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March 2015

February 2015


Celebrate Women’s History Month at the 27th Annual In the Company of Women Awards Ceremony, presented by Macy’s, on Thursday, March 5, 2015 at 6 p.m. at:

Coral Gables Country Club
990 Alhambra Circle
Coral Gables, FL.

Hosted by the Miami-Dade Commission for Women, The Parks Foundation of Miami-Dade, and Miami-Dade Parks, Recreation & Open Spaces, this annual reception and awards ceremony honors outstanding women leaders in 12 categories, including the Mayor’s Pioneer Award and the Community Spirit award, for their contributions to the Miami-Dade County community.

Admission to the awards ceremony is $60 advance purchase, and $65 at the door and includes pre-event reception with drinks and hors d’oeuvres, followed by the awards ceremony. WPLG Channel 10 Meteorologist Betty Davis will serve as mistress of ceremonies.

Purchase Tickets

2015 Winners

  • Mayor’s Pioneer Award — Sheila Duffy-Lehrman, Tropic Survival Advertising & Marketing

  • Community Spirit - Cassandra Theramene, Scholars Today, Leaders of Tomorrow, Inc

  • Posthumous Award – Anne Mergen, Editorial Cartoonist

  • Arts & Entertainment - Kalyn Chapman James, Art Loft and the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts

  • Business & Economics — Antoinette Patterson, One World Learning Center

  • Communications & Literature — n/a

  • Education & Research — Malou C. Harrison, Miami Dade College, North Campus

  • Government & Law (Elected) — Honorable Bertila Soto, Chief Judge, Eleventh Judicial Circuit Court

  • Government & Law (Non-Elected) — Iraida R. Mendez-Cartaya, Miami-Dade County Public Schools

  • Health & Human Services — Aileen M. Marty, M.D., FACP, Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine, Florida International University

  • Science & Technology — n/a

  • Sports & Athletics — Dr. Janice Bell, St. Thomas University


In the Company of Women is made possible with the support of generous sponsors:

  • Macy’s

  • Florida International University

  • Miami-Dade County Commission for Women

  • Coconut Grove Bank

  • Miami-Dade County Vice Chairman, Esteban Bovo, Jr.

  • Miami-Dade County District Four Commissioner, Sally A. Heyman

  • Miami-Dade County District One Commissioner, Barbara Jordan

For sponsorship opportunities and levels, please download the sponsorship packageAdobe Acrobat Logo.


In the Company of Women was created in 1989 as a way to unite the diverse population of Miami-Dade County by recognizing outstanding women who have impacted our community in a positive way. Winners are from many professions including government and politics, law, health, education, the arts, sports, business, journalism and the social sciences.

This popular and prestigious event serves as part of Women's History Month, observed annually in March. The event has received recognition from the National Association of Counties and the Southern Region of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission.

In the Company of Women is part of the programming presented by Miami-Dade Parks' Women's Park. Officially dedicated in 1992, The Women's Park honors all women in Miami-Dade County in recognition of their diverse contributions to improving our community's quality of life. In 2000, the Roxcy O'Neal Bolton Women's History Gallery was built to serve as a resource center.

One of the Park's seminal programs is the Girls Empowerment and Mentoring (G.E.M.) Summer Camp Program. Proceeds from In the Company of Women provide support to more than 50 girls between the ages of 11 to 16 registered annually in the G.E.M. Program with projects, workshops and mentoring opportunities to build self-esteem, strengthen their connection to the community, and provide quality arts experiences.

If you cannot view PDF Get Acrobat! files, you can download Acrobat Reader for free from Adobe Systems, Inc. In order to use PDF files, you must have Acrobat installed on your computer.


North Miami District 4 Seat Up for Grabs, Steril Will Not Seek Re-Election


North Miami Councilmember Marie Erlande Steril announced she will not seek re-election to her District 4 seat. Thus far, candidates are Carline Paul, also known as Teacher Carline, Beverly Hilton and former Noth Miami City Clerk Alix Desulme. The election is in May. We will keep an eye on this race as well as the mayor's race.

It is rumored that Jean Marcellus will jump in the mayoral race. Some folks even think Kevin Burns will run again, or another potential candidate, that I cannot disclose, might announce shortly before the filing deadline. It would be unrealistic to think there will be no challengers for incumbent Mayor Smith Joseph. It would be nice, but very atypical for South Florida politics.

For the record, and in full disclosure, I will be fair in reporting via this blog, but I will be campaigning for Mayor Joseph and Alix Desulme. Let the games begin!

Va-va sig 75x39




Farewell Services for Georgia Jones Ayers

The farewell services for community activist Georgia Jones Ayers are as follows:

Monday, February 23, 2015

4p - Viewing and Wake

6p - Memorial Service

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

11a - Funeral Service

All services will be held at Mount Hermon AME Church, 17800 NW 25 Avenue, Miami Gardens, 33056

Range Funeral Home is officiating.



Photo: Gregory F. Reed


7-Eleven® Launches Limited-Time Zero Franchise Fee Initiative to Franchise Select U.S. Stores, 44 in Florida

(Download the list of Florida Stores)

DALLAS - Between now and June 30, 7-Eleven, Inc. will waive the franchise fee on a select number of its U.S. stores (44 in Florida) available for franchise, a savings of up to $80,000. The Zero Franchise Fee Initiative was announced by 7-Eleven® President and CEO Joe DePinto at last week's 7-Eleven Experience in Las Vegas, the company's annual franchisee convention.

While the more than 200 available stores are located in cities across the country, 44 of the Zero Franchising Fee stores are in Florida. Stores are located throughout the state including Fort Myers; Miami; Fort Lauderdale; Orlando; Tampa; Jacksonville; and West Palm Beach.

Download the list of available Florida stores.

Over the last 4 years 7-Eleven has grown its store base by more than 1,300 units. Now that a 7-Eleven customer base has been established at these locations, the company is looking to transition these stores to franchise operations.

Other cities where specific Zero Franchise Fee stores are available include the Dallas/Fort Worth area, Manhattan, Baltimore, Richmond, Va.; and Portland, Ore. These stores typically have lower sales volume compared to the national average.

The convenience retailer is offering these stores to qualified, prospective franchisees as well as existing 7-Eleven franchisees who want to grow their retail business by adding 7-Eleven stores. Prospective franchisees for these Zero Franchise Fee stores will undergo the standard 7-Eleven franchise approval process.

"These locations offer would-be entrepreneurs a chance to go into business for themselves without the expense of the one-time franchise fee," said Greg Franks, vice president of franchising systems. "With the Zero Franchise Fee Initiative, we opted to waive the fee on these specific stores to allow the new owner a chance to build his or her customer base and business, while backed by our proprietary systems, processes and ongoing support.

"This limited-time offering presents a terrific opportunity for individuals to franchise their own business with a major franchise brand for no initial franchising fee," Franks added.

Basic 7-Eleven franchisee qualifications include being 21 years or older, a permanent U.S. resident, having excellent credit and $50,000 in liquid assets. Prospective franchise owners will still be responsible for the costs of licensing, permits and the initial down-payment on inventory, totaling approximately $30,000.

Recognized by numerous business publications as one of the best franchise opportunities in the U.S., 7-Eleven offers its franchise-owners the strength of its world-renowned brand and a turnkey operation. After extensive training, 7-Eleven franchisees open their doors with a fully-equipped and stocked store with intuitive retail technology, merchandising and advertising support, high-quality national and private-brand products, and some of the world's most recognizable brands like Slurpee® and Big Gulp® drinks.

Because the stores qualifying as Zero Franchise Fee opportunities are considered low volume, they may qualify for additional, limited-time financial support.


Pioneering Miami Art Space Yeelen Gallery To Feature “BlackFreedom” Paintings

Gallery Director Karla Ferguson Announces Provocative Exhibit Confronting America’s Racial Crisis By White French-American Artist Jerome Soimaud

Karla Ferguson, the Jamaican-born owner of Miami’s Yeelen Gallery, launched painter Jerome Soimaud’s "BlackFreedom" exhibit with an invite-only party at the gallery on February 14. The exhibit will be open for general viewing starting Wednesday, February 18 and will close May 2.

"I’m proud to commemorate Black History Month with this exhibit," says the thirty-five year-old Ferguson, who worked as a law intern with the Innocence Project New Orleans before opening her celebrated gallery in Miami’s "Little Haiti".

BlackFreedom documents the Civil Rights Movement in Miami and prominently features a tribute to the last hours of Jumbo’s Restaurant, an indelible symbol of the end of Jim Crow in America.

Highlighting the urgent contemporary relevance of the exhibit, Ferguson continues: "Tragedies like the killing of Michael Brown and its aftermath indicate that the nation is facing a crisis of racial and socioeconomic disorder. And it’s not just a ‘black problem’, it’s everyone’s problem. Jerome’s searing, unforgettable work speaks directly to this mounting division and offers an opportunity for deep, healing, reflection, and a continuation of activism."

Adding to the layers of meaning in the exhibit is the personal connection between the exhibitor and the artist: Ferguson and Soimaud have been married since (2004) and are the parents of four daughters.

"We’re a team," says Ferguson. "Like this exhibit, our family is a beautiful gathering that defies convention and expectations."

Born in Paris in 1964, Soimaud studied at the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere, after working under the instruction of architect Alain Farel at The Ecole Nationale Superieur des Beaux-Arts in Paris. He relocated to Miami in 2006 to concentrate his work on subjects related to the African Diaspora.

Soimaud’s art harnesses a distinctive technique of painting on canvas with charcoal and graphite interwoven with light, emphasizing delicate yet exacting attention to detail. His works are in public and private collections internationally.

The Yeelen Gallery opened in 2008 and its name translates to "Brightness" or "Light" in the Bambara language, which is spoken in the African country of Mali.

Under Ferguson’s fearless direction, the gallery has given voice to marginalized people through the power of art and its exhibits have been covered by The Miami Herald and The New York Times.

"Most galleries are ruled by commercial interest, so they don’t see the potential in controversial exhibits like BlackFreedom," says Ferguson. "I don’t give a damn about commercial interest."


Yeelen Gallery
294 NW 54th Street
Miami, Fl 33127
Tel: (954) 235-4758



Mobile Theater and Rare P-51C Mustang Honoring Tuskegee Airmen To Visit Wings Over Miami Air Museum

Minneapolis, Minn. – February 16, 2015 – The Commemorative Air Force (CAF) Red Tail Squadron, America’s tribute to the Tuskegee Airmen, is bringing its RISE ABOVE Traveling Exhibit mobile theater and WWII P-51C Mustang aircraft to the Wings Over Miami Air Museum March 5 through 8. This is a unique opportunity for all ages to learn about the Tuskegee Airmen – America’s first black military pilots and their support personnel – in a unique and interactive way. The event is made possible in part by a generous grant from the Florida Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs.

The museum is partnering with local schools to inspire children with the RISE ABOVE Traveling Exhibit, dedicating two days of the event exclusively to school and community groups. Students will learn about the CAF Red Tail Squadron’s guiding Six Principles – Aim High, Believe In Yourself, Use Your Brain, Be Ready To Go, Never Quit, Expect to Win – and how they can be applied to their own lives. School administrators, youth group leaders, homeschool cooperatives, veterans organizations and all other community groups of any size are invited to contact the museum at (305) 233-5197 to schedule a special showing. Call today to reserve a spot for your group!

The Wings Over Miami Air Museum then invites the community to an open house for all ages Saturday March 7 and Sunday March 8 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. to experience the mobile theater and get an up close look at the CAF Red Tail Squadron’s restored P-51C Mustang on static display. The signature aircaft of the Tuskegee Airmen in WWII, the P-51C Mustang is a rare treat for spectators because it is one of only a few like it still flying today.

The exciting RISE ABOVE Traveling Exhibit is a fully functional movie theater featuring the original short film "Rise Above," designed to take the audience on a journey through time – and then through the air. Visitors get an intimate look at the struggles and challenges faced by the Tuskegee Airmen, who showed extraordinary courage and strength of character as they fought for their right to serve our country during WWII. The theater’s dynamic 160-degree panoramic screen creates the sensation of being in the cockpit soaring above the clouds in the P-51C Mustang, experiencing the excitement and thrill of flying breath-taking aerobatic maneuvers. It’s much more than a history lesson; the Tuskegee Airmen’s ability to triumph over adversity serves as a means to inspire others to RISE ABOVE obstacles in their own lives and achieve their goals.

"We applaud the Wings Over Miami Air Museum for making this one-of-a-kind adventure possible for their community," said CAF Red Tail Squadron Leader and P-51C Mustang pilot Brad Lang. "Visitors will walk away with a greater understanding of the history and legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen, and be inspired to achieve their potential. It’s a message that resonates with all ages and is an experience not to be missed."

The Wings Over Miami Air Museum is located at 14710 SW 128th Street at the Miami Executive Airport. Entrance to the mobile theater is free, however special discounted admission rates to the museum will apply. As always, members of the armed forces receive complementary admission to the museum with a valid military-issued ID. Student and community groups in need of scholarship assitance to offset admission costs are encouraged to contact the museum at (305) 233-5197 for further details.




March 21st - 22nd, 2015, at SunLife Stadium, Miami Gardens, Florida

MIAMI GARDENS, FL – The City of Miami Gardens is proud to announce the addition of Erykah Badu, Run-D.M.C., Sheila E. and Jazz in the Gardens All Stars Ronnie Laws, Roy Ayers, Lonnie Liston Smith, and Tom Browne to the 10th Annual Jazz in the Gardens (JITG) music festival at SunLife Stadium. The two-day music festival from March 21-22, 2015, will also feature artists Maxwell, Toni Braxton, R. Kelly, Men of Soul's Jeffrey Osborne, Peabo Bryson and Freddie Jackson, and Brian Culbertson. Comedians and nationally syndicated radio personalities D.L. Hughley and Rickey Smiley will co-host the festival.

Jazz in the Gardens will feature local artists, over 40 exotic food vendors, a Vendor Marketplace, and the most anticipated lineup for the City's milestone 10th year of its signature event. On Saturday and Sunday, doors to the festival will open at 3 p.m. and the show will start at 4 p.m. Tickets are on sale now through Ticketmaster or

The Women’s Impact Conference and Luncheon (WICL) will kick off the Jazz in the Gardens Weekend on Friday, March 20, at the Miramar Cultural Center with the theme "THERE’S NO ‘S’ ON MY CHEST BUT A HERO LIVES WITHIN." The event will feature keynote speaker reality show personality Omarosa Manigault and a surprise guest promised to "wow" the crowd. That same night at the Center, Rickey Smiley and a few special guests from his morning show will host the Official Jazz in the Gardens Pre-Party featuring a comedy show, live entertainment and dancing.

"Without a doubt, this is our most exciting lineup yet," said City of Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert. "And by the reports on ticket sales, there’s no denying it. There is no sunnier, breezier, or better place to enjoy your favorite exotic food, good friends and amazing live performances than in the Gardens in springtime. We welcome our guests who travel from all over the world to celebrate our milestone 10th year of the fastest growing jazz & R&B festival in America."

Predicted early on to break last year’s record of 68,000 tickets sold, tracking a 15% increase in ticket sales, JITG ‘10 is well on its way to breaking its record for an anticipated 71,000 tickets sold.

Official Site:



A weekend of great times and remembrance

We are in the midst of another busy weekend in Miami. The Boat Show on Miami Beach and Coconut Grove Arts Festival has brought thousands of people and sufficiently clogged I-95 and US-1. Pack your patience.

Florida Memorial University celebrated its Homecoming with a week of exciting activities. The Trayvon Martin Foundation held their Peace Walk yesterday in Miami Gardens and their Remembrance Dinner is being held tonight.

The Gamma Zeta Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority is celebrating their Founders Day and Diamond Jubilee Anniversary via several activities. Yesterday, there were simultaneous wreath-laying ceremonies at burial sites throughout Miami-Dade County and various locations throughout the nation for deceased Gamma Zeta Omega Chapter charter members and deceased former chapter presidents. The Chapter also partnered with Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson, a former Alpha Kappa Alpha regional director, in a beautification project at the Belafonte TACOLCY Center. There was also community food distribution project through Feeding South Florida and other activities. It was a very busy day. Alpha Kappa Alpha international president, Dorothy Buckhanan Wilson, also participated in the activities. The organization’s members in South Florida, are delighted she is celebrating this momentous occasion with them. Wilson is the keynote speaker at an historic luncheon today at the Hotel Intercontinental in downtown Miami. Gamma Zeta Omega is the oldest graduate chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha, the first Greek-letter sorority for college-educated black women.


Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson Hosts Cleanup and Beautification Day at Belafonte TACOLCY Center in Ongoing Effort to Save the Struggling Nonprofit Organization

Miami, FL - Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson (FL-24), in conjunction with the Diamond Jubilee celebration of Gamma Zeta Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, will lead more than one hundred volunteers in putting on a fresh coat of paint at the Belafonte TACOLCY Center, and beautifying its grounds. Urban Paradise Guild is spearheading a full scale planting of indigenous trees and plants and the creation of a butterfly garden. The massive cleanup and beautification is being held Saturday, February 14, 2015 and is part of an ongoing effort to save TACOLCY, which is one of the largest private, nonprofit organizations to service children, youth and families in Miami-Dade County. It is located in Liberty City, one of Miami’s poorest, high crime communities. Founded in 1966, TACOLCY has been bedrock for the youth and families it serves. But now, TACOLCY is faced with its own financial struggle and one that threatens its very existence. The cleanup and beautification event will give TACOLCY a fresh, new look and bring attention to its fight for survival. Volunteers will start arriving at 9:00 a.m. prior to the 9:45 a.m. kick-off. TACOLCY is located at 6161 NW 9thAvenue, Miami, Florida. Feeding South Florida will also be on hand to giveaway food to more than twelve hundred people in the area.

"TACOLCY has served children and families in Liberty City for almost 50 years. It has been a safe haven for our children to play, learn and grow into productive adults despite being surrounded by crime and violence that often grips their neighborhood. It has provided families with tools and resources necessary to remain whole and productive amid high rates of unemployment and a lack of economic opportunities.

"But now, TACOLCY faces financial problems that threaten to close its doors. TACOLCY is too important to our community to fail. We cannot let a lack of leadership and financial problems that closed the historic James E. Scott Community Association (JESCA) befall TACOLCY.

"TACOLCY is vital to the continued growth of our children, youth and families in Liberty City. I ask that you join me, on Saturday, February 14th, to give TACOLCY a fresh start. We must fight to keep it financially sound, its doors open for the children and families it serves and for those it will serve for generations to come," said Congresswoman Wilson.

Testing and the School-to-Prison Pipeline



Testing Has Failed Town Hall Meeting

Wednesday, February 18


Belafonte TACOLCY Center

6161 NW 9 Ave

For the past eight years we at Power U have helped lead an important struggle to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline here in Miami. The leading edge of this work has been uplifting the demand to end zero tolerance policies and implement Restorative Justice. But there is another pillar of the school-to-prison pipeline that we must also address - High Stakes Testing

As the Advancement Project clearly outlined in a 2010 report, high stakes testing is part of the overall neoliberal campaign to criminalize youth of color, undermine public education, and advance corporate school reforms. If we want a high quality education system that is fair and equal for all young people, we must fight to end high stakes testing. Please join Power U and the other members of the Dade Coalition for Education and Economic Justice for a community conversation about this critical issue. We will share how testing has impacted us as students, parents, teachers, and community. We will also begin discussing ways to strike back against high stakes testing right here in Florida.

We hope to see you there and please spread the word!