People You Should Know

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.]

 


South Miami Alphas Partner with Miami-Dade NPHC to Spread Holiday Cheer in Florida City

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On Wednesday, December 19, 2018, the Iota Pi Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated joined the Miami-Dade National Pan-Hellenic Council to distribute Christmas gifts to the entire student body of Florida City Elementary School. The Miami-Dade National Pan-Hellenic Council hosts an annual toy collection drive to provide Christmas gifts to children who reside in low income communities.

The Council’s holiday gift market included books, action figures, balls, dolls, remote control vehicles, Legos and electronic learning devices for primary school age children. The students were allowed to select their personal gifts to take home. In total, over 400 toys were collected by NPHC local affiliate organizations (Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority) and distributed at the school site. A surplus of toys which included featured hot items - two bicycles and a drone - were allocated to the school administration to serve as achievement prizes to inspire and reward student performance during the remainder of the school year.


Catchings-Smith Installed as Chair of NPHC Council of Presidents

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Deborah Catchings-Smith

National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) announced the installation of Deborah Catchings-Smith, International President, Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, as chair of the NPHC’s Council of Presidents (COP) for a one-year term effective immediately. 

In this role, Catchings-Smith will preside over meetings of the COP and will be its highest-ranking member. The council is composed of the elected president of each member fraternity and sorority, known as the “Divine Nine”--- Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc., and Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc.

The COP is responsible for the broad general policies of the NPHC and directing the national executive board of directors regarding activities executed on behalf of the organization.

“I’m honored to work with my colleagues and seek new ways to collaborate with the Divine Nine organizations and identify opportunities or address issues that face our organizations, communities and the nation,” Catchings-Smith said. 

 

 


Black Media Professionals Honored at Second Annual BOMA Awards

BOMA winners 2018
Black media professionals honored at 2018 BOMA Awards.

MIAMI – It’s not often that you’ll hear a faith-based economist quoting the rapper Drake or have the opportunity to sit in a room filled with 150 of South Florida’s most talented black media professionals, but that’s exactly what happened Thursday, September 20, at 11 a.m. when the Black Owned Media Alliance (BOMA) held the Second Annual BOMA Awards at Miami’s Hilton Airport Hotel.

Experts from various aspects of the industry came together to honor the multi-talented individuals who have dedicated their careers to not only authentically telling the African Diaspora’s stories, but also creating economic opportunities to build its wealth and strengthen its core.

WMBM’s Debra Toomer served as the Mistress of Ceremony and Dr. Lance McCarthy – a nationally recognized Faith-Based Economist and Investment Advisor with a specialty in Urban Development – delivered the keynote.

After giving some staggering statistics, McCarthy challenged the audience to implement the 3Cs of consciousness, currency and communications to enrich the Black community.

“We’ve had the DNA of black business owners since the beginning of time. We know black history, but not black business history. …We don’t need any more programs, we need projects. How do we put information out there continuously on black wealth? How do we create a platform to be able to move our agenda forward,” McCarthy asked.

“The sin is not being blind, the sin is not being deaf, the sin is not doing what God called you to do,” McCarthy continued, saying Drake got it right when he said “YOLO (You Only Live Once),” “God’s Plan” and “Started from the Bottom Now We’re Here.”

Honorees included: Teri Williams, President of OneUnited Bank as BOMA Champion of the Year; Bernadette Morris, Founder and Chairman of Sonshine Communications as BOMA Icon of the Year; Publix as BOMA Advocate of the Year; Sandy Walker, Publisher of The Gospel Truth, as BOMA Vanguard of the Year; Peter Webley, Publisher of Caribbean Today, as BOMA Visionary of the Year; and John Yearwood, Yearwood Media Group, as BOMA Luminary of the Year.

Award winners included:  Hip Rock Star, Marketing Firm of the Year; S.A. Nelson & Associates, PR Firm of the Year; WOW Factor, Advertising Agency of the Year; The Mosaic Group, Black Advertising Agency of the Year; Calibe Thompson, Blondie Ras Productions, Inc., Best TV Communicator of the Year; Lynda Harris, Independent Financial Advisor, Best Radio Communicator of the Year; Russell Motley, MIA Media Group, Best Print Communicator of the Year; Tracy Timberlake, Timberlake Ventures, Best Digital Communicator of the Year; LaShannon Petit, PRPL Miami, Best Social Media Communicator of the Year; David Muir, Photo/Video Journalist of the Year; and Arriale Henry, The Westside Gazette, BOMA Rising Star Award.

In addition to serving as the MC, Toomer received the President's Award for her commitment to excellent service and BOMA President Dexter Bridgeman received the first Spirit of Dexter Bridgeman Award, an annual award created in his honor as the organizing founder of BOMA.

Bridgeman said the organization was created in 2015 to address the disparity that exists in South Florida for black-owned media outlets when it comes to receiving viable economic and financial opportunities.

 


Relaunch of Black Education Advocacy Organization Honors Local Educational Leaders Sept. 6

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Under the leadership of Miami-Dade County School Board Member, Dr. Steve Gallon III, the education community is excited about the relaunch of the Miami-Alliance of Black School Educators Black School Educators (MABSE), the local affiliate of the National Alliance of Black School Educators (NABSE). You don't want to miss their inaugural Legacy of Excellence In Education Awards Dinner & Membership Drive, on Thursday, September 6, 2018 at NoMi Bar & Grill, 738 Northeast 125th Street, North Miami, FL 33161. The evening has been designed to reinvigorate the local community's premier organization advocating for education of all children of African descent and to honor outstanding Educators from Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow.

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Congratulations to the 2018 MABSE Excellence in Education Honorees:

Dr. Solomon C. Stinson
Dr. Geneva Knowles Woodard
Ms. Johnnie Batist
Ms. Valtena Brown
Dr. Derick McCoy
Ms. Bernadette Toussaint Pierre
Mr. Derek Negron
Ms. Cisely Scott
Ms. Tawana Akins

Tickets can be purchased online at ExcellenceInEducation2018.eventbrite.com. Seating is limited and there will be no on site ticket sales. For more information, contact Vanessa Woodard Byers at info@mabse.org or (305) 879-6442.

 


Chill, Chat & Chew with the Candidates, Wednesday, August 1, 2018

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Join me, my friend Andre Joyce, the owners and staff of Lil GreenHouse Grill, and other politically-minded individuals as we enjoy edgy neo-soul cuisine, complimentary hors d'oeuvres (courtesy of Lil GreenHouse Grill), and adult beverages 5pm-8:30pm, on Wednesday, August 1, 2018.

Chat with the candidates for office in the upcoming Primary Election. Your vote is your voice. Come through so you can be an informed voter. Don't miss Chill, Chat & Chew with the Candidates.

Thanks, VaVa!

Candidates

Circuit Court Judge - Renee Gordon

County Court Judge - Olanike "Nike" Adebayo

State Senator District 38 - Daphne Cambell, Jason Pizzo

State Representative District 108 - Joseph Beauvil, Roy Hardemon, Dotie Joseph

State Representative District 109 - James Bush III, Cedric McMinn

Miami-Dade County School Board District 2 - Brandon Alfred, Dorothy Bendross Mindingall

#chillchatchew #miami #politics #election2018


Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated Installs 25th International President, Valerie Hollingsworth-Baker During Grand Boulé In New Orleans

 


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Valarie Hollingsworth-Baker, 25th International President of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated


WASHINGTON, July 25, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated, a 98-year-old international women's service organization, held its Grand Boulé in New Orleans from July 18 – 22, 2018 with the purpose of bringing members together for business meetings, fellowship, community service, and rededication to its founding principles of Scholarship, Service, Sisterhood, and Finer Womanhood. During the Grand Boulé, Valerie Hollingsworth-Baker, Zeta's immediate past International First Vice President, was elected to International President, and will lead the organization into its centennial year in 2020.

The Brooklyn native is the Director of the Inforce Systems Division for New York Life Insurance Company in New York City, responsible for managing multi-million-dollar projects and programs, training personnel, and overseeing new product development as the chief administrator of one of the company's major subsystems. She is an alumna of Fordham University, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree at the young age of eighteen. Hollingsworth-Baker has been recognized in the "Who's Who of Information and Technology" and "Outstanding Women of America" publications.

St. Augustine's Church, the NAACP, and the Hancock T&T Block Association where she serves as the vice president.

Mary Breaux Wright, of Houston, Texas, precedes Hollingsworth-Baker as Zeta's 24th International President.  Under her leadership, the sorority held record-breaking fundraising efforts for the March of Dimes, and made notable contributions to St. Jude, the American Cancer Society, Women's Veterans ROCK, and the Smithsonian African American Museum. Wright also led Zeta's international expansion, chartering chapters in Belgium, England, the United Arab Emirates, the Bahamas, and Trinidad and Tobago.

Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated was founded in 1920 on the belief that the social nature of sorority life should not overshadow the real mission to address societal mores, ills, prejudices, poverty, and health concerns of the day. The international organization's 125,000+ initiated members, operating in more than 850 chapters, have given millions of voluntary hours to educate the public, provide scholarships, support charities, and promote legislation for social and civic change. For more information about Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated, please visit www.zphib1920.org.


 Florida’s Democratic Gubernatorial Candidates in First South Florida Debate Tonight

The first South Florida Gubernatorial Debate of the 2018 election cycle will be held this evening, June 11, at 7 PM EST at Miramar Cultural Center, 2400 Civic Center Place, Miramar, FL 33025. SEIU (Service Employees International Union) has partnered with several organizations to host this debate, dubbed the Florida Freedom Forum. Four of the five democratic candidates are scheduled to participate: Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, former U.S. Representative Gwen Graham, Chris King, and former Mayor of Miami Beach Philip Levine. Recently declared candidate, businessman Jeff Greene, is not scheduled to participate in this debate.

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If you are not one of those blessed with a ticket to watch it in person, not to fret, you can watch it online at the SEIU websiteor via their  Facebook page. There are also watch parties in TampaWest Palm BeachJacksonville, and Orlando. Join the conversation online by using the hashtag #FLFreedomForum.

PBS NewsHour’s Yamiche Alcindor, a Miami native, and WLRN Public Media’s Luis Hernandez will co-moderate the forum.

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Joining SEIU to host this event is a coalition of groups including Dream Defenders Action FundFlorida Immigration Coalition (FLIC) VotesNew Florida MajorityOrganize FloridaPlanned Parenthood Florida PAC, and Color of Change PAC


Dr. Steve Gallon III named Educator of the Year by Legacy Magazine

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Congratulations to Miami-Dade County School Board Member Dr. Steve Gallon III who was named the 2018 EDUCATOR OF THE YEAR by Legacy Magazine and recognized at a regal Wakanda-themed reception. Dr. Gallon is also the recipient of the National School Boards Association Council of Urban Boards of Education's (CUBE) prestigious 2017 Benjamin Elijah Mays Lifetime Achievement Award; was elected to the National School Boards Association's National Steering Committee and is president of the reactivated Miami Alliance of Black School Educators.

Congratulations to Dr. Gallon and all of the honorees of Legacy Magazine’s 50 Most Powerful & Influential Black Business Leaders of 2018.

 

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