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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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Feeding the community

State Rep. Barbara Watson and Farm Share help those in need before the holidays

State Rep. Barbara Watson along with state Rep. Joseph Allen and Farm Share distributed food and grocery items to more than 500 families at Allen Park/DeLeonardis Youth Center. The City of North Miami Beach and the Department of Children and Families joined the leaders.

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Former offenders stymied by slow clemency process

“Serious backlog of cases in the five agencies in the state,” said review board staff member

A town hall meeting with clemency as the key topic drew former offenders who are waiting to restore their civil rights. Wilma T. Burkley and George Meeks Jr. both cited a lengthy application process. Each has progressed in society while waiting more than four years to have their rights restored. Burkley and Meeks have earned college degrees but struggle with landing employment commensurate with their education because of the felony convictions on their records even though they have completed their sentences. “My issue is the backlog of cases,” said Burkley. “I applied in 2007. I tried to contact them about the status of my application and they finally put in the 2013 group. If something doesn’t change soon I won’t be able to make it.” Said Meeks: “I’ve served my time. Why won’t they treat you like a man?”

Officer who killed Corey Jones is fired

The family of the slain man wants criminal charges filed against Nouman Raja

The Palm Beach Gardens Police Department terminated officer Nouman Raja, the man who shot and killed Black musician Corey Jones. His employment termination was effective 5 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 11. According to a statement from the city of Palm Beach Gardens, Raja was a probationary employee. “Any decision involving assignments, layoff or dismissal of probationary employees is entirely within the discretion of the City. Such decision shall not be subject to the grievance procedure,” the city quoted from the Police Benevolent Association Union contract. The statement, dated Nov. 12, also says that the independent investigation into the shooting with the three agencies will continue, and the city will cooperate with all agencies involved. Raja is the focus of an investigation after an incident Oct. 18 when Raja came across a car driven by 31-year-old Jones, an employee by the Delray Beach Housing Authority. During that encounter, Jones died. Jones was carrying a weapon, which he did not fire, but Raja fired six shots at Jones, three of which hit Jones. Jones was buried on Oct. 31 with family and friends in attendance at the funeral. Rev. Al Sharpton was the keynote speaker at the service.

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Tye Tribbett pays tribute to Corey Jones

Faith Center in Sunrise was packed to the top last Thursday

Tye Tribbett, Corey Jones’ cousin and fellow musician, held a huge concert last Thursday night at the Faith Center in Sunrise. The concert ran more than three hours with thousands of people cheering all night long. Hours before the concert the city of Palm Beach Gardens announced that it had fired Nouman Raja, the police officer who fired six shots at Jones – three hitting him, one in the heart – on Oct. 18. Jones died while waiting for tow truck assistance that early Sunday morning when his car broke down after he performed at a gig. Raja emerged from an unmarked van with tinted windows and approached Jones in plainclothes with no badge. It is unknown if Raja identified himself as a police officer. Jones had a licensed firearm with him that he did not fire.

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West Grove veterans celebrate their own with parade, ceremony and food

Ken Russell, running for Miami Commissioner, attends annual event

Along Douglas Road in Coconut Grove, the Richmond Heights Middle School band marches up tempo to Uptown Funk while leading a small, but loyal, group of men and women who served in the U.S. military. Children, enjoying a day off for the Veterans’ Day holiday, and a few adults ran to their front yards to wave and watch. The small group from Coconut Grove American Legion Post 182 along with family, friends and well-wishers assembled in the Charlotte Jane Cemetery for a parade and ceremony they’ve conducted for at least 10 years.

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Bishop Richardson: "A compassionate man"

He not only talks Christianity but is also a pastor's pastor

It is a normalcy for members to respect and care about their pastor, but when a pastor’s peers hold him or her in high esteem that is, as the slogan goes, “a coat of another color.” A survey, by this reporter, of more than 25 pastors on Nov. 11, revealed the high respect they hold for Bishop Richardson. He is the founder and Pastor of The Church of God of Miami located at 1351 NW 67th St., in Liberty City; founder of The Church of God Vero Beach; The Church of God Belle Glade; and The Church of God Valdosta in Georgia. When asked why he believes so many pastors think so highly of him and refer to him as “a pastor’s pastor,” his response was the same as it was more than 20 years ago.

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Tips to avoid holiday challenges and addiction

Deborah King, daughter of boxing legend Don King, offers tips to avoid relapse during yearly festivities

Deborah King, daughter of boxing promoter legend Don King, has kicked-off her campaign to share her story and encourage others who are struggling with drug addiction. She recently spoke to a crowd of over 100,00 people at the inaugural “Unite to Face Addiction Rally” on the National Mall in Washington, DC. King battled her addiction publicly, during her DUI arrest in 2006, which also resulted in a drug possession charge. In September 2014, King earned a Master’s in Mental Health Counseling from South University and is now a certified Intervention and Recovery Life Coach. Drug addiction plagues more than 85 million people.

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North Shore Medical Center awarded “A” hospital safety score

Hospital honored by leapfrog group

North Shore Medical Center was recently honored with an “A” Hospital Safety Score by the Leapfrog Group, an independent national nonprofit run by employers and other large purchasers of health benefits. The “A” score was awarded in the latest update to the Hospital Safety Score, the A, B, C, D or F scores are assigned to U.S. hospitals based on preventable medical errors, injuries, accidents and infections. The Hospital Safety Score was compiled under the guidance of the nation’s leading experts on patient safety and is designed to give the public information they can use to protect themselves and their families. “Every day, our colleagues are focused on improving outcomes and enhancing the safety of the care we deliver,” said hospital CEO Manny Linares. “We are proud to receive an “A” score in safety from The Leapfrog Group, as we believe it reflects the hard work of our team to position our hospital as a leading, trusted provider

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Robert Battle writes his story

Liberty city native heads the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, to perform in Feb.

“My Story, My Dance: Robert Battle’s Journey to Alvin Ailey” is the inspiring story of a boy who, despite physical and personal challenges, has a life filled with music, church, and movement – first martial arts, and then, after seeing Alvin Ailey’s “Revelations” dance. “My Story, My Dance” is inspired by the life of Miami native and Ailey Artistic Director Battle, who is currently in his fifth season as artistic director. This picture book biography features images brimming with vibrant color and swirling motion, and is illustrated and written by award-winning husband-and-wife team James E. Ransome and Lesa Cline-Ransome. Created for ages 5 – 10, the book was released in October by Paula Wiseman Books, a division of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing. “My Story, My Dance” is a heart-warming tale that is sure to inspire readers of all ages. When Battle was a baby, he was adopted by his loving aunt and uncle, and nurtured by his encouraging cousin. As a young boy wearing leg braces, he never dreamed he’d study

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Wine and food fest a success

The first Miami Gardens Wine and Food Experience presented by Councilwoman Lisa C. Davis filled the rooftop of the city’s swank, new municipal complex Saturday. Co-hosts for the evening were Omari Hardwick of the Starz blockbuster “Power” and HOT 105 FM’s Jill Tracey.

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Cosmopolitan in the Gardens

Miami Gardens can and should be America's next Black cosmopolitan Mecca. Judging by the ambience that engulfed the city's new municipal complex at this past weekend's inaugural Wine and Food Experience, city leaders fully understand this possibility. I've long used these pages to address the apathy impeding South Florida's Black community's progress so now let me take a moment to celebrate the community's innovation. After all, it's only right.


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