Black History

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

B622BCBD-62DF-4733-BA4C-CD15653A5DEB

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

Kamala Harris Swearing In BBM 500x375-2

678132c854f6b0fe5730584b1f668c11
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 Democrats Have a Chance to Make History: Five Things You Need to Know

25FEB64A-AB65-41F0-8F4B-B2754F3FECB8

5E85A0EF-EFEC-420D-9887-33CBC74999FA

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.

 

 

 


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

IMG_3575

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

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

 

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

BBM 2020 General Election Ballot Breakdown

 


Alpha Phi Alpha Encourages, Motivates and Educates Voters with "Alpha Train" Caravan [VIDEO]

Alpha Train

Perhaps the Black community in Miami is on the precipice of a political and cultural revolution. Perhaps this generation of millennials will usher in a resurgence of Black unity and Black power reminiscent of Miami’s past. On Sunday, November 1, 2020, the men of the Beta Beta Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated, executed a community caravan to bring awareness of the importance of the using the right to vote to effect change for our people and the community at large.

For this ambitious project, the fraternity partnered with Florida Memorial University, South Florida’s only HBCU. Before the fraternity members and their supporters set out on their journey, there was a ribbon-cutting ceremony that included dignitaries from the university’s Board of Trustees.

As the attention-getting caravan, with full escort, rolled into the first of four stops, the early voting site at the Miramar Branch Library & Education Center, the energy was immediately apparent. The featured speaker at that location was the honorable Wayne Messam, mayor of the City of Miramar and member of the Beta Beta Lambda Chapter. The fraternity distributed t-shirts and bottled water to early voters waiting in line.

The excitement continued at the next stops, the early voting sites at the North Dade Regional Library in Miami Gardens and the North Miami Library. The caravan concluded at the Joseph Caleb Center early voting location, in the City of Miami, with messages from community leader and past chapter president, Pierre Rutledge and current chapter president Michael Grubbs.

More than 200 people in 70 vehicles participated in the caravan. At each of the stops, hundreds of voters and onlookers were educated on “A Voteless People is a Hopeless People,” a national program of Alpha Phi Alpha since the 1930’s when many African-Americans had the right to vote but were prevented from voting because of poll taxes, threats of reprisal, and lack of education about the voting process.

“Yesterday...I looked into the eyes of children and our seniors across South Florida and saw the impact of the Beta Beta Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated, "Alpha Train" Road to the Polls. It offered hope and meaning to a community struggling to believe in the Democratic process within our country. We endeavored to wake up South Florida and let our name, example and action(s) lead the way,” said Taj Echoles, chair of Beta Beta Lambda’s Alphas In Action Task Force, the civic engagement arm of the chapter.

 

 

About Beta Beta Lambda Chapter (adapted from Chapter's website):

Beta Beta Lambda Chapter has been an active part of the Greater Miami community since its inception on November 19, 1937. Like many chapters across the country, it was established by men with a common interest in improving the community through education and public service.

The chapter’s founding members are Felix E. Butler, MD, Nathaniel Colston, MD, Ira P. Davis, MD, Aaron Goodwin, MD, Frederick J. Johnson, Samuel H. Johnson, MD, Leo A Lucas, and William H. Murrell, MD. Under the leadership of Solomon C. Stinson, Ph.D., the chapter was incorporated in the State of Florida as a legal entity on November 30, 1978. Under the leadership of Earl H. Duval Ph. D., the Beta Beta Lambda/Alpha Foundation was created and incorporated on September 25, 1995.

In June 2006, AlphaLand Community Development Corporation was created and incorporated under the leadership of Gregory D. Gay, Dana C. Moss, Sr. CPA, Lyonel Myrthil, and Eric Hernandez, Esq. The foundation and CDC are 501©3 not-for-profit organizations. The chapter’s executive board also serves as the Board of Directors of the foundation and the CDC has a separate board of directors with membership from the chapter.

Beta Beta Lambda Chapter and its subsidiaries are providing leadership through its many service activities such as Alpha Outreach, Project Alpha, Alpha-Dade Youth Sports Program, Alpha/Big Brothers & Big Sisters Partnership, Sankofa Project, Knights of Gold, Boy Scouts Troop 1906, Alpha/Head Start Partnership, Voter Education Project, and Scholarship Award Program.

 

Related Links:

Beta Beta Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity (Facebook)

Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated


Photos: AJ Shorter/AJShorter Photography


2020 Election Could be Historic for Miami-Dade School Board

AEB8238A-D419-4374-A39F-4E7091CC2567

 

Election 2020 could be historic for the School Board of Miami-Dade County. Joining Dr. Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall who is not up for re-election and current Vice Chair Dr. Steve Gallon III who was re-elected without opposition, could be long-time, Miami-Dade County Commissioner Dennis Moss and professor and long-time community advocate Dr. Marie-Flore Lindor-Latortue. 

There have never been more than two Blacks on the school board, concurrently. Term-limited in his County Commission seat, Moss has thrown his hat in the ring for the District 9 school board seat which is open because the incumbent, Dr. Larry Feldman, is not seeking re-election. Lindor-Latortue is seeking the District 7 seat currently held by Luby Navarro.

Every election is important. These races could be decided as a result of the August 18 Primary Election, so it’s crucial to get registered by July 20 and vote. 

 




MLK Youth Symposium to explore the role of youth in activism

52B85093-6C87-4A67-8A6F-363DBA34CB92

The WISH (Women Involved In Service to Humanity) Foundation, Incorporated and Gamma Zeta Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated invite youths, mentoring groups, and auxiliary groups in Miami-Dade County and Broward County to attend the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Annual Youth Symposium on Sunday, January 19, 2020, from 2:30 pm to 5:30 pm, at Miami Carol City Senior High School, 3301 Miami Gardens Drive, Miami Gardens, FL. Registration is scheduled for 1:30 pm to 2:30 pm. Please RSVP on Eventbrite by January 15, 2020.

This is the ninth year of this annual gathering of youth from throughout South Florida in honor of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The theme is ”Never Too Young: A Youth’s Role in Activism”. The event is designed to empower young people to activate Dr. King's teachings to address modern day issues confronting our community, country and the world.

 

 


Commemorating the 10th Anniversary of the Haiti Earthquake

50A47DF6-AF47-4BC1-9C71-09F2DD09EE76

3:30 pm- Gathering at the Statue of Toussaint L’Ouverture (62nd St and North Miami Avenue)

4:51 pm- Moment of silence 

5:00 pm- Processional march to the Little Haiti Cultural Complex (260 NE 59th Terrace)

5:30 pm- Program at the Little Haiti Cultural Complex


Juneteenth

Juneteenth 1-2

Today is a significant day in American history. It is the day commemorated as the end of enslavement of African Americans in the United States. So, as the story goes President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing enslaved Africans, that was effective January 1, 1863. The enslaved people in Texas were not officially notified until some two and a half years later on June 19, 1865. 

Of course there are various tales and opinions about why it took so long to notify the people in Texas. Of the states that seceded, Texas was the last of the confederate states to rejoin the United States. There are tales of the messenger being killed along the way. The delay was also likely attributed to the plantation owners who wanted to get another season of harvesting crops out of their slaves. It was about the Benjamins back then and, truth be told, it still is. 

Many people, Black and white, don't like to discuss the horrible period of slavery in this country. It's important that we know our history. It's also important we share our history with our children, even the unpleasant parts. The reality is that enslaved Africans built this country. In spite of the criminalization of educating enslaved Blacks, we not only learned to read, we create, we invent, we produce. On this day and everyday, let's be proud of what our ancestors overcame. Let's build on their legacy and not allow our families and children's consciousness to be poisoned today. Let's continue to fight for our true freedom.

 

 


Judge Rodney Smith Receives Lifetime Appointment to Federal Bench

Judge Rodney Smith
The Honorable Rodney Smith, Judge, US District Court for the Southern District of Florida

On June 12, 2019, at 2:43 pm ET, Florida Circuit Court Judge Rodney Smith ascended to the position of judge, US District Court for the Southern District of Florida via confirmation vote of 78-18 by the United States Senate. The position of federal judge is a lifetime appointment.

Smith’s confirmation is reason for many to celebrate throughout Florida and around the nation. He graduated from Miami Northwestern Senior High School, a historically-black public school in Miami’s Liberty City neighborhood. To complete his undergraduate studies, he attended Florida A&M, a historically-black public university. He continued to reach his educational goals by earning a degree from Michigan State University College of Law, a non-Ivy League law school. 

His path to the federal judgeship began with the nomination by President Donald J. Trump for the judicial seat. Smith completed an extensive questionnaire and was advanced for a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee in October 2018. He was selected as one of ten finalists for federal judge. As part of the process, the committee sends a blue slip to senators from the home state in which the judicial nomination was received. A senator from the nominee's home state can approve the nominee and advance the nomination to the full Senate or disapprove or take no action regarding the nominee thus ending the process for the nominee becoming a federal judge.

Smith interviewed with Senator Marco Rubio and then Senator Bill Nelson. He also interviewed with White House Counsel’s Office and the Department of Justice. He was formally nominated in May 2018, but upon the adjournment of the 115th Congress in January 2019, Smith’s nomination was returned to the President. He was re-nominated later that month upon the convening of the 116th Congress.

Fifty-one affirmative votes were required for Smith’s confirmation. With a final vote of 78-18, he received many more votes than needed. There was still concern that 2020 presidential candidates Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren were among the 18 senators voting against his confirmation while Cory Booker and Bernie Sanders were among the four senators who did not vote at all.

Smith began his legal career as an Assistant State Attorney in the Miami-Dade County State Attorney’s Office in 1999. He later practiced at several private law firms before joining the Office of the City Attorney for Miami Beach as a Senior Assistant City Attorney in 2007. He was appointed County Court Judge by Gov. Charlie Crist in 2008. In 2012, Smith was appointed circuit court judge by Gov. Rick Scott where he served until his elevation to federal judge.

The United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida includes the following counties: Miami-Dade; Broward; Palm Beach; Monroe; St. Lucie; Martin; Highlands; Indian River and Okeechobee. The Southern district has jurisdiction over civil and criminal cases in those counties that fall under federal law.

Smith is a highly-regarded attorney and highly-respected in the community. He is proof that faith, hard work and a great attitude can take you far in life. He is a member of several organizations including Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega Fraternity, 100 Black Men of South Florida, Jack & Jill Dads, Boy Scouts of America; FAMU National Alumni Association, and 5000 Role Models of Excellence. Judge Smith and his family are active members of New Birth Baptist Church Cathedral of Faith International.

Smith swearing in
Judge Rodney Smith was sworn by Judge Donald Graham on Monday, June 17, 2019 at the Wilkie D. Ferguson Courthouse in Miami.
Judge Smith 5000 Role Models
Judge Rodney Smith and son with Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson and fellow  5000 Role Models and staff.
Judge Rodney Smith and 100 Black Men
Judge Rodney Smith and fellow members of 100 Black Men of South Florida. From left, Judge Darrin P. Gayles, Stephen Hunter Johnson, Pierre Rutledge and Torrence Phillips. 
Judge Smith with Kappa brothers
Judge Rodney Smith with his brothers of the Miami Alumnae Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity
Kenneth Rodney Tom
Judge Rodney Smith with fellow FAMUans Kenneth Williams and Thomas Jones who are also his Alpha Phi Omega brothers and members of the Miami-Dade Chapter of the FAMU National Alumni Association.
44274952_10216686649657226_3040650280778596352_n
Friends accompanied Judge Rodney Smith for his hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee in October 2018. From left, Christopher Norwood, Larry Handfield, Hans Ottintot, Samuel Mustipher and Robert Tyler.