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AKAs and Other Local Organizations Collaborate to Present Wrap-Up of Florida’s 2021 Legislative Session

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One of the most controversial legislative sessions in Florida, in recent memory, has concluded and the Connection Committees of Gamma Zeta Omega Chapter and Alpha Alpha Beta Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated are presenting a virtual legislative wrap-up on key bills from the 2021 Legislative Session. The event is scheduled for 6:30 p.m., Thursday, June 10, 2021, via Zoom.

The Connection Committee is the civic engagement arm of Alpha Kappa Alpha. For this community presentation, they have joined forces with the Miami-Dade Branch of the NAACP and the Miami-Dade Chapter of the Florida A&M University National Alumni Association.

Panelists are State Senator Jason Pizzo (Dist. 38); State Rep. Dotie Joseph (Dist. 108); State Rep. Christopher Benjamin (Dist. 107); and State Rep. Felicia Robinson (Dist. 102). Dr. Cassandra Arnold and Dr. Tisa McGhee will serve as moderators.

Key bills to be covered include:

  • HB 1: Combating Public Disorder
  • SB 90: Elections
  • HB 7051: Law Enforcement and Correctional Officer Practices
  • HB 7045: School Choice
  • HB 1463: Department of Economic Opportunity

Don’t miss this opportunity to get informed. A well-informed citizenry is vital to our survival as a democracy. To register, visit http://akagzo.org.


Memorial Day: Remembering Sgt. Edmond L. Randle Jr.

 

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On Jan. 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.
 
Today is Memorial Day. It is the day we honor those that have given their lives in military service to this country. It is not just a day off from work or school or a day to have a barbecue with family and friends; it is a day to celebrate men and women such as Sgt. Edmond L. Randle, Jr., known by family and friends as Dake.
 
On Jan. 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 their vehicle was struck by a homemade explosive device near Baghdad. I recall sitting through Dake’s funeral at Ebenezer Baptist Church, in Miami, listening to the FAMU Band play and the moving tributes to him by friends and military officials. I'd known Dake’s parents from high school; his dad and I were classmates at Miami Central and later at Florida A&M.
 
Dake 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 Dad, Dake was a standout musician in the Marching Rockets 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, Dake gave up his music scholarship and volunteered for the Army which would help fund his educational plans. He was the type of young man not celebrated enough, in life, in this community.
 
The war in Iraq takes on a different meaning when you actually know a soldier that was killed. Like Sgt. Edmond L. “Dake” Randle, many other lives have been lost and are being lost in service to this country. On Veteran's Day, I honor several men and women I know, living and deceased, who have served and are serving this country. Dake, however, is the only soldier I know personally that died in military service. I have remembered him each Memorial Day since his death, that is the least I can do.
 
If you have loved ones who died while serving this country, take a moment to thank them, feel free to leave their names in the comments section. For all of our fallen heroes, known and unknown, thank you, you are not forgotten.
 
 

NAACP, FAMU and NTA Present Discussion on Environmental and Climate Justice

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The NAACP Florida State Conference, in collaboration with the Florida A&M University School of the Environment and National Technical Association Space Coast Florida Chapter will present a discussion on the very important topic of Environmental and Climate Justice.

This virtual event will highlight the science of climate change, its impacts, and a discussion on local advocacy and solutions.  It is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. ET on Saturday, May15, 2021.

Click here to register.

 


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

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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.

 

 

 


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.

 


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.

 


Day 3 of Kwanzaa: Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility)

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Call: Habari Gani?! (What's going on?)

Response: Ujima! [oo-jee-muh]

 

Today is the third day of Kwanzaa. The principle celebrated is Ujima or collective work and responsibility. That means to build and maintain our community together and make our brother's and sister's problems our problems and to solve them together.

It is through togetherness that Africans in the diaspora as well as the motherland will not only survive but thrive. During segregation in America, close knit Black communities often formed the foundation for many businesses and other opportunities for success for individuals and the collective. Through this village concept Blacks made tremendous progress in spite of often living in an atmosphere of terror.

Harambee! Let’s work together.

 

“A man is called selfish not for pursuing his own good, but for neglecting his neighbor’s.” ~Richard Whately

 

Related Link: Celebrate Kwanzaa in Miami

 


Our Voices Matter --- We See You: Confronting the Adversity in Diversity

 
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By Carlos L. Malone, Sr.

Diversity in its definition is the inclusion of different types of people, such as people of different races, cultures, religion, groups and organizations. The idea of diversity is to create a world of different communities with different ideas and ideologies while at the same time creating equality of opportunities for all people regardless of their differences. The reality of diversity is a constitutional claim penned on pages of legally documented affirmations that ensures all are allowed a piece of the shared equity of education, employment, economics, etc... We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator (that would be God, not man) with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness... Now, this Declaration of Independence sounds good, but in reality, the implementation of this is conclusively prejudiced by the injustices that are often experienced by those whose skin pigmentations do not measure up to a racist status quo.

The adversity that I see in diversity is deeply rooted in the soil of the color code that gives negative life to the Color Conflict, the Color Consciousness and the Color Compromise. However, it is only the ideological ignorance that is embedded within the White Master mindset that believes that they alone can legislate without compromised prejudices, that which is best for dark-skinned people. When it comes to policy making, politics must not rule the roles of who is qualified and who is not. Racism in a robe and on the bench is a scary concept to people of color because public record proves over and over again that Black people don’t always get a fair shake. Diversity takes guts, but when there exists no guilty conscious concerning ruling right and fair regardless of race, the resistance will thicken and ultimately erupts in ways that are not always the best route for a community. Diversity is a beautiful thing if it stays away from the ugliness of racial disparity and dysfunction.

If the judicial bench in Miami-Dade County remains White in dominance, then diversity and equality become a false reality that is a premeditated lie that poisons the created intention of God for equal sharing in voice, vote and visibility. It is amazing that in most of the major sports, the bench is more white and the main players are black. In governance on every level of the judiciary, the bench is more white and the players who predominately face these judges are black in skin color. The difference between the two is that sports are a game, but the judiciary is no game, it is the most influential force and source of power in a city, state or nation. It determines the destiny of people who are pronged to do wrong by the nature of the human proclivity and in other cases their fall into human depravity.

It takes moral, ethical restraint, and discipline not to be a racist, because it is a generational disease that continues to reproduce itself from one generation to another. It is only the unethical excuses of those who choose to ignore its high level of systemic existence that allow this malfeasance to continue to escape without evacuation and execution. I will conclude this writing but definitely not this conversation by saying the following. Every White person is not a racist and every Black person is not a criminal and a source of unqualified judicial competence. The system must be racially fair, if not it is a false representation of the Constitution of The United States and to those of us who believe in God, it is a contradiction of his created intentions for the human race. Slavery is not dead. It has been redefined and redesigned through the process of a cosmetic application and corrupt camouflaging. We see you! We are committed to exposing the false idea that there is shared equity in education, employment, and economics.

I am a proud African-American man. I am pro-truth. I believe that we have qualified Black Men and Women throughout the state of Florida who can bear the competence, integrity and fairness that are mandated for those who sit on the Judicial Bench. My challenge to you is that we become true change makers and begin to make the right changes, not just for the sake of diversity but for the sake of human decency and fairness. #Ihateracism.

 

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Carlos L. Malone, Sr. is Founder/CEO of Rhema Apostolic International Network (R.A.I.N.), an apostolic training network. He is the author and publisher of several books and his recent book, ME, Your Life Transformation and Empowerment Guide, which is the first published and printed book under his own publishing company FireHeart Publishing.

Apostle Malone recently celebrated his 28th anniversary as the Servant Leader of The Bethel Church Miami and resides with his wife, Pamala, in Miami Florida.


Obamacare the Hot Topic at Pumps, Pearls & Politics Forum Nov. 5

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Miami, FL – October 30, 2017 – The Fifth Annual Pumps, Pearls & Politics presented by the Connection Committee of the Gamma Zeta Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority switches its signature event to a community conversation format with the hot topic of Obamacare taking center stage.

In an increasingly polarized political environment, health care reform has been caught in the cross fire of the partisan struggle, making it difficult to separate fact from fiction. Special guest, health-care attorney and author Daniel E. Dawes, will present the truth on the secret backstory of the Affordable Care Act, shedding light on the creation and implementation of the greatest and most sweeping equalizer in the history of American health care. His eye-opening and authoritative narrative written from an insider’s perspective, 150 Years of ObamaCare, debunks contemporary understandings of health care reform. It also provides a comprehensive and unprecedented review of the health equity movement and the little-known leadership efforts that were crucial to passing public policies and laws reforming mental health, minority health, and universal health.

If You Go:
What: Pumps, Pearls & Politics 2017: The Truth About the Affordable Care Act
When: Sunday, November 5, 2017, 4:00 PM
Where: Allen Chapel AME Church, 1201 NW 111 Street, Miami, Florida 33167
Admission: FREE (Register at http://pumpspearlspolitics2017.eventbrite.com.)

For more information email Natasha Hines, Connection Chair at pumpspearlspolitics@gmail.com.


Florida to Launch Online Voter Registration October 1

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The Florida Department of State is scheduled to launch its new online voter registration website on Sunday, October 1, 2017. According to state officials, RegisterToVoteFlorida.gov, offers Florida residents another way to register to vote or update an existing registration. The website is touted as convenient, secure and easy-to-use. The website will go live as directed by the Florida Legislature in Section 97.0525 Florida Statutes.

In 2015, Governor Rick Scott signed into law a bill directing the department to implement online voter registration on October 1, 2017. Florida joins 35 other states and the District of Columbia that have online voter registration available to their residents.

Any Florida resident who is eligible to vote or is already registered to vote in Florida can use RegisterToVoteFlorida.gov to submit an application, update an existing registration or prefill an application form to print and deliver to a Supervisor of Elections office.

Contrary to current voter registration procedure, users will need a Florida driver license or state identification (ID) card and the last four digits of their social security number to register online. Currently, only one of the three is required to register to vote. Once an individual’s identity is verified and the application is deemed complete, a voter information card is issued by the local Supervisor of Elections office.

Investigations confirming Russian attempts to hack America’s elections have heightened concerns regarding potential manipulation of registration and voting data.
RegisterToVoteFlorida.gov proclaims multiple safeguards in place to verify and protect a person’s identity and personal information, including a state-of-the-art firewall, data encryption, captcha boxes, session time-out after inactivity and the use of multi-screens. The website requires information that only the person seeking to register or change an existing registration should know, such as the issue date of their Florida driver license or state ID card, their Florida driver license or state ID card number and the last four digits of their social security number. All of this information is verified in real-time in order for a person to complete the application process online. If the information cannot be verified, a person is not able to move forward with submitting the application electronically. Additionally, there is no retention of data within the RegisterToVoteFlorida.gov website because it is securely transmitted to an internal system.

RegisterToVoteFlorida.gov will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It is offered in English and Spanish, is accessible for persons with disabilities and is mobile-friendly.

If you choose to use this new system, feel free to share your experience at vbyers@bloggingblackmiami.com. What’s most important is that you get out and vote. 

 

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@vanessawbyers