Faith & Family

MLK Youth Symposium to explore the role of youth in activism

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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

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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


Local Kwanzaa Celebration Marks Thirty Years

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The week long Pan-African holiday known as Kwanzaa was first observed in 1966 in California.  This year marks the 30th consecutive year of the local celebration hosted by the Miami-Dade Chapter of the Florida A&M University National Alumni Association. Recognizing the uplifting and community-building potential of it’s core values or seven principles, Dr. Freddie G. Young initiated the push to celebrate Kwanzaa. Event chair Vanessa Woodard Byers recalls the meager beginnings of the celebration being held in the living room of Dr. Young’s condominium with the kinara and other symbols being sketched on poster board by her brother, Harlan Woodard. Their mother, Mary Williams Woodard chaired the presentation of the event for many years. Since it was a labor of love for her, the organization’s members chose to name the event in her honor after she transitioned in 2010.

In keeping with the spirit of Kwanzaa, the free event grew from a FAMU alumni association event to a true community celebration in collaboration with other organizations and international artists. The event grew from private homes to public facilities with attendance as large as 500 the year Tavis Smiley was the featured speaker. Byers would like to see the event garner enough support to present a countywide coordinated event each day of the week as the holiday was designed. In the meantime, an invitation is extended to this year’s milestone celebration with a challenge to everyone to make Kwanzaa a lifestyle.

If You go:

30th ANNUAL MARY WILLIAMS WOODARD LEGACY KWANZAA CELEBRATION. This joyous celebration of family, friends and community is the largest and longest-running local public celebration of the Nguzo Saba (Principles of Kwanzaa) in the Miami area. 

MARY WILLIAMS WOODARD LEGACY KWANZAA CELEBRATION 

Saturday, December 28, 2019

3:00pm - 6:00pm

City of Opa-locka Municipal Complex

780 Fisherman Street

2nd Floor

Opa-locka, FL 33054

 

Hosted by City of Opa-locka Vice Mayor Chris Davis, the Miami-Dade Chapter of the FAMU National Alumni Association, the Dr. Arthur & Mary Woodard Foundation for Education and Culture and Chief Nathaniel Styles, Jr. of Osun's Village African Caribbean Arts Corridor in partnership with the Opa-locka CDC, Zoe's Dolls and Next Generation Dance Academy. 

The event is FREE. Register at KwanzaaMiami30.eventbrite.com. Remember that Kwanzaa is a non-religious, non-political, family-friendly holiday. Enjoy the Soul Food Feast (Potluck donations are welcome.), music, dancing and celebrating with friends.

Donations of books and new, unwrapped educational toys are greatly appreciated. This year’s donated books and educational toys will benefit the Children’s Unit of New Horizons Mental Health Center, Inc.

If you have any questions, email Vanessa Byers at vanessawbyers@gmail.com or call (305) 343-9088. Thank you. HARAMBEE!


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

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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

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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]

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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.
 

Juneteenth

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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.

 

 


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.

 


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.]