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Erick Johnson



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Bright Futures scholarship program under scrutiny

State is examining concerns raised by newer and tougher standards

Florida’s Board of Governors, the group that oversees all of the state’s universities, is set to review concerns created by tougher new academic requirements that left hundreds of Black high school students in Miami-Dade and other counties without Bright Futures scholarships. On Nov. 5, the group will hear arguments on how the new standards have dramatically reduced the amount of eligible minority students, whose socioeconomic backgrounds have placed them at a disadvantage as opposed to white, affluent students.

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In fight for city’s future, Miami Gardens candidates square off

It’s a tough choice for voters in Miami Gardens. Andre Williams, a seasoned attorney, is known throughout the city for his tenacity and unpopular views toward Florida’s largest Black city. Dr. Erhabor Ighodaro is an educator and popular community activist who has been endorsed by the mayor and many of South Florida’s prominent Black politicians.

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Leaders push to boost early voter turnout

Voting set to begin; residents urged to go to the polls at town hall meeting

With voter apathy still a concern, Black community and religious leaders are stepping up efforts to boost voter turnout as early voting begins Oct. 20 for the midterm elections. At a town hall meeting Oct. 7 at Mt. Calvary Missionary Baptist Church in Liberty City, leaders urged frustrated residents in crime-ridden neighborhoods to take their concerns to the polls on Nov. 4.

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A park makeover helps transform Opa-locka

A barren half-acre lot in Opa-locka has been transformed into a picturesque community park. Milkweed plants and Gumbo Limbo trees were among the foliage incorporated into the makeover of Magnolia Park North, where about 100 volunteers and residents created an exquisite butterfly garden at the park, 2123 Ali Baba Ave.

Commission endorses Black museum

County funding a hurdle for project proposed to be located on Miami’s waterfront

The Miami-Dade County commission last week endorsed a plan to erect a Black museum on Miami’s waterfront. In a unanimous decision, commissioners passed Commissioner Dennis Moss’ resolution to instruct Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez’s staff to put together a plan that would bring a Black museum in a city still struggling to achieve racial and ethnic harmony. The move follows the commission’s endorsement during the summer of a proposed Cuban Exile museum.

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World-record holder brings hair-raising experience to Liberty City

Her hair is 55 feet long and Asha Mandela brought all 40 pounds of it to the Natural Styles hair salon at the Northside Flea Market in Miami. Dozens of onlookers were star-struck as they took photos with the famous woman who set the Guinness World Record in 2009 for the longest dreadlocks. “I was like wow. I wondered who that was until people told me,” said Larry Mitts, a shopper who was passing by. “I didn’t want to make it so obvious that I was so excited.”

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Resident one of few to celebrate Halloween on grand scale in the Black community

It’s the bewitching hour. A death train with a corpse chugs along the driveway. Body parts fill a makeshift cemetery in the front lawn. It's an unusual scene at Victoria Washington’s house in West Little River where hundreds flock to the elaborately-decorated home filled with witches, ghosts, spiders, goblins and skeletons.

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Making the cut

On the brink of closure, Boot Camp program graduates transformed young offenders

One month after it faced being shut down because of budget cuts, Miami-Dade’s Boot Camp program held its graduation ceremonies Oct. 1. In a packed courtroom at the Richard E. Gersten Justice building, 34 cadets assembled in the same place they once stood for crimes that would have sent them to jail. It was a dramatic ceremony, where male cadets with troubled backgrounds sat in crisp white shirts and ties with fresh haircuts after rehabilitating for committing serious, but nonviolent crimes.

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Spirit of Togetherness told in a divided world

Sounds and dancing are moving the journey of South African experience

The uplifting voices of the African continent tell harrowing stories of human suffering and spirituality during the Apartheid era in South Africa, where Blacks lived in harsh and segregated conditions under white rule. Then there is the fury of the Traditional Zulu tribal dance with performers in colorful African garb expressing their pain and emotions in a ritual dance that has endured for centuries. In the Venda Snake Dance, artists band together to slither like an outsider seeking to do something evil in an African village.

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Disparity report brings sweeping reform

New programs will address decades of economic losses

Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho last week pledged his commitment to reinstate the Minority/Women Business Enterprise (M/WBE) program as part of a historic agreement to address the economic disparity in business contracts between Black and white firms. The agreement is the direct result of efforts by Black leaders, who released a disparity report in response to a preliminary M-DCPS study that said there were no economic inequities between Blacks and other ethnic groups doing business with the school board. Consequently, the school board released an audit that uncovered the errors and concerns raised by Black leaders.

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