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March 2012

February 2012

FAMU Recruitment and Scholarship Reception March 3

Florida A&M University President James H. Ammons will visit Miami Carol City Senior High School on Saturday, March 3 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. to recruit some of the best and brightest students in the state of Florida. President Ammons will meet with students, parents and award scholarships on the spot to students who meet presidential scholarship requirements.

The FAMU Connection, the University’s recruitment/performing group, will provide entertainment. FAMU administrators, Presidential Ambassadors, the King and Queen of Orange and Green, representatives from the colleges and schools and alumni will accompany President Ammons.

For more information regarding the recruitment reception, contact the Division of Student Affairs at (850) 599-3183.

A Conversation with… Ken Burroughs


by Vanessa Woodard Byers 


Ken B.This week the Blogging Black Miami spotlight is on Ken Burroughs, Founder of the Networking Social group, Broward’s Black Professionals (BBP). 


VB: Good afternoon, Ken. Thank you for consenting to go under the spotlight this week. We came to know of you from your networking social activities through Broward’s Black Professionals. Why did you organize the group?


KB: I organized BBP August 2011 shortly after arriving in South Florida. Initially, I organized it in order to jumpstart a social life but there were also some  other very important reasons: to promote greater opportunities for South Florida's Black Professionals; expand and enhance their professional network; provide a connection for professionals who aren't affiliated with a National Black organization; provide Black professionals an opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals; and help assimilate newly relocated Black professionals.


VB: Do you have any success stories to share as a result of your networking socials?


KB: Because BBP emphasizes personal and private professional relationships many of our successes haven't been very obvious, however undoubtedly many professional networks have been expanded and enhanced.


One of our greater successes has been rapid and sustained growth. New members have been joining BBP almost daily. We have successfully evolved from a socializing group to one that emphasizes networking and we've established a growing and relevant Facebook and Twitter presence. We've also established a platform whereby professional Black organizations can recruit and intermingle with nonmembers.


VB: You seen to have a true entrepreneurial spirit, what are some of your other business endeavors.


KB: Over the years I've launched a PC consulting business, organized Gospel Socials, helped promote Gospel concerts (Ben Tankard and Yolanda Adams when she first started touring), started a Singles Ministry and a Men's accountability group.


VB: Wow, what are some projects we may be familiar with?


KB: As a freelance videographer I've shot and produced video for the 100 Black Men of Tampa Bay, Juneteenth Festival of St. Petersburg and various entrepreneurs and entertainers at the ZoraFest and Central Florida Fair in the Orlando area.


VB: Great!


KB: My most significant accomplishment however has been helping to raise my five children and self-publishing a book I entitled, “Assimilating In America: Personal Perspectives and Reflections on 50 years of Integration.”


VB: What are your future plans for BBP?


KB: The future looks very bright for BBP. Although we are still in our infancy stage the turnout for ournext Networking Social is on course to exceed the previous event. Our plans include offering complimentary appetizers, live DJ, entertainment and dancing as well as hosting special guests. We are also planning to participate in community improvement projects and partner with local nonprofits to help advance their agendas.


VB: What’s in the works for you, in addition to your BBP endeavors?


KB: In addition to BBP, I’m also planning to relaunch of my videography business.  By the grace of God, I'll succeed.


VB: Thank you, Ken. We wish you and Broward’s Black Professionals all the best. 

After 5

Starting February 24, 2012, BBP partnered with the Renaissance Fort Lauderdale-Plantation Hotel to host their monthly Networking Social, every fourth Friday. The Renaissance Fort Lauderdale-Plantation Hotel is a Black owned establishment that offers improved accommodations and a newly renovated Lounge, Bin 595. Check it out and remember to party with a purpose.

Jack and Jill Oratorical Competition

by Vanessa Woodard Byers


DSCN1944Parents - Miami Chapter of Jack and Jill of America

Yesterday I had the pleasure of serving on the panel of judges for the Ann Owen Gordon Oratorical Competition for the Miami Chapter of Jack & Jill of America at the North Campus of Miami Dade College. The participants were awesome. From the cute little ones seemingly barely able to hold the microphone, to the more experienced high schoolers who delivered their speeches as professionals.

Event moderator, Lori Bailey, kept the program flowing and injected advice on proper decorum at the local, state and national oratorical events. It was apparent the young people had invested a lot of time in preparation for the competition. Division II winners - Zahirah Calloway (1st Place) and Lauren Smith (Runner-up) advance to the State competition. 

Unfortunately, these positive events in which our children participate, rarely receive mainstream media coverage. Public speaking is probably the most uncomfortable experience for most people, all of the young people handled that task quite well. 

Congratulations to the entire Miami Chapter of Jack and Jill of America with a special shout to chapter president Althea Coleman; Oratorical Committee chair  Francine Steelman and H. Leigh Toney. Other judges were Dr. Charlton Copeland; Dr. Maryline Montes Gelin; Prof. Michael Mason and Atty. Gera Peoples.

Check out more photos on Facebook. "Like" our Facebook page. Follow us on Twitter


Don't Sleep on This: Special Legislative Update and Call to Action by PTA/PTSA

As the Florida Legislative session draws to an end, there are still several education items that warrant concern and immediate action by all stakeholders.


~ FCAT Grading Calculations - Board of Education


The number of "A" and "B" schools in Miami-Dade County is at a record level, graduation rates have soared six percentage points, exceeding the state's one percent increase. MDCPS have also scored at the national level with consistent high marks on the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP).


The Florida Board of Education plans to impose a tougher scoring system for the all-important state standardized exam, the FCAT, and it is openly predicted that statewide performance in tested grades and subjects will decrease.


Dramatically increased standards may well cause a decline in grade performance. Most likely achievement will increase and performance will improve, but school grades may still decrease. 


 ~ SB 1852 would force public school districts to divert tens of millions of PECO funds to privately owned charter schools  Read more --->


Audit and Budget Advisory Committee Letter 



~ HB 1191 - Parent Trigger Law actually takes power away from parents.  The Miami Herald read more --->



The state Department of Education will hold it's next meeting on Tuesday, February 28, 2012 at 7:30am in Tallahassee, FL.  


Do not delay in reaching out to your representatives.  To do so could cause irreparable harm to public education as we know it in Miami-Dade County.  



Big Changes Coming to FCAT Grading Calculations


The State Department of Education (DOE) is preparing to bring big changes to grading calculations on the FCAT test. These proposed changes will take effect with this year's test.


Though we support the DOE's push to prepare Florida's students for an increasingly competitive global economy where access to a world-class public education is essential to secure higher-paying jobs or preparation for college, our concern lies in how quickly we look to get there.


Proposed changes:


Proficiency "F Trigger"


The proposed rule includes a reading proficiency requirement of 25%. If not met, the school would generate an automatic "F" grade. This proposal would target schools that serve some of our state's most vulnerable students. Our urban core, or economically disadvantaged and demographically diverse populations, will be most affected. The "trigger" ensures that particular schools will never earn a school grade higher than a "D" or "F".


Including Exceptional Student Education (ESE) and Second Year English Language Learners (EEL) Students in School Grade Calculations


Florida PTA is concerned that the proposed rule contradicts research-based evidence that demonstrates one year is insufficient for a child to acquire native language proficiency. The rule, as currently written, assumes that a student with two years of fewer of English language instruction is expected to test on par with a native language speaker. In fact, Stanford University concluded that it would take ELL students three to five years to develop oral proficiency in English and four to seven years to develop academic English proficiency. This challenge is particularly relevant to schools in the urban core.


Linking Performance of ESE Centers and Alternative Schools to Students' Home Schools 


ESE Centers and alternative schools are designed to provide targeted and specific instruction and support to address the unique needs of students. This proposal assumes that students served by these schools belong in traditional schools. This assumption undermines the need to provide special services to select students. No school or educator should be held accountable for the performance of a student who is not educated by that school or educator.


The state Department of Education will hold it's next meeting on Tuesday, February 28, 2012 at 7:30am in Tallahassee, FL.


WE ASK: Are our students and our schools being set up to fail? Is this "quantum leap" forward going to do more harm than good?


TAKE ACTION and share your concerns with members of 

the State Board of Education.  CALL (850)245-9661 and ask to speak with: 


Ms. Kathleen Shanahan, Chair

Mr. Roberto Martinez, Vice Chair

Ms. Sally Bradshaw

Mr. Gary Chartrand

Dr. Akshay Desai

Ms. Barbara Feingold

Mr. John Padget 


What Happens in Miami-Dade County if the Proposed State Changes Are Adopted



If your school has less than 25 percent of students scoring at grade level in reading, then your school will automatically receive a grade of "F".


The State's proposal would severely impact the positive trend in student achievement in M-DCPS over the past three years. The state's proposal would:

  • Likely lead to more than 40 percent of schools in the state dropping a letter grade;
  • Potentially increase the number of schools statewide receiving an "F" from 38 to 268;
  • Put schools with a high percentage of students for whom English is a second language at an unfair disadvantage - creating an unrealistic expectation that these students attain grade level  proficiency in only one year despite the fact that vast scientific evidence shows that true proficiency can take from 3 to 5 years to achieve;
  • Put schools with a high percentage of students with disabilities at a disadvantage by creating unrealistic grade level proficiency expectations; and
  • Result in fewer students considered to be on grade level.

MDCPS Letter to Commission of Education


Make your voice heard.  CALL NOW!


Tell them these changes are just not fair.  We believe in Accountability but it must be FAIR!




Email or call the Office of the Commissioner of Education at: (850) 245-0505


Email or Call the members of the State Board of Education at (850) 245-9661:


Ms. Kathleen Shanahan

Mr. Roberto Martinez   

Mrs. Sally Bradshaw 

Mr. Gary Chartrand

Dr. A.K. Desai

Mrs. Barbara S. Feingold
Mr. John R. Padget       



Undercover Boss visits Miami

By Vanessa Woodard Byers



If you watched the February 17 episode of CBS’s hit show, Undercover Boss, you saw CEO Enrique ‘Rick’ Silva, go undercover at a few of his Checkers and Rally’s fast food restaurants to find out how they really operate. Two of the restaurants he visited were in the Miami area — Homestead and Miami Gardens (Carol City). Checkers and Rally’s, started in Mobile, AL and is now headquartered in Tampa. Silva, son of Cuban immigrants, grew up in Miami so he was actually coming home. 

The promo of the show includes a dramatic moment where Silva shuts down one of the restaurants. Of course viewers have no idea what was so egregious that caused him to do so. Well, if you did not see the show, watch the full episode and bonus clips online.

The angst of the workers, especially that guy Todd at the Homestead restaurant was particularly touching and showed the emotions many workers must deal with. Stephens, the restaurant manager that was taken to the woodshed by Silva also showed that he was such a bonehead because he was trying to compensate for the fact he really didn’t know what he was doing. Silva apologized and then made the situation right for Stephens and all of the other workers.

I enjoy the Undercover Boss  show but I don’t usually watch an entire episode. I’m usually too busy and it doesn’t hold my interest for an entire hour. This coverage of the Checkers and Rally’s brand was different. It was entertaining, giving the viewer drama and comedy. I don’t know if Silva was acting (If he was, give him an Emmy) or if he was genuine but he seemed like a really great boss. If I’m thinking the way I think Rick Silva was thinking, this Undercover Boss episode was the best publicity grab Checkers and Rally’s will ever realize. 

AT&T Black History Calendar Celebrates Women


by Vanessa Woodard Byers

This is the nineteenth year of the celebration of notable blacks in Miami-Dade County with the unveiling of the 2012-2013 AT&T Black History Calendar. A cherished event in Miami’s black community, this year, the calendar is all about the accomplishments and contributions of local black women. 

I am proud and that my mother, Mary Williams Woodard, is one of the honorees who will receive this recognition, although hers is posthumous. The other women featured on this year’s calendar are: Dr. Alice W. Johnson; Georgiana Johnson BethelRebecca “Butterfly” Vaughns; Commissioner Juanita Smith; Dr. Charlie Powell Albury; Florene Litthcut Nichols; Alyce Martin; Eunice W. Liberty (posthumous); Vicki M. Smith Jackson; Dorothy W. Graham; and the ladies of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.

Already knowing the accomplishments of many of the honorees, this should be a fabulous event. Expect to see many of the movers and shakers in Miami in attendance. This event is free and open to the public. Thank you to event sponsors: AT&T, The Miami Herald and The Black Archives. 


If you go:

AT&T Black History Calendar Unveiling
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
6 p.m.
Little Haiti Cultural Center
212 Northeast 59th Terrace
Miami, FL 33137


President Obama's visit to Miami

President Barack Obama was in Miami yesterday. He visited the University of Miami and spoke on gas prices and energy. He also appeared at a fundraiser at The Biltmore in the Gables and a private soirée in Pinecrest.

There were no reports of the President singing but he did throw up the 'U' sign a few times. It's been reported he left with 4 - 6 million dollars. In the words of Chief Jimmy Brown, boomshacklacka!

Florida A&M University releases 2012 football schedule

TALLAHASSEE, FL - The Florida A&M Department of Athletics announced its 2012 football schedule with the Rattler gridders heading to Music City USA to face the Tennessee State Tigers in the "Big" John Merritt Classic, then traveling west to face the Oklahoma Sooners of the Big 12 Conference.

Head Coach Joe Taylor and the Rattlers aim to improve on its 7-4 record last season and compete for the MEAC crown. With a core of returnees and a host of promising newcomers, the Rattlers start off the season with a visit to Nashville, Tenn. on Sept. 1, to face the "Big Blue" Tigers of Tennessee State. The match-up will be the first for the Rattlers and Tigers since the 2010 Bank of America Atlanta Football Classic.

The Rattlers and Tigers had previously mixed it up in the Atlanta Football Classic for 13 straight years before the "100 Black Men of Atlanta" brought in the Jaguars of Southern University as the Rattlers' opponents last season. TSU defeated FAMU 29-18 in their last meeting in 2010. Prior to that, the Rattlers had won eight consecutive Atlanta Football Classics over the Tigers. TSU is banking on a strong recruiting class from head coach Rod Reed to strengthen its team for the upcoming season.

On Sept. 8, the Rattlers visit the Sooners of Oklahoma in Norman, Okla. The Rattlers will face one of the favorites in the Big 12 Conference on their home turf.

On Sept. 15, the Rattlers will return home to the friendly confines of Bragg Memorial Stadium to face the Pirates of Hampton University. The Rattlers would like to get revenge on the Pirates for a tough 23-17 loss in Hampton, Va. last season.

Sept. 22 finds the Rattlers in Dover, Del., to face the Hornets of Delaware State University. Head Coach Kermit Blount looks to improve on the Hornets' 3-8 record in his inaugural season. Last season, the Rattlers bested the Hornets 34-7 at Bragg Stadium.

The Bank of America Atlanta Football Classic, which takes place annually on the final weekend of September, will take place on Sept. 29 in the Georgia Dome. This will mark the second consecutive year the Rattlers will face the Jaguars of Southern University in the classic. Last season, FAMU freshman quarterback Damien Fleming led the Rattlers to three second half scores to defeat the Jaguars 38-33. Jaguars head coach Stump Mitchell will look to exert revenge on the Rattlers, especially since they were interested in Fleming as well.

On Oct. 6, the Rattlers will visit the nation's capital, Washington, D.C., for a MEAC matchup with the resurgent Howard Bison. Last season, the Bison pulled an improbable comeback to defeat the Rattlers on homecoming. The 29-28 upset catapulted the Bison into the spotlight, finishing with a record of 5-6. They capped their wins last season with a 10-7 win over Hampton in the battle of the HUs.

On Oct.13, the Rattlers will celebrate Homecoming against the Savannah State Tigers. Last season the Rattlers romped to a 47-7 victory over the Tigers, led by a 200-yard performance by running back Al-Terek McBurse. This will be the first visit to Tallahassee for the Tigers since they were fully admitted into the MEAC.

In back-to-back home football weekends, the Rattlers will welcome Buddy Pugh and the Bulldogs of South Carolina State University on Oct. 20. The Rattlers snapped their eight-year drought against the Bulldogs with a gritty 27-24 win in Orangeburg, S.C. Quarterback Damien Fleming was solid for the Rattlers, completing 34-of-40 passes for 297 yards. The game would be locked away for the Rattlers as Ronald Jackson got a crucial first down in Bulldog territory on a fake punt.

The Rattlers will be open on Oct.27.

The North Carolina A&T Aggies will get another shot at the Rattlers after feeling they allowed victory out of their grasp last season. In the 2011 game, the Rattlers eked out a 26-20 win in a hotly contested battle. The fiercely competitive game resulted in 299-yards in penalties.

The Prince Hall Shriner's Diabetes Football Classic will take place on Nov.10, against the Eagles of North Carolina Central University. It will be the Eagles' first visit to Tallahassee as full members of the MEAC. Last season the Rattlers handily defeated the Eagles 31-10 in Durham, N.C.

The pinnacle of the season will be on Nov. 17 as the Rattlers take on the Wildcats of Bethune-Cookman University in the Blue Cross Blue Shield Florida Classic in Orlando. The Wildcats took advantage of Rattler turnovers to prevail 26-16 on 2011. Joe Taylor and B-CU's Brian Jenkins are now 1-1 in head-to-head matchups. The Rattlers will look to tame the Wildcats on the final day of the regular season to have their shot at the MEAC title.

Season Tickets Prices
$60 General Admission (Limited Quantity
$75 - Reserved
$100 Chair Back Box Seating (Renewal Only)
$125 - Reserved Basketball Included
$150 - Chair Back Box Seating with Basketball Included (Renewal Only)

For ticket information, call (850) 599-3141.

Rattler Booster packages are available now by calling their office at (850) 224-6093. For more information on the Rattler Boosters, please visit

Don't forget, if you can't make it to a home game, you can sign up to Rattler Vision, where you can watch the game streamed to your laptop or home computer. To sign up to Rattler Vision, go to and sign up.

FAMU Students protest Lt. Gov. Carroll at Black History Convocation

by Vanessa Woodard Byers


Lg_portraitFlorida Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll was the keynote speaker at the annual Black History Month Convocation at Florida A&M University yesterday. Her speech was interrupted by protests from a group of FAMU students. Ciara Taylor stood and shouted towards Carroll about Carroll being selected for her position by Gov. Rick Scott because of her color. Taylor was escorted out of the event. Other students walked out in solidarity.

Some FAMU students don’t think it was appropriate for Taylor to publicly embarrass the Lt. Governor but it was just a matter of time until something like this occurred. Carroll has tried to walk the fine line of being Black and Republican in the second highest position in Florida government where the GOP has done so much to turn back the clock on civil rights while professing an environment of equality and opportunity. 

It is likely Carroll’s position has benefitted Blacks in some way but the general public is not always privy to decisions made at certain levels. Many Black officials have also tried to maintain the delicate balance of not offending the powers that be while celebrating the historical significance of Carroll’s election as the first Black Lt. Governor of Florida. It was, however, just a matter of time until there was public backlash by Blacks against Carroll.

Many FAMU students had not forgotten Carroll’s comparison of Florida Gov. Rick Scott to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. last month in celebration of King’s birthday. 

“On Monday, we’re going to be celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday and I can’t think of anybody currently in my life right now that more epitomizes the values and the vision of Dr. King than Gov. Rick Scott.”

Comparing Gov. Scott to Dr. King was not a good move. It is not exaggeration to characterize that statement as tantamount to complimenting Fidel Castro in the Cuban exile community. Yes, really, it’s just that egregious. 

To put this situation in its proper perspective, one must also be mindful of the historically contentious relationship between Florida A&M and State leadership. I’m not going to rehash that now as that history has been shared many times in reaction to recent coverage of the hazing death of FAMU drum major Robert Champion. As a matter of fact, it was Gov. Rick Scott’s ‘interference’ in that matter that set off a firestorm of protest by FAMUans from current  students to alumni. The Governor threw gasoline on the fire by implying that all FAMU students are poor and lived in public housing as did he.

It’s easy to connect the dots and understand the students protest even if you disagree with their methods. It’s also important not to frame this latest FAMU student protest as a racial issue as clearly the Scott administration is not perceived positively by many in various demographic groups. 



Fighting Childhood Obesity, Part 2 of 2

 Setting Good Examples

For parents, the best way to combat childhood obesity is by making small, permanent lifestyle changes both for yourself and your children,” suggests Dr. Muiños. “Set a good example by being active and encouraging your family to join you.” Here are some other small changes that can make a big difference:

- Limit the amount of fast food, candy, soda and other unhealthy food your child consumes each week.

- Offer your child healthy snacks like fruits, vegetables, nuts and yogurt. 

- Limit time for TV, computers and video games to a few hours per week. 

- Don’t criticize a child for being overweight; this can lead to poor self-esteem, depression and eating disorders. Instead, offer your encouragement and support.

“The average child should be getting about 60 minutes of physical activity each day. So if you know your child isn’t getting that through a physical education class at school, encourage them to join a sports team or after-school activity. On weekends, incorporate physical activities into your routine. Instead of watching movies at home, go to the park, ride a bike or take a walk,” said Dr. Muiños.

For more information on childhood obesity, visit