By abhat

Father’s Day Service at Center of Hope

Dr. J. Alfred Smith Sr. of Allen Temple Baptist Church will speak at Center of Hope Community Church on Sunday, June 16 for Father’s Day at 11 a.m.
“Center of Hope is a ministry that believes in faith, fathers and family. We are honored to welcome Dr. Smith to the podium to break the bread of life and serve the Father’s Day meal,” said Pastor Brondon Reems.
The church welcomes all to come celebrate the faith of this powerful preacher.
Center of Hope is located at 8411 MacArthur Blvd. in Oakland.

Dr. J. Alfred Smith, Sr.

Goldies Care Homes: Independent Living at its Best

Nina Christian

Growing up in the streets of San Francisco, all Nina Christian knew was how to survive day-to-day. Raised by a single alcoholic mother with no role model to look up to, she says, “I had to grow up quickly.”
Growing up too fast was not easy and came with a price – by the age of 14, Christian was pregnant with a baby girl and living on $30 a month through government assistance. In 1991, she lost her mother, increasing the pressure to work harder to provide for her family.
“The death of my mother sent me into a downward spiral,” says Christian, the executive director of Goldies Care Homes in Hayward.
She began selling drugs for a man who took her under his wing as a “drug mule.” Through endless nights of suffering mental, physical, and emotional abuse, Christian started to get deeper in the street business; but she began to make plans to escape that lifestyle.
After running away from that life, Christian met and later married the love of her life. As cruel as life can be, her husband was gunned down in San Francisco in 2000 and she was left with five children and many years of depression.
After enduring the trauma of losing her mother and husband, Christian turned her life over to God and enrolled at Chabot College to complete classes in Early Childhood Development. After completing her classes at Chabot, Christian became a foster parent.
Christian says that, from her life experiences, she believes in helping the less privileged and reducing homelessness city by city. Christian opened her first independent living facility in Hayward in 2006 and, over the past seven years, Goldies Care Homes has expanded to seven houses.
“Our goal is to provide homes to adults with mental disabilities, history of incarceration and to reduce homelessness in our society,” Christian says of her facility, which provides clothing to adults looking for gainful employment through the “Goldie Closet” program.
Goldies Care Homes is achieving this through partnerships with hospitals, mental health programs, non-profits and criminal justice institutions. For more information, visit www.goldiescarehomes.org or call 1-866-246-1457.

Rev. Sterling Jenkins, III, 60

Rev. Sterling Jenkins, III

Rev. Sterling Jenkins, III, 60, passed away on June 6 in Oakland. He was born in New Orleans, LA to Sterling Jenkins, Jr. and Helen M. Hopkins. He grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and served with honor in the U.S. Army.
As a minister at Grace Baptist Church in Oakland, Jenkins helped to feed the hungry. He founded God Seed Ministry and was also a foot soldier in the original Black Panther Party.
He was the partner of Michele Baker; father of Alexandra and Cynthia Jenkins; grandfather of Carlos Jenkins-Jones and Elnora Jenkins; and brother of Cynthia Phillips, Yvonne Jenkins, Michael Jenkins, Kenneth Hopkins, Daryl Jenkins, Angela Guess-Westbrooks, Gregory Greenup, Terrance McKeever, Maxine Jurand, and Edward Jenkins.
Visitation is on Tuesday, June 18 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Colonial Chapel, 2626 High St. in Oakland. Funeral services will be held on Wednesday, June 19 at 11 a.m. at Grace Baptist Church, 705 98th Ave. in Oakland.
Interment is on Thursday, June 20, at 10:30 a.m. at Sacramento Valley National Cemetery, 5810 Midway Rd. in Dixon, CA. For additional information, contact Colonial Chapel at (510) 536-5454.

New HIV Study on African American Couples

Kabir Hypolite, former director of Alameda County Office of AIDS.

Dr. Gail Wyatt was the first African American woman to be licensed as a psychologist in California.

By Jesse
Brooks

Maintaining a strong and stable relationship is challenging especially when one partner is HIV positive, technically known as sero-discordant couples.
The Eban II Program is searching for heterosexual African American sero-discordant couples to participate in a behavioral study that will help such couples live normal lives and avoid transmitting the disease to the unaffected partner.
HIV transmission rates are significantly higher for African Americans. Though HIV and STIs are primarily transmitted in the context of relationships, few studies have addressed HIV risk in couples.
“Couples that find themselves in this situation face numerous issues, including facing decisions as to what level of sexual activity is comfortable for them,” said Dr. Gail Wyatt,  principal investigator of the study, who has been a scientist for over 30 years and is associate director of the UCLA AIDS Institute.
“Practicing safe sex reduces but does not eliminate the risk of transmitting the virus to the HIV negative partner. Couples must negotiate as to what level of sexual activity is comfortable for them,” said Wyatt.
EBAN is an African term that refers to safety, security and love in one’s family and community.  The study is a collaborative effort between Alameda County Public Health Department and the UCLA Semel Institute.
“The study is important to African American couples who are infected and affected by HIV. They receive little or no support, and we need to work at promoting, protecting and preserving healthy relationships,” said Kabir Hypolite, director of Alameda County’s Office of AIDS Administration.
The program is currently recruiting couples from Oakland and Los Angeles, both known for high transmission rates.
Couples may be eligible if at least one partner identifies as Black or African American; one partner is HIV+ and the other is HIV-; and one partner is male and the other is female.
Call (510) 692-2643 for more information. All communication is confidential.

“Healthy Parks, Healthy People” Festival

President Barack Obama proclaimed June as ‘Healthy Parks Month’ so the East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) – in partnership with USDA Forest Service – will host the free “Healthy Parks, Healthy People” festival that features outdoor recreation and healthy lifestyle options for families.
The “Healthy Parks, Healthy People” Festival will be held Saturday, June 22 from 11am – 3:30pm at Quarry Lakes Regional Recreation Area in Fremont.
Attendees can learn to cook healthful and tasty organic recipes with Chef Brenda La Noue of Golden Gate Organics; get moving with Zumba dancing, mariachis, and yoga; or visit the many community booths for inspiration to get fit. A kids’ zone hosted by the US Forest Service and EBRPD will offer children a chance to earn a “junior ranger” badge.  There will also be puppet shows and arts and crafts activities for children to enjoy.
Entertainment includes Ballet Folklorico Nacional, Golden Lion Martial Arts Academy, rap artist Sean Shavers, and many more. Environmental education will be provided by numerous organizations including Alameda County’s Water District and Alameda County Master Gardeners.
Delicious food will also be for sale from Frozen Kuhsterd and Kung Fu Tacos.
The “Healthy Parks, Healthy People’ festival is free to the public. Free parking will also be available. For more information call 1(888) 327-2757 or visit the event page  www.ebparks.org/features/hphpfestival_2013.

Castlemont Cheerleaders Excel on the Field and in the Classroom

From left to right, front row: Jahmelia Stenson, Zelana Smith, Najla El, Amanda Wilson, Twiinae Johnson, Jazmin Stenson, Coach Linda Stetson; Second row: Dominique Plummer, Aleeah Williams, Sade Bankston, Blanca Rodriguez, Jashlin Hampton, Goka Bere; Third row: Dorinda Andrews, Alma Rios, Tionne Ryans, Morgan Porter, Layloni Allen, Alex Rivera; Fourth row: Marshe Robinson, Armeka Iford, Nakirah Salam, Ariel Jenkins, India Packnett. Coach Stenson was voted “Best Coach 2013” at Castlemont High by the student body.

By Tanya
Dennis

Coach Linda Stenson does what it takes to help her cheerleaders succeed. She sits in the classroom with them if necessary to make sure they earn their grades.
The students have to achieve at least a 2.5 grade-point-average to stay on the team.  “I told the girls they could accept being average, but I want them to strive to be above average,” said Stenson.
Under her leadership, the Castlemont cheerleaders proved they are excellent in both academics and cheering, winning first place in the recent Spirit Spectacular competition in Sacramento.
“Before I started the cheerleading squad, there was nothing for the girls to do.  In January of this year at the ‘Spirit Spectacular’ competition, they proved what they can do.  We were the only African-Americans there.
“More importantly, many of these girls came to me with a 1.30 (G.P.A.), and they are now making the honor roll.”
Stenson’s interest in Castlemont’s cheering squad began in 2011 after she attended a football game to support her son where she saw three unorganized cheerleaders on the field.
Castlemont principal Betsy Steele approached Stenson after learning that she had been a cheerleading coach for the East Bay Warriors, a Pop Warner team in Oakland.
“When I started working with the girls, many could not tryout because of low grade point averages. I went to each teacher and asked what could be done. The teachers were so supportive. They worked with me, and we brought grades up within a semester.
“One young lady had never achieved anything higher than a D average. We got her grades up to a 3.0, and this last semester she made the honor roll with a 3.5.”
Stenson says she tries to be a role model.  “There are so few African-American women role models at Castlemont that when I came on campus the girls gravitated towards me.  I became the support system they needed. I set high expectations, and my girls don’t disappoint.”
The cheering squad has grown to 31 young women in two years. Stenson attributes the growth to giving the girls something to do besides sports that is positive. “I have two assistant coaches, and we have a sister circle where we sit down and talk about everything from hygiene to boys.  The most important thing I’ve taught them is that it is okay to disagree because that’s what sisters do.”
Castlemont cheerleaders also competed in the Rock and Roll Marathon, cheering for the runners. They won awards for best spirit and best costume.
Castlemont won third place and $500.
The squad will compete in November in Union City for a chance to participate in the Nationals in Anaheim.

A Father’s Influence is Life-long

Keith Carson

By Keith
Carson

For a child to be healthy and happy, few things are more important than the consistent presence of loving, caring parents and guardians.
As long as my father was alive, I was blessed by his wisdom and guidance.  His steady presence allowed me to observe and pick up important lessons on being a good husband, father and community member.
Many children are not as lucky.  24 million American children live in homes with no biological father.  These children face a daunting array of challenges in life: higher rates of poverty, infant mortality, teen pregnancy, drug and alcohol abuse and depression, according to the National Fatherhood Initiative.
First 5 Alameda County emphasizes that parental involvement is especially important during the first five years, when 90% of a child’s brain develops.
Given this evidence, men clearly have a responsibility to be involved with their children.  And as a society, we have an obligation to more effectively advocate for fathers.  Many Americans face multiple barriers on the road to fatherhood: a lack of positive role models, obstacles to accessing educational resources and high rates of incarceration, to name a few.
For men of color, the barriers are even higher.  April 2013 Bureau of Labor Statistics figures show the U.S. unemployment rate for Black men at 12.6 percent, compared with 6.4 percent for White men.
Thirty-two percent of Black men are projected to enter state or federal prison during their lifetime, compared to 17 percent of Latino men and 5.9 percent of White men, according to a study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
Incarceration interrupts the bonding process between father and child and places burdens on mothers and caregivers. In 2012, Oakland-based Centerforce surveyed 45 formerly incarcerated fathers living in Alameda County and found that only 18% were visited by their children while in prison.
To develop  bonds with their children, men need mentors, relationships, mediation and guidance in securing gainful employment. Without support, many fathers feel undervalued and give up early on in their children’s lives.
Alameda County recently established a Fatherhood Advisory Council to coordinate programs in partnership with community-based organizations.  The Council aims to increase public awareness, help men access services, and maximize financial resources for families.
One of these programs is the Prodigal Son Initiative, a project started in 2012 by my office with the goal of transforming the lives of African American men age 18 to 54 who live and receive services in the West Oakland corridor.  The initiative will provide a pathway for men to live healthier lifestyles and become educated, employable community leaders and positive role models.
Numerous faith and community groups also play a central role in championing fathers.  Some examples are mentoring programs run by 100 Black Men of the Bay Area, Word Assembly Church in East Oakland, The Mentoring Center and No More Tears, a program for San Quentin prisoners my office has visited for over 12 years.
I was blessed.  My father was with me until adulthood and helped to shape who I am today, but some children grow up under different circumstances.
A “father figure” can be a grandparent, an older sibling, a spiritual leader, or a mother in a two-mother household.   Whatever the situation,  one essential ingredient for raising healthy children is the consistent presence of a loving, supportive father.
Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson represents the Fifth District, which includes Albany, Berkeley, Emeryville, Piedmont, and parts of Oakland (North Oakland, Rockridge, Grand Lake, Fruitvale, and Dimond District neighborhoods). For information call (510) 272-6695 or visit www.acgov.org/board/district5

Fremont’s Nicholas Ross Bound for UC Berkeley

Nicholas Ross is the recipient of the 2013 Gates Millennium Scholars Award.

By Etta Jones

Despite life challenges that would disorient most others, young and old, Nicolas Ross is looking forward to graduating from Fremont High School with a 4.31 grade point average and attending UC Berkeley in the fall.
Since ninth grade, 10 of his friends have died as a result of gun violence in Oakland. He recently endured the sentencing of his mother, who received life in prison without parole, and the passing of his paternal grandmother.
In the face of these difficulties and family crises, he has remained focused on his education.
Ross is the recipient of the Gates Millennium Scholars Award, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, a scholarship that will give him financial and academic support throughout his college career.
“I live directly in back of the school, so I never had an excuse not to attend school or be late for class,” said Ross. “In order to stay focused and to avoid getting into trouble in the streets, I participated in various school and church activities.”
The young man is president of the senior class, captain of the Varsity Debate Team and the Track Team, as well as president of Fremont’s Prom Committee.
An active member of his church, he attends the 23rd Avenue Church of God in Oakland, where he belongs to the youth department and the usher board.
Ross says he is grateful to his father, the  “rock” in his life who has encouraged him to tap into his potential. He aspires to become a lawyer and help better his community as a future leader.

Howard U’s Whitney Earns Masters at UC Berkeley

Spencer Whitney

By Post Staff

Spencer Whitney, a 23-year old journalist from New Jersey, received his master’s degree in Journalism from UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism this past May.
Whitney graduated from Howard University in 2011 where he earned his bachelor’s degree in Journalism from the John H. Johnson School of Communications.
Whitney’s master thesis project, “End the Backlog”, a long form narrative story, explored the nationwide backlog of untested rape kits in police and crime lab storage facilities. His reporting on the rape kit backlog began the previous summer when he interned with the Oakland Post Newspaper.
While studying at UC Berkeley, Whitney worked as a teacher’s assistant in UC Berkeley’s History Department. He also was the Ambassador for the International Visiting Scholars Program, a non-degree program that provides a one-year opportunity for journalists from abroad to pursue advanced professional training and academic study.
During the commencement ceremonies, Whitney presented the four Visiting Scholars with Certificates of Recognition and thanked them for sharing their experiences and skills to the classroom. After graduation, Whitney plans to work as a freelancing multimedia journalist in the Bay Area.

Fleisher Jazz Concert at Geoffrey’s Inner Circle

Joel Fleisher

Kelly Zeno presents Yancie Taylor’s Sunday Jazz Concert and Jam Session every Sunday at Geoffrey’s Inner Circle, 410 14th Street in downtown Oakland.
This Father’s Day, June 16, guest vocalist Joel Fleisher will perform with The Yancie Taylor Jazztet from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. The jam session will start at 9 p.m. with room for eight sign-ups. Cover is $5 and a Soul Food dinner is $5. For more information, call 510-839-4644.

Community Meeting on New George “Rocky” Graham Park

A vision for the New George “Rocky” Graham Park.

A community meeting will be held in Marin City to discuss the new George “Rocky” Graham Park project Tuesday, June 25, at 6 p.m. at the Marguerite Johnson Senior Center at 640 Drake Ave. in Marin City.
he Marin City Community Services District is sponsoring the new park, utilizing a $5 million state grant awarded under AB 31. The legislation directs a portion of park funding approved by voters under Proposition 84 toward the development of parks in California communities that most need them.
The meeting will discuss the concept design, art, community participation and career development opportunities.
Refreshments will be provided, and Spanish and Vietnamese interpreting will be available. Childcare will be available upon request in advance.
For information go to www.rockygrahampark.com or call (415) 332-1441.

Hills of Marin Are Alive With “The Sound of Music”

Scenes from “The Sound of Music”. Top row from left: The Wedding scene at the Abbey, The Family singing at the concert hall under Nazi guard. Bottom photo: The Trapp family escaping from the Nazis. Photos by Godfrey Lee.

By Godfrey Lee

Mountain Play in Marin celebrated its 100th anniversary with the production of “The Sound of Music.”
Young people from Marin City on June 9 attended the production, which was dedicated to Felecia Gaston of Performing Stars.
On June 9, around 40 adults and youth from Marin City attended the production.
Director Jay Manley adapted the musical for Mountain Play. Two songs, “How Can Love Survive,” and “No Way To Stop It,” from the original stage musical were included in this production.
Manley also invited some  brothers from St. Peter’s Abbey, a Benedictine monastery in Salzburg, Germany, to participate in the production.  Founded in 696 AD, the abbey is one of the oldest monasteries in the German-speaking world.
“The Sound Of Music” was written by Oscar Hammerstein who wrote the lyrics while battling cancer. He died shortly after the musical opened in 1959.
The Mountain Play’s past productions were “Henry V”  (1981), “The Wizard of Oz” (1991), “Guys and Dolls” (1995, and also in 2010), “West Side Story” (1999), and “Hair” (2007).

San Leandro Holds Town Hall Meeting for Districts 1 and 2

The city will hold a Town Hall meeting Thursday, June 27, at 7 p.m. for the residents of San Leandro City Council Districts 1 and 2.
The meeting will be held in the Senior Community Center at 13909 East 14th St,  hosted by Mayor Stephen Cassidy and City Councilmembers Michael Gregory and Ursula Reed.
Topics for discussion during the meeting will include: Neighborhood Safety and Crime Prevention Initiatives; Economic Projects and Innovation Strategy; and Transportation Projects and Condition of Roads.
“Town Hall meetings are a time honored tradition in this nation for civic leaders to gather input and answer questions from the community,” said Cassidy. “The City Council, staff and I are committed to conducting Town Hall meetings for each council district.”

Curtain Call Performing Arts Leases California Conservatory Theater

Mayor Stephen Cassidy

The City of San Leandro has leased the California Conservatory Theater located at the San Leandro Civic Center to Curtain Call Performing Arts (CCPA). The lease is for five years.
“The arts are vital to a city’s quality of life and economic progress. We hope that by providing a long-term lease at almost no cost, CCPA will prosper and grow into one of the leading theater companies in the East Bay,” said Leandro Mayor Stephen Cassidy.
Curtain Call Performing Arts (www.curtaincallperformingarts.org) is led by its founding artistic director and president Andrea Gorham. The theater company was founded in June 2008 to bring Broadway-style theater to the San Francisco Bay Area and has produced award-winning shows at this San Leandro facility ever since.
The group’s vision is to ensure that performance-based arts are assessable to everyone who desires to participate or attend performances by keeping ticket prices low and class/workshop tuition affordable for the community.
“We are proud to enter into a five-year partnership with the City of San Leandro. Curtain Call is all about bringing our community together through the arts and this new partnership brings it home,” said Gorham.
For more information, call Tara Peterson at (510) 577-3432.

San Leandro Library Presents Millennial Film Series

The San Leandro Public Library, as part of its Millennial Academy, is presenting “Movies for the Latest Generation,” a film series featuring great stories about Millennials, people aged 18 to 33 years old.
The series kicks off on Saturday, June 22 with a film adaptation of Ben Mezrich’s book “The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook, A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal,” and tells the story of the social-networking phenomenon. It is arguably the definitive tale of this generation.
On Saturday, July 27, the film series take a comedic turn with the story of 23-year-old Scott Pilgrim, whose life is nearly perfect – he’s between jobs, in a rock band, and dating a cute girl.
Then Scott meets Ramona Flowers, a fashionable delivery girl, who roller blades into his life, blows his mind, and threatens his awesome world. To win her heart, he must defeat her seven evil ex-boyfriends. Can he do it without destroying his great life?
The final film in the series is about a reality TV show in which 24 teenagers, two from each of the 12 districts in the country of Panem, fight to death while all of their fellow citizens are forced to watch the brutal struggle. Will Katniss and Peeta overcome their stronger and better-prepared competitors? The film will be screened on Saturday, Aug. 17.
The Movies for the Latest Generation series has been designed for Millennials, but all adults 18 and over are welcome to attend. All series movies will be shown at the San Leandro Main Library, 300 Estudillo Ave., on the big screen in the 200+ seat theater beginning at 7 p.m. Admission is free and no tickets are required. Movie snacks and drinks will be provided.
For more information, please visit the Millennial Academy website at www.lifelonglibrary.org or call Bill Sherwood at (510) 577-7964.

San Leandro Students Produce Videos of Local Business Leaders

Cynthia Battenberg, Community Development director.

A partnership between the City of San Leandro and San Leandro Academy for Multimedia (SLAM) at San Leandro High School is broadcasting on its cable channels video profiles of local business leaders.
The videos feature Katherine Sarafian, a San Leandro High School graduate and producer of the Oscar-award winning movie “Brave;” Tracy McSheery of PhaseSpace, an innovative motion capture business; and Tim Holmes, co-owner of the highly-rated, neighborhood Zocalo Coffeehouse.
The SLAM students combined the three video profiles into one 5-minute clip, which they played at the June 3 City Council, receiving cheers from the council members and the audience.
“Great talent and skills are nurtured and developed in San Leandro,” said Mayor Stephen Cassidy. “We are excited to highlight the work of San Leandro High School students and the accomplishments of local business leaders.”
At the beginning of the school year, city staff, along with Deborah Cox and Lit San Leandro staff, met with Tony Farley and Phil Hargrove who run SLAM to discuss ideas for collaboration.
Cynthia Battenberg, the city’s Community Development director, said, “We wanted to tap into the creativity of the high school students and get their take on some of the great things happening in San Leandro. We pitched about 25 story ideas, and once the students selected their favorites, we introduced them to the leaders for interviews and information gathering.”
The videos may be viewed at the City of San Leandro website – select “San Leandro Videos” under “About the City.”
The videos will also be aired on cable channels 15 (Comcast) and 99 (AT&T) according to the following schedule: Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 3:30 a.m., 5:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday at 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at 3:30 a.m., 8:30 a.m., 4:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m., 7 p.m., 7:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m.

San Leandro Adopts Balanced Budget

The San Leandro City Council at its June 3 meeting unanimously adopted the city manager’s proposed budget for fiscal years 2013-14 and 2014-15.
The new budget, which will go into effect July 1, allocates $125 million in the first year and $127 million the second year to promote services, programs and projects.
The balanced budget is based on limited program changes and a slight increase in personnel attributed, in part, to increased economic development staffing. As in previous years’ budgets, no wage increases for city staff are included as part of the plan.
Program reductions made in past years have not, for the most part, been restored.
“For the first time in the city’s history, we are adopting a two-year budget,” said Mayor Stephen Cassidy “Moving to a Biennial Budget is important in achieving long-term fiscal stability. It’s a procedural mechanism that can have significant and positive impact in ensuring we operate in a fiscally prudent manner by adopting budgets that are balanced for two years.”
According to City Manager Chris Zapata, “The two-year budget truly highlights the City Council’s support for community partnerships by investing new money in neighborhoods, business and increased funding for our non-profits to meet urgent needs for those less fortunate.
“The structural deficit will remain a challenge in future budgets.”
Finance Director David Baum added, “The Biennial Budget begins to address unfunded liabilities for city street repair, pension and retiree medical costs. Fortunately, sales tax and other important revenues are rebounding, making it possible to meet the city’s obligations.”
For more information about budget, go to the budget section on the city’s website www.sanleandro.org.

City Manager Chris Zapata

“Nine Years Under” by Sheri Booker

By Terri Schlichenmeyer
The Bookworm Sez

Sitting around all summer would’ve been so wrong.
And that’s why you found a job that year between classes. No more parental handouts, no more wearing clothes your mom bought you, no more borrowing the car.
With your own job, you had your own money to buy your own things, maybe help out at home, or sock some away. Finding work, yep, was the right thing to do.
For then-15-year-old Sheri Booker, the savings from her very unique job went towards college. In her new memoir, “Nine Years Under,” she explains why it was a job she’d been dying to get.
Fifteen-year-old Sheri Booker felt “ignored by God.”
She didn’t realize that “hospice care was the beginning of the end,” so when her Great-Great-Aunt Mary died of cancer, Booker was surprised – and lost.
Growing up in Northeast Baltimore, she had few heroes. Aunt Mary was one of them, but Booker didn’t feel like she had “permission to mourn.”
She didn’t feel like going to church, either, but her parents insisted. It was there that Booker ran into one of the church’s deacons, Mr. Albert Wylie, who also owned one of Baltimore ’s many African-American funeral homes.
He didn’t ask her how she was handling her loss. Instead, he offered her a job.
For four hours a night, a few nights a week, Booker answered the phones and the door at Albert P. Wylie Funeral Home.
She thought it might be weird, but it wasn’t – it was interesting, and she did her work well. Soon, she was assisting with viewings and she learned her first lesson: never let clients see you cry.
But that was difficult. Witnessing the grief of families who lost someone elderly was hard enough. Wylie Funeral Home also did a brisk business with the city’s poor, the gang-bangers and drug addicts.
Still, it was a job Booker enjoyed and soon, she started doing errands for Mr. Wylie. Then she did paperwork, filing, and bookwork. Eventually, she dressed bodies and assisted as much as she legally could.
She became an honorary member of the Wylie family for nine happy years, but in work – as in life – all good things must come to an end…
Looking for something with a great plot?  Something different, delightful, but a little dark?  Then you need “Nine Years Under.”
With knowledge, a willingness to disclose, and a good amount of humor, author Sheri Booker not only shares the story of her tenure as a funeral home assistant and the duties she assumed, she also gives readers a sense of what goes on behind closed doors there.
She weaves this information – some of which is graphic – in with observations on mourners, neighbors, and the industry as a whole. I loved that Booker finds a certain amount of comedy in death and preparing for its rituals, and her musings on funerals are priceless.
This is a wonderful, wonderful book that sounds squirmy, yet is anything but. So grab “Nine Years Under” – because if you think you’ll like it, you’re dead right.
“Nine Years Under” by Sheri Booker, c.2013, Gotham Books,  $26, 272 pages.

Dr. E’leva Gibson Receives Principal of the Year Award

E’leva Gibson received the Principal of the Year Award from Mayor Ed Lee.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee recently presented Dr. E’leva Hughes Gibson with the Mayor’s Principal of the Year Award.
Established by former Mayor Gavin Newsom, the award recognizes outstanding principals in the San Francisco Unified School for their dedication, professionalism and excellence as leaders in their school and the city.
Parents, youth, educators, administrators, and other community members nominate principals for the award. This special recognition is a joint project of the mayor, the school district and United Administrators of San Francisco.
Gibson, a San Francisco native, joined the district in 2000 and is site administrator of Tule Elk Park Early Education School, one of 38 public child development centers.
Tule Elk Park is recognized for creating outdoor learning environments as an educational and recreational resource for the city’s children. This year, Gibson worked with her staff, parents and community members to raise over $50,000 to sustain the eco-literacy program.
“We were one of the first public schools in San Francisco to implement the eco-literacy program,” said Gibson.
The school is celebrating its 20th anniversary of having transformed the schoolyard into Tule Elk Park, formerly Yerba Buena Garden.
“We want children to have a global perspective, and the park lends itself to be a landscape where children can inquire, investigate and figure out ways to sustain the environment,” Gibson said.
The school worked with the Plant Café in San Francisco to use herbs from the school garden and promote early literacy.
“It’s not about me, but it is through collective efforts that we produce equitable opportunities and a quality education for children,” Gibson said. “I am just doing my part to serve others. It is an ancestral obligation.”

USF Tops List of Best Colleges for Minorities

USF was recognized by Diverse: Issues in Higher Education for its high graduation rate for minority students. Courtesy of USF news.

By Monica
Villavicencio,
USF Communications

The University of San Francisco is the number one college for minority students, according to “Diverse: Issues in Higher Education.”
USF topped the online magazine’s May 27 list of 30 best non-Historically Black Colleges and Universities for minorities because of its diverse student body and high minority graduation rate.
“With a 40 percent minority population, the graduation rates for all demographics are impressive. The school graduates 74 percent of Hispanic students, 51 percent of Black students, 71 percent of Asian and Pacific Islander students, and 61 percent of White students.”
USF President Stephen A. Privett, S.J., says a number of factors help minority students succeed at USF, particularly the strong relationships they build with faculty, advisors at the Center for Academic and Student Achievement, and each other. “Because our student population is so diverse, they find a support system in each other. They can see success stories in each other,” he said.
U.S. News and World Report also recognizes USF as one of the country’s most diverse colleges, ranking its undergraduate population eighth in 2013. U.S. News also cited USF as one of the “top over performing schools” for graduating Pell grant recipients. The Pell grant program gives federal financial assistance to students whose families earn less than $20,000 per year.

S.F. African American Chamber Commemorates Juneteenth, Post News Group’s 50th Anniversary

Post News Group’s owners and publishers Gay Plair Cobb and Paul Cobb.

Carol H. Williams

The San Francisco African American Chamber of Commerce is hosting its Juneteenth Business Awards Luncheon at the San Francisco Marriott Marquis Hotel, Wednesday, June 19 at noon to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 50th Anniversary of the Post News Group,
The chamber will honor community leaders and descendants of great African Americans along with featured keynote speaker Carol H. Williams of Carol H. Williams Advertising and mistress of ceremonies, celebrity chef and KBLX radio personality Nikki Shaw.
Among those who are being recognized are the Post News Group’s owners and publishers Gay Plair Cobb and Paul Cobb, who will receive the chamber’s Outstanding African American Business Award for their excellence in media and community advocacy.
Others are trailblazers and community leaders, culture keeper Dr. Wade Nobles, educator Louise C. Jones, small business advocate Virginia Harmon, community advocate Dr. Caesar Churchwell, housing advocate Cathy Davis and the Morongo Band of Mission Indians.
The local descendants of great leaders include Booker T. Washington, Nat Turner, Frederick Douglass, John Lewis, Dr. Charles Drew, Richard Harvey Cain, and the co-founders of Allensworth, California. James and Alice Hackett are featured as legacy honorees in the community.
“Without the extraordinary efforts of our Banking Committee Chair,  (the chamber) board Vice President Matt Thomas of World Connect, we would not have the support of so many corporate sponsors including presenting sponsor Wells Fargo along with US Bank, Union Bank, First Republic, Chase, Bank of America and Comerica and others,” said Juneteenth Luncheon Chair Carla Thomas.
As an added feature, Wells Fargo will feature a Kinsey Art Collection video presentation along with a West Coast debut of Uptown Magazine.
For more information and to purchase tickets and tables for the Juneteenth Business Awards Luncheon, visit www.SFAACC.org or call (415) 749-6400.

Ronald Cortez Named VP for Administration and Finance at SF State

Ronald Cortez

Ronald Cortez has been appointed vice president for Administration and Finance and Chief Financial Officer at San Francisco State University, bringing more than two decades of public sector administrative and financial experience to the university.
Cortez currently serves as the associate vice chancellor for administrative services at UC Santa Barbara, a position he has held since 2008. He previously worked for 14 years for Santa Barbara County, the last three as deputy county executive officer.
“Today’s universities face a number of challenging opportunities and must sustain a complex set of relationships to many constituents,” said President Leslie Wong. “Mr. Cortez brings a skill set that will ensure San Francisco State University’s relationship to our students and the citizens of California, as well as enhance the University’s participation in the very strong local economy.”
He will begin his tenure at SF State on July 2, taking over from Nancy Hayes, who in 2011 was appointed to the position on an interim basis after serving as dean of the College of Business for six years.
In recognition for her service to the university, Hayes was awarded the President’s Medal at SF State’s 112th Commencement exercises on May 25.
“The university will be able to transition from an exceptional leader in Nancy Hayes to another exceptional leader in Ron Cortez without missing a heartbeat,” said Wong.
At UC Santa Barbara, Cortez directed the implementation of a new financial, e-procurement, timekeeping and payroll system. He led negotiations on behalf of the university with the County of Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department and Fire Department, providing police, fire and paramedic services for the campus’ long-range development plan.
Cortez was also awarded a statewide award for higher education-local government collaboration in the area of sustainability. Under his leadership, UC Santa Barbara’s risk management and liability program was named the best in the ten-campus UC system for four consecutive years.
As the university’s vice president for administration and finance and chief financial officer, Cortez will oversee a budget of approximately $450 million and provide strategic and operational direction for the University’s nine business departments.
Cortez earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from San Jose State University, a master’s degree in public administration from Northern Michigan University, a master’s degree in organizational management from Fielding University and a law degree from Santa Barbara College of Law.

Efforts to Save Oldest Black-owned Marcus Books Store in San Francisco

Marcus Books Store at 1712 Fillmore St. in San Francisco.

Ed Donaldson

Karen Johnson

By Tasion Kwamilele
and Lee Hubbard

Marcus Books, the oldest Black-owned bookstore in the country and housed in the same San Francisco location for the past 43 years, may be forced to shut down  as early as next week if an agreement to rebuy the property cannot be reached with the new owners.
Marcus Books is scheduled to close next week unless property investors agree to sell the building back to the bookstore owners, who lost the property in a bankruptcy proceeding in 2009.
Julian Davis, attorney for the Greg and Karen Johnson, who operate Marcus Books, says the bookstore owners fell victim to a predatory loan, and when  monthly payments grew to nearly $10,000 a month, they were unable to pay.
At a press conference last Monday, members of San Francisco’s Black community backed the Johnson family’s fight to keep the store at its Fillmore Street location and head off the June 18 eviction.
“There have been 4,000 foreclosures in San Francisco in the last five years, which have deeply impacted the Black community,” according to Ed Donaldson, chairman of the San Francisco Home Defenders League, which fights to keep  people from losing their homes.
“We need to keep Marcus Books open and fight this eviction, because it is a historical and cultural institution that speaks to our existence in San Francisco,” he said.
West Side Community Services, which has partnered with Marcus Bookstores for years, has offered to purchase the property back from the investors for $1.64 million – more than what the Sweis family paid. But Davis, Marcus Books attorney, says the investors have rejected the offer.
“We’ve made a very good offer, in excess of the purchase price,” said Dr. Mary Ann Jones, Chief Executive Officer of Westside. “We hope that (they) will accept it and that they understand what an immeasurable loss it would be if Marcus Books is forced out.”
“People came out to support us because everyone is tired of being pushed around in the Black community,” said Karen Johnson, Marcus Books owner. “I want the new owners to get their money back and get paid beyond what they paid for and invest in something else. I want our business to continue at the same location.”
The Johnson family remains committed to keeping the bookstore open. “The worse case scenario is that they are going to be displaced, … but they want people to know they will find a way to continue,” Davis said.
S. Seth Karshaw of Last & Faoro,  which represents the new owners, was contacted by the Post but refused to comment.
The Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) is encouraging people to call (415) 335-7033 or email SanFrancisco@calorganize.org to support Marcus Books. An online petition has also been started at www.change.org

War on Poverty Still Only Partly Won

By Jesse
Jackson

Fifty years ago this week, Medgar Evers, the NAACP regional secretary in Mississippi, was murdered by a member of the White Citizens’ Council. Evers’ death received national attention, serving only to strengthen the movement for civil rights.
Two years later, President Lyndon Johnson delivered a historic commencement address at Howard University, laying out progress made and challenges unmet.
Johnson praised the “indomitable determination” of African Americans demanding their freedom. He hailed the Supreme Court for outlawing segregation, as well as Congress for passing the first civil rights legislation in 100 years.
The barriers to freedom are tumbling down, but “freedom is not enough,” he told the graduates. “You do not wipe away the scars of centuries by saying, ‘Now you are free to go where you want.’ . . . You do not take a person who, for years, has been hobbled by chains and bring him to the starting line of a race and then say, ‘You are free to compete with all the others.’”
“It is not enough just to open the gates of opportunity,” the president said. “All our citizens must have the ability to walk through those gates.” This, Johnson concluded, was “the next and more profound stage of the battle for civil rights. We seek not just legal equity but human ability; not just equality as a right and a theory, but equality as a fact and equality as a result.”
Johnson understood that ability can be “stretched or stunted” by the accident of birth — the family you are born into, the neighborhood you live in, the school you attend, the poverty or luxury of your surroundings. He noted the progress that had been made in the building of an African-American middle class. But for “the great majority of Negro Americans,” he said, “there is a much grimmer story. They still . . . are another nation.”
Johnson listed some of the “facts of this American failure.” What is stunning is how little progress has been made since.
Negro unemployment was twice as high as that of whites in 1965. It is twice as high as whites today.
Unemployment for African-American teenage boys had grown to 23 percent in 1965. Unemployment for black teenagers of both sexes is 42.6 percent today.
The median income of African-American families had dropped to 53 percent that of whites in 1965. It was 63 percent in 2011.
Johnson argued that while the causes of this disparity are complex, “we have to act.” He pushed for a war on poverty, for jobs, “decent homes in decent surroundings” and “an equal chance to learn.” Care for the sick, welfare and social programs “designed to hold families together are part of the answer.”
Sadly, Johnson’s war on poverty was lost in the forests of Vietnam. Tired of war, cynical about lies, weary of upheaval, Americans were said to suffer “compassion fatigue.”
No president has sounded the call since. The barriers Johnson vowed to shatter have remained. And even as African Americans discovered the ladders to the middle class were disappearing, middle-class Americans of all races found themselves starting to lose their own footing.
Five decades later, legal segregation is behind us. Medgar Evers would be pleased to see African Americans admitted to the University of Mississippi. African Americans voted in higher percentages than whites in 2012 for the first time ever.
But the work of what Johnson called “the next and more profound stage of the battle for civil rights” — equal economic opportunity — remains to be done.

“Business Plans Made Easy” at Contra Costa College

Contra Costa College will host a class,  Business Plans Made Easy, which begins Thursday June 27, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., at the college, 2600 Mission Bell Drive in San Pablo.
The four-session business-writing course is designed to help entrepreneurs and those who wish to become entrepreneurs. The course focuses on creating an “intelligent business model through intelligent business planning.”