Community

NABJ to Host 'Breathing While Black' Town Hall Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019

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Miami, FL –  The South Florida Chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ-South Florida) is hosting a Town Hall meeting entitled "Breathing While Black." This public event precedes NABJ's Convention and Career Fair, Aug. 7-11 at the JW Marriott Miami Turnberry.  The town hall will be hosted by Jawan Strader and Trina Robinson of NBC 6. It will be live-streamed on www.nbc6.com during a special edition of “Voices with Jawan Strader.” The event will take place on Tuesday, August 6, at Florida Memorial University. 
 
“We’re proud supporters of NABJ,” said Larry Olevitch, President and General Manager at NBC 6.  “Voices with Jawan Strader gives a platform to South Florida’s diverse community every week, talking about real issues and highlighting true difference makers, so it made perfect sense for us to be partners in bringing this town hall to life.”
 
Confirmed panelists for the event include FIU Police Captain Delrish Moss, Miami Civilian Investigative Panel’s Rodney Jacobs, Jr., BSO Deputies Association President Jeff Bell, activist Phillip Agnew, Dyma Loving and her attorney Justin Moore.
 
“We think it’s important that we have these inclusive conversations impacting the community, particularly, the black community,” said Russell Motley, president of NABJ-South Florida. “We appreciate NBC 6 and NBC 6 Voices for guiding this discussion to help work toward solutions.”
 
For more information, visit NABJ’s Convention site here.
 

 


Take Your Advocacy to the Next Level with a Legislative Bill Writing Workshop with State Rep. Shevrin Jones

Bill writing workshop

The legislative process has always been about each of us working together to create laws that help our communities rather than hurt us. On Thursday, August 22nd at 7pm, join State Rep. Shevrin Jones for an interactive #ForThePEOPLE Bill Writing Workshop. 

Come and hear about bill ideas, learn how bills are written, and help craft a community bill for Florida’s upcoming 2020 Legislative Session. No one is going to help us but us. Take your advocacy skills to another level to be more effective in helping help your community or organization.

If You Go:

#ForThePeople Bill Writing Workshop
Thursday, August 22, 2019
7 PM - 9 PM
Miramar Multi-Service Complex
6700 Miramar Parkway
Miramar, FL 33025

 


The School-to-Prison Pipeline is Real: School Board Member Dr. Steve Gallon III Calls for Review of M-DCPS Student Arrest Data

School to prison pipeline

At today’s regular monthly meeting of the Miami-Dade County School Board, District 1 School Board Member Dr. Steve Gallon III will proffer Agenda Item H-11 on the Review of Student Arrest Data. The item is crucial to the Black community due to the disproportionate number of Black students impacted.

The issue of school safety and security has been elevated since the tragic event at Marjory Stoneman Douglas Senior High School on February 14, 2018. That tragedy lead to numerous state legislative and local policy reforms and provisions, including resources and requirements for school police and/or armed staff on school campuses throughout the state. Although the presence of increased police officers on school campuses appears to be a noble strategy, the unintended consequence of engaging police officers in school-related matters often results in referring students for school discipline related issues to law enforcement.

As Miami-Dade County Public Schools remains committed to both a spirit and practice of fairness, equality, and equity in the education of its students and administration and operation of its schools and departments, a review of data, policies, and practices relating to student arrests is prudent.

From the Miami New Times,

According to a new report from the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, only 20 percent of Miami-Dade students are black, but black students account for more than half of all arrests within the district.

"Black kids are more likely to be suspended even in preschool," says Michelle Morton, the juvenile justice policy coordinator at the ACLU Foundation of Florida and author of the study. "The same behavior from a white child versus a black child will be viewed completely differently."

The school-to-prison pipeline is real.

"This issue of student arrests is one that perplexes school districts across the nation. The unfortunate criminalization of school related disciplinary issues needs to end. It is incumbent that we not only talk about data, but lean strongly into real, frank and open discussions about race and racism and the implicit biases that lead to these disparities among black student arrests as compared to their white counterparts and other groups within our system, in our collective efforts to find meaningful, sustainable and genuine solutions," said District 1 School Board Member Dr. Steve Gallon III.

The agenda item was supported and co-sponsored by School Board Chairwoman Perla Tabares Hantman, Vice Chair Dr. Martin Karp, Susie Castillo, Dr. Lawrence Feldman, Mari Tere Rojas and Dr. Marta Perez at the School Board Committee Meeting held Monday, July 22.

To view the full item, go to:

http://www.dadeschools.net/schoolboard/agenda/h11.pdf.


South Dade Alphas and County and State Agencies Collaborate to Provide Rights Restoration Resources to Local Residents [VIDEO]

South Dade Alphas expungement
On Saturday, July 20, 2019, the Iota Pi Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity collaborated with Miami-Dade Pubic Defender Carlos J. Martinez and Omega Psi Phi member Florida Democratic House Leader State Representative Kionne McGhee to host a restorative rights resource clinic in Florida City, FL.  Legal experts, and representatives from local and state administrative offices, provided their services at no cost to attendees. 
 
Event attendees were treated to light refreshments and a range of restorative rights resources. Other community partners of the expungement clinic included the Miami-Dade State Attorney Office, Miami-Dade County Supervisor of Elections, Miami-Dade County Police Department, Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, Career Source Florida, Haitian Lawyers Association and Florida New Majority.

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South Dade Alphas with Omega Psi Phi member Florida Democratic House Leader State Rep. Kionne McGhee (wearing black hat) and Miami-Dade County Public Defender Carlos J. Martinez.
 

Urgent and Important Community Conversation: Let People Vote

Let People Vote Town Hall 7-29

Amendment 4 is one of the most significant Florida constitutional amendments in our lifetime. Florida voters overwhelmingly supported restoration of rights for some returning citizens, formerly convicted felons who had served their time and completed probation. 

Unfortunately, shortly after the 2018 General Election, it was clear newly-elected Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and the Republican-led 2019 Florida Legislature had other plans. So, the Florida Legislature successfully inserted obstacles to the restoration of rights for many Florida returning citizens. In some cases, there are fines and restitution that must be paid before restoration. There is also a possibility that financial obligations can be waived and there are other means of satisfying requirements for rights restoration. Get an update on Amendment 4 and voter rights restoration in Florida. Don’t miss this important community conversation. Spread the word.  

Conversationalists:
Rep. Kionne McGhee, Minority Leader, Florida House, District 117
Senator Annette Taddeo, Florida Senate, District 40
Rev. Dr. Alphonso Jackson, Sr., Senior Pastor, Second Baptist Church
Desmond Meade, Executive Director, Florida Rights Restoration Coalition
Carlos Martinez, Public Defender, Miami-Dade County
Katherine Fernandez Rundle, State Attorney, 11th Judicial Circuit, Miami-Dade County

 

Let People Vote
Voting Rights Restoration Town Hall
6:30 PM Sharp
Monday, July 29, 2019
Second Baptist Church
11111 Pinkston Drive
Miami, FL 33176

For more information, call Juanita Olvera at (305) 256-6301.

 

@vanessawbyers

 

 


In Remembrance of Two Fallen Hometown Heroes on Memorial Day: Staff Sgt. Edmond L. Randle, Jr. and Sgt. La David Johnson

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Today we observe Memorial Day, previously known as Decoration Day, to honor men and women who died in active military service to this country.

The very first Memorial Day was on May 1, 1865, in Charleston, S.C. when formerly enslaved Africans held a ceremony to honor 257 dead Union Soldiers who had been buried in a mass grave in a Confederate prison camp.

They spent the next two weeks digging up each body and giving them a proper burial to honor them for fighting and dying for their freedom. The gracious African Americans then held a parade of 10,000, led by a procession of nearly 3,000 black children dancing, singing and marching in celebration.

In keeping with the original spirit and honor of the first Memorial Day observance, we recognize the sacrifice of two heroes from Miami Gardens who made the ultimate sacrifice for this country: U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Edmond L. Randle Jr. and U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson.

Sgt. La David Johnson

Miami Gardens hero Sgt. La David Johnson gave his life after being ambushed in Niger on October 4, 2017. Johnson and his team members — Staff Sgt. Bryan Black, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson, and Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright were killed. His death captured the attention of the nation and mainly South Florida when the current occupant of the White House politicized Sgt. Johnson’s death and insulted Congresswoman Frederica Wilson in the process.

Video of Sgt. Johnson’s beautiful then-pregnant wife, Myeshia slumped over his casket in tears as it arrived home and their adorable children at their father’s funeral, tore at the heartstrings of anyone who is a human being. For many in South Florida, questions remain about Sgt. Johnson’s death. Inarguably, the nation owes him and his team members gratitude and tremendous honor forever.

Sgt. Edmond L. Randle, Jr.

On January 17, 2004, Sgt. Edmond L. Randle, Jr. of Miami Gardens became the first documented South Florida soldier to be killed by anti-US insurgents in Iraq. Randle was one of three soldiers who died that day when a homemade explosive device struck their vehicle near Baghdad.
 
Sgt. Randle attended American Senior High for part of his high school years but continued the family tradition by graduating from Miami Central Senior High. Like his father, Edmond Randle, Sr., Sgt. Randle was a standout musician in the Marching Rockets Band at Miami Central and continued at Florida A&M University where he earned a music scholarship and was a section leader in the famous Marching 100. Because he wanted to be a pharmacist, he gave up his music scholarship and volunteered for the Army, which would help fund his educational plans.
  
Despite its origins, the African American impact on the shaping of Memorial Day is mostly forgotten and ignored by the mainstream. Let’s do our part in making sure all soldiers are remembered who gave their lives in service to this country. Let’s remember the origins of Memorial Day and especially never forget Staff Sgt. Edmond L. “Dakie” Randle and Sgt. La David Johnson.

 


Where is Kameela Russell?

Where is kameela russell

Miami Norland Senior High School teacher and test chairperson, Kameela Russell is missing. Born in the Bahamas, Kameela is a beloved mother, daughter and friend to many who are praying for her safe return home. 

Several of her classmates from Miami Northwestern High School and Florida State University speak of how smart Kameela is, as well as kind. She was born into a family of highly-educated people with many relatives in the medical field. Kameela was also musician. One of her instruments is the violin.

Contrary to rumors on social media, Kameela has not been found. Miami Gardens Police and other law enforcement entities have searched the Andover community in Miami Gardens where Kameela was last seen on the evening of May 15 when she went to pickup her younger daughter from her aunt's home. The aunt, Donna Blyden, thought she saw Kameela's car in the driveway. She texted Kameela but received no response. 

If you know anything about the disappearance of Kameela Russell, please call Miami Gardens Police Department at 305-474-6473. 

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Trayvon Martin's mother, Sybrina Fulton, and Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert III vie for District 1 County Commission seat

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Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, broke local social media with the announcement of her run for the District 1 commission seat for Miami-Dade County (FL). She also garnered national attention from many media outlets as well as support from award-winning actress and talk show host Whoopi Goldberg from The View. Fulton’s decision disrupted plans of term-limited Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert III and his supporters. Gilbert was perceived as a shoo-in for the seat held by Barbara Jordan for the last 16 years. Jordan is ineligible to run again as term-limits kick in for the first group of county commissioners.

Fulton, a former long-time county employee, gained international notoriety because of the fatal shooting of her younger son, Trayvon. Since that horrible incident, she has become a community advocate, author, public speaker, executive producer, member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and received an honorary doctorate degree. Although this is Fulton’s first run for elected public office, she checks all the boxes that are most essential regarding electability criteria --- name recognition and likeability.

During his tenure as mayor, Gilbert has been faced with law enforcement, sexual harassment and personal controversies but he is also credited with the business growth of the City of Miami Gardens and the return of the historic Orange Blossom Classic football game. It is also noteworthy that Gilbert has amassed more than $400,000 between his campaign account and political committee. While he faces a formidable opponent in Sybrina Fulton, Gilbert is not likely to shrink into the background. This race will be a battle until the end. 

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Unfortunately, there are already signs that this race will likely be very negative. In social media exchanges, supporters of both candidates are trying to have the last word in a situation that will be decided by the voters of District 1 in August 2020. The public discourse is expected. Politics is a contact sport and Miami politics can be particularly dirty. Stay tuned; it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

 


Documentary on Liberty City’s MLK Day Bike Riders wins funding from The Block, Oolite Arts’ new short documentary contest [VIDEO]

MLK Day Bike Riders
Miami filmmaker Dorian Munroe receives $14,000 to produce film

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.


Happy 93rd Birthday to the Honorable Carrie P. Meek!

Carrie P. Meek
Happy Birthday to one of the true living legends of Florida history, the Honorable Carrie P. Meek!

 

The daughter of Willie and Carrie Pittman, Former Congresswoman Carrie Pittman Davis Meek was born on April 29, 1926, in Tallahassee, Florida. Her grandmother was born a slave in Georgia. Her parents began their married life as sharecroppers. Her father would later become a caretaker and her mother, a laundress and owner of a boarding house. The youngest of 12 children, Meek grew up in segregated Tallahassee, Florida. An honors student and track & field star athlete, she graduated from Florida A&M University (then Florida A&M College) in 1946 with a bachelor's degree in biology and physical education. At that time, Blacks were not allowed to attend graduate school in Florida. The state of Florida paid her graduate school tuition for her to go north to continue her studies. She graduated from the University of Michigan in 1948 with a Master's degree in public health and physical education.

After graduating from the University of Michigan, Meek was hired to teach at Bethune-Cookman University (then Bethune-Cookman College) in Daytona Beach, Florida, and then later at her alma mater, Florida A&M University. She moved to Miami in 1961 where she served as a professor, administrator, and special assistant to the vice president of Miami Dade College, then Miami-Dade Community College. The school was desegregated in 1963. Meek played a central role in pushing for integration. Throughout her years as an educator, Meek was also active in community projects in the Miami area.

Meek was elected Florida state representative in 1978. She would go on to make history as the first Black female elected to the Florida State Senate in 1982. As a state senator, Meek served on the Education Appropriations Subcommittee. Her efforts in the legislature also led to the construction of thousands of affordable rental housing units.

In 1992, Meek was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Florida’s 17th Congressional District. This historic election made her the first black lawmaker to represent Florida in Congress since Reconstruction. Upon taking office, Meek faced the task of helping her district recover from Hurricane Andrew’s devastation. Her efforts helped to provide $100 million in federal assistance to rebuild Dade County. Successfully focusing her attention on issues such as economic development, health care, education and housing, Meek led legislation through Congress to improve Dade County’s transit system, airport and seaport; construct a new family and childcare center in North Dade County; and fund advanced aviation training programs at Miami-Dade Community College. Meek has also emerged as a strong advocate for senior citizens and Haitian immigrants.

Meek has received numerous awards and honors. She is the recipient of an honorary doctor of laws degrees from the Florida A&M University, University of Miami,  Barry University, Florida Atlantic University and Rollins University. The Foundation that carries her name focuses on improving the lives of individuals in Miami-Dade County and throughout the broader community of  Florida.

We are delighted to join family and friends in celebrating the ninety-three years of awesomeness of the legendary Carrie Pittman Davis Meek and wish her many more.

[Biography adapted from The History Makers and U.S. House of Representatives History.]