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The Social Whirl

Sometimes a chance meeting is one of the best. By chance, I ran into my classmate Charity Virginia Willis Green at Walgreens last Saturday. We were both at the checkout and she turned and said my name. After a greeting hug, we chatted, and moved outside the store where she shared with me a recent experience. “Vennda-Rei, I was driving in Liberty City and passed Liberty City Elementary. I passed the school, got to 22nd Avenue and had this powerful urge to turn around and go back. I parked, walked into the school, checked in with security and just explained that I was among the first students to enter this school when it first opened. As I was talking, a teacher came by and heard our conversation. I told her that we marched up Northwest 18th Avenue from what was Liberty City Primary to this brand new Liberty City Elementary. She said, ‘my students don’t have an alma mater, they don’t know the alma mater because through the years, somehow there is no copy. Do you know the alma mater, she asked.’

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Chatter that Matters

It was a breezy and calm evening on the rooftop of the City Hall building in beautiful Miami Gardens. Spectators and connoisseurs alike gathered for the inaugural 2015 Miami Gardens Wine & Food Experience presented by Councilwoman Lisa Davis. The night started promptly at 6 pm with a happy hour and welcome cocktail by the South Florida Fire Fighters which featured Tito’s handmade vodka titled “Tito’s on Fire” and Cigar Lounge presented by Figaro Cigars and Signature Cigar Bar & Lounge for those who indulge. During the reception on the ones and twos was DJ Griot from 99JAMZ playing the best in R&B setting the mood for those in attendance. DJ Griot was accompanied by Jill Tracey from HOT105 who served as the illustrious host for the evening. There was something for everyone, from the sultry sounds of Harpist Mariea Antoinette, to smooth sounds of Jazz artist James Dawkins and we couldn’t forget our poetry lovers, the Viking Freedom Writers gave a special poetry performance.

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‘Men of Valor’ created at Bulls Nation

Northwestern students get exposed to successful men from their community

The Miami Northwestern High School Bulls held the second of what it hopes will grow into a series of monthly events for its Men of Valor program. Corey Morris, a reading coach at Miami Northwestern, coordinated the event that is the brainchild of Miami-Dade Public Schools Board Member Dr. Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall. The program is a response to the rash of shooting deaths of a number of Miami Northwestern’s students, including two who were killed during the first week of this school year. “A program like this absolutely benefits the students because the real war is information, getting positive information to these kids,” said Bendross-Mindingall, who initiated a similar program more than 25 years ago when she was principal at Lillie C. Evans Elementary School. “The idea is to bring in people who have experience facing the horrific situations that these kids face. Kids don’t fully understand or don’t know how to solve the problems they face. People who have been successful can share the experiences of what has worked for two generations and longer.” With that concept in mind, Morris conceived the theme, “Men of Valor” because of the connotation.

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Student awarded scholarship by SFBJA and The Miami Times

FIU broadcast media major Jayda Hall wrote an essay on objectivity in the field of Journalism to qualify for award

The South Florida Black Journalists Association partnered with The Miami Times to offer a new scholarship for journalism students in South Florida. The Miami Times Scholarship Essay Contest was developed to encourage and support college students as they pursue studies in Journalism or Communications. Florida International University broadcast media major Jayda Hall, a resident of Opa-locka, met all requirements for the contest, including being a U.S. citizen and holding a minimum 2.5 grade point average (GPA). She is eligible to receive a scholarship up to $1,000.

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Bendross-Mindingall voted first Black woman vice chair for the School Board

Dr. Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall, School Board Member for District 2, was elected Vice Chair of the Miami-Dade County School Board at the annual Organizational Meeting held Nov. 17. This appointment makes her the first Black woman in Miami-Dade County Public Schools to be chosen for the position.

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10th annual gala for Miami-Dade Chamber

President builds relationships in diverse South Florida to benefit members

Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce President G. Eric Knowles believes in relationships. That’s why he has spent the better part of his year and half tenure building strategic partnerships in the business community to carve out pathways for the chamber’s members.

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Carla Harris leads the Norland Lady Vikings girls basketball team

The high school football season nears an end as the chase for a state championship winds its way through the playoffs at a time when the basketball season gears up. And, yes! Coaches compete to win games, championships and growth with a passion for a game they love.

Chaos erupts at high school football game

Police have arrested three teenagers after gunshots were fired during the Miami Central vs. Carol City high school football game at Traz Powell Stadium Friday night.

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Commissioner Jordan gives away more than 900 Thanksgiving turkeys to needy families

Miami-Dade County Commissioner Barbara J. Jordan gave away a record 900 turkeys to families in need at her 11th annual turkey giveaway at Landmark in Northwest Miami-Dade County.

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South Florida in protest

Blacks showed frustration about police violence and discrimination at three different rallies in two different South Florida counties last weekend. The protest noise has gotten louder in South Florida since the Oct. 18 death of musician Corey Jones, who was shot by a plainclothes policeman. Added to that is the movement by university students demanding that their voices about intimidation and racism on campus locally and nationally be heard. Over the weekend, a protest demanding an indictment of former Palm Beach Gardens police Nouman Raja for shooting Jones while he waited for a tow truck for his broken down Hyundai unfolded in front of the swank Palm Beach Gardens Mall. On Sunday, a protest about the lack of diversity at NASCAR’s finale at Homestead Speedway fizzled when attendees hurled racial slurs at the protestors, mostly children. And on Monday, activists called for a boycott of Black Friday, Nov. 27 outside the Palm Beach Gardens police station.

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Rev. John C. Vaughn: From the civil rights movement to inner city

In 2012, Reverend John Cread Vaughn was sent to New Covenant Presbyterian Church (NCPC) located at 4300 NW 12th Ave. in Miami as its Stated Supply Pastor to replace, according to the history located in the archives of the church, Geraldine “Jerri” Kilpatrick Owens and Laura Powell. New Covenant Presbyterian Church is a congregation of the Presbyterian Church (USA) in Allapattah. It is significant for being the first Southern congregation in the Presbyterian Church (USA) to break racial barriers. Vaughn was born in Chicago and was married for 55 years before his wife died in 2014. He is the father of two daughters, one killed in a car accident; has five grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. He served in the U.S. Army in Korea from 1952-1954. He has a Bachelor’s of Arts from the University of Illinois in Anthropology; a Master’s of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary; and in 1960 was ordained into the ministry of the Presbyterian Church. He obtained a PhD in Sociology from the State University of New York at Albany. Vaughn has pastored numerous churches including: Presbyterian Church Albany, NY, where he worked with a Black militant group, The Brothers, who were involved in building low-cost houses. He was also active in the Civil Rights movement.

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Local colleges hold ‘Black Outs’ to support Mizzou

Students at Barry, FIU voice their concerns

Joining in solidarity with their counterparts in Missouri, students from at least two South Florida universities have launched “Black Out” movements to rally support and express frustration about situations at their campuses. On Nov. 13, Barry University students held a Blackout Solidarity Demonstration in support of University of Missouri students, who earlier this month staged a protest over racial bias and discrimination they say they’ve suffered on that campus. Members of Barry’s Black Student Union, staff and faculty administrators, and students of all racial backgrounds gathered to speak out against racial statements said in the classroom and the university’s refusal to take action. 

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Liberty Square tenants protest

Pastors, activists make surprise visit to County Hall

The county commission’s discussion about what should happen with the Perry Ellis store at Miami International Airport took somewhat of a backseat as activists protesting another matter stormed County Hall. Liberty Square tenants and advocates – donned in loud, lime green T-shirts – captured the attention of Mayor Carlos Gimenez, county commissioners and other administrators as they stormed County Hall for an update on construction plans Tuesday morning. The group, led by Pastor Johnny Barber of Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church and Rev. Richard P. Dunn II of Faith Community Baptist Church, walked silently into commission chambers as an official with the Paris consulate gave a tribute to the people of France in the wake of recent attacks. As the men and women entered, Gimenez took notice, and came off the dais. He appeared to be unhappy, Barber said.

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Myra Taylor’s rant draws criticism

City of Opa-Locka mayor says she’s under attack; vows to fire Shiver

Nearly a week after Myra Taylor lashed out at City Manager Steve Shiver about the barrage of bad news coming out of Opa-locka, critics say the top elected official embarrasses them. “Our city is run by a dictator who is racist toward people of a different color,” said Steven Barrett, a former commissioner who has been particularly critical of Taylor. “I think she’s being racist. The only time she likes people of a different color is when they do what she wants done,” Barrett said Tuesday. “But if they follow the law, she doesn’t like them. All of those were racist statements. I never saw the day that would happen in Opa-locka.”

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Miami Palmetto students get outside diversity help

NAACP condemns racist texts from students

By the time the NAACP sent a memo condemning vile statements written by Miami Palmetto Senior High students in a forum for lacrosse players, the school system and the school had already moved into damage control. Within 48 hours, programs were brought in to start the healing process; students were sent to Miami-Dade County Public School Success centers for five to 10 days; and conversations about culture and race began – but not before Principal Victoria Dobbs tried to downplay what the students did and the discipline deserved. Eight students used a social app called GroupMe, which allowed them to chime in together, to identify “Black students as monkeys who should be caged,” and “It’s a f*****g safari near the lunch room.” One student said “lol palmetto is segregated.” One student defended Blacks or said positive statements. Photos of the instant chat conversations were then circulated on more public social media platforms.

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Miami Gardens making positive moves

Last Saturday, Councilwoman Lisa C. Davis saw her vision for a classy, sexy event in Miami Gardens come to fruition. The first Miami Gardens Wine and Food Experience brought a grown-up, date night vibe to the city and gave attendees a glimpse of the Miami Gardens Municipal Complex. Vendors, attendees, a Hollywood movie star and first-class entertainment provided an avenue for a different type of dialogue for Miami Gardens. And it is good, very good.

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Students suffer in silence no more

Black students all over the nation at more than 20 universities have stepped out of the shadows to speak about blatant racism that they face every day. Some may wonder why so many students now are raising concerns about how they are treated on campuses across America. The students feel empowered after seeing how the students at the University of Missouri’s Columbia campus pushed back against racist elements who tried to thwart them by ignoring them. Their push didn’t come without consequences. More racist statements and threats on the lives of Black students were issued after the forced resignation of the president and the chancellor of the university. Professors caught in the crosshairs resigned amid missteps. Then Ithaca College and Yale University students spoke out about racial tensions on their campuses. Soon, student voices everywhere were saying no to racism, segregation and divisions.

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Preston Marshall Jr., Miami’s MLK Parade founder, dead at 79

For nearly 40 years, Preston Marshall Jr. planned every detail of Miami’s Martin Luther King Jr. holiday parade. He enlisted help from friends, his wife and children – and later his grandchildren — to get the word out about the annual event. Marshall died Saturday after a long illness, said Margaret, his wife of 53 years. He was 79. “He loved the parade, and giving everybody a chance to get involved,” said Margaret Marshall. Her husband marched with MLK. Following the 1968 assassination, he wanted to create a parade that was as inclusive as King’s civil rights movement. The Miami parade launched in 1977.

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Behind the lines

There were two questionable encounters I had with Opa-locka’s Commissioner Terence Pinder that left me somewhat befuddled. After a special commission meeting on Sept. 29, Pinder, who had left the meeting earlier than usual, approached me about a phone call he had with former Interim Manager and CRA Director Ed Brown that raised my suspicion that a conspiracy had been launched. In our exchange he queried me on a phone call he had placed to Ed Brown but I had no idea what he was talking about.

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Give Miami Day 2015 set for Nov. 19

Miami Afro-Latin band, Suénalo, to headline Community Block Party at Marlins Park 

The most active day of philanthropic giving in South Florida history is back with a record 600-plus nonprofit organizations set to raise millions in 24 hours on Nov. 19. The Miami Foundation’s historic Give Miami Day 2014 raised $5.2 million from more than 13,000 donors for 520 nonprofits. This year, the foundation hopes to eclipse last year’s total for the 24 hours between midnight Nov. 19 and midnight Nov. 20. Hundreds of Miamians will celebrate the annual giving day at the Community Block Party, a free, family concert event at Marlins Park from 5 to 8 p.m., featuring kids’ games, food trucks, nonprofit exhibits and the award-winning local Afro-Latin band, Suénalo.

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