Wilson to Host Higher Education and Workforce Investment Subcommittee Hearing on the Future of Higher Education Post-COVID

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Washington, D.C. – Today, at 1 p.m. ET, Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson will lead her first hearing as chair of the Education and Labor Committee’s Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Investment. The theme is Rising to the Challenge: The Future of Higher Education.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted significant inequities in higher education and placed an enormous strain on universities and colleges and their students. The abrupt shift to remote learning has exacerbated barriers that make it difficult to successfully attend and graduate from college, particularly for low-income students and students of color who depend more heavily on the on-campus services they no longer had access to, including food and housing. While all students have been impacted by the pandemic, the biggest enrollment declines have occurred among black undergraduates and low-income students. Alarmingly, students who do not complete their educations have considerably higher levels of loan default. There is also evidence that the shift to online learning has compounded existing racial achievement gaps.

“The three relief packages passed by Congress invests more than $75 billion to help institutions and students avert crises, but we must do much more to ensure that underserved students are not left behind as the nation recovers from the pandemic,” says Congresswoman Wilson. “Bold steps will be required to strengthen student protections and expand access to student aid so that we build back a better higher education system for everyone. This hearing will explore how we can begin to achieve those goals.”

To watch the hearing, click here.

 


Follow the Money: School Board Vice-Chair Dr. Steve Gallon Proposes Item to Address the Receipt, Plan and Accountability for the District’s Nearly $1.1 Billion from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021

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At today’s Miami-Dade County School Board Meeting, Vice-Chair Dr. Steve Gallon III will propose an agenda item regarding the almost $1.1 billion the school district receives from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

On March 11, 2021, President Joe Biden signed into law The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill passed by the 117th United States Congress. It intends to speed up the United States’ recovery from the economic and health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing recession, which developed as a consequence. First proposed on January 14, 2021, the package builds upon many of the measures in the CARES Act from March 2020 and in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 from December 2020. 

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 provides $1,400 direct payments to individuals making up to $75,000 annually, $350 billion in aid to state and local governments, and $14 billion for vaccine distribution. It also provides $130 billion to elementary, middle, and high schools to assist with safe reopening, with Florida slated to receive approximately $7.4 billion. Miami-Dade County Public Schools, the state’s largest school district and having the highest proportion of economically disadvantaged students, is estimated to receive $1.1 billion. The bill will also directly impact local students and families through individual relief measures, including child tax credits that are projected to reduce child poverty substantially. 

With the infusion of these funds, the District will enhance its capacity to mitigate and address the adverse impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on its students and their learning for over a year, with studies anticipating that learning loss will be more significant among low-income, Black, and Hispanic students---a demographic highly concentrated in Miami-Dade County Public Schools and whose anticipated academic, social, and emotional needs exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic in large part and generated the unprecedented amount of federal funds.

Gallon’s proposal also directs the Superintendent to schedule a Board Workshop to discuss and review the allocation and allowable use of these funds, as well as,  review the prior allocation, expenditure, and planned use for remaining funds allocated to the District through the CARES Act from March 2020 and in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 from December 2020; and establish a system and structure for quarterly reporting of all funds expended through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 and make available for easy public access and review on the District’s website.

“This will ensure that the Board provides increased focus, transparency, and accountability as well as an opportunity for the public to be informed about and serve witness to the School Board’s policy, practices, and procurement decision-making processes involving nearly $1.1 billion that have been allocated to enhance and uplift the learning and lives of our students---especially those facing the greatest challenges and with the greatest needs,” said Dr. Gallon.

To read the full item, click here: 

http://schoolboard.dadeschools.net/documents/agenda/h17.pdf


Miami-Biscayne Bay Links Host Virtual Celebration of Local Political Trailblazers in Recognition of Women’s History Month

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Miami, FL — Last year was a milestone as it was the centennial celebration of women attaining the right to vote. Black women, however, would not enjoy that right until 1965. Since that time, Black women have made tremendous strides in the political arena as evidenced by the historic election of Kamala Harris to the office of Vice President of the United States. In recognition of Women’s History Month, the Miami-Biscayne Bay Chapter of The Links, Incorporated will honor local women political leaders and trailblazers via a virtual conversation, “Celebrating South Florida’s Game ChangHERS: Creating a Seat at the Table!” The event is scheduled for 6:30 PM-8:00 PM ET, Wednesday, March 24, 2021, and will be broadcast on Facebook Live and Zoom.

The conversation will be moderated by Audrey M. Edmonson, Former Miami-Dade County Commissioner and a charter member of the Miami-Biscayne Bay Chapter of The Links, Incorporated. She will sit down with local elected women leaders and trailblazers to discuss their path to success, what inspires them, and advice for others who choose to follow in their footsteps.

Special guests for this inaugural conversation are: 

  • Daniella Levine Cava, first female Mayor of Miami-Dade County;
  • Danielle Cohen Higgins, Commissioner, Board of County Commissioners, District 8; and
  • Julie Harris Nelson, Judge, Miami-Dade County Court, Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida.

“We are delighted to celebrate current local women political leaders and to pay homage to the courageous Black women who paved the way,” said Miami-Biscayne Bay Chapter President Georgia H. McLean. In the spirit of Women’s History Month and as Vice President Harris has expressed many times, it is important to be the first but not the last.”

“Celebrating South Florida’s Game ChangHERS: Creating a Seat at the Table!” is scheduled for 6:30 PM-8:00 PM ET, Wednesday, March 24, 2021, and will be broadcast on Facebook Live and Zoom. Click https://bit.ly/3pEFRiQ to register in advance.


Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo to Lead City of Miami Police Department

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Today, the City of Miami is expected to announce Houston police chief Hubert Arturo “Art” Acevedo as Miami’s next police chief. 

Acevedo, 56, was born in Havana, Cuba. His family emigrated to the United States in 1968, when Acevedo was four years old. He grew up in California and received his bachelor's degree in public administration from the University of La Verne. 

Acevedo began his law enforcement career with the California Highway Patrol in 1986 as a field patrol officer in East Los Angeles. He rose through the ranks and was named Chief of the California Highway Patrol in 2005. From July 2007  through December 2016, he served as Chief of Police for the Austin, Texas Police Department. In November 2016, Mayor Sylvester Turner appointed Acevedo to lead the Houston Police Department. Acevedo is the first Hispanic to be named to that position. With Turner’s term coming to an end, the availability of the Miami position was good timing for Acevedo. 

Comfortable on camera, as evidenced by his appearances on national news programs, the Cuban-born but West Coast reared Acevedo will be thrust into the Miami culture where his political affiliation and actions appear contradictory. Although a registered Republican, Acevedo appeared in a video segment on the opening night of the 2020 Democratic National Convention. He is also one of the few to push back on Donald Trump openly. He also condemned the killing of George Floyd and walked in the procession for the burial of his remains. 

Acevedo did not formally apply for the Miami position. There was an expectation that something was amiss as there were several applicants for the Chief of Police position and the announcement of the selection was delayed by more than a month. Insiders expect more changes at the top levels of the Miami Police Department as there are rumors that Acevedo will bring staff with him.

Acevedo follows Chief Jorge Colina, who led the Miami police department for three years and announced his retirement earlier this year. 


AKAs Present Virtual Spring Preview of Florida A&M University, 11 AM Saturday March 27

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On Saturday, March 27, 2021 at 11 AM, the Gamma Zeta Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority will present a Virtual Spring Preview spotlighting Florida A&M University.

This event targets high school juniors and seniors. Parents and interested prospective students are invited to attend. Not only will participants experience a virtual tour of the university, but you can also learn about admissions, financial aid, academic programs, housing and more.

Community service hours will be awarded to students. Click here to register.


Fisk Jubilee Singers® Win GRAMMY® Award for Best Roots Gospel Album

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 Nashville, TN (March 14, 2021) — Curb Records is excited to announce a 2021 GRAMMY® win for the Fisk Jubilee Singers’® album, Celebrating Fisk! (The 150thAnniversary Album), in the Best Roots Gospel Album category. Listen to the album HERE.

“I am very thankful to my students – 2016 and 2017 Fisk Jubilee Singers – Shannon Sanders, guest artists and everyone who contributed to us winning this award,” shares Dr. Paul Kwami, Musical Director of the Fisk Jubilee Singers. “It is the first GRAMMY Award won by the Fisk Jubilee Singers in our 150-year history. The Fisk Jubilee Singers established and introduced a unique form of American music to the world in the 1800s and the legacy lives on!”

Shannon Sanders, album producer, also shares, “I am both humbled and honored to be a part of this historic moment. Congratulations to Dr. Paul T. Kwami, the Fisk Jubilee Singers, Fisk University, Curb Records, and all of the phenomenal artists, musicians and engineers that contributed to this incredible project.”

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, and was produced by Shannon Sanders, Paul Kwami, Jim Ed Norman, and Mike Curb.

“How exciting for the Fisk Jubilee Singers to be recognized for their hard work and dedication, not only on this album, but throughout history,” shares Curb Records Chairman, Mike Curb. “I have been blessed to work with Paul Kwami, who is a musical genius and a national treasure. This GRAMMY also honors Fisk University’s 150th Anniversary, which is so important for Nashville and our entire country. This is a momentous day for Fisk, the Curb Records team, and everyone that has been part of this project.” 

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)

 

 


Presidents of FAMU, Howard, Spelman and SCSU Unite for FAMU Black History Month Virtual Town Hall on “The Rise and Relevance of HBCUs”

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FAMU President Larry Robinson, Ph.D., will be joined by presidents from Howard University, Spelman College and South Carolina State University for the University’s annual Black History Month Town Hall. The 90-minute virtual event, themed “The Rise and Relevance of HBCUs,” will feature Howard University President Wayne A.I. Frederick, M.D., Spelman College President Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D., and South Carolina State University President James E. Clark. It will be streamed live at 7 p.m. ET, on Thursday, February 11, 2021, via Zoom and the Florida A&M University Facebook page.


Black Men’s Thoughts on the Kamala Harris Ascendency to Madam Vice President

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Kamala Harris pledging Alpha Kappa Alpha at Howard University in 1986. The organization was founded on the campus with 16 students in 1908; it has grown to more than 300,ooo members.



On Tuesday, August 11, 2020, history was made when then Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden, selected Senator Kamala Devi Harris to be his running mate. Harris, already a trailblazer in American politics, became the first Black women to run for Vice-President on a major political party ticket. Her nomination was celebrated by many Americans, especially Black women who are frequently touted as the backbone of the Democratic Party.

Harris’s Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority sisters were often tapped by mainstream media to provide a perspective on Harris from her undergraduate days at Howard University and the significance of her historic candidacy. We reached out to Black men, to get their perspective on the Harris ascendency to the second most powerful position in American government. Like Harris, each of these men is a member of a Divine Nine organization. Their opinions are their own.

Taj Echoles

There is nothing "by chance" in this thing called life. Every move we make-every step we take leads to our destiny and end result. If you ask anyone who attended Howard University, even for a short period of time, to chronicle their experience at the MECCA they will all say the same thing: "U-KNOW" 

"U-KNOW" the education, experiences and relationships earned at "The Real HU" will prepare you for life in ways that you can never imagine.  It will prepare you to become a Supreme Court Justice, a member of the United States Congress, or an award winning actor/entertainer. But if you ask Kamala Harris it prepared her to be the first woman and person of African descent to serve as Vice President of the United States of America. "U-KNOW" the importance of brotherhood and sisterhood. Being apart of the Divine Nine is not only a rite of passage but a bond and pledge to serve. In return, the promise of solidarity to lift one another to the highest of heights. We witnessed first hand, the ladies of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated and brothers and sisters across the Divine Nine united to create history not only for Kamala Harris but for the entire diaspora. "I-KNOW" as a graduate of Howard University and member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated like Vice President Kamala Harris the importance and magnitude of our very existence:

"We are the Ancestors wildest dreams..."

Kenneth Williams

As a Kappa and HBCU alumnus I’m immensely proud of Kamala Harris. I view her election as clouded. As it is obvious she is a Black woman and she is Greek, I feel that the greatest impact is reflected in her being a woman. She has broken a glass ceiling that no other woman has. Obama shattered the ceiling for all minorities on being elected President. So the impact of her being Black is not the major emphasis. However her impact as a woman is monumental.

Kionne McGhee-3

The magnitude of Kamala Harris as Vice President of the United States of America as a woman and of African descent is beyond words. As a graduate of Howard University, Vice President Kamala Harris and I share an experience that only individuals who have attended the "MECCA" can relate to.  As a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. I am extremely proud that a soror/sister of the "Divine Nine" has been given the ultimate opportunity to represent all Americans at the highest level. As Vice President of the United States of America...

Andre Joyce

There was a lot of work to be done, and a country that was in need of healing. Kamala Harris would bring a wealth of knowledge to the administration. A junior senator, assigned to the Intelligence Committee and Homeland Security Governmental Affairs Committee, she would be a very good choice with great insight. 

I thought about how black men would see her and relate. Some older men, middle age men, because of her reputation, thought that she would only want to see them go to jail --- “locking black men up”. I see something very different. I see an opportunity to change the narrative for a Black woman to be a champion for not only Black people, but for everybody. I see a woman that young men would want their daughters to emulate, because if she could do it, so could they. I see her being an advocate for true justice reform.

It is time to rally behind her as she takes on her new role. We have to move on past those things that we may have heard and support her because she is our own, she is well-qualified, and has proven herself. We must pray for her and ask God to guide her as she moves. She has been the chosen one and she has the blessings of our ancestors. Kamala, you got this!

Eric Pettus

I took one look at her pledge picture and I knew that regardless of what one might think about her prosecutorial record, or her choice in a mate, she knows the struggle of Black America because she pledged in 1986 at Howard University. That was not a time....never mind. Lets just say that she could not and would not have survived pledging AKA at Alpha Chapter with 37 black line sisters and not have been one of us.

Kamala Harris reaching this milestone is what every Black Greek Letter Organization, particularly those in the Divine Nine were founded to do. Each and every member of the collective organizations should be overjoyed and extremely proud that one of us has made it to this point. It is a testament to the heights that we can achieve through our brotherhoods and sisterhoods. Applaud and support VP Harris’ achievement and dare to dream that in four years, or in eight, that she can move to President. In the meantime, the charge I will leave for my Brothers of Iota Phi Theta is to do our part to live up to our predominant motto… Building a Tradition and Not Resting Upon One! There are more Presidents and Vice Presidents among us. OW-OW



Florida City Residents Honor MLK Through Service

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Miami-Dade County Commissioner Kionne McGhee and staff clean up public areas in Florida City on Saturday, January 16, 2021, in tribute to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on MLK Weekend.
South Dade community members keep Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 's dream alive through service and civic engagement. Led by Takevess Hatcher, community activist, Florida City residents rallied to participate in an area clean up project. 
 
Traditionally, residents assemble to celebrate Dr. King at their annual Homestead-Florida City MLK Parade and Festival but due to the ongoing pandemic, the parade was canceled. In lieu of the traditional celebration, Hatcher coordinated a community clean up project to honor Dr. King's legacy through service and reflection. 
 
Commissioner McGhee commended Hatcher for his work in the community, and for "providing this much needed service."
 
Participants were supplied personal protection equipment, cleaning supplies, and socially distanced to complete the project. Volunteers were coordinated into teams to clean up previously identified zones within the South Dade area. 
 
Florida City is the southernmost municipality in the South Florida metropolitan area. Primarily a major agricultural area, this Miami suburb is affectionately regarded as the gateway to the Everglades and Florida Keys.
 
The Florida City  Clean City Project sponsors included the Iota Pi Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated; Miami-Dade County Commissioner - District 9,  Kionne McGhee; Florida City Mayor Otis Wallace; Florida City Vice Mayor Sharon "Sheep" Butler; City of Homestead Vice Mayor Patricia Fairclough-Staggers; Florida City Police Department; Florida City Public Works;  HTC Tax Services; Subway; Darren Baldwin; James Steward; and Dr. Kelli Hunter-Sheppard.  
 
FL City MLK Project 2021
Takevess Hatcher, project leader, directs participants to their respective volunteer sites.
FL City MLK Weekend 2021
South Dade High School students give back to community through service on MLK Weekend.
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Black Lions Homestead Motorcycle Club with Florida City Mayor Otis Wallace, Florida City Vice Mayor Sharon Butler and Miami-Dade County Commissioner Kionne McGhee.
 
 
 

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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