On this past Wednesday evening, by a 5-2 vote, despite significant constituent opposition, the City of Miami Gardens Council followed through on what residents feared. They reversed the decision of last year’s council and voted in favor of a resolution that paves the way for Formula One Grand Prix racing to be held in Miami Gardens for at least a decade starting in 2022.
Public comments at the council meeting were overwhelmingly in opposition to bringing Formula One racing to Hard Rock Stadium. There were reminders about environmental concerns, noise, and the vague promises delineated in the resolution. Individuals who spoke in support of the resolution had business ties to Stephen Ross and the Miami Dolphins organization. Owners of small, black-owned businesses shared testimonials on how the Miami Dolphins organization made it possible for them to operate during the pandemic.
The last two in-person commenters at the council meeting, Shirley Gibson, the first mayor of the City of Miami Gardens, and Barbara Jordan who served as Miami-Dade County Commissioner for 16 years, brought out some crucial points on why the resolution and Formula One are detrimental for Miami Gardens.
Mayor Gibson also advised the council to read the resolution, especially the threat to the future of the Jazz in the Gardens concert weekend for which the city has earned international notoriety. “Jazz in the Gardens is not worth what we are going to lose,” said Mayor Gibson. She also reminded the council, as did others, that $5 million over a decade is not a lot of money.
Commissioner Jordan pointed out the unrealistic financial benefit to the City since many of the Formula One patrons would likely be shuttled to Hard Rock Stadium and spend their money in the all-inclusive stadium environment rather than patronize surrounding small businesses in Miami Gardens.
Despite last year’s unanimous council vote rejecting Formula One, it was a foregone conclusion when Mayor Rodney Harris introduced the proposal via mainstream media that a sufficient number of council member votes had already been secured for its passage. Many residents questioned what changed since then. It would be easy to blame it on new members to the council, but two of the four new council members voted no - Shannon Campbell and Shannan Ighodaro. The remaining two new members - Linda Julien and Robert Stephens and the three veteran members - Mayor Harris, Vice Mayor Reggie Leon, and Katrina Wilson voted yes.
It’s not lost on observers that Stephen Ross and the Miami Dolphins organization made smart, strategic moves that used black people to represent them and speak in favor of Formula One, thereby placing the all-black governing council of the City of Miami Gardens in the precarious position of direct conflict with their constituents who are also mostly black.
I caution you to think critically and be careful as news is reported about this situation. Some media outlets reporting on the issue will have you believe the Miami Gardens homeowners are unreasonable. Still, the devil is in the details of the resolution the council eventually approved.
It’s also important to remember that the City of Miami Gardens is embroiled in this situation because residents in the City of Miami no longer wanted Formula One racing in their community for many of the same reasons the residents of Miami Gardens don’t want it in their neighborhood. What’s terrible for one community is good for another community? Really?
It’s embarrassing that a majority-black-led city would accept the trinkets, yes, trinkets as Commissioner Jordan referred to them, it will receive from multi-billionaire Stephen Ross and almost grovel when speaking of the Miami Dolphins philanthropic community endeavors as if they are the only organization feeding people in need. Like many businesses who do the same, they also write these donations off on their income taxes. No doubt, the gifts that were supposed to be given freely actually came at the cost of some folks integrity or exposed their lack thereof.
It would be a mistake for Stephen Ross, the Miami Dolphins organization, and anyone else to think the homeowners, UP-PAC and the NAACP will quietly accept this latest vote. Stay tuned.
In 2018, Formula One Grand Prix racing on city streets was rejected by residents in downtown Miami due to excessive noise, environmental pollution and traffic chaos. In 2019, real estate developer, sports team owner and philanthropist Stephen Ross sought to move the multi-day event to Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens. Residents rejected the event for many of the same reasons it was rejected in downtown Miami. It’s 2021; rather than find another location for the racing event, Ross appears to have been strategic and waited long enough for supportive leaders to be elected or selected to the Miami Gardens City Council to approve his event.
At tonight’s Miami Gardens City Council meeting, Mayor Rodney Harris will proffer a resolution that is purported to satisfy Ross and concerned residents. His resolution addresses major critical concerns surrounding noise and environmental pollution. Moreover, his resolution also indicates the event will not be held on 199 street or 27th avenue. There are also promises of $5 million to the City, funding for STEM programs at schools, opportunities for local restaurants and paid internships for students.
Those all sound great to most people, but the devil is in the details. First of all, on its surface, the body of the resolution appears to have been crafted by the Dolphins organization. Secondly, that $5 million amount might sway many people, but it translates to $500,000 or less per year over a 10-year-period. In the multi-billionaire world of Stephen Ross, that’s less than chump change, don’t sell yourself cheap, Miami Gardens. Thirdly, if this is such a great idea, why did residents have to find out via local media?
A town hall meeting or workshop with the mayor, council members, and the public could have been an excellent vehicle for introducing this resolution. There could have been dialog, and questions could have been asked and answered if it was all above board. Instead, this resolution seems rushed, forced, and shady. Instead, residents and a coalition of organizations — Miami Gardens Families Unite, UP-PAC (Unrepresented People’s Positive Action Council), and the Miami-Dade Branch of the NAACP continue to protest Formula One racing in Miami Gardens.
Not surprisingly, local politicians who seek support from Stephen Ross and the Miami Dolphins organization for philanthropic purposes and are trying to walk a fine line regarding this situation. It’s simple, though; the Black community should never be for sale. Not for toy drives or a luncheon or frozen turkeys or backpacks. Not for anything. Will the Miami Dolphins discontinue their philanthropic efforts if the Miami Gardens City Council rejects the mayor’s resolution? No, that would be bad public relations for the Miami Dolphins organization.
Pay attention. A protest is scheduled at 4 p.m. today at Miami Gardens City Hall. The City Council meeting is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. and will be streamed live on the City’s website via the Agenda Web Portal at /Portal/Video.aspx and YouTube Live. City Council Chambers are closed to the public, but an exemption will be made for one individual at a time to enter Council Chambers to address the City Council during the Open Public Comment portion of the City Council meeting on a particular item.
The mayor’s resolution is Agenda Item 12.1. It is toward the end of the printed agenda but could be taken out of order. If you wish to give public comment, pre-register with the City Clerk no later than 6 p.m. by emailing email@example.com.
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.
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..."
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.
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...
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!
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
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.
On this beautiful and chilly day in South Florida, we give thanks for another day of life, strength and health. Inarguably, 2020 has been a year that we will not forget. Our lives have been disrupted. Many have experienced job loss, food insecurity, and homelessness. Most devastating of all has been the loss of lives.
As horrible as this year has been, it has reminded many of us of the power of our right to vote and actively engage in our community. This year has reminded us that material things are nice but there is nothing more valuable than the love of family and friends. We have been forced to pivot and call on the creative and entrepreneurial spirit our ancestors used to survive challenging times. We will be alright.
On this day, let's remember the reason for the season. Let's celebrate the birth of Jesus and always be mindful of God’s love for each and every one of us. As we continue to adjust to the impact of COVID-19, let us never forget God’s Grace. Let us remain hopeful and helpful in His name.
Merry Christmas to You and Yours!
Happy Birthday, Jesus Christ!
Joint Press Release on behalf of 20 Florida organizations on the urgent need for equity in accountability policy
All children, including Florida’s quarter-million English learners, deserve schools with policies that help them to achieve their highest potential. Forcing children to experience repeated failure on high-stakes tests in a language they don’t understand causes students to feel incompetent and less likely to try. It robs them of their hope, steals their opportunity to achieve the American dream, and drives children away from school. Policymakers, teacher preparation institutions, and instructional leaders are left with inaccurate test results as the only data to guide their planning.
We are disappointed that the 2020 Florida Legislature did not heed the requests of the public or the leadership of the bipartisan and diverse group of sponsors and cosponsors of native language assessment bills. These bills would have required the Florida Department of Education to provide state content assessments in languages that students understand. We request that all newspapers and other organizations conducting interviews for this fall’s elections ask candidates for state office to declare their position on this issue. Voters deserve to know what to expect from those who seek their support.
We are confident state policymakers will not continue to block schools from doing right by 10 percent of our students. We will be back in 2021 to ask the governor and legislators to give them tests in a language they can understand. Our students deserve legislative outcomes that advance equity and policies that produce improved outcomes for ALL students. Anything short of this fails our students.
Save their hope, help them dream, let them show what they can do.
LULAC Florida State Director
VP of Policy & Advocacy
RCMA Director of Charter Schools
RCMA – Redlands Christian Migrant Association
Arlene Costello, Ed.D.
Sunshine State Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (SSTESOL) of Florida
Maria R. Coady, Ph.D.
Florida Association for Bilingual Education (FABE, fabefl.org)
Southern Poverty Law Center
South Florida LCLAA Chapter.
Carla Huck, Ed.M.
Florida Parent Teacher Association (PTA)
Florida Policy Institute
Power U Center for Social Change, Miami
Gepsie M. Metellus
Sant La, Haitian Neighborhood Center, Inc.
President Adora Obi Nweze
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
NAACP FL State Conference
Fund Education Now https://fundeducationnow.org/
Carmen R. Pedrogo
The National Conference of Puerto Rican Women (NACOPRW)-Miami Chapter
Florida Immigrant Coalition
President of the Board
Alianza for Progress
League of Women Voters of Miami-Dade County
~NAACP says statements by Florida Department of Education and Polk County School District leadership is deeply concerning and they are watching developments closely statewide. ~
“Polk County Public Schools proudly display a statement across their website that reads “PCPS 2020: Focused on Excellence”. While these words are advertised prominently, we are increasingly frustrated to find that the solutions presented by Commissioner Richard Corcoran are contradictory to this vision. His attempt to intimidate, discourage, and discount the significance of thousands of teachers across the state of Florida is vile. For far too long, Florida educators have demanded adequate public funding, resources, and staffing for the betterment of their students and have received nothing but empty promises and fleeting appeasements. Without equivocation, the NAACP stands firmly with those protesting and commanding that their voices are heard throughout this process. These teachers who have toiled tirelessly to foster a generation of forward-thinking students deserve better than bad policies and low salaries. It is high time Commissioner Richard Corcoran and Governor Ron DeSantis recognize and rectify the egregious behavior of the Florida Department of Education. We can no longer teach our Florida students about our history as a nation and our rights under our democracy, while their teachers are being marginalized, mistreated, and misused. The NAACP will continue to advocate and fight for the rights of these teachers, as they are indispensable to education and the state of Florida,” says Adora Obi Nweze, President of NAACP Florida State Conference and member of the National Board of Directors.
Documentary on Liberty City’s MLK Day Bike Riders wins funding from The Block, Oolite Arts’ new short documentary contest [VIDEO]
MIAMI BEACH – Seeking to tell the stories of the Liberty City bike riders who fill the streets on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in an act of community and protest, filmmaker Dorian Munroe took home the top prize in The Block, Oolite Arts’ new short documentary contest.
Munroe received $14,000 from Oolite Arts to produce the documentary “These Kids This City,” which he began to shoot during the 2019 Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebration. This year, some of the bike riders, who were protesting redevelopment in Liberty City, were confronted by an angry man on the Brickell Bridge, who threatened them with a gun and racial slurs, and was ultimately charged with a hate crime.
“Growing up in Miami, I was always curious about this movement. Why Liberty City, and why on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day? I’ve always seen it depicted negatively by the media, so this year I set out to see this movement first hand and to answer these questions for myself,” Munroe said. “In light of the hate crime and the viral video that captured it, this movement has been catapulted into the national spotlight.”
Munroe pitched his idea before a live studio audience and a jury of national and local film professionals for The Block, one of the ways Oolite Arts seeks to build a pipeline of local filmmakers. With stories from Hialeah to Westchester and the waters off Coconut Grove, each of the finalists received a cash prize for their film – with a total of $32,000 invested in the documentaries.
“Miami is a city of stories, and winners of The Block are helping to shine a light on them all over our county. We’re delighted to be able to give them the support they need to bring these stories to our screens,” said Dennis Scholl, Oolite Arts’ president and CEO.
All of the finalists will receive access to the Lynn and Louis Wolfson II Florida Moving Image Archive.The top three winners will receive help making their films from the University of Miami School of Communication’s Department of Cinema and Interactive Media. The Lynn and Louis Wolfson II Family Foundation is the lead sponsor for this program.
"By supporting these filmmakers, we're supporting the communities whose stories they're sharing,” said Jason Fitzroy Jeffers, Oolite Arts’ Cinematic Arts program manager. “Homegrown films such as these allow us to understand ourselves and our neighbors across Miami more deeply."
The other winners, and their award amounts, are as follows:
Guadalupe Figueras, for “Isle of Mine” ($8,000)
What is it like to come of age on an island threatened by the effects of climate change? A group of Normandy Isle children explore their own future, by reconstructing an exact replica of their neighborhood on the gaming platform Minecraft. In this virtual world, the children rehearse future scenarios of climate change-induced disasters, in a telling re-enactment of their own trauma following Hurricane Irma. The mixed media documentary “Isle of Mine” will provide a way for them to express their feelings about the future, while imagining other possible solutions and outcomes for their hometown.
Ariana Hernández-Reguant, for “Seminola, Hialeah” ($6,000)
Every two years on a summer Saturday, the descendants of Seminola’s original settlers gather at the Hialeah neighborhood’s central green for Cotson Day, a celebration of community and history. Once a vibrant community of about 2,500 African Americans, the neighborhood has been decimated in recent years. The film will document this history, and follow past and current residents preparing for the big day.
Annik Adey-Babinski, for “Mooring” ($2,000)
For more than 30 years, 500-plus residents have called the mooring field and anchorage off Dinner Key Marina home. After monster storm Irma shredded docks and sank boats in 2017, landlubbing city officials left the community bobbing in disrepair. In “Mooring,” Mike and fellow liveaboards will reflect on the current state of the neighborhood and its storied past, and face the precarious future of their unique community.
Vincent Rives, for “El Afilador” ($2,000)
El Afilador– the knife sharpener – drives around the neighborhood in what appears to be an ice cream truck, complete with its own jingle. Yet a muffled voice blares from the speakerphone, offering the man’s services as a knife sharpener. To those not from the Westchester area, it sounds unusual. Why is this man sharpening knives in his truck? Locals know the man has brought a humble blue collar job from Cuba to the United States, and is, just like everyone else, trying to make a living.
In addition to the five finalists, the following filmmakers earned a special jury mention for their submissions, and will receive $1,000 for their projects: Daniel Rivero, Vanessa Charlot, Nicole Martinez, Alicia Edwards, Nadia Tahoun and Matthew Abad.
The Block is part of Oolite Arts’ new Cinematic Arts Program, which provides training and opportunities for local filmmakers, including a Cinematic Arts Residency which offers funding for filmmakers to make a microbudget narrative film.
For more information, visit oolitearts.org/TheBlock.
It's 2019! We made it to see another year. (Praise God!) We have been gifted with the possibility of living another day. We have been charged with the responsibility of making the world better for our family, especially the children who are our legacy. We each have a voice. Let's use it to advocate for children, family, community and culture.
We are living in a precarious time. Some folks are playing chess while we are asleep at the wheel, numbed and dumbed down by the media, so-called entertainment and government. Let's have fun but let's not forget self-determination and unity. We have the power. Power to the People!
Happy New Year!