Faith & Family

The ‘Tammy Jackson Act’ One Step Closer to Becoming Law

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The bill ensures protections for pregnant incarcerated women and their babies 

 

Tallahassee, FL — Today, the Tammy Jackson Act (SB 852, titled Restrictive Housing for Incarcerated Pregnant Women) by Senator Jason Pizzo (D-West Park) passed the Florida Senate. With newly amended language, the bill now needs one final House vote before being sent to the Governor’s desk. On the House side, HB 1259 was co-introduced by Representatives Shevrin Jones (D-West Park) and Amy Mercado (D-Orlando) and the bill has passed unanimously in all committees and both chambers.  

The Tammy Jackson Act ensures that pregnant incarcerated women are transported to an appropriate medical facility without delay, given proper medical care, and not placed in restrictive housing involuntarily while in labor. The legislation also sets critical standards for the treatment of pregnant incarcerated women by aiming to create a safer, more respectful environment for women behind bars. 

The Dignity Coalition, a grassroots effort led by formerly incarcerated women and supported by several community organizations in Florida, works to advance the rights of incarcerated women and girls in Florida. Just last year, the Coalition won the Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act, a bill to ensure that incarcerated women have access to hygiene products. Passing the Tammy Jackson Act was a team effort, led in large part by Valencia Gunder, a community activist and formerly incarcerated woman herself who also serves as Campaign Manager for Dignity Florida.

“We now need the Florida House to act one more time with a final vote, to send this bill to the Governor’s desk and do right by our incarcerated women and babies,” said Valencia Gunder, Campaign Director for Dignity Florida and the New Florida Majority. “Our women are more than prisoners; they are mothers, nurturers, and caregivers and it is time they are treated as such, with dignity, respect, and humanity. The future is female, she’s strong, she’s Black, she’s Brown and she will not be incarcerated.”

No pregnant woman should ever be put in solitary confinement; it is inhumane, unsafe and cruel, both for the mother and her child. Currently, Florida has the second-highest incarceration rate for women in the United States, and yet, women’s basic needs and rights are not being met or respected. Ensuring that incarcerated people, including those who are pregnant, are safe, healthy and treated with dignity, especially during labor, is the responsibility of the state.


‘Tammy Jackson Act’ Unanimously Passes the Florida State House

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The bill ensures protections for pregnant incarcerated women and their babies 

 

Tallahassee, FL — Today, the Tammy Jackson Act (HB 1259, titled Restrictive Housing for Incarcerated Pregnant Women) by Representatives Shevrin Jones (D-West Park) and Amy Mercado (D-Orlando) was unanimously approved by the Florida House of Representatives. On the Senate side, companion bill SB 852 filed by Senator Jason Pizzo (D-Miami) is ready to be heard on the Senate floor. Though the House’s approval is a critical step forward, SB 852 provides stronger protections for incarcerated pregnant women by comparison. 

 

The Tammy Jackson Act ensures that pregnant incarcerated women are transported to an appropriate medical facility without delay, given proper medical care, and not placed in restrictive housing involuntarily while in labor. The legislation also sets critical standards for the treatment of pregnant incarcerated women by aiming to create a safer, more respectful environment for women behind bars.

 

“Just the news of this bill passing starts to restore the dignity and hope for women and girls -   including juveniles - incarcerated in Florida. Today's action of our state legislators is an example of us moving towards a more equitable Florida,” said Valencia Gunder, Campaign Director for Dignity Florida and the New Florida Majority. “Our women are more than prisoners; they are mothers, nurturers, and caregivers and it is time they are treated as such, with dignity, respect, and humanity. The future is female, she’s strong, she’s Black, she’s Brown and she will not be incarcerated.”

 

No pregnant woman should ever be put in solitary confinement; it is inhumane, unsafe and cruel, both for the mother and her child. Currently, Florida has the second-highest incarceration rate for women in the United States, and yet, women’s basic needs and rights are not being met or respected. 

 

Ensuring that incarcerated people, including those who are pregnant, are safe, healthy and treated with dignity, especially during labor, is the responsibility of the state.


#WeAreTheVote Festival, Sunday, March 8 at Miramar Amphitheater

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The #WeAre Foundation is a new non-profit organization that uses the arts and artists to bridge the gaps between us, and connect our communities to our collective voice and vote. They’ve created a space for us to come together by holding a free #WeAreTheVote festival to attract and create awareness around the importance of civic engagement, and help empower as many people as possible to make their voice count at the polls.

 

The festival is scheduled for Sunday, March 8, 2020, Noon - 8 PM, at Miramar Regional Park Amphitheater, 16801 Miramar Parkway, Miramar, FL 33027. The community festival with live entertainment, food trucks, voter registration, music and activities will celebrate everyone who pledges to vote. 

 

The co-founder of #WeAre Foundation, BRANDON VICTOR DIXON, will be available to meet and greet the public. You remember Dixon because he played lawyer Terry Silver on POWER. His body of work includes his roles as Aaron Burr in HAMILTON on Broadway, and Judas in NBC’s “Jesus Christ Superstar Live.” 

 

Representatives from HeadCount and the WeAre Foundation will be available to answer questions about local voter registration requirements and assisting with voter registration on-the-spot.

 

“The growing divisions in our politics and social interactions inspired us to build an ecosystem of citizens and organizations that can remind us all that the more we fight for each other, the less we have to fight for ourselves,” said Dixon. “In 2020 we will demonstrate the connective power of the arts to help communities realize the power of their voice and collective vote!"

 

HeadCount is thrilled to partner with the #WeAre Foundation in 2020. This partnership epitomizes our mission, bringing artists, volunteers, and communities together in the pursuit of positive social change. Together, we will reach thousands of voters and get-out-the-vote in 2020.

 

 

 


Early voting has begun in Florida’s 2020 Presidential Preference Primary

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Early voting starts today and goes through Sunday, March 15, in the Florida Presidential Preference Primary. Florida is a closed primary state so only Democrats can vote for Democrats and only Republicans can vote for Republicans.

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At stake are the state’s 248 Democratic delegates, of which 29 are superdelegates. Donald Trump has opposition but none of them is a threat to him being the Republican nominee. 

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Voting actually began weeks ago with the mailing of vote-by-mail ballots. Since that time, many of the Democratic candidates have dropped out of the race. Uninformed voters are likely to waste their vote if they are not aware of each candidate’s status. 

 

UPDATE 1: Here is a markup of an actual Democratic ballot. These are the active Democratic candidates as of the posting of this article. Amy Klobuchar is suspending her campaign. More candidates are likely to drop out after tomorrow’s Super Tuesday contests. Be informed. Share this information with your family and friends. 

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Dr. Steve Gallon’s Fourth Annual Black History Showcase pays homage to HBCUs and the Divine Nine

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Brilliance, creativity, and talent were on full display at Miami Carol City Senior High, on Tuesday, February 18, 2020, as District 1 School Board Member and School Board Vice Chair Dr. Steve Gallon III held his 4th Annual District 1 Black History Showcase. This year’s show entitled “D1 Chella” celebrated Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Black Greek Letter Organizations (BGLOs) also known as the Divine Nine. Performances included dance,  step, chorus, spoken word, drama, jazz band, and  drumline.

 

The event master of ceremonies was District 1 and Andover Middle School’s 8th grader Ramaria St. Hilaire. Schools represented in this year's showcase included: Golden Glades Elementary, North Dade Center for Modern Languages, Parkview Elementary, Rainbow Park Elementary, Scott Lake Elementary, Norland Middle School, Carol City Middle School, North Miami Senior High, Miami Norland Senior High, Jan Mann Educational Center, and Miami Carol City Senior High. There was also a special performance by Ricky Danco, a Haitian American dance company.

 

Event partner was City of Miami Gardens Councilwoman Katrina Wilson. More than 500 were in attendance and included Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert, Councilman David Williams Jr., Councilman Reggie Leon, Trayvon Martin Foundation executive director Sybrina Fulton, North Region Superintendent Jose Bueno, UTD Vice President Antonio White, and North Region administrators and school staff.

 

A special visual presentation was featured reflecting on the past and highlighting the present status of HBCUs and the Divine Nine. The showcase received a long and resounding standing ovation and continuous praise by everyone as the audience exited the auditorium.

 

“Once again, our community has been able to serve witness to the artistic beauty and brilliance of our students, as well as the power that the arts plays in their education and empowerment,” said Dr. Gallon. “The night also provided an opportunity for us to reflect, recognize, and celebrate the educational journey of Blacks in higher education and the powerful role and influence that Black fraternities and sororities have played in binding us in power and purpose. The night’s performances also provided us with a challenge. How do we top this?”

 

To view highlights from the show, visit:

https://youtu.be/M9HVmXPlfDI

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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