Florida Democrats Have a Chance to Make History: Five Things You Need to Know

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At noon tomorrow, Saturday, January 9, 2021, the Florida Democratic Party will elect a state chair and other officers.

1. A Democrat has not been elected governor of Florida in almost three decades, and the result of the 2020 general election was the most embarrassing losses in recent history. The Democrats lost two congressional seats, lost three seats, and two open seats in the Florida Legislature, lost the presidential race by 375,000 votes, and possibly permanently removed Florida from the “swing state” category to red.

2. As expected, current State Chair Terrie Rizzo bore the brunt of the blame and did not seek re-election. Six individuals declared their candidacy for State Chair — former City of Miami Mayor Manny Diaz; DNC (Democratic National Committee) member Nikki Barnes; Environmental Caucus Chair Dr. Janelle Christensen; former State Representative and Alachua County Party Chair Dr. Cynthia Moore Chestnut; Orange County Party Chair Wes Hodge; and Hillsborough County Party Chair Ione Townsend.

The candidates have participated in a series of forums and interviews. The online conversations between party faithful and supporters have been fast, furious, eye-opening, and informative. The chair is just one of the offices to be determined. There must also be a vote on the first vice-chair, secretary, treasurer, and DNC members.

3. Because of a gender-balance requirement in the organization’s arcane by-laws, the chair and vice-chair must be of the opposite gender, as is the same for the secretary and treasurer. That requirement also adds an interesting element to campaigning and political wheeling and dealing. It also helps to understand why some endorsers who are also candidates line-up on certain teams.

4. As of this writing, Nikki Barnes, Wes Hodge, and Dr. Janelle Christensen have suspended their campaigns. All three have endorsed Dr. Chestnut.

5. If elected, Dr. Cynthia Moore Chestnut could make history as the first Black person elected to lead the Florida Democratic Party. Being the first is not new to her. Dr. Chestnut is the first Black woman elected to the Gainesville City Commission; the first Black woman elected Mayor-Commissioner of Gainesville, the first Black woman elected to the Florida House of Representatives from Alachua, Marion, and Putnam counties, and the first Black woman elected to the Alachua County Commission.

Dr. Chestnut, a Tallahassee native, is well-known throughout the state of Florida. She is a graduate of Florida A&M University, Florida State University, and Nova Southeastern University. She is also a member of The Links, Incorporated and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.

She is a life-long Democrat and proven leader who is uplifting but doesn't tell you what you want to hear just to get your support, and genuinely welcomes everyone to the “Big Tent” the Democrats like to brag about.

Dr. Cynthia Moore Chestnut embodies the “magic” that so many outside our community seem to have just discovered, but we see every day. The nation has seen it in Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and Stacey Abrams. Democrats can win again if it returns to its grassroots and listens to the voters. Tomorrow’s Florida Democratic Party election will determine the political trajectory of Florida. Stay tuned for the results.

 

 

 


2020 Annual Kwanzaa Theme

Each year, the theme for Kwanzaa is posted on the Official Kwanzaa Website which can be found here: https://officialkwanzaawebsite.org/index.html. The website is also replete with information on the history of Kwanzaa, the meaning and significance of its symbols and principles, as well as other valuable information. The Official Kwanzaa Website should be your first stop for all things Kwanzaa. 

This year’s very appropriate theme is “Kwanzaa and the Well-Being of the World: Living and Uplifting the Seven Principles”.

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What You Need to Know to Celebrate Kwanzaa

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This week we celebrate Kwanzaa. It was created in 1966 and is celebrated each year from December 26 - January 1. Kwanzaa (notice the extra ‘a’) means “first fruits”. 

 

Kwanzaa pays homage to harvest festivals  and was designed to unite and uplift the Black community. It is not anti-Christmas, as a matter of fact, Kwanzaa is non-religious and non-political. Families and friends gather each day of the week of Kwanzaa to celebrate one of the seven Principles of Kwanzaa (Nguzo Saba). 

 

Gather all of the Kwanzaa symbols and other items needed for the next seven days.

Symbols of Kwanzaa:

+ Kinara (candleholder)

+ Mkeka (mat)

+ Mishumaa saba (7 candles: (1) black, (3) red, and (3) green)

+ Kikombe cha umoja (unity cup)

+ Muhindi (ears of corn) or vibunzi - one ear of corn

+ Mazao (crops)

+ Zawadi (gifts)

 

There are two optional symbols:

+ Bandera Ya Taifa (red, black and green flag)

+ Poster of the Nguzo Saba (seven principles)

 

These items are not symbols but you will need them also:

+ Lighter or portable flame to light the candles

+ Water or other beverage for libations and the unity cup

+ Extra candles, especially the black candle. 

+ Table covering 

 

Do not feel compelled to have all of these items in order to celebrate Kwanzaa. Be creative. If you do not have a kinara, then create your own. Use your imagination. when my alumni association chapter started celebrating Kwanzaa in 1989 in Miami, we used drawings of the Kwanzaa symbols. Do not allow anything to prevent the education and uplift of our people. Where there’s a will there’s a way.


Christmas 2020: The Year We Will Never Forget

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On this beautiful and chilly day in South Florida, we give thanks for another day of life, strength and health. Inarguably, 2020 has been a year that we will not forget. Our lives have been disrupted. Many have experienced job loss, food insecurity, and homelessness. Most devastating of all has been the loss of lives.

As horrible as this year has been, it has reminded many of us of the power of our right to vote and actively engage in our community. This year has reminded us that material things are nice but there is nothing more valuable than the love of family and friends. We have been forced to pivot and call on the creative and entrepreneurial spirit our ancestors used to survive challenging times. We will be alright.

On this day, let's remember the reason for the season. Let's celebrate the birth of Jesus and always be mindful of God’s love for each and every one of us. As we continue to adjust to the impact of COVID-19, let us never forget God’s Grace. Let us remain hopeful and helpful in His name.

Merry Christmas to You and Yours!

Happy Birthday, Jesus Christ!

 

 


High Marks for Gallon’s “Light Found in the Dark”

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Raw, gritty, powerful, and unapologetic,” were the words used by DeAnne Connolly Graham to describe the film. She was among the over 100 attendees for the advanced screening of “Light Found in the Dark: The Life Story of Dr. Steve Gallon III”, a new documentary capturing the life story of School Board Vice-Chair and lifelong educator Dr. Steve Gallon III. The advanced screening was held on Saturday, December 5, 2020 at the Historic Ward Rooming House and hosted by the Point Comfort Art Fair and Show, along with the Southeast Overtown/Park West CRA. Gallon, who has served as a teacher, principal, district administrator, and Superintendent of Schools before being elected as School Board Member for District 1, teamed up with local artists Arvis Lawson and James ‘Munch” Mungin II on the project as Executive Producer with Lawson serving as Director and Mungin as Producer.

 

“Yes, this is an art gallery focused on art, specifically Black art,” said Christopher Norwood, organizer of the Point Comfort Art Fair and Show who reached out to Gallon and his team about featuring the film. “Tonight, Dr. Gallon, Arvis, and James are artists. They are using Dr. Gallon’s life as a canvas, a work of art, to educate, enlighten, and inspire,” he said as he gave opening remarks before presenting the film.

 

Light Found in the Dark focuses on the life of renowned educator, Dr. Steve Gallon III, who rose from the streets of Miami’s Liberty City to become a teacher, principal, Superintendent, and now the Vice Chair of the Miami-Dade County School Board, the nation’s 4th largest school district. Part 1 of the three part documentary examined and explored Gallon’s deeply personal, often problematic, and even painful period growing up in Liberty City. The 1980’s Liberty City riots, the deaths of childhood friends and even the senseless killing of a popular Miami-Dade County Schools teacher by a childhood associate provided grim context and setting during Gallon’s formative years. The film uses Gallon’s real life in framing the narrative and struggle of young Black males decades ago and even today, and their continued struggle, no matter their place in today’s society, to avoid pitfalls which too often lead to prison, poverty, or an early death.

 

Miami-Dade County Public Schools teacher and Liberty City native and activist Amber Hayward took to Facebook to give kudos to the production. “Goosebumps all night! Talking about an event that left you feeling amazing,” she said. “I felt so proud to be a product of Liberty City. I was so proud because Dr. Steve Gallon told his story, so many of our stories, and he made us feel good.”

 

Among the attendees with one of Gallon’s older brothers who was highlighted in the film and served time in prison, was another person featured in the film, who Gallon expressed strong respect and adoration for, and who was the “brother” from another mother. Leon, who Gallon recognized in the audience, served 25 years in federal prison and was released in 2012 to join him and his family when Gallon buried his late mother, Virginia. “It was a tale of two criminal justice systems---two different outcomes for essentially the same charge. My brother pleaded guilty and served 5 years. Leon went to trial and was sentenced to 30 years and served 25. The system essentially punishes you more harshly for fighting…for challenging it,” Gallon shared with the audience during the Q & A with him, Lawson, and Mungin which was moderated by Norwood.

 

“Gallon’s life story and journey reflect yet another iteration in the narratives told by Claude Brown in Manchild in the Promise Land and Nathan McCall in Makes Me Wanna Holler,” said Norwood and we are proud that the film was debuted at the Point Comfort Art Fair and Show right here in Overtown.

 

The evening included a live performance by local HipHop/Rap artist Gemhe Real, who performed his original song “Tunnel Vision” which served as the film’s lead soundtrack. Gemhe Real is a former student of Gallon’s at Miami Northwestern where Gallon served as principal. Real shared the impact that his former principal had on his life. “Dr. Gallon saved lives” said Real. “I know because he saved mine and never gave up on me. I am blessed to be up here reppinOvertown, the West, and this film and Doc’s life and message through my music.

 

The next screening is planned for February 2021.

 

View the film’s trailer at https://youtu.be/jxTRh1VQiec

 

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Dr. Steve Gallon III, James “Munch” Mungin II, and Arvis Lawson


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Photos:   Dennis Manuel

 


Thankful in 2020

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Inarguably, 2020 has been a year of many changes and challenges. If you have been paying attention, as have many of us, you are just grateful to be alive. Almost 270,000 Americans are not due to COVID-19. More than 12 million Americans have been infected and our lives disrupted. We are resilient. We are grateful. Our movement, for many, has been restricted and our means of communication has changed. We fired Donald Trump. He and most of his minions will be out of The People’s House and we look forward to 2021. Our local elections resulted in the first female mayor or Miami-Dade County but exposed and poured salt on wounds that required our attention for healing.

We are thankful for each subscriber, reader and follower. We will use our platforms to elevate and educate. We will not, however, hesitate to call folks out, when necessary. The fierce urgency of now, still exists, so let’s commit to making our community better. Life is precious. Please be safe. Cherish your family and friends. We love you and there’s nothing you can do about it.


City of Opa-locka Announces Housing Assistance and Grocery Store Gift Card Program Information

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(Opa-locka, FL)  —  The City of Opa-locka recently announced that its Housing Assistance Program and COVID Relief Grocery Gift Card Program are now available for qualified City of Opa-locka residents. Both programs will assist City of Opa-locka residents in need during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The COVID-19 state of emergency brought about economic hardships to residents and businesses. In response, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), signed into law, March 2020. Funding is granted through the Florida Coronavirus Relief Fund, which was created as a provision of the CARES Act. On July 21, 2020, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A.  Gimenez and the Board of County Commissioners approved $10 million to be used in aiding landlords who have not received payments since the COVID-19 outbreak began. The following includes two City of Opa-locka programs funded by the CARES Act.

 

Proposed City of Opa-locka Housing Assistance Program

The City has been awarded $2.1 million to assist residents of Opa-locka with arrears payments for mortgage and/or rent. The proposed Housing Assistance Program (HAP) will assist homeowners and tenants with up to six (6) months or $6,000 maximum and will be paid directly to the mortgage company or owner of the rental property.  

 

Eligibility Requirements

  • Reside within City of Opa-locka boundaries

  • Show proof of identification with primary address of residence 

  • Proof of household income at or below 140% of Area Median Income (AMI) for Miami-Dade County

  • Submit proof of loss/reduction of income due to COVID-19

  • Submit proof of mortgage/rental payment up to February 2020

  • Must not have received mortgage/rental assistance from any other source for same period covered by HAP award

 

Documentation Requirements

  1. State Picture Identification matching lease address (utility bill with applicant’s name and address if ID does not match) 

  2. Social Security Card of applicant

  3. Current Income 

  • Layoff or Furlough Notice

  • Evidence of loss of wages (bank statements, paycheck records}

  1. Mortgage

  • Paid mortgage statement as of February 2020

  • Current statement showing arrears

  • Payment instructions for mortgage holder

  1. Rental

  • Signed current lease

  • Receipt showing rent was current as of February 2020

  • Contact information for landlord

 

Proposed COVID Relief Grocery Gift Card Program

Residents of the City of Opa-locka who have been adversely affected by the state of emergency imposed as a result of COVID-19 may be eligible to apply for assistance through the Grocery Gift Card Program. Residents may apply for a grocery gift card in the amount of $250.00, while supplies last and limited to one gift card per household. 

 

Eligibility Requirements

  • Reside within City of Opa-locka boundaries (photo ID required)

  • Must be at least 18 years of age

  • Must have faced financial hardship, due to COVID-10 

  • Submit notarized affidavit attesting to residency and financial hardship. Affidavit will be provided on line

  • Application will be available online 

  • Gift cards will be distributed at two locations – Segal Park and Sherbondy Park

 

Logistics

  1. How to Apply

    • The Housing Assistance application will be available on the City of Opa-locka’s website as well as www.miamidadecovidrelief.org. The customer will need to upload all required documents. 

    • In-Person at the following Park & Facilities locations:

Segal Park, 2331 NW 143 Street, Opa-locka FL, 305.953.3092

Sherbondy Park, 380 Bahman Street, Opa-locka FL, 305.953.2875

  • Customers appearing at the above sites will be assisted with applying online and uploading required documents using computers onsite. 

Mon, Tues, Wed – 9am – 3pm; Thursday – 2pm – 7pm; Saturday TBD 

The COVID Relief Grocery Gift Card application will be available on the City of Opa-locka’s website. Residents will need to print the and complete the application and bring, along with required documents, to Segal Park, 2331 NW 143 Street, Opa-locka FL, 305.953.3092 or Sherbondy Park, 380 Bahman Street, Opa-locka FL, 305.953.2875. Applications will, also, be available at the sites. Notarized affidavit must be submitted at time of application. 


The Fisk Jubilee Singers® Album, Celebrating Fisk! (The 150th Anniversary Album), Nominated for GRAMMY® Award in Best Roots Gospel Album Category

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Nashville, TN — Curb Records is excited to announce the much-deserved GRAMMY® nomination of its June 2020 release of the Fisk Jubilee Singers® album, Celebrating Fisk! (The 150th Anniversary Album) in the Best Roots Gospel Album category. Listen to the album HERE.

“I had many great experiences today, including the news of the Fisk Jubilee Singers’® GRAMMY® Nomination. This is VERY EXCITING!!!,” shares Dr. Paul Kwami, Musical Director of the Fisk Jubilee Singers® and Album Co-Producer. “It is the result of hard and diligent work put together by many great minds. As the Fisk Jubilee Singers® prepare to celebrate their 150th anniversary in 2021, this nomination gives us much inspiration to celebrate the anniversary in a grand way. This GRAMMY® nomination is a great honor for the Fisk Jubilee Singers® and me, and for this I am very grateful to everyone for their tremendous contributions.”

The album, which is more than 150 years in the making, is a collection of 12 songs that beautifully represents and communicates the powerful and vibrant history of Fisk University, Fisk Jubilee Singers®, and the city of Nashville. It features the group from the stage of Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium, with guest appearances by Ruby Amanfu, Keb’ Mo’, Lee Ann Womack, The Fairfield Four, Rod McGaha, Derek Minor, Shannon Sanders, Rodney Atkins, Jimmy Hall and CeCe Winans.

“I am proud to be a part of this historic moment,” shares Shannon Sanders, Album Co-Producer. “I am beyond excited for the Fisk Jubilee Singers®, Dr. Paul T. Kwami, and Fisk University. I am grateful to Mike Curb, the team at Curb Records and all of their affiliates for their incredible belief and support. This is a big day for Music City.”

Mike Curb, Chairman of Curb Records, also shares, “We’ve worked for many years with the Fisk Jubilee Singers and we are very excited that they have such an important GRAMMY® nomination at this time.”

For more information, visit fisk.edu.

Track-listing:

  1. Wade In The Water
  2. Blessed Assurance (feat. CeCe Winans)
  3. I Believe (feat. Keb’ Mo’)
  4. Everybody Ought To Treat A Stranger Right (feat. Lee Ann Womack)
  5. Rock My Soul (feat. The Fairfield Four)
  6. I Want Jesus To Walk With Me (feat. Ruby Amanfu)
  7. When The Saints Go Marching In (feat. Rod McGaha)
  8. ‘Way Over In Egypt Land
  9. Glory / Stranger (feat. Derek Minor & Shannon Sanders)
  10. Working On A Building (feat. Rodney Atkins)
  11. My Lord Is So High
  12. I Saw The Light (feat. Jimmy Hall)

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Photo: Bill Steber

 


City of Opa-locka Hosts Swearing-In Ceremony for Newly-Elected Commission Members

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Clockwise, from top left, City of Opa-locka Mayor Matthew Pigatt; former Judge Shirlyon McWhorter swears in Vice Mayor Veronica Williams; former City of Opa-locka Mayor Dr. ML Taylor swears in son John Taylor Jr.; and  City of Opa-locka Commission, from left, Commissioner Chris Davis, Vice Mayor Veronica Williams, Mayor Matthew Pigatt, Commissioner Alvin Burke, and Commissioner John Taylor Jr.

 

(OPA-LOCKA, FL)  —  The City of Opa-locka hosted a Swearing-In Ceremony for the newly-elected Commission Members Vice Mayor Veronica Williams and Commissioner John Taylor Jr. on Thursday, November 19, at the Sherbondy Village Community Center. 

City of Opa-locka Mayor Matthew Pigatt served as the Master of Ceremony which began with an invocation from Rev. Dr. Ranzer A. Thomas, Sr., Senior and Founding Pastor of New Generation Missionary Baptist Church. Rev. Dr. Kay Williams-Dawson, Senior Pastor at Cathedral of Praise, introduced newly-elected Vice Mayor Williams. The Honorable Judge Shirlyon J. McWhorter, former Miami-Dade County Circuit Judge, swore in newly-elected Vice Mayor Williams.

Next, newly-elected Commissioner Taylor was introduced by his wife Monica Taylor. Dr. M.L. Taylor, former Mayor of the City of Opa-locka and her husband Bishop John Taylor then swore in their son, newly-elected Commissioner Taylor. Other program participants included: John E. Pate, City Manager; Commissioner Chris Davis; and Commissioner Alvin Burke.

“I believe that now more than ever we needed more leaders that will talk less, listen more, and work together for the community and the citizens that we were selected and elected to serve. So, time’s out for secret agendas, time’s out for cliques, time’s out for ununified behaviors. We were elected by the people to support the people,” said Commissioner Taylor. “Let me fight for you and be your advocate. To the 1,600 plus people that reside within the walls of the great City of Opa-locka, I stand here for you and because of you.”

“Service for people has always been at the forefront of everything I do. I follow the footsteps of many trailblazing African-American women in politics in Miami. To the many black and brown women stepping up to the plate to shape our communities and our country⎯⎯this is why I decided to be the change agent that I wanted to see in my community,” said Vice Mayor Williams. “I am ready to work with everyone to form a new vision to create a new and better reputation for the City of Opa-locka because I am Opa-locka!”

To view the event, visit: City of Opa-locka’s Facebook page


Photos: Gregory F. Reed

 

 


CHI Closures Linked to Tropical Storm Eta

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Community Health of South Florida, Inc. (CHI) is closing most of its health centers and services on Monday Nov. 9, 2020 due to Tropical Storm Eta. There will be no COVID-19 testing on that date.

 

However limited services will remain open on Nov. 9, 2020 at the Doris Ison Health Center 10300 SW 216 St. Miami, FL 33190 including:

 

WALK IN SERVICES OPEN 8AM-3PM

URGENT CARE OPEN 3PM-10PM

LABORATORY OPEN 8:30AM-10:30AM

PHARMACY OPEN 10AM-4PM

CRISIS STABALIZATION UNIT OPEN 24 HOURS

 


Miami-Dade County, It's Election Day! Let's get out and vote! [RECOMMENDATIONS]

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It's finally here! It's Election Day! From the presidential race to other races on the federal, state and local level, TODAY is our LAST DAY to voice our choices in this election cycle. Every election is important and every vote counts. This year is truly important as our country has definitely gone in the wrong direction  over the last almost four years. 

Please refer to our recommendations and make sure you vote for people who will represent you. Even if the candidate you support is not victorious, it's crucial to hold the people who are elected accountable. Check out an excerpt from The Bakari Sellers Podcast. It was a conversation between Sellers, Angela Rye and Andrew Gillum. A few choice adult words are used so consider yourself warned. The bottomline is we, as voters, have a responsibility to make sure our elected officials are representing us and not just themselves.  

 

Some folks are apprehensive about the aftermath of the election if Trump loses. He has signaled to White nationalist organizations to be disruptive and violent so we need to be aware but not fearful. The polls will close at 7 p.m. tonight. Get out and vote. Our lives truly depend on it.

BBM 2020 General Election Ballot Breakdown