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Vigil marks Haiti earthquake six years later

Community leaders marched to the Little Haiti Cultural Center

Members the Haitian community as well as elected officials on Tuesday, Jan. 12 attended a prayer vigil and silent march to commemorate the sixth anniversary of the earthquake which killed more than 250,000 people and left thousands more wounded and displaced. The gathering took place at North Miami Avenue and 62 Street, in front of the Statue of Toussaint L’Ouverture. After a brief program, participants walked to the Little Haiti Cultural Center at 212 NE 59th Terr.  “We are marching in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Haiti, who after surviving the worst crisis in modern history — an earthquake that killed over 250,000 six years ago, and left thousands more wounded and homeless — continue to struggle

Mental illness is usually at the heart of the matter

The sick sometimes appear defiant or do not comply with directives and tragically get shot by police

On Christmas Day, 2015, Bettie Jones (age 55) and her grandson Quintonio LeGrier (age 19) were shot dead at a family residence in Chicago. Their unfathomable demise is one of the many tragedies throughout multiple states and cities, which must be scrutinized in a larger frame. Civilian encounters with the police have frequently resulted in fatal results. Too often, African-Americans in particular and others are seemingly brutalized or shot even as they are unarmed. Amid the national headlines surrounding the unarmed are claims by police that they felt their lives were threatened or that a suspect or perpetrator advanced towards them in a menacing, aggressive manner. Communities are publicly denouncing excessive force by the police who, despite webcams, videos and other social media decrying their actions, claim they had no other choice.

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Fair brings health to Miami Gardens

Free testing and entertainment highlight of event

Arlington Academy hosted its 4th Annual Health Fair on its campus located at 4814 NW 167 St. in Miami Gardens.  The event, which took place, Jan. 9, boasted HIV & Syphilis testing, dental hygiene presentations, blood donations, girl mentorship program information, and a bounce house for the kids. Volunteer services were provided by Miami-Dade County Public Schools’ 5000 Role Models of Excellence.  Students were accompanied by their director, Paul Wilson. The high-energy music was provided by DJ Ivory and Papa Keith of 103.5 The Beat radio. "I am blessed to be here with you this morning,” said radio personality, Papa Keith, as he welcomed guests to the Health Fair. "These health fairs bring awareness and allow people who probably think they can't afford health care to get a check-up for free."

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The princesses and the firefighters

The Essence Tea Princess started 2016 by showing appreciation to the men that risk their lives every day in Fire Station 11 in Miami Gardens.  The young ladies in their sash and crowns arrived at the door with cases of bottled water-labeled “Thank You for your Service.” The firemen were very surprised. The princess group came in a truck with water, a variety of Gatorade, potato chips and a pound cake for snacks. The firemen gave them a tour of the fire truck and explained the difficult and life- threatening job they have of saving lives. “They were very nice and gave us a lot of detailed information about the truck said Samaria Brown,” a sixth grader who has been in the program for three years. Morgan Smith, a fifth grader, has been in the program for five years and she asked many questions of the fire fighters. Morgan wanted to know where does the water come from and how did they learn to work all the devices on the truck? It was a rewarding experience for the girls and the parents the chaperones.

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Zo’s Winter Groove a success

Hundreds celebrated the Martin Luther King holiday weekend by attending Zo’s Winter Groove from Friday, Jan. 15, to Monday, Jan. 18. Activities took place in Miramar, downtown Miami and Aventura and included: a youth summit hosted by Florida Memorial University; a 5K Run/Walk followed by a Family Fun Day and Health & Wellness Fair; the 2nd Annual Zo’s Winter Groove Comedy Show; and Zo’s Hall of Fame Golf Groove.

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Sailing into 2016

Cruise lines offer special discounts during WAVE season in January

Named the Cruise Capital of the World, Greater Miami and The Beaches is kicking off 2016 with its third annual Miami Cruise Month to coincide with WAVE season. WAVE season is when the cruise lines offer discounts and specials even for cruises at a later time. The Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau (GMCVB) has once again partnered with some of the world's most prestigious brands to bring savings on sailings booked in January, as well as exclusive offerings for destination pre-and-post cruise stays. From heritage neighborhood tours and hotel packages to sample itineraries and a Twitter chat, a dedicated Miami Cruise Month website - www.MiamiCruiseMonth.com - provides residents and visitors with important resources for planning and booking.

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MLK Day of Service at Brownsville Middle School

Law firm and FIU beautify school in honor of Martin Luther King holiday

On Saturday, Jan. 16, members of the Hamilton, Miller & Birthisel law firm collaborated with Florida International University and community partners to organize beautification and landscaping projects at its adopted Brownsville Middle School, 4899 NW 24th Ave., in Liberty City. The community event brought together local citizens and their families in commemoration of the annual Martin Luther King Day of Service.

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FAMU professor participates in climate change conference

Florida A&M University Professor Dr. Odemari Mbuya recently met with delegates from 195 countries to discuss ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris, France. Mbuya is the program leader of Agronomy, Soil and Water Sciences at the College of Agriculture and Food Sciences and faculty director of the Sustainability Institute. As the FAMU representative for the Florida Climate Change Institute at the conference, Mbuya was able to showcase climate change milestones confirming the commitment to address issues related to climate at national and global levels.

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Simply Simone – The Music of Nina Simone

AHCAC presents an adaptation based on the turbulent life of an American music icon

The African Heritage Cultural Arts Center (AHCAC) will present “Simply Simone-the Music of Nina Simone” an electric new revue based on the turbulent life and rich legacy of this American music icon opening on Friday, Feb. 19. The musical features, performers Sarah Gracel Anderson, Toddra Brunson, Deana Butler-Rahming and AHCAC Alum, Ja’Nia Harden. Singer, Pianist, Arranger and Civil rights activist, Nina Simone was all of these things, and more. Simon’s Music career spanned nearly 50 years and worked in a broad range of musical styles. The score to Simply Simone crosses genres from gospel to blues to Broadway to rock and roll, and features such definitive Simone classics as “I Love You Porgy,” “The Look of Love,” “My Baby Just Cares for Me,” “To Be Young, Gifted, and Black” and “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood.”

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Chatter that Matters

Introduction of founder Dr. Enid C. Pinkney whose position is to cultivate The Historic Hampton House for the new jewel of Black Miami as a world class culture center . What is envisioned as the Historical Hampton House’s primary purpose will be to showcase talent, ideas, values and artifacts from the Black experience in Miami. The need for such a facility is timely, in todays’ increasing connected space with the world community. African Americans in Miami need to share a common space with the world community just as Blacks and hopelessness, wealth disparities, injustice and many more issues. The Historical Hampton House is intended to provide a safe space for those who wish to learn more about Black Miami’s History, and to reflect on the meanings we shared around becoming and personal growth in the twenty first century.

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Lifestyle Happenings

The BTW Alumni Association will meet Jan. 21 at 6 p.m. in the BTW cafeteria. Call 305-213--0188. Booker T. Washington Class of 1956 will meet Friday, Jan. 22 at 11 a.m. at Michael’s Restaurant. Call 786-351-6558. The Hadley Park Homeowners and Tenants Association will meet on Tuesday, Jan. 26 at 6 p.m. at Carrie P. Meek Senior Center. Call 305-758-5966. The African American Cultural Arts Center presents “Simply Simone-The Music of Nina Simone” Wednesday February 17 thru March 13. Call 305-638-6771 or visit www.ahcacmiami.org.

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Driving to Succeed

New program helps District 5 residents get cars to go to work

Six residents of city of Miami’s District 5 received new 2016 Nissan Versas as part of the Martin Luther King Economic Development Center’s (MLKEDC) Wheels to Work Program. The ceremony was held on Monday, Jan. 18, recognized as Martin Luther King Jr. Day, in celebration of Dr. King’s commitment to community service and his fight against poverty. City of Miami Commission Chairman Keon Hardemon sponsored the program as part of his Anti-Poverty Initiative. “This is a pilot program,” said James McQueen, Hardemon’s chief of staff. “And hopefully if it works we will evaluate it and see if should be expanded.” MLKEDC, a 41-year-old agency in Liberty City, oversees the funds and subsidies the car loans, said Christine King, president and CEO.

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Norland boys' basketball eyeing another state title

Team seeking fifth consecutive championship

Looming on the sports horizon is the Greater Miami Athletic Conference, and there is one team with its sight set on achieving a historical feat. The Miami Norland Vikings boys’ basketball team is seeking to become the first team in the state of Florida to win five consecutive state basketball championships. “We’ll see,” said Vikings Coach Lawton J. Williams III. “We’ve gotta take care of business. I don’t take anything for granted.” The Vikings have had a busy season so far. First, there was a weekend trip to Punta Gorda, Fla. to take on Douglasville High from Georgia in a tournament. Then came the final four games of the regular season and the GMAC Tournament. Their 15-3 record to date and status as the reigning State Class 6A champions adds fuel to the fire of every competitor the Vikings face. Each has the goal of knocking off the Vikings with all of their accomplishments. “We’re about to do something that no other team in Florida has done,” said Norland Athletic Director Robert Ryan, a 1986 graduate of North Miami High School. “We’re very strong, ranked 18th nationally.”

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County tries to regulate ride-sharers Uber, Lyft

Background checks and extra insurance at core of ordinance

Wearing Black T-shirts with Uber written in white letters, Lamar Williams, Taylor Warnell and LaQuirie Williams stood outside a meeting room waiting for County Commission Chair Jean Monestime to make remarks. Monestime had called a meeting Friday to clarify and defend legislation he sponsored which calls for 24-hour insurance as well as county background checks for ride-sharing companies. For a year and half, county officials have been trying to regulate the ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft and on Wednesday, Jan. 20 there will be another effort. But on the heals of an email campaign by Uber threatening to pull out of Miami-Dade and telling its riders to support a proposed ordinance by Commissioner Estaban Bovo instead of Monestime’s, on Friday, Monestime held a press conference at county hall. “We are just here to support Uber,” said Lamar Williams, a rider.

MLK day focuses more on guns than peace

He had complicated legacy on gun violence throughout his lifetime

Martin Luther King Jr. was surrounded by guns, even though he didn't like them. At times, armed foot soldiers protected the Baptist preacher and his family. As he led protests across the rural South, King often stood in proximity of guns — wielded by local police, state troopers or hostile people in the crowds. On April 4, 1968, King became one of America's most famous victims of gun violence. Just as guns were a complicated issue for King in his lifetime, they loom large over the 30th anniversary of the holiday honoring his birthday. Urban violence, mass shootings and killings of unarmed Black males by police have caused alarm, touched off protests and revived the nation's conversation about gun control. President Barack Obama recently took executive action to tighten federal gun restrictions, invoking King as he urged citizens to press for change.

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Parade, other events honor Dr. King

Civil Rights leader is remembered at these local events

Check out the following local events commemorating Martin Luther King Day: Youth symposium: The Women Involved in Service to Humanity and the Gamma Zeta Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. present the annual MLK Youth Symposium, Sunday, Jan. 17 at 2 p.m. at Carol City High School, 3301 NW 183rd St. in Miami Gardens. The event features a discussion with Miami’s middle and high school students. The theme is “Your Destiny Awaits. Special guests include internationally recognized activist and leader UMI SELAH (previously known as Phillip Agnew) and other members of the Dream Defenders. Scholarship breakfast: U.S. Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson hosts The 23RD annual 5000 Role Models of Excellence Foundation Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship Breakfast at 8:30 a.m. Monday, Jan. 18, at Jungle Island Treetop Ballroom, 1111 Parrot Jungle Trail, Miami, 33132. Guest speaker is actor Omari Hardwick, who stars as Ghost on Starz’ “Power.” There also will be an appearance by some cast members of the “Real Housewives of Atlanta.” Parade: Dozens of community groups, marching bands and students participate in the annual MLK Parade in Liberty City, Monday, Jan. 18 at 11 a.m. The parade will run along Northwest 54th Street, from Northwest 10th to 32nd avenues.

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Vigil marks Haiti earthquake six years later

Community leaders marched to the Little Haiti Cultural Center

Members of the Haitian community as well as elected officials on Tuesday, Jan. 12, attended a prayer vigil and silent march to commemorate the sixth anniversary of the earthquake which killed more than 250,000 people and left thousands more wounded and displaced. The gathering took place at North Miami Avenue and 62nd Street, in front of the Statue of Toussaint L’Ouverture. After a brief program, participants walked to the Little Haiti Cultural Center at 212 NE 59th Terr.

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Ban the box, open carry, bills of 2016 Legislature

State Rep. Bobby Powell holds town hall before session on hot topics

Ahead of the Florida Legislative session that began this week, State Rep. Bobby Powell held a town hall meeting to discuss some of the session’s hottest topics: gun legislation, sober homes, body cameras and education. At the meeting, on Wednesday, Jan. 6, at the Mary V. McDonald Wilson Center, Powell said that a lot of the funding for universities and colleges was based on their performance. Certain universities or colleges would lose funding or not get the funding they needed based on how well they performed academically.

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Silence on Corey Jones case draws rally

Clergy and politicians come out to support the slain musician’s family

Members of the Banks family and local pastors and friends of slain musician Corey Jones held a rally in West Palm Beach on Monday, Jan. 11, as another reminder that they would be continuing to rally until Jones received justice. Jones was killed in an interaction with a Palm Beach Gardens Police Officer in October of last year, and this was a reminder that almost three months had passed without a word from State Attorney Dave Aronberg or the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office. Some of the speakers at the event spoke about the upcoming races in which Aronberg and Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw were running for office for another term. Former Riviera Beach Police Major Alex Freeman is already in the race against Sheriff Bradshaw.

How well do you know MLK?

Everyone knows about Martin Luther King Jr's “I Have a Dream” speech, but how much do people really know about King Jr. himself? A Civil Rights activist known for his methods of nonviolence, Martin Luther King Jr. was honored with a national holiday on the third Monday of January. Test your knowledge of one of the greatest Civil Rights activists with these 20 questions below.

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