History

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.

 


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

 


Memorial Day Gratitude and Remembrance

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Today is Memorial Day. It is a solemn day of remembrance for those who died in service to the United States. It’s easy to forget what Memorial Day actually means while you’re sitting by the pool, checking for the latest sales at the mall and online, or looking ahead to summer vacation. 

From 1868 to 1970, Memorial Day was celebrated on May 30. The implementation of the Uniform Holiday Act, designated the last Monday in May as Memorial Day. 

Memorial Day is not to be confused with Veterans Day – Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving, while Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans. It is also not to be confused with Armed Forces Day, a U.S. remembrance celebrated earlier in May, which specifically honors those currently serving in the U.S. military.

 


Oakwood University Crowned Champion at 28th Annual Honda Campus All-Star Challenge

 


-Oakwood University awarded $75,000 institutional grant from Honda


-Bowie State University, Florida A&M University and Tuskegee University rounded out the top four teams


-Robert Batten, Dean of Bowie State University, named Coach of the Year

HCASC 2017 Oakwood


TORRANCE, Calif., April 11, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- After twenty rounds of intense competition, Oakwood University was crowned the 28th annual Honda Campus All-Star Challenge (HCASC) National Championship Tournament (NCT) champion on Monday, April 10, taking home the championship trophy and earning a grant of $75,000 for their HBCU. The four-student team demonstrated its academic prowess by quickly and accurately answering questions about history, science, literature, religion, the arts and popular culture. Oakwood University was one of 48 Historically Black College and University (HBCU) teams that qualified for the NCT by competing in a series of regional competitions on campus throughout the academic year.

A packed studio audience filled with HBCU students, school presidents, alumni, volunteers, fans and Honda associates watched as Oakwood University clinched the title over runner-up Bowie State University. This is the third time Oakwood University has won the Honda Campus All-Star Challenge.

Coached by Dr. Rennae Elliott, the winning team included Caleb Briggs, Olivia Campbell, Joshua Nwaoha and team captain, Sesly Huerfano.

"I've seen firsthand how the Honda Campus All-Star Challenge changes students' lives by building their confidence and giving them a place to belong on campus," said Dr. Rennae Elliott. "We have a whole network of people back home and across campus who have supported us throughout the tournament; it truly has been a team effort." 

Runner-up Bowie State University earned a $30,000 grant, while the third and fourth-place finishers – Florida A&M University and Tuskegee University – earned $20,000 each.

"Honda congratulates Oakwood University on their exciting achievement in the National Championship Tournament, and we applaud all of the students who participated in this year's Honda Campus All-Star Challenge program," said Steve Morikawa, Vice President, Corporate Relations and Social Responsibility, American Honda Motor Co., Inc. "HCASC is made possible each year through the efforts of the many volunteers and we extend our thanks and appreciation to all of the volunteers who helped make this annual tournament a success."

In addition to honoring the top four teams, Honda recognized outstanding individuals who have made an impact during this year's Honda Campus All-Star Challenge. Robert Batten, 11-year HCASC coach and Dean of Bowie State University, was named Coach of the Year. Danian Medearis of North Carolina Central University was selected by fellow HCASC players to receive this year's Ernest C. Jones Sportsperson Award. Named for one of HCASC's early volunteers who mentored students in the program, the award recognizes a student who epitomizes team spirit, camaraderie, good sportsmanship and academic focus.

Honda established the Honda Campus All-Star Challenge in 1989 as a way to highlight and recognize the academic talents of HBCU students. More than $8.5 million in grants from Honda have provided support for books and tuition, scholarships, enhancement of student programs and other investments to improve campus facilities. This year's journey to the championship began in the fall, with 89 HBCUs competing for a spot in the finals. Nearly 100 volunteers, including Honda associates, helped produce the 2017 National Championship Tournament, hosting the students, conducting registration and serving as game officials.

For photos, videos and more information about the 2017 HCASC competition, including a full list of the 48 teams that qualified, visit HCASC.com. Connect with HCASC on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and follow the conversation using #HCASC.


Remembering our fallen heroes on Memorial Day

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Today is Memorial Day. It is a day to honor military personnel who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle. Memorial Day is frequently confused with Veterans Day, which is observed in November and honors all who served in the military. 

In remembrance of all military personnel who made the ultimate sacrifice. Thank You. 

#MemorialDay2016 #NeverForget 🇺🇸


Resettlement Community Gives Hope to Haiti Six Years after Earthquake

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Six years after the devastating January, 12, 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the community of Leveque has emerged as one of the most successful resettlement communities in the country and a beacon of transformation.  

The once barren land where Leveque now sits was granted to Mission of Hope, Haiti (MOH) by the Interim Haiti Relief Commission after the earthquake as a place to rebuild homes for those who lost everything. Over the last six years, MOH built more than 600 block homes in Leveque through its Blue to Block program, enabling families to move out of the blue temporary tarp huts that were erected following the quake and live in a truly thriving community with a church, school, clean water, and sustainable farming. Over 150 hearing-impaired families have been integrated into the community as well.  

"These people not only have a new home, they have a new life. They have hope again," says Brad Johnson, President of MOH. "And it could not have happened without the collaborative effort of many partners, including New StoryInternational Deaf EmergencyWater Missions Intl and many others."

The cost of each home built through MOH is $6,000 and includes 3 rooms, a small plot of land for farming, a detached bathroom, and fruit trees.  The overall objective of Blue to Block is to build a community, not just a housing project. This has been accomplished by establishing a school, a church, clean water solutions, and agricultural training in Leveque. 

"Our mission is not just to change a village, but to change a nation. We want to empower Haitians to transform Haiti," says Johnson.

Mission of Hope currently works with over 420 indigenous organizations in Haiti and is committed to seeing the nation transformed through sustainable growth. To reach that goal, MOH trains and supports over 3,000 local farmers in sustainable farming techniques, feeds over 90,000 children a day, and hopes to have 100% of the food used in its food distribution program to be grown by Haitian farmers by 2020.  MOH also educates over 6,500 students and is currently building a technical school that will provide further education and job training.


President Obama's message on the 50th anniversary of 'Bloody Sunday'

"The single-most powerful word in our democracy is the word 'we.' We the People. We shall overcome. Yes we can. That word is owned by no one. It belongs to everyone. Oh, what a glorious task we are given, to continually try to improve this great nation of ours." —President Obama: http://go.wh.gov/Selma-speech ‪#‎Selma50‬ ‪#‎MarchOn‬


 


Message from the NAACP: Selma is now

 
NAACP
 
  Fifty years ago this week, hundreds of courageous men and women were bludgeoned and bloodied by Alabama state troopers as they tried to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge. They were marching from Selma to Montgomery to secure the basic, constitutional right to vote. Their actions catalyzed a national movement that ultimately led to the passage of the landmark Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965.

Commemorate the lives and sacrifices of these brave marchers by sharing this image on Facebook.

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It's 2015, but voting rights continue to be in peril for rural, older, college-enrolled, disabled, and black and brown voters. Those who live in states with a documented history of voter suppression now face new laws aimed at keeping our most vulnerable populations away from the polls.

Today, thousands of civil rights leaders and activists like you are gathering in Selma to kick off a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the historic Selma-to-Montgomery March. 

And while we commemorate the anniversary of this great march, we must also remember that our rights are still not secured—Selma is now.

Let's show the nation we will not stand by as our rights are threatened. Share this message on Facebook today.

On Saturday, exactly 50 years after "Bloody Sunday," President Barack Obama will make a special address to honor the lives lost, the courage displayed, and the revolutionary results of this day in our history.

His speech and our advocacy work will send a message to lawmakers who are looking to keep us away from the polls, away from our most fundamental right: that we are watching, we are fighting, and we aren't backing down. Not in 1965, not in 2015. 

Thank you for standing strong,

Cornell William Brooks
President and CEO
NAACP
 
 

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Pioneering Miami Art Space Yeelen Gallery To Feature “BlackFreedom” Paintings


Gallery Director Karla Ferguson Announces Provocative Exhibit Confronting America’s Racial Crisis By White French-American Artist Jerome Soimaud


Karla Ferguson, the Jamaican-born owner of Miami’s Yeelen Gallery, launched painter Jerome Soimaud’s "BlackFreedom" exhibit with an invite-only party at the gallery on February 14. The exhibit will be open for general viewing starting Wednesday, February 18 and will close May 2.

"I’m proud to commemorate Black History Month with this exhibit," says the thirty-five year-old Ferguson, who worked as a law intern with the Innocence Project New Orleans before opening her celebrated gallery in Miami’s "Little Haiti".

BlackFreedom documents the Civil Rights Movement in Miami and prominently features a tribute to the last hours of Jumbo’s Restaurant, an indelible symbol of the end of Jim Crow in America.

Highlighting the urgent contemporary relevance of the exhibit, Ferguson continues: "Tragedies like the killing of Michael Brown and its aftermath indicate that the nation is facing a crisis of racial and socioeconomic disorder. And it’s not just a ‘black problem’, it’s everyone’s problem. Jerome’s searing, unforgettable work speaks directly to this mounting division and offers an opportunity for deep, healing, reflection, and a continuation of activism."

Adding to the layers of meaning in the exhibit is the personal connection between the exhibitor and the artist: Ferguson and Soimaud have been married since (2004) and are the parents of four daughters.

"We’re a team," says Ferguson. "Like this exhibit, our family is a beautiful gathering that defies convention and expectations."

Born in Paris in 1964, Soimaud studied at the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere, after working under the instruction of architect Alain Farel at The Ecole Nationale Superieur des Beaux-Arts in Paris. He relocated to Miami in 2006 to concentrate his work on subjects related to the African Diaspora.

Soimaud’s art harnesses a distinctive technique of painting on canvas with charcoal and graphite interwoven with light, emphasizing delicate yet exacting attention to detail. His works are in public and private collections internationally.

The Yeelen Gallery opened in 2008 and its name translates to "Brightness" or "Light" in the Bambara language, which is spoken in the African country of Mali.

Under Ferguson’s fearless direction, the gallery has given voice to marginalized people through the power of art and its exhibits have been covered by The Miami Herald and The New York Times.

"Most galleries are ruled by commercial interest, so they don’t see the potential in controversial exhibits like BlackFreedom," says Ferguson. "I don’t give a damn about commercial interest."

 

Yeelen Gallery
294 NW 54th Street
Miami, Fl 33127
Tel: (954) 235-4758

 

 



Mobile Theater and Rare P-51C Mustang Honoring Tuskegee Airmen To Visit Wings Over Miami Air Museum


Minneapolis, Minn. – February 16, 2015 – The Commemorative Air Force (CAF) Red Tail Squadron, America’s tribute to the Tuskegee Airmen, is bringing its RISE ABOVE Traveling Exhibit mobile theater and WWII P-51C Mustang aircraft to the Wings Over Miami Air Museum March 5 through 8. This is a unique opportunity for all ages to learn about the Tuskegee Airmen – America’s first black military pilots and their support personnel – in a unique and interactive way. The event is made possible in part by a generous grant from the Florida Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs.

The museum is partnering with local schools to inspire children with the RISE ABOVE Traveling Exhibit, dedicating two days of the event exclusively to school and community groups. Students will learn about the CAF Red Tail Squadron’s guiding Six Principles – Aim High, Believe In Yourself, Use Your Brain, Be Ready To Go, Never Quit, Expect to Win – and how they can be applied to their own lives. School administrators, youth group leaders, homeschool cooperatives, veterans organizations and all other community groups of any size are invited to contact the museum at (305) 233-5197 to schedule a special showing. Call today to reserve a spot for your group!

The Wings Over Miami Air Museum then invites the community to an open house for all ages Saturday March 7 and Sunday March 8 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. to experience the mobile theater and get an up close look at the CAF Red Tail Squadron’s restored P-51C Mustang on static display. The signature aircaft of the Tuskegee Airmen in WWII, the P-51C Mustang is a rare treat for spectators because it is one of only a few like it still flying today.

The exciting RISE ABOVE Traveling Exhibit is a fully functional movie theater featuring the original short film "Rise Above," designed to take the audience on a journey through time – and then through the air. Visitors get an intimate look at the struggles and challenges faced by the Tuskegee Airmen, who showed extraordinary courage and strength of character as they fought for their right to serve our country during WWII. The theater’s dynamic 160-degree panoramic screen creates the sensation of being in the cockpit soaring above the clouds in the P-51C Mustang, experiencing the excitement and thrill of flying breath-taking aerobatic maneuvers. It’s much more than a history lesson; the Tuskegee Airmen’s ability to triumph over adversity serves as a means to inspire others to RISE ABOVE obstacles in their own lives and achieve their goals.

"We applaud the Wings Over Miami Air Museum for making this one-of-a-kind adventure possible for their community," said CAF Red Tail Squadron Leader and P-51C Mustang pilot Brad Lang. "Visitors will walk away with a greater understanding of the history and legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen, and be inspired to achieve their potential. It’s a message that resonates with all ages and is an experience not to be missed."

The Wings Over Miami Air Museum is located at 14710 SW 128th Street at the Miami Executive Airport. Entrance to the mobile theater is free, however special discounted admission rates to the museum will apply. As always, members of the armed forces receive complementary admission to the museum with a valid military-issued ID. Student and community groups in need of scholarship assitance to offset admission costs are encouraged to contact the museum at (305) 233-5197 for further details.