With new laws and new members to come
A Miami-Dade County committee responsible for giving youth a second chance is growing in size. The Miami-Dade Economic Advocacy Trust (MDEAT) will expand its Youth Action Committee (YAC) from nine to 11 members after pulling from a pool of applicants. It’s the first time since the organization was established in 2009 that MDEAT has accepted applications for the committee. The YAC applications, which were due Dec. 8, represent one of several changes to the agency spawning from recently updated bylaws.
Feds ban Terence Pinder from participating in U.S. contracts
The scrutiny of Opa-locka’s newly elected officials continues, this time from the U.S. government regarding returning commissioner Terence Pinder. On Nov. 5, one day after Pinder was elected an Opa-locka commissioner, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) swiftly debarred him from participating in federal contracts. The government sanction comes after Pinder in February accepted a plea deal on four counts of conflict of interest. The commissioner is currently serving two year's probation.
Miami-Dade County just learned it lost a front-runner for Miami’s Blacks who worked to bridge the gaps in understanding between integrating communities. Robert “Bob” Simms died in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Dec. 16. He was 87. Born in Alabama in 1927, Simms moved to Miami in 1953 for a job at George Washington Carver schools. It was there that he met Clyde Stephens Sr. The two instantly hit it off, becoming fishing buddies who planned trips for decades, even after being separated by the integration of schools in the early ‘60s.
A thunder of voices resounded as protesters, like a dark cloud, shadowed the sunny Coral Gables campus at the University of Miami (UM). Michael Brown. Oscar Grant. Eric Garner. Joe Ferrell. Sean Bell. Rekia Boyd. John Crawford. Ezell Ford. Amadou Diallo. These were the names students blared over a megaphone -- names of unarmed Black people who were killed by police officers.
The failed indictments of police officers who killed Eric Garner and Michael Brown have unleashed ideas that the Jim Crow era of racism is still disguised in U.S. society. Recent images of hostility displayed toward mourning protesters in Ferguson, Mo. rehashed parallels to violent police tactics during the civil rights movement. Those images ripped the Band-Aid off a sore that festered openly after a white police officer killed unarmed Brown. And while many police publicly defend the actions of cops, Black people across the country are angered by what many view as aggressive mistreatment.
Final urban poetry night is Dec. 10
Whether it was strong, punchy verbs popping over a microphone or smooth, sultry adjectives sending out stories of passion into the room, the Bohemia Room was the place for poets and listeners alike. Miami has become a notable city for visual arts, which is never more apparent than the bustling celebration during Art Basel. But while one art scene flourishes, a smaller form of creative expression that nestled a home in downtown Miami is giving the city its final kiss goodbye.
Community servants to be honored at celebration gala
One of Florida’s oldest Black business institutions is turning 40 years old — a milestone marked by celebration even as it faces the future with apprehension. The Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce (M-DCC) has been a resource to the Black community since it was founded in 1974 by five business people who were barred from the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce.
Residents believe city ignores voters
The process to remove one longtime public servant from office has turned to the courts as disagreements in Opa-locka continued last week. Attorney Benedict Kuehne filed a civil lawsuit on Nov. 24 on behalf of an Opa-locka organization called Citizens on a Mission for Change, requesting a judge to declare Timothy Holmes ineligible as a city commissioner. Kuehne attempted to file an injunction Nov. 6 to delay Holmes from being sworn in after Holmes garnered the majority of votes to win the seat. The city declined to remove Holmes.
On Tuesday, men and women who have fought and continue to fight for Black civil rights, politicians and educators shared their reaction to the grand jury declining to charge Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson for killing unarmed teenager Michael Brown, Aug. 9.
Some opposition, confusion stopping discrimination legislation change
A familiar Black county leader is backing a marginalized community in the name of equality for all. District 3 Commissioner Audrey Edmonson has sponsored a change to county law to include protections from discrimination for transgender people. The Miami-Dade County Commission Board will vote on an agenda item about the changes Dec. 2. If passed, the blanket of protection will cover transgenders in addition to others. Concern over differential treatment is huge for Blacks, who are covered in the current ordinance. The law has been amended to protect people from discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex, nationality, marital status, pregnancy and sexual orientation. It covers a lot of individuals, but some think the transgender community is left out.
Cuban grandmother inspires twin sisters
At first glance, it’s one of many cigar companies in an already saturated Miami market. But behind Tres Lindas Cubanas are a pair of sisters who hail their cigar brand as a celebration of the Black woman.
Thanksgiving is right around the corner and it’s bringing with it the season of giving. With hundreds of free turkeys on the line, a Miami gang is in on the merriment. Mirva Cadet, Gang Alternative program director, said the youth organization is indeed a gang. Gang Alternative was founded in 1987 at a time when the Magic City’s major tricks were crime and drugs.
Music, DJs, chicken wings and things
A short stretch of Ali Baba Avenue pulsated with bass booming from huge speakers. Night had fallen in Opa-locka and cool lights set the scene for the beat-heavy mania that was about to ensue. It was time for six DJs to take front stage at this year’s Art of Transformation in a battle on the ones and twos. I was honored to judge the competition with hosts DJ Laz, Hot 105's Jill Tracy and fellow judge DJ Immortal. The crowd had thinned a little, but the contenders had a sizable audience who stood in front of the stage with faces lit from the huge concert screen. They waited in anticipation.
Residents voted to pass term limits; commissioner may not see fifth term
Less than two weeks after Opa-locka election results were announced, a group of residents want a re-elected commissioner out of an office seat he’s held since 1994. Timothy Holmes received enough votes to garner a fifth consecutive term as Opa-locka commissioner during Nov. 4 elections. He was one of four candidates contending for two open commissioner seats on the city ballot and he won with the most votes. Newly reelected commissioner Terence Pinder trailed Holmes by only 50 votes.
EcoTech Visions to generate dollars, and improvement in environment
Liberty City will soon be home to the potato fork. It's one of the ways Pandwe Gibson looks to tackle environmental issues while addressing poverty in the area. Gibson is founder and CEO of EcoTech Visions, the region’s first environmentally conscious business incubator, which opens this month in Liberty City at 667 NW 90th St. By providing office space, consultation and equipment, EcoTech Visions can develop green start-ups like Earthware. It’s a cutlery production company that makes forks, knives and spoons from potato starches, cups from corn products and plates that when trashed do little harm to the earth.
Deemed a “visible eyesore,” the old hotel building on the corner of Northwest Seventh Avenue and 81st Street is expected to receive a major facelift that may attract future business to the corridor. Now that the county has determined improvements to Northwest Seventh Avenue an economic priority, officials are lauding the expected success of the hotel project as a gateway to increased business for the community. The hotel, purchased last May by developer MNK Hospitality LLC for $4.3 million, is expected to bring in dollars with a new name: City Inn.
Agency launches campaign for new name
A group of Black business owners filled the pews of the sanctuary at New Jerusalem Primitive Baptist Church. Kevin Greiner stood in front of the audience. They quietly stared back at him.
Expected to reunite separated families
A new program flaunts promise to the large population of Haitians living in South Florida, but leaves many with pressing concerns, some with bad intentions and others with hope. Maggy hasn’t seen her daughter for seven years – years she’s spent trying to bring her ailing daughter into the country. She didn't want to provide her last name for fear of endangering or delaying her daughter's entrance into the U.S. For Maggy, her daughter's photo is the only thing that keeps her memory. “I have not been to Haiti since 2007 so I don’t remember any special moment; but when she was born, it was the happiest day of my life,” Maggy said. “Sometimes when I think about her, I look at her picture and I cry.”
Restaurant owner Shirley Ingraham was serving customers one day when two men walked in and made her an offer to buy two old abandoned buildings just within walking distance of her famous Jackson’s Soul Food restaurant in Overtown. The men offered to sell her the old structures for $125,000. She bought them without knowing what she would do with them or how she was going to pay to refurbish the old spaces.
For the one-name singer-songwriter known as Kem, one song off his new album is especially personal. "Promise to Love" is about dealing with the guilt of losing the one thing he wanted the most. "There was a time in my life when I was in a relationship with someone who probably was 'the one' and I blew it. "Promise to love" speaks to the hope that we all have to be loved. It’s the greatest feeling that I’ve ever known," he said. The song is featured on Kem's la test album, Promise to Love: Album IV, and is the name of his upcoming eight-city tour, which he is kicking off at Fort Lauderdale's Broward Center for the Performing Arts Nov. 14.
Ebola not as deadly as infections by comparison
It’s no surprise that most people go to the hospital for treatment, but a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that hospitals across the nation are breeding infections that put patients’ health at risk. Before entering a hospital, consider this new statistic: for every 25 patients one contracts an infection during treatment. These infections, called health care-associated or hospital-acquired infections (HAIs), kill about 75,000 people every year, according to the most recent reports. But those are national statistics.
Three Black female candidates express their platforms, agendas
Voters in the City of Opa-locka have three options for mayor in the upcoming Nov. 4 elections and the candidates share at least two qualities: they are Black women. It’s the first time this has happened in recent history, according to longtime city employees. The three women couldn’t be any more different in their stances on major issues like term limits and immediate priorities following elections. Mayoral candidates include incumbent Myra Taylor, former Opa-locka commissioner Rose Tydus, and current commissioner Dorothy Johnson. They join the ballot with four other candidates for the city commission board: Timothy Holmes, Deborah Sheffield Irby, Andre Faustin and Terence Pinder.
On-spot admissions and fee waivers
Universities will accept high school students on the spot at the Miami-Dade County Fair and Exposition Center tomorrow, Oct. 30 between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Applications fees will be waived and scholarships given to accepted students at the fair, at 10901 Coral Way, Miami. In addition to providing education about college admissions and scholarships, the Fourth Annual College and Career Expo has awarded more than $3 million in scholarships in the last three years.
Focus problem solving for teens
Imagine the torment of a young child bullied in a place where he should've felt safe. For Jonathan Spikes, host of an event called Affirming YOUth, this was reality. “I grew up in a home where I was called stupid and ugly and told I couldn't do anything. I struggled with that," he said. "I personally knew I wasn’t happy but I didn’t know how to fix it. I was angry and bitter and didn’t want to be that way."
Visitors to see ‘real’ Miami on new tour
Step aside, South Beach! Overtown is the next tourist destination to “hop on” into the international spotlight. It’s now in the running to benefit from tourists’ dollars after a major bus route was introduced through the area. Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau (GMCVB) teamed up with Big Bus Tours Miami on Oct. 16 to announce the tour, called the “Uptown” route, through the heart of Overtown, Wynwood, Midtown, the Design District and Historic Downtown Miami. The Uptown route represents the first time since Big Bus came to Miami in 2011 that it has expanded its reach beyond the City and South Beach loops.
Details show the two holding hands hours before the alleged 'incident'
Former Booker T. Washington athlete Treon Harris is back on his college football team and set to play this Saturday at home.
Patricia Johnson shares journey in fight for a cure
A seasoned flight attendant, Patricia Johnson was rocked by the turbulence of a breast cancer diagnosis that later turned her into a flying foot soldier who took her message 30,000 feet into the air.
A local redevelopment agency is trying to get disengaged residents on board with plans to renovate and beautify their dilapidated homes. Southeast Overtown Park West Community Redevelopment Agency (SEOPW CRA) Director Clarence Woods said he is practically begging half of Town Park Plaza North to sign documents so that the $15 million repairs to their 169 units can begin. CRA needs to receive completed financial disclosures; approval to relocate residents while the repairs take place; and a formal applications for all the units before phase one of the revamp can begin.
Town Park Plaza North condos to receive $15 million, some tenants unmoved
A slumped Overtown condominium building will undergo renovations next year thanks to a $15 million grant from the Southeast Overtown and Park West Community Redevelopment Agency (SEOPW CRA). The funds for the renovations to Town Park Plaza North were approved in by the SEOPW CRA board in a meeting Sept. 30. The construction of Town Park Plaza North is expected to roll out in three phases, starting early 2015.
Commissioner Hardemon will keep a careful eye on project developers
It was about noon when someone gave Miami Commissioner Keon Hardemon a memo: Miami Worldcenter Group LLC had revised the jobs component of the development agreement -- and it was not for the better. In a last-minute maneuver, Worldcenter tried to cut the number of Miami-Dade County hires from 30 percent to 10 percent. The request surprised Hardemon, who said Worldcenter also cut small businesses participation in half from a previous 10 percent to 5 percent.
Treon Harris, star Miami athlete, suspended from UF football team amid assault allegations
That Overtown's Treon Harris could be accused of sexual misconduct crushed his former coach. “I hope it’s not true. I’m hurt for him to even go through this with accusations over his head,” said Shanton Crummie, who coached a younger Harris in Overtown to national titles in Pop Warner football. Harris, now a University of Florida (UF) quarterback, was suspended Monday from the Gators’ football team following an incident with a female student in a UF dorm early last Sunday morning. Harris has had an untimely fall from good graces. The freshman top recruit, on Oct. 4 led the Florida offense to a fourth-quarter comeback from a 9-0 deficit against Tennessee.
Cost cuts available for Floridians who are still uninsured
Uninsured Floridians will soon get their chance to weigh the costs of health coverage during the second wave of open enrollment in President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA) also known as Obamacare. Next month, those without health insurance can sign up to get coverage for 2015, and last weekend at North Shore Medical Center, representatives from the Epilepsy Foundation of Florida encouraged guests at a community health fair to spread the word.
MDEAT study says low-income, Black neighborhoods hit hardest
If you’ve ever felt you were paying too much for your home in South Florida, you probably were right, especially if you live in a Black neighborhood, according to a new report from Miami-Dade Economic Advocacy Trust (MDEAT). The report, called Annual Report Card and Scorecard, shows that low-income, Black people are dishing out more of their earnings on housing than they should, but the numbers point to a broader problem that has real estate analysts worried about the overall economy.
A community football organization is free to continue its pursuits at an Overtown park, despite prior allegations that it would be forced out. Overtown Community Optimist Club has held team practices at Williams Park for 21 years and will not be relocated elsewhere, according to a Sept. 22 announcement by Nzeribe Ihekwaba, Miami assistant city manager.
A Miami youngster who has been nationally recognized for her personalized cupcake business is now raising funds to promote literacy in her grandfather's hometown. Eight-year-old Taylor Moxey, also known by the title printed across her business cards Taylor the Chef, created her pastry company after her parents challenged her to buy her own toys. “This all started as a Sunday afternoon trek to Target. She would ask for a toy every Sunday. Then she would have these dolls all over her tub,” said Vernon Moxey, Taylor’s dad.
Deep City producers inspired by grit and soul of Overtown environment
With notebooks of musical compositions and business savvy, recent college graduates Willie Clarke and Johnny Pearsall returned to the gritty, rhythmic neighborhoods of Black Miami inspired by the brassy beats of the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU). Their mission: to create music.
Inaugural jazz concert for new university President Roslyn Artis
It was over a century ago that a chorus of 500 children performed a song to be heralded by generations of Blacks. The song, “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” indelibly connects Florida Memorial University (FMU) to the soundtrack of history. In an extension of that history, the university is hosting a jazz concert Oct. 2 at 7 p.m. in the Lou Rawls Center for Performing Arts to commemorate the new presidency of Roslyn Artis.
Engineering school inviting of all cultures, races
Florida International University (FIU) is headed to court Sept. 22 in a discrimination lawsuit filed by a former professor who was fired after several attempts to teach in Haiti. Sylvan Jolibois was fired last December and is hoping to reclaim his job in the engineering school, but FIU students were largely unaware of him and his case against the university.
Overtown’s Theodore R. Gibson Park is going through a second revamping with the groundbreaking of a new gym Friday, Sept. 19. Miami mayor Tomas Regalado will join District 5 City Commissioner Keon Hardemon on the grounds of the soon-to-be facility at 10 a.m. The gym, which will be two stories, is designed to s
Local groups show their support
A former engineering professor at Florida International University (FIU) is suing the university for discrimination after confrontations, which spiraled out of control, ultimately resulted in his termination last December. Sylvan Jolibois, who is of Haitian descent, wrote about the island nation’s “golden opportunity” to rebuild its infrastructure after
Miami pilot to bring lessons from sky to children
The new president of the nation’s largest labor union took to the skies in Miami today as the second major stop on her back-to-school tour. Lily Eskelsen Garcia began her role at the National Education Association (NEA) several days ago, becoming the first Latino woman to head the three million member organization.
While many university presidents may be bunkering down for a season on the gridiron, Roslyn Artis at Florida Memorial University (FMU) is analyzing her school with the scrutiny of a seasoned coach. “I looked across the university to find where we’re strong and quite frankly where we’re weak,” said Artis, who was appointed president of FMU in February making school history as the first woman to take on the role.
Local pilot to bring kids live lessons from his plane
The engine of a small aircraft revved as Miami native and international pilot Barrington Irving prepared to take off. Irving is founder of Flying Classroom, a new digital program being launched Sept. 23 at Allapattah Middle School and at least seven elementary and middle schools around Miami-Dade County.
Residents were vocal about their disapproval at local forum
In a discussion hosted by St. Louis public radio Aug. 28, Ferguson residents’ frustrations played out for the world to hear by special broadcast, which featured voices from the town rocked by the recent death of unarmed teen Michael Brown by a police officer.
Exam to begin next March, still unfinished
Florida Department of Education (FDOE) staff is working with outside contractors to develop the Florida Standards Assessment (FSA), a new test in line with the Common Core, with an emphasis on analytical thinking skills. The test is replacing the FCAT and will feature multiple answer forms beyond the typical multiple choice. The previously unnamed test will be administered on computers for students in fifth through eleventh grades with a paper option available.
Survey highlights differences between Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown coverage
The killing of unarmed teenager Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer in Missouri has raised concerns about police brutality to a national platform. Brown’s incident is one of several fatal interactions with cops in the past few weeks that has stirred Blacks to protest in solidarity with oppressed communities around the world.
Report calls for distribution changes
Miami-Dade County Public schools has done a poor job of distributing veteran teachers equally among its districts, according to a report released last Wednesday by a research organization called the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCQT). The report, titled “Unequal Access, Unequal Results” detailed the findings of a study requested by the local Urban League chapter. The findings were dismal for areas stricken with poverty and heavily populated by Blacks. NCQT reported that 70 percent of the 60 county schools to earn a D or F letter grade for the 2012 academic year were located in Opa-locka, Miami Gardens,
“Living Legends: Civil Rights Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow”
The Florida New Majority, a voter participation group, hosted a panel discussion last Thursday to spark conversation about involvement in various social justice movements. An opening parable narrated by African storyteller Djenaba Gregory-Faal set an underlying theme about youth activism to the discussion. Gregory-Faal engaged the audience in song with the words “Bring on the day when a young spirit will be in charge.”
District says data outdated, patchy
Miami-Dade County Public Schools has done a poor job of distributing veteran teachers equally among its districts, according to a report released yesterday, but county officials pointed out the weakness in the data and presented recent improvements.
As millions of students around the country returned to school Monday, the Urban League of Greater Miami urged local Black fathers to be involved in their children’s education, first by waking up to take them to school. The Urban League’s push was matched by other organizations in over 700 cities across the United States in a movement tagged Million Fathers March. The program originated in Chicago in 2004 by the Black Star Project, an organization that equips minority children with academic resources.