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March 2013

February 2013

Florida Civil rights groups reject parent trigger bill


Controversial parent trigger bill is expected to pass this year in the Florida Legislature. The NAACP and LULAC reject this legislation.

During the upcoming Legislative Session, the controversial “Parent Empowerment” bill, better known as the “Parent Trigger” bill will resurface and is expected to pass. During last year’s Session, the bill passed the House and died by a tie vote in the Senate. With a new group of legislators and Republican control of the House and the Senate it is expected to pass. 

The Parent Empowerment in Education bill allows public property to be handed over to private entities. It is crucial that parents in affected communities clearly understand all of the ramifications of the proposed legislation --- how it will be implemented, executed and sustained. 

Proponents of parent trigger bills in Florida and other states frequently explicitly state that minority parents support such bills. The reality is that some may, but two civil rights groups in Florida, the Florida State Conference of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) and the Florida Council of LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens have drafted resolutions opposing the bill. 

A StateImpact Florida analysis of school demographics from 2011 found charter school students were more likely to be Hispanic than district school students and less likely to be black or Asian. The median percentage of students receiving the federal free or reduced lunch program — a common proxy for poverty — was lower in charter schools than district schools.

“While some charter schools are excellent, study after study has revealed that most are no different from the truly public, open access, traditional public schools, and some charter schools are simply awful,” said Dr. Rosa Castro Feinberg, retired professor, former school board member who works with LULAC on legislative issues.

“Our state needs adequately funded traditional public schools open to all. Our state needs elected officials who act to ensure their viability.”


Dr. Shirley Johnson, Education Committee Chair for the Florida State Conference of the NAACP reached out to other organizations, such as LULAC, thus making it impossible for anyone to claim that there is no opposition to parent trigger legislation from minority communities. This is another important issue that will be addressed. Stay tuned and be ready to contact your elected officials.  


Related Links:

NAACP Resolution on Parent Trigger Bill

LULAC Resolution on Parent Trigger Bill


- Va-Va 

Blue Cross Foundation Awards $5,000 to ACND Prep as Retirement Gift for Board Chair and Curley Alum, Dr. Cyrus Jollivette


Cyrus Jollivette
Last week Dr. Cyrus Jollivette, Archbishop Curley (Miami) alumnus and Chair of the Board of Directors for the Florida Blue Foundation (Jacksonville) retired. As a gift recognizing Dr. Jollivette’s dedication to his career and commitment to his high school alma mater, the Foundation awarded a $5,000 gift to the school’s Classroom Technology Upgrades Fund.


Miami, FL_Florida Blue Foundation, (formerly Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida Foundation) and Archbishop Curley Notre Dame Prep congratulate Dr. Cyrus Jollivette  (Archbishop Curley Class of ’64) on his retirement as the Chair of the Board of Directors for the Florida Blue Foundation.

Dr. Jollivette has been recognized for his love and dedication for the school and the generosity of Florida Blue Foundation for its commitment to ACND Prep’s summer programs.  A plaque commemorating his years of service and recognizing Florida Blue Foundation’s $5,000 donation to ACND Prep has been installed outside of one of the school’s main floor classrooms.  This financial gift will be applied to the school’s Classroom Technology Upgrades Fund that allows the school to purchase ten iPad 2’s so that student recipients do not have to pay additional fees for both the iPad and ETexts.  As of the 2012-2013 school year, all students from grades 6 to 12 received an iPad.

“It was our goal to continue to purchase more iPads and Apple TV’s through donations and fundraising efforts,” says Douglas Romanik, ACND’s Principal.  “To date, we have purchased five additional iPad 2’s, seven 55” televisions and seven Apple TV’s.  We thank both Dr. Jollivette and Florida Blue Foundation for their help.”

Back in February, 2011 Dr. Jollivette returned to his alma mater to be recognized along with other classmates from the Classes of 1960-62 in an event that celebrated the 50th anniversary of Archbishop Curley (the boys’ half of two schools that have since merged to create ACND Prep) being the first Florida high school to integrate - ten years before Miami-Dade County public schools complied after receiving a federal court order.

Jollivette and former high school classmates Paul Wyche, Jr. and Carlotta Rhetta who attended school together from grade school at Holy Redeemer came from families that played major roles in desegregation and social change in Miami. Jolivette’s father owned and ran a chain of pharmacies and his mother worked as a Miami-Dade school principal.  She helped integrate the faculty at Miami Jackson High.

A multimedia presentation of this historical event titled, “History Detectives” by professional photographer Tom Salyer, was launched on the school’s website December 15, 2011.  Since it’s release, “History Detectives” has been accepted into the archives of highly-renowned historical institutions: The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, New York; the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture of the New York Public Library, New York; and HistoryMiami.

“History Detectives” was also the South Florida civil rights archival contribution at the January 12, 2012 screening and discussion of “Daisy Bates: First Lady of Little Rock” – a presentation by Public Insight Network Nine Network of Public MediaSt. Louis Public Television and in collaboration with the Community Cinema Series which screens independent films from the acclaimed PBS Independent Lens.  

“It’s ACND’s goal as an Edmund Rice school to value the diversity of the human family and seek to reflect local diversity in its student population and professional staff,” concludes Romanik. “Thanks to Florida Blue Foundation’s generosity this year and past ones too, we have been able to ensure that advancements in all of our education programs are done so in an affordable way and accessible to all.”


ACND Prep Daniel Briz and Darby Vilme hold Cyrus Jollivette Retirement Plaque
ACND Prep students Daniel Briz and Darby Vilme hold the plaque that recognizes the Foundation’s contribution to Classroom Technology Upgrades.





MIAMI - Today, Congresswoman Frederica Wilson (FL-24) announced that the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation is now accepting applications for the CBCF Spouses Education Scholarship. Established in 1998, the CBC Spouses Education Scholarship is the Foundation’s largest scholarship program and is open to students of all academic fields.

“As a former school principal and an advocate for education, I know the important role scholarships play and how they can positively impact the lives of students struggling financially. Therefore, I urge eligible students, who are seeking to further their education and need financial assistance, to apply for this scholarship, and take advantage of the opportunity to continue their education,” said Congresswoman Wilson.

High school seniors and college students, who live in or attend schools in the 24th Congressional District, are eligible to apply. Additional information and applications can be found on the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s website at The deadline to apply is June 6, 2013.

FL Legislative leaders propose repeal of Stand Your Ground Law


On the 1 year anniversary of the shooting death of Miami Gardens teenager, Trayvon Martin, we notify the Blogging Black Miami family that State Sen. Dwight Bullard has filed Senate Bill 622 and State Rep. Alan B. Williams has filed House Bill 4009 to repeal Florida's Stand Your Ground law. FL Governor Rick Scott and his Stand Your Ground Task Force have already concluded that no changes are needed in the law.

Let's be prepared to advocate, for SB 622 and HB 4009 during the upcoming Legislative Session. The Bills still protect 2nd Amendment Rights regarding the right to bear and keep arms. The position of the Stand Your Ground Task Force illustrates the uphill battle that passage of SB 622 and HB 4009 face.

Florida's 2013 Legislative Session starts March 5 and ends May 3. If you can write a letter or an email, make a phone call or send a fax, we need you to let your voice be heard. Stay tuned for more information on this issue. Thank you.


~ Va-Va








If You Really Want to be Entertained, Check Out OSG - Old Skool Gang


OSG - Old Skool Gang

Last night I had the pleasure of attending the retirement celebration of my dear sister-friend, Rhoda Shirley who is retiring from Miami-Dade County Public Schools after 33 years of service. I’ll write more about that in another post but I must say the retirement event was like no other. Celebrated with a Motown theme, we were treated to a concert by OSG — the Old Skool Gang. If you enjoy The Temptations; The Ojays; Teddy Pendergrass; and Smokey Robinson, you really missed a treat. These guys are really all that.


If you want to see them again, or for the first time, check them out at their Seafood & Soul joint at Club Tropical, Friday, March 22,2013. Club Tropical is located at 211 SE 1st Avenue, Hallandale Beach, FL. Doors open at 10 PM. For more information, call (786) 624-8065.

Like their Facebook page and checkout their official website.


- Va-Va



MIAMI, FL — Today, Congresswoman Frederica Wilson (D-FL) will honor the late civil rights activist Jesse J. McCrary, Jr., at a Congressional dedication and naming ceremony, at 2:00pm, at the Little River Post Office, located at 140 NE 84 Street, Miami, Florida.

Congresswoman Wilson will be joined by Mr. McCrary’s family and friends, postal officials including Area Vice President Jo Ann Feindt, and elected officials. A plaque inscribed, with Mr. McCrary’s name will be installed in the lobby of the Little River Post Office.

A graduate of Florida A&M University, the late civil rights activist and lawyer was a man of many firsts, in the state of Florida. Mr. McCrary was the first African-American Florida Cabinet Member, since Reconstruction, when he was appointed Florida’s 19th Secretary of State. He was also the state’s first African-American Assistant Attorney General. His list of accomplishments and awards are numerous.

“Mr. Jesse J. McCrary, Jr., was a visionary, a leader, a man of great conviction, who fought for what was just and right. He leaves of legacy of serve, sacrifice, dedication to his community, his state and his country. I am honored to pay tribute this is extraordinary man, who is truly worthy of praise and Congressional recognition.”

WHO: Congresswoman Frederica Wilson
WHAT: Congressional Post Office Dedication Ceremony
WHEN: Friday, February 22, 2013, 2:00pm
WHERE: The Little River Post Office, 140 NE 84 Street, Miami, Florida

Community Paint and Beautification Day in Brownsville 3/16

Each year, Neighborhood Housing Services of South Florida (NHSSF),  hosts its Community Paint and Beautification Day, affectionately known as Paint Day, to “spread” hope and offer help. Homeowners have been selected, houses have been prepped, and South Floridians are gearing up to lend a helping hand for the 9th annual event. This popular event will take place on Saturday, March 16, 2013 from 7 a.m. – 3 p.m. The fun-filled line up of events commences at Jefferson Reaves Park, located at 3090 NW 50th Street in Miami, Florida.

“This is a fun-filled event that provides a great opportunity  to bring people from all walks of life together for a common goal and help someone in need,” says Arden Shank, president of NHSSF. “For over 30 years, NHSSF has worked to revitalize neighborhoods and strengthen communities across South Florida. We have no plans to stop now and will continue building communities that yield opportunities.”   

During the event, Paint Day participants will provide restoration to the exteriors of 10 deserving, low and middle-income homeowners, as well as landscape their front yards. Noted VIP community leaders have been invited, as well as special entertainment by community bands and special athletic teams.  In addition, volunteers from throughout the South Florida community have been invited to come out and support this worthy cause.  Earth Advisors, Inc., a noted consulting firm specializing in landscape, horticulture and education, is among the volunteers lending their expertise as well as event day manpower and post event education.

The 10 families selected have committed themselves to improving their neighborhood in more ways than one. In total, the families have donated countless hours of volunteer time, tools, and have donated lunch for event volunteers. These homeowners have done their part in making their neighborhood a better place to live. This is a testament to the fact that Community Paint and Beautification Day becomes an even stronger partnership between NHSSF and the Brownsville community, each year. 

Tuskegee University student to study at Ralph Bunche center at UCLA


TUSKEGEE, Alabama  — Amanda Powell, a senior English major from Montgomery, Ala has been selected for an internship with the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African- American Studies Summer Humanities Institute (SHI) at the University of California, Los Angeles.


According to its website, the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies was “founded in 1969 as the Center for Afro-American Studies (CAAS), was renamed after Nobel Prize winner, scholar, activist, and UCLA alumnus Ralph J. Bunche in 2003, in commemoration of the centenary of his birth. The Bunche Center is the result of the struggle by black students at UCLA to have their history and culture recognized and studied.” 

This eight-week preparatory program is designed to enhance the competencies of students who plan to pursue an MA or Ph.D. in the humanities or humanistic social sciences. This year, students will be assigned to a faculty mentor and will choose a topic related to their assigned mentor's research focus. Students will write a research paper and present a conference paper.

For SHI, Powell was selected from a pool of many candidates who met the October 31, 2012 early admission deadline. Selection for SHI was based a proposal with a relevant research topic that relates to the community as well as the institute.

Powell, who is already a published author, will be researching the image of black women and how they are depicted in the community throughout film and literature. She wrote a collection of poems entitled, “The Voice Within” published by Vantage Press in New York in 2006.

At Tuskegee, Powell is the co-founder and vice president of Sound Minds, a mentoring program targeted toward freshmen girls whose numerous activities include forums and community service.

She is also a member of Alpha Kappa Mu Honor Society and will be soon inducted into the Lambda Iota Tau Honor Society. Membership in both of these national organizations is extended to high-achieving English majors.

Upon graduation from Tuskegee, Powell plans to attend graduate school and her future plans are to become a journalist, news reporter or enter a profession in a communications related field.


Applications now accepted for Knight Arts Challenge

Get questions answered at one of four community roundtables

South Floridians can submit their ideas for the Knight Arts Challenge, a community-wide contest funding cultural projects that engage and enrich Greater Miami. The deadline is March 4.

In each application, reviewers look for two key attributes: artistic excellence and ways the project will engage the public. Anyone can apply. The process is easy, with just three rules:  Projects must be about the arts, take place in or benefit South Florida and match Knight’s funding.

The challenge is a project of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which has invested more than $86 million over the past six years in both arts institutions and grassroots projects as a way to weave culture into people’s everyday lives. Because of the challenge's success, Knight Foundation recently renewed the contest through 2015.

“We’re looking for the best ideas - truly Miami ideas - that help bring art to our neighborhoods and make culture ubiquitous in South Florida,” said Dennis Scholl, Knight Foundation’s vice president/arts. “In a truly creative town like ours, we see the challenge as a chance for everybody to participate, to dream, and ultimately see their ideas through to reality.”

Applicants can get questions answered by Knight Foundation at a series of community roundtable meetings, taking place in Downtown Miami, South Dade, North Central Dade and Fort Lauderdale. Times and dates are below.

Started in 2008, the challenge has funded 143 projects for close to $20 million. Past winners have stretched from Delray Beach to Homestead and include:

Weird Miami Bus Tours: Organized by internationally recognized visual artist Naomi Fisher, the artist-led tours take visitors to little-known local haunts.

Hialeah Cultural Center:  The center being launched by Miami Dade College will be a gathering spot for the growing Northwest Dade cultural community;

Demystifying Indian Dance: Choreographer Ranjana Warier will showcase traditional Indian dance through the stories of Western fairy tales, as a way to promote cross cultural understanding.

“South Florida residents continue to surprise us with their ideas, challenge us with their art and ensure that this region is a vibrant place to live,” said Matt Haggman, Miami program director for Knight Foundation. “We’re excited to see what ideas the community comes up with in 2013.”

To find out more and to apply, visit Follow us on Facebook and on Twitter via @knightarts and #knightarts.


Community Roundtables: 

  • 7 p.m. Feb. 18: Cinema Paradiso, Ft. Lauderdale, 503 SE 6th St, Fort Lauderdale, 
  • 7 p.m. Feb. 20: Cannonball, Downtown Miami, 1035 N. Miami Ave., Suite 200
  • 7 p.m., Feb. 21: South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center, 10950 SW 211 St.
  • North Central Dade: Time and date will be announced soon


ACND Prep Duo Interpretation Team Capture Championship at SFCFL Regional Tournament

On Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013 Archbishop Curley Notre Dame Prep’s Speech and Debate team travelled to Coral Glades High School in Coral Springs to compete in the final qualifying tournament for the Regional Tournament of the South Florida Catholic Forensic League (SFCFL.)  The team competed against 14 other Miami-Dade and Broward schools.  The Duo Interpretation team of Darby Vilme and Shellbie Charles took first place -- the first championship for both girls.  

The SFCFL is affiliated with the National Catholic Forensic League (NCFL). The NCFL is dedicated to supporting high school speech and debate activities for public, private, and parochial high schools in the US and Canada. Students are provided with opportunities to develop their communication, argumentation, and leadership skills through their participation in curricular and co-curricular educational and competitive events.

ACND’s Speech and Debate program started in 1998 by founder and moderator Br. Anthony K. Cavet, CFC. Since then, the school has celebrated many achievements including State Champions in Original Oratory and Humorous Interpretation and National Champion in Humorous Interpretation.


ACND Speech and Debate February 2013
(l to r) Keyanna Francois, Carmen Pierre, Darby Vilme, Shellbie Charles, Samantha Jean and Kathiana Desarmes represented ACND Prep at the Regional Tournament of the South Florida Catholic Forensic League