiance garnered national attention and has encouraged many others to stand up and successfully keep their homes.
Facing press scrutiny, Wells Fargo came to the bargaining table and granted a generous reduction in the principal and interest rate on my home. Since October 2011, I have never missed a payment and have helped many others keep their homes.
Unfortunately this is only half of my story.
During my battle to keep my home, I also was in court representing my mother, Curlee Dennis, a disabled 91 year old, against Wells Fargo and World Savings Bank and a notoriously toxic Pick-a-Pay loan.
Though my mother had excellent credit, she was awarded an additional $500,000 loan on a limited income of under $3,000, a clear case of predatory lending.
I bundled my mother’s property into my negotiations with Wells Fargo, and we reached an agreement to reduce her note by $600,00 and give her a modification.
I was working towards qualifying for the modification for my mother when she died on May 31, 2012. A month later, Wells Fargo informed me that all offers were off the table, and we either had to pay $1.2 million by Oct. 18 or vacate the premises.
I filed bankruptcy to protect my mother’s property and filed a lawsuit in behalf of her estate-charging the bank with discrimination, misrepresentation, elder abuse, unfair business practices, breach of contract and fraudulent concealment.
I called Cal Western Reconveyance on Jan. 8, two days before the auction of my mother’s home. The trustee told me the home was still under bankruptcy protection until Feb. 7.
My real estate broker called the day of the auction to see if the sale had been postponed and received in writing a notice of postponement. I came home that evening to find a notice posted on my door from NorCal Investment Group in San Leandro saying that the company had purchased my home and that I should call them to discuss move out options.
In response, I have taken legal action against Wells Fargo and NorCal Investment Group.
I remain in my mother’s home, which was left in trust to my sister and me. I’m not going anywhere. Wells Fargo should know that by now.

“Eslanda: The Large and Unconventional Life of Mrs. Paul Robeson”

“Eslanda: The Large and Unconventional Life of Mrs. Paul Robeson,” is a new book that tells the story of a woman of unusual accomplishments—an anthropologist, a prolific journalist, a tireless advocate of women’s rights, an outspoken anti-colonial and antiracist activist, and an internationally sought-after speaker.
Yet historians for the most part have confined Essie to the role of Mrs. Paul Robeson, a wife hidden in the large shadow cast by her famous husband. But the biographer Barbara Ransby refocuses attention on Essie Robeson, one of the most important and fascinating Black women of the Twentieth Century.
“Essie” Cardozo Goode Robeson’s career and commitments took her many places: colonial Africa in 1936, the front lines of the Spanish Civil War, the founding meeting of the United Nations, Nazi-occupied Berlin, Stalin’s Russia, and China two months after Mao’s revolution.
The book explores her influence on her husband’s early career and how she later achieved her own unique political voice. Her friendships with literary icons and world leaders, her renown as a fierce defender of justice, her defiant testimony before Senator Joseph McCarthy’s notorious anti-communist committee, and her unconventional open marriage that endured for over 40 years—are brought to light in the pages of this biography.
The author is a professor in the departments of African American Studies, Gender and Women Studies, and History, and director of the Gender and Women Studies Program, University of Illinois, Chicago. Ransby also wrote the award-winning “Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement,” and has earned a reputation as a respected scholar-activist.

Darlene Lawson, 75, Fought for Equal Education

Darlene Lawson served on the Oakland Board of Education from 1983 to January 1993. Here she celebrates her second inauguration with five of her seven children: Loretta Little, Vida Byrd, Billie Wright, Annette Wright and Charlene Byrd.

By Ken A. Epstein

Businesswoman Darlene Ann Lawson-Scott, 75, who left a lasting impact on Oakland schools during two terms on the Board of Education, died on Jan 13. A fighter for equal education for flatland children and families, she was the first African American woman to be elected to the school board.
Known as Darlene Lawson when she ran and won a seat in District 5, she served on the board from July 1983 through January 1993. She was selected by fellow board members to serve as board president in 1985 and 1987.
As a parent, she started going to PTA meetings. “She learned that the hill schools were getting more resources than flatland schools. That’s why she ran for office – she wanted to be an advocate for flatland parents and children,” said Lawson’s daughter Loretta Little.
In one campaign brochure, written in Spanish and English, she described herself as “Someone who will not sell out.” She said she supported classroom curriculum that shows “an appreciation of the richness of the cultural difference and similarities of our children.”
She also backed: “No schools closings;” “A program in teacher training for prospective Latino, African-American and Asian teachers;” and “school safety with parental involvement.”
On the board, Lawson developed committees so members could make informed decisions on finances, budget, disciplinary hearings and facilities. Years later, the state trustee who was assigned to Oakland disbanded the committees.
“Without committees, the board has no way of doing anything but rubberstamp” staff decisions, said Sylvester Hodges, who served with Lawson on the board. He represented District 7.
The disciplinary committee reviewed expulsions to make sure youngsters – who may have done something wrong and childish – were not needlessly kicked out of school, destroying their futures.
“Darlene showed she was a leader in her personal and her political life,” said Hodges. “She had many different sides to who she was. She brought people together as a family,” he said.
Lawson made waves when she focused on unequal funding to schools in the richer and poorer areas of the city, Hodges said. “We were very disappointed with the difference in funding allocations between the flatlands and the hills. Darlene was quick to point that out, and people didn’t like that.”
Lawson and other members of the board’s African American majority faced a “public lynching,” during those years, Hodges said. Despite the barrage of attacks from the media and officials, he said, “She did not back down because she was being attacked. She was brave.”
Oakland education leader and professor Kitty Kelly Epstein also remembered Lawson as someone who stood up for Oakland children.
“Darlene was one of the first elected officials in Oakland to conscientiously advocate for flatlands residents,” Epstein said. “She was an effective parent advocate before she ran for school board, and she courageously stood up against the ‘old-boy’ and ‘old-girl’ network who thought they should continue to run Oakland politics.”
Lawson was born April 20, 1937 in St. Louis, Missouri, the daughter of Richard Woods Sr. and Leoma Woods-Dixon. A “PK” or Preacher’s Kid, she had a very strict upbringing.
The oldest of nine children, she took care of her siblings and other family members when their parents and grandparents passed away.
At her early age she joined the African Apostle Methodist Church. She graduated in 1955 from Douglas High School and received an AA degree in business from St. Louis Community College.
Her first job was at a fast food restaurant. She also worked in nursing and served as a Girl Scout leader and swim coach.
Even after she relocated to California, she was quick to travel back to St. Louis whenever a family member needed her.
After leaving the school board, she earned a real estate license. She helped youth find jobs and worked through the City of Oakland to help women on welfare become first-time homeowners.
Lawson married David Scott in 1990. A successful entrepreneur, she was a daycare provider, real estate broker and owned several businesses, including nightclubs.
She also found time to co-author a two-volume book on her family’s history, “Genealogy of a Family Before and After Slavery,” conducting research at plantations and locating ancestors who had worked on the railroads.
She spent her last years at a convalescent home in Alameda. Though ill, she advocated for the rights of the elderly and disabled residents and served on the board of the rehabilitation care home.
Lawson was preceded in death by her parents, her brothers Ronald P. Dixon and Robert E. Woods and a sister, Carol McDuffie (McDaniel).
She leaves her husband of 23 years, Dave Scott, sons David Scott Jr. and Keith Lawson and daughters Charlene Byrd, Loretta Little, Vida Byrd, Billie Jo Wright and Annette Wright.
She also leaves brothers Richard Woods, Jack Woods and Byron Dixon, sisters Marieda Woods (Irons) and Betty Booth: and 12 grand children; and many “god-children” who she had adopted into her heart over the years.

Tuskegee Airman George Hardy, 87, Broke Down Racial Barriers

Retired lieutenant colonel George Hardy, 87, helped break down military racial barriers as a Tuskegee Airman, a topic he’ll be talking about at a Black History event called ‘They Dared to Fly’ in Lakeland.

By Josh Rojas

A Tuskegee Airman, retired lieutenant colonel George Hardy, 87, fought fascism in World War II and helped break down racial barriers in the American military.
“When I went into the service in ‘43, racial segregation was rigidly enforced,” Hardy said. “No fraternization, that is, mixing with races. So, we were completely segregated at Tuskegee and even overseas.”
Hardy said he was only 18 when he learned how to be a fighter pilot in Tuskegee, Alabama.
“It’s in those towns that you know what hatred is when you’d see some of us come-in in uniform and whites in the town look at you and you see the hatred in their eyes,” he said. “It’s just something you never forget.”
Hardy began his career as a second lieutenant in the all-black 99th Fighter Squadron, escorting bombers over Germany during the war in a P-51 “Mustang” fighter plane.
“This airplane could go with the bombers as far as they had to go. Take them to the target and bring them back,” Hardy said. “The P-51 was a real airplane.”
After flying 21 missions, he left the Air Force in 1946 to pursue an engineering degree at New York University. He was asked to come back in 1949 and was assigned to the 19th Bomb Group in Guam.
“I was the only colored person in the group,” Hardy said. “I was a maintenance officer supervising about 30 airmen, all white.”
Hardy said the racial barriers were starting to come down, but he still experienced discrimination during the Korean War when a new squadron commander would not allow him to fly.
“I was in the right seat cockpit going through my checklist and I hear someone say, ‘Hardy, get down out of the airplane.’ He pulled me down and replaced me. He didn’t want me flying.”
Hardy said that B-29 “Superfortress” bomber ended up being shot down during the flight. 
“The airplane with my crew on board was shot down over North Korea,” he said.
“It was attacked by two fighters, the engine set on fire, and they couldn’t put it out. So, all had to bail out.”
Hardy said two airmen were captured and later died in a prison camp.
The bomber commander and the rest of the crew were rescued. 
”That was the first B-29 shot down. When the aircraft commander got back, he said, ‘George, if you’d been there, I don’t think it would’ve happened,’” Hardy said.
The squadron commander who wouldn’t let Hardy fly was replaced a short time later.
“His replacement put me back on flying again,” he said. “So, I got to fly my 45 missions over Korea.”
Ten years later, Hardy said he ended up working again for that same squadron commander, and his attitude toward Blacks had changed.
“He’s now a full colonel, and he was my immediate boss,” Hardy said. “I couldn’t have a commanding officer who treated me any better than he did. Somehow he had made a change as far as I was concerned.”
Hardy also flew 70 missions during the Vietnam War as pilot of an AC-119 “Stinger” Gunship.
Hardy retired as a lieutenant colonel after serving 28-years in the military. He was part of a group of Tuskegee Airmen who were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 2007.
He vividly remembers what President George W. Bush said at the time to the group: “For most of the salutes you didn’t get, I salute you.”
Looking back, Hardy is proud of the role he played helping break down racial barriers in the military as one of the nation’s first Black pilots.
“When I left the service, it was a completely different service, as far as race is concerned,” he said. “I feel fortunate I was able to experience all of this, to see the change in this country.”

Kappa Alpha Psi Offers Scholarships

Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc., a predominantly Black fraternity founded in 1911 on the campus of Indiana University, will award $1,000 dollar scholarships to two high school seniors. The deadline is March 30.
Applicants must have a 3.0 grade-point average and demonstrate active community service. A PDF is available at the Berkeley Alumni website,, under “Community Projects.”
For several decades Kappa Alpha Psi has sponsored the scholarship program for high school seniors in an effort to increase the number of African-Americans attending college throughout the United States.
For information email

A Global Response to Sexual Violence

Kim Thuy Seelinger

Courtesy UC Berkeley
Public Affairs

How do we effectively respond to sexual violence during war, and how can we better protect people during and after violent conflicts?
International scholars, policymakers, human-rights advocates and foreign military leaders will take up this issue and more at the Missing Peace Symposium 2013 in Washington, D.C., co-hosted last week by the Human Rights Center at the UC Berkeley School of Law.
“Sexual violence against women, men, and children during war is a human-rights abuse that threatens international peace and security,” explains Kim Thuy Seelinger, director of the Sexual Violence Program at the Human Rights Center. “Even when fighting ends, sexual violence often does not.”
Seelinger, a lawyer and international expert in sexual violence, has worked with the U.S. Institute for Peace, the Peace Research Institute of Oslo and the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute North America for the past year to organize and lead the global event that ended Feb. 16.
Three Berkeley Law students who work with Seelinger in the International Human Rights Law Clinic acted as rapporteurs and help to draft the symposium’s final policy brief. A fourth Berkeley Law student was selected to attend as a “Young Scholar.”
The three-day global symposium featured Nobel laureate and human-rights security expert Jody Williams, vice president of the World Bank, special advisers to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, academics and key practitioners and funders who provide support to survivors of conflict-related sexual violence.
“Missing Peace” provided an opportunity to take stock of current knowledge about conflict-related sexual violence; exchange information about the latest research on causes, scope and patterns of sexual violence; and strengthen an understanding of sexual violence beyond national boundaries.
For more information go to

Mississippi Ratifies 13th Amendment Banning Slavery

By Huffington Post

Mississippi lawmakers have officially ratified the Constitution’s 13th Amendment, which banned slavery in 1865.
148 years after three-fifths of the states voted to approve the amendment, Mississippi’s legislature finally took steps to fix the glaring oversight last month. According to the Jackson Clarion-Ledger, the decision was inspired by the Oscar-nominated film “Lincoln,” which depicts the 16th president’s efforts to enact the amendment.
After University of Mississippi Medical Center professor Dr. Ranjan Batra saw the film last year, he was inspired to look into what happened after states voted on the amendment. He found that while the state had originally rejected the slavery ban, the state legislature eventually voted to approve the amendment in 1995.
The measure cleared both legislative chambers, but was never sent to the Office of the Federal Register and therefore never made official.
Batra then contacted another Mississippi resident, Ken Sullivan, who in turn got in touch with Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann. Hosemann’s office agreed to fix the oversight and file the paperwork, making the ratification official on Feb. 7.
Mississippi was the last state to approve the amendment. Kentucky, the second-to-last holdout, ratified it in 1976.

Larry Gayden Appointed Senior Controller at East Bay YMCA

Larry B. Gayden

Larry Gayden brings over 27 years of experience to his new position as Senior Controller of the YMCA of the East Bay.
“Larry is highly versed in all aspects of financial and accounting issues for non-profits, and we are fortunate to have him on board,” said Robert Wilkins, CEO of the Y of the East Bay.
Prior to joining the Y, Gayden worked as a consultant for LBG Consulting where he helped non-profit clients with preparation for an annual audit, tax returns, reviews and assessments of financial reports to management and day-to-day accounting functions.
He also served as Chief Financial Officer at Lincoln Child Center, Inc. in Oakland, where he oversaw and managed a $17 million annual budget.
Gayden earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from Southern University in New Orleans and his Masters in Business Administration from Golden Gate University in San Francisco.

Civicorps Job Training Center Opens in West Oakland

From left to right: Davith Mouen, Supervisor Jeff Hurley, John Nesby, Sandra Loun, T’mari Gray, Anthony Dykes. John Brunfield, Chardi Allen, Supervisor David Murphy, Dion Kinnick.

Civicorps will hold its official opening of its new headquarters at 1425 5th St. across from the West Oakland BART station on Thursday, Feb. 28.
Civicorps has provided educational and employment opportunities for 50,000 underserved Oakland youth and young adults since it began 1983.
The organization helps young adults, ages 18-24, obtain a high-school diploma, find work at a living wage and pursue post-secondary education and training.
The Job Training Center was purchased and is being renovated with Prop. 84 funds through the California Conservation Corps. The 15,000-square-foot building will house job training activities and academic classes.
Each day, 60 Corpsmembers gather at 7:30 a.m. After physical training, they receive their daily paid job assignments in regional parks, trails, streams and along highways. They also attend classes they were previously lacking.
“Last year, 82 percent of the students went to college, and the rest directly into jobs. The Job Training Center will increase opportunities for Corpsmembers to earn industry recognized certifications that will help them to find well paid jobs upon graduation,” said Civicorps Executive Director Alan Lessik.
“Civicorps is the only organization in the East Bay that offers paid job training work experience and an accredited high school diploma in the same program,” said Civicorps Board President Rita Isaacs.

Rampant Violence in Oakland Takes Life of Young Student

By Ashley

Senseless violence on the streets of Oakland has claimed the lives of many hopeful young people in recent months. As of Feb. 11, the city reported nine homicides this year, eight of which were young men and women under the age of 25.
On Feb. 1, 18-year old

Kiante Campbell

was shot and killed during the First Friday art festival in Downtown Oakland. A senior at Ralph J. Bunche High School, he was preparing to graduate this June.
Campbell, a foster kid, enrolled in the Highway to Work program last June and participated with the George P. Scotlan Youth and Family Center.
After struggling to find housing, employment, and finish his education, Campbell was on the right track before his life was cut short.
He had moved into his own apartment earlier this year and participated Jan. 31 in a fundraiser where the Scotlan Center honored Deputy Mayor Sandré Swanson.
Matthew Graves, executive director of the Scotlan Center, says Campbell was a hard worker who was conscientious about what he had to do.
Graves, also the pastor of A Bay Area Community Ministry in Oakland, said providing resources for youth development has helped keep young people that come through his program on a clear path.
“[Kiante] was moving towards getting his diploma; he was turning his life around,” Graves said. “He was a good kid. Right at that moment when they turn it around, when they get to a point where the confusion stops and they see a future-he reached it and wanted to do something positive,” he said.
“We have our kids dying out here. We’re in that daily struggle to get support. This is a full-time problem and a full-time issue,” Grave said.
The news of another young person killed in Oakland is shattering. As family and friends celebrate the life of Kiante Campbell, a hopeful young student, what needs to be done about the violence in this city?

Oakland’s Margo Hall Plays a Woman Who Got “Played”

Margo Hall

By Sandra

Currently running at The San Francisco Playhouse through March 16 is the aggressive and arresting Broadway hit, “The MF with The Hat” from playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis (Jesus Hopped the “A” Train).
“The Hat” is bold, edgy, powerful and callous with a cast up to the task of parlaying the pathos of two couples and a cousin, walking the tightrope of sobriety and seduction at the same time lobbing biting obscenities and curdling insults with rapid fire release.
Oakland’s Margo Hall plays Victoria, the seething wife of Ralph (Carl Lumbly), angered by his infidelity and her inability to spurn his knowingly dangerous charm and his slick and sexy ways.
Hall described Victoria as a woman, “who at one point in her life was on top of the world. She was a junior trader on Wall Street making $100K a year, she dated an art dealer, but she had a substance abuse problem. She was attending Alcoholics Anonymous trying to work it all out when she heard Ralph at a meeting and was taken in by his charisma and all the things that he’s very good at as a manipulator. She left her life behind and went to Ralph, now feeling stuck in this relationship because there’s a fear that if she leaves him she may go back to using; he holds that power over her.”
Hall said she knows women who felt trapped in abusive relationships, and, because of their feelings of no self worth, they didn’t feel they had a way out.

San Leandro Receives $10,000 from Optimist Club

Mayor Stephen Cassidy

The San Leandro Recreation and Human Services Department  has received a $10,000 donation from the San Leandro Optimist Club to support family and youth activities.
The check was presented to the City Council by Optimist Club president Bob Glaze and Treasurer Ken Ray.
The money will pay for an Egg Hunt,  activities such as Family Nights and the San Leandro Bike Party, Youth Advisory Commission activities and a Halloween Carnival.
“We are extremely grateful for the generosity of the San Leandro Optimist Club. The events sponsored by the Optimist Club bring children and families together for fun events, support youth involvement in community affairs, and boost civic pride,” said Mayor Stephen Cassidy .
For more information, call Breyana Riggsbee at (510) 577-3463.

Spencer Hollie Gets Full Ride in Division 1 Football

Spencer Hollie (center) with his parents, retired NFL and SMU alumni, Douglas Hollie and Pastor Sharon Hollie on National Signing Day, Wednesday, Feb. 6. Photo by Ralph Howard.

On National Signing Day last week, senior Spencer Hollie signed a National Letter of Intent in front of family, teammates, coaches and school staff as the first African American student at Dublin High School to receive a full ride scholarship in Division 1 football.
Hollie will start at Southern Methodist University on July 1, studying pre-law.
“It feels really good knowing that I will leave my mark at Dublin High forever and that others can follow in the future,” he said.
The athlete maintains a 3.5 GPA while playing two varsity sports, football and basketball. He has a three-star national rating, was named Defensive Lineman of the Year, First-Team Diablo Foothill Athletic League and NCS First-Team Scholar-Athlete this past season.
Currently battling for a run for the state championship on the Dublin Varsity Basketball team, Hollie assisted his team in winning the 2013 Diablo Foothill championship title for the first time this month.
He was also selected to play in the South Bay BMW West Coast Bowl game for the top 2013 seniors across the country. An active member of the community, Hollie is the Teen Vice President of the Contra Costa County Chapter of Jack and Jill of America, Inc. and participated in the 2012 Oakland Bay Area Links Cotillion.

Red Cross Gives Disaster Ready Guidelines

House destroyed during an earthquake (Photo from

You should be prepared for disasters, large and small in order to ensure your safety, and those of your loved ones.
The Red Cross has given these guidelines to help public be prepared.
Develop a Communication Plan: It is often easier to make a long-distance call rather than a local call after a disaster. So identify an out-of-area contact who will serve as a central connection point.
Have everyone report his or her status to this contact, who will pass the information along to others.
Let your out-of-area contact know your communication plan. Keep local emergency contacts on hand for a smaller event such as a home fire.
Determine escape routes through your home, and know your neighborhood evacuation routes.
Decide where to meet after a disaster. Choose a place near home in case of sudden emergency, such as a house fire, and a second place outside your neighborhood in case you cannot return home. Learn the evacuation sites at work, school or day care.
Plan for your pets. Prepare a list of who can shelter them in an emergency.
If you have special needs, arrange for a neighbor, friend or relative to check on you in the event of an emergency.
Prepare a kit with enough supplies for your household for at least three days. Include any necessary items for pets, children, seniors and people with disabilities. Prepare kits for your home, workplace and car.
Your kit should include non-perishable food items, such as energy bars, canned soup or peanut butter; one gallon of water per person per day; first aid kit and medications; a flashlight, battery-operated or crank radio.
You should also have extra batteries, a wrench to shut off the gas in case of a leak, can opener, screwdriver, hammer, pliers, knife, duct tape and garbage bags.
Pack important documents, hygiene supplies and comfort items such as books and toys.
Carry cash in small denominations, and emergency contact information.
In case of an earthquake, drop and take cover under a heavy piece of furniture or against an interior wall or an open door. Protect your head, and hold on until the shaking stops. If outdoors, move away from buildings and trees.
Get out and stay out in case of fire. Check if doors are cool before opening them. Drop to the floor and crawl if there is smoke.
Evacuate immediately in case of flood. Move to higher ground away from rivers and streams, creeks and storm drains. Do not drive around barricades. If your car stalls in water, abandon it and climb to higher ground.
In case of a chemical spills and airborne hazards, stay in a shelter. Close and lock doors, windows and heating and cooling vents. Place wet towels or duct tape anywhere air may enter. Stay at ground level or above.
Obtain accurate information: Tune into 740 AM, 810 AM and 88.5 FM. Follow instructions from local officials.

Church Crab Feed in Marin City

Cornerstone Community Church of God in Christ will hold its 8th Annual Crab Feed on Saturday, March 2 at 5:30 p.m.
The event will be held at the Manzanita Center, 630 Drake Ave. in Marin City, starting with a greet-and-mix fellowship  at 5:30 p.m. followed by dinner at 6 p.m. Entertainment will include a Fashion Review Show by Amazing Grace Classic
Chicken is available by pre-order.
The cost of the dinner is $50 per person. For more information, call (415) 332-4295 or email

American Red Cross Emergency Preparedness Training

American Red Cross staff conducted an emergency preparedness workshop at the Manzanita Recreation Center in Marin City on Jan. 21. The workshop was conducted after the Swearing-In and Inauguration Ceremony of President Barack Obama. From left: Terrie Green (Marin City Health and Wellness Center), Deborah Bonner, Ollie Arnold, Diane Conway, Sara Beth Pournoor, and Alan Kwok, Manager, Ready Neighborhoods. (Photo by Godfrey Lee).

Those who want to prepare family members and neighbors for emergencies have a free opportunity to train to become an emergency preparedness instructor.
The American Red Cross emergency preparedness train-the-trainer workshop will provide the knowledge and materials to conduct the “Be Red Cross Ready” emergency preparedness course in Marin City and other locations.
Trained to “Be Red Cross Ready,” instructors will  ensure their family, community, school, and workplace are prepared for all types of disasters, such as home fires and earthquakes.
Participant materials, instructor binder and course booklets, as well as Red Cross  Preparedness Starter Kits will be provided.
The free workshop will be held Saturday, March 2, from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Marin City Community Development Corporation at 441 Drake Ave in Marin City.
Lunch will be provided. Contact to register.

Path Breaking Opera Singer Marian Anderson Sang at Marinship

Marian Anderson sang at Marinship on Feb. 17, 1943.

By Felecia Gaston,
Guest Columnist

While researching some names to submit articles for Black History Month, I stumbled across some very significant historical milestones that make me proud of being a Marinite.
I have learned that it is important to share this research, and I want to highlight the positive attributes of the beginnings of Marin City and to share with others these major historical milestones.
There will an ongoing series of articles and photographs during the months to come to share the rich history of Marin City.
As President Barack Obama has stated, “Let us honor those who came before by striving toward their example, and let us follow in their footsteps toward the better future that is ours to claim.”
The story of Marinship begins in 1942, when it was created by the United States Maritime Commission.  At that time, there was a great migration of many people to the Bay Area in World War II to help fill a labor shortage.
Major California enterprises, like Kaiser in Richmond and Bechtel in San Francisco, were contracted to establish shipyards to support the war effort.  The majority of the Marinship workers were multi-ethnic, including whites and Blacks, with some Asians and Latin Americans.
One such story was that Marian Anderson performed at a Marinship Launching on Feb. 17, 1943.
In 1939, Anderson, the famous Black opera singer, broke many color barriers when she was denied permission, because of her race, to perform in a Washington, D.C. hall owned by the Daughters of the American Revolution.
Outraged, Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of President Franklin D.  Roosevelt, arranged for Anderson to instead sing outdoors in front of the Lincoln Memorial.  Anderson opened with the song “America” and became a national hero.
She also was the first African American to sing at the White House and the New York Metropolitan Opera.

African American Chamber of Commerce Honors City’s Black Leaders

From left to right: Karen Roye Hiles, Director of San Francisco Department of Child Support Services; Naomi Kelly, San Francisco City Administrator and Dr. Caesar Churchwell, SFAACC Board Member attend event at Yoshi’s honoring all Afrian American Elected Officials, Department Heads and Commissioners. Photo By Khali O’ray.

By Carla Thomas

The San Francisco Black Chamber of Commerce recently held an event to honor the city’s top African American civic leaders, department heads, commissioners and elected officials.
Held on Jan. 25 at Yoshi’s Jazz Club, the celebration was led by Dr. Toye Moses and Chamber President Fred Jordan.
“We want to honor our leaders for their commitment to the community and to encourage them to continue to pursue excellence and unselfish commitment to our proud city,” said Jordan.
“We are really looking to our current leaders to commit to the awareness of the collective needs, interest and civic affairs of the African American community,” said Moses, member of the Immigrant Rights Commission and the South East Facility Commission.
“I am proud to be mayor of a city which continues to benefit from the tireless commitment of our African American community leaders who have broken racial barriers and made contributions to our city,” said Mayor Ed Lee.
Naomi Kelly, the city’s first African American female city administrator, also addressed the more than 200 guests.
“The San Francisco African American Chamber of Commerce is one of our key partners in creating economic empowerment, sustenance and vitality of our African American community through education, advocacy and mentoring,” she said.
Others who joined the celebration were Supervisors London Breed and Malia Cohen, Senator Mark Leno, Public Utilities Commission (PUC) General Manager Harlan Kelly and PUC Commissioner Emeritus Tim Simon.
Supervisor Emeritus Doris Ward was acknowledged for her years of commitment to the city.
“Were it not for veteran advocates like Doris Ward, Willie B. Kennedy, Amos Brown, Sophie Maxwell and Espanola Jackson among others, African Americans in San Francisco would have an even longer road to haul,” said Jordan.
“We are pleased to be a part of this event. and we recognize the importance of African Americans doing business with those of us living on the continent of Africa as well,” said Nigerian business leader Sesan Haastrup.
“To have all of these people in the same room, we should be able to achieve a lot in 2013,” said Lance Burton of Planet Fillmore Communications.

Public Utilities Commission, African American Chamber Salute Linda Fadeke Richardson

Commissioner Linda Richardson (center), President of the Treasure Island Development Authority with Dr. Caesar Churchwell (left), San Francisco African American Chamber of Commerce Vice President and Harlan Kelly, General Manager of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. Photo by Lance Burton.

By Carla

The San Public Utilities Commission and the San Francisco African American Chamber of Commerce are saluting Linda Fadeke Richardson, a champion of environmental justice, education, health and community revitalization for over 25 years.
“Commissioner Richardson’s efforts have made the community a better place,” said Harlan Kelly, General Manager of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, speaking at  a recent celebration for Dr. Espanola Jackson’s 80th birthday,
Leadership of the African American Chamber also spoke highly of Richardson.
“(She) has worked tirelessly for the community over the years,” said Boardmember Dr. Caesar Churchwell.
“Linda is a community person, a hard worker – she is on her job, vocal and knowledgeable about what’s happening in this city, she’s a fighter,” he added.
Richardson’s service to the African American community includes leadership roles with the Southeast Alliance for Environmental Justice and  commission appointments by San Francisco mayors.
“Linda has been a great asset to our chamber, and she really cares about the community she serves,” said the Chamber President Fred Jordan of FE Jordan Associates.
Formerly president of the Civil Service Commission, she later joined the San Francisco Planning Commission, leading the community fight to close Hunters Point power plant in 1998.
A Nigerian born community advocate,  she said, “I want any community I am a part of to be improved and become a better place – the world is a big place. So it is imperative that communities work together to benefit all and promote necessary changes.”
Richardson has also served on the Human Rights Commission and the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission for the State of California. she currently serves as president of the Board of Directors of the Treasure Island Development Authority.

Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Hosts Free Richmond Health Fair

Darrylyn Swift

The Contra Costa Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated is working to fight childhood obesity by sponsoring “Keeping it 100!” – a day-long free community health fair at John F. Kennedy High School, 4300 Cutting Blvd. Richmond, on March 9 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
More than 200 children and families from throughout the Bay Area are expected to attend the annual event.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity can have a harmful effect on the body in a variety of ways. Obese children are more likely to suffer from high blood pressure, high cholesterol, breathing problems, joint and musculoskeletal discomfort.
The health fair is part of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc’s annual Impact Day activities where thousands of the sorority’s members host similar events, emphasizing the same topic, throughout the United States.
“We are preparing to bring awareness to Richmond and the surrounding communities on obesity and the prevention of related health issues, increasing awareness about innovative ways to provide healthy food options for families and how to live a fun and active life,” said Darrylyn Swift, president of the sorority’s Contra Costa Alumnae Chapter.
“Our sorority has identified childhood obesity as a national epidemic.  And we, the Contra Costa Alumnae Chapter, realize that we cannot target only the children, but that we must work with the parents and families as a whole,” Swift said.  “We’re very excited to bring this free health fair to the Richmond and surrounding communities.”
Along with workshops and clinics, there will be lots of fun activities and games, and participants can also enter dozens of giveaways to win prizes including free gym memberships, pedometers or $200 in free groceries. There will also be a variety of free healthy food and snacks.
At the event, children and their families can participate in a family fun walk, workshops and scavenger hunts, and free exercise classes. Attendees can get free preventive health screenings from medical professionals, hear motivational speakers provide tips on healthy eating and weight loss.
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. was founded on the campus of Howard University in 1913 and is currently celebrating 100 years of community service.
The Contra Costa Alumnae Chapter was established in 1990 and has nearly 100 members from throughout Contra Costa County who lend their time and talents to bettering the community through a variety of projects including mentoring and scholarships.

Actor, Director Blair Underwood Inspires Local Artist

Blair Underwood (left) encouraged director Darius Johnson, CEO of Flac City Paparazzi, in his career and with his TV reality show “The Bay Wives” during the actor’s visit to the Bay Area this month. Photo by Ashley Chambers.

By Ashley Chambers

Actor Blair Underwood is renowned for his compelling and sometimes mysterious roles in both film and television. He is admired for his debonair, confidence, and style.
He has won many accolades over the course of his career, among them Golden Globe nominations, a Grammy for Best Spoken Word Album, NAACP Awards, and most recently the Bronner Brothers 2013 ICON Man of Style Award.
With all of his personal success, Underwood remains a dedicated advocate for the community, reaching out to Richmond Police Athletic League and the James Morehouse Project at El Cerrito High School.
The actor also supports rising local artists, like director and Academy of Art film student Darius Johnson, helping to open doors for talented newcomers. Johnson recalls having the opportunity to work with Underwood at the actor’s fundraiser, the Red Carpet Experience, held at the Richmond Craneway Pavilion in 2011, shooting the fashion show for his class project.
“It was big for me because a lot of people from the community didn’t know about the event. I showed [Blair] my work, I shot the event, and he was happy with the outcome,” said Johnson, CEO of Flac City Paparazzi.
“For me, it was like an exclusive event because I was kind of the only one that had that footage. I was able to capture celebrities, and a lot of people started to pay attention to my work from that.”
Gaining that exposure helped propel Johnson’s career to another level and encouraged him in the pursuit of his craft. Now, he is directing a new reality show, “The Bay Wives,” which reveals the hustle of everyday women.
“After doing that event, it helped me open me up to companies like Home Depot and pitch to bigger people than just artists and musicians. I try to stay on a different kind of path as far as political, youth, as opposed to just rap concerts – that was my shift, the caliber of people,” Johnson said.
Reconnecting with Underwood during his visit to the Bay Area promoting his “BU” spring collection at K&G stores, Johnson was inspired by the actor who showed support for his TV show.
“I really admire him for what he’s doing, because you don’t see a lot of successful African Americans coming back to the Bay Area,” Johnson said about Underwood, who received the Thurgood Marshall Man of the Year Award in 2012.
“Its tremendous how he gives back,” Johnson said. “He’s all about community.”

Social Fabric

Blair Underwood Unveils Casual Spring Collection

By Ashley Chambers

Award winning actor, director, and producer Blair Underwood is more than a handsome face in theaters and on TV screens. He’s a suave businessman and clothing designer with his BU Collection, a line of men’s tailored suits, shirts, and ties sold exclusively at K&G stores.
His clotheslines are revolutionizing in-store and on-line marketing with record sales.
He came to the Oakland Bay Area on Valentine’s Eve to announce his Friday, Feb. 16 launch in 106 stores nationwide of his casual line, which he says, adds a “funky flair” to his customary, modern contemporary and traditional line.
Underwood surprised clothiers with his spectacular sales receipts during the 2012 Black Friday weekend. Besides standing for the initials of his name, his BU concept taps into an undercurrent need for shoppers to “be yourself, it allows you to Be You,” he says. “Our casual line of clothing additions, shoes, jeans, sport shirts, linens and accessories allow men, and the women in their lives, to help them model our stylish BU products for their daily lifestyles.”
“I am absolutely passionate about delivering well-made, affordable clothing that allows men to express their personal style,” said Underwood. “The addition of casual apparel and accessories to the spring 2013 line offers shoppers even more opportunity to find pieces that fit their personality.”
To inspire consumers and simplify the shopping experience, Underwood will feature tips for putting together the perfect look on the K&G Facebook page. The fashion superstore will also publish a “Shop the Look” page on allowing consumers to shop on-line.
Underwood’s marketing plan is burgeoning because every sale has a philanthropic component.
“I try to adhere to the principle of talking honestly to the heads of our customers while designing products that speak to their hearts. When we do that, they will buy. And when they buy, we all benefit, especially the community groups. Giving something back strengthens our social fabric.”
Underwood’s business theme is “You do well by doing good”. Some of the non-profit charitable organizations and community-based groups that share from his contributions are AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Alameda Foster Care, Independent Living Skills Program, Berkeley Youth Alternatives Richmond Police Athletic League and Bright Futures International.  He says the BU marketing approach is a vessel for non-profits to create a revenue stream.
In the fall, he will roll out his line of women’s wear.

Impact of Impending Federal Cuts Worries Richmond Officials

Jael Myrick

Jim Rogers

By Danielle

Richmond officials are alarmed about the impact of $85 billion in automatic federal budget cuts, called sequester, which are scheduled to go into effect March 1. President Obama has warned that the cuts would damage the economic recovery and hit teachers, firefighters, police officers and other government workers.
In public statements, Obama has been turning up the pressure on House Republicans to seek a solution before the deadline, but so far they have shown no interest in making a deal.
Most Republicans have urged their leaders to stay firm in adopting the sequester policy rather than compromising.
“It would be horrible if that went into effect. It’s a bad thing to do, Republicans would rather see the economy go in the tank than to do something positive with president Obama,” said Richmond City Councilmember Jael Myrick.
The cuts would also take money from mothers on WIC, the National Science Foundation, patients with HIV, children in Head Start, homeless program, according to the White House.
“It’s a question of whether we should cut important programs to support tax breaks for really rich people,” said Richmond City Councilmember Jim Rogers.
“Having the Republicans claim to be pro-business, but hurting programs that help to make the economy competitive, that’s not my idea of being pro-business,” said Rogers.
“Libraries, police protection, schools, we need to have [these] things in place when we are trying to attract businesses. Education is expensive, but think about how expensive ignorance is,” said Rogers.
According to Willie Robinson, President of the Richmond Branch NAACP, “President Obama is pushing for a balanced approach.”
“President Obama has talked about tax reforms that make sense,” stated Myrick. “A lot of these tax loopholes have always been a problem, and it’s Republicans and Congress that have to be willing to meet him halfway.”
To raise government revenue, Democrats have proposed closing tax loopholes, including tax breaks for oil companies,
Originally, the sequester was scheduled to take place Jan. 1, but it it was delayed to allow lawmakers to negotiate an agreement.
“There was the fiscal cliff, and through that whole process, the Republicans have always pushed that we are out of control in our spending,” said Robinson.
“Washington needs to come together and devise some short term means of supporting the portion of the population that’s struggling the most,” said Robinson.
“Spending cuts would be bad for everyone in America, but would especially hurt low-income cities like Richmond,” said Rogers.

Richmond’s Basketball Legend Clyde Hardeman

Clyde Hardeman. Photo by Joe L. Fisher, Black American Political Action Committee.

By Kia Croom

Clyde Hardeman made history as one of Richmond’s greatest athletes.
He particularly remembers participating in the Twilight League at Shields Reid Park in North Richmond.
Charlie Reid and Carl Lawson founded the league, but it was players like Hardeman, J.D. Banks and Joe Dorsey who brought basketball enthusiasts to the field.
“People from all over the Bay and Northern and Southern California came to play ball and even watch the games,” Hardeman said.
Pro athletes who supported the league included Bill Russell, Paul Silas, Ed Thomas, Mike Farmer and others.
Hardeman’s basketball career started at Richmond Union High School, where he was named the 1954 scoring champion in the Alameda County Athletic League. He went on to attend Contra Costa College, taking the team to a championship in 1956.
Hardeman was married in 1955. He had to juggle work at Crown Zellerback Paper Company and a family with his three-year-career, playing semi-pro basketball with the Melody Ramblers.
In 1977, Hardeman was inducted into the Sacramento State Tournament Hall of Fame.
After retiring from basketball and leaving Crown Zellerback, Hardeman worked as a Teamster for 31 years at various sites including  Montgomery Wards in Richmond and the Oakland Army Base before he retired in 1984.
Today, Hardeman still lives in Richmond and is a proud grandfather.