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Erick Johnson

Stories by Erick

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Inventing the possible space

Bold new exhibit explores possibilities over hard times

A new era is set to begin at North Miami’s Museum of Contemporary Art next week with the opening of an edgy new exhibit called Third Space: Inventing the Possible. The exhibit explores the challenges of the human condition, but it also illustrates the struggles of MOCA, an institution at a critical crossroad as it tries to redefine itself to re-connect to the art community.

Miami Gardens may gain yardage over stadium area

A proposed agreement by Miami-Dade County officials would give Miami Gardens the right to issue building permits for land around Sun Life Stadium. Commissioner Barbara Jordan, whose district includes Miami Gardens, sponsored the resolution at a Sept. 3 commission meeting, where officials proposed giving the predominately Black city the right to make recommendations to the county on future land-use applications around the stadium.

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Mega mall moves forward

City approves zoning for the project that will bring jobs to Overtown

After hearing frustrated Overtown residents and business leaders, the City of Miami commission last Thursday unanimously voted to approve two zoning changes for the proposed Miami Mall at Worldcenter downtown.

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Community reacts to disparity report

Inequities apparent as Black contractors fight for M-DCPS contracts

Dozens of professionals and community residents packed Freedom Hall near Northside last Wednesday to hear alarming details of a scathing report that accuses Miami-Dade County Public Schools of shutting out Black contractors from hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts.

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The Slumlord Files

Efforts underway to relocate tenants from filthy living conditions

In one apartment, human feces and water once leaked from the ceiling into the kitchen. In another unit, the ceiling collapsed and hit a 16-year-old boy who was sleeping in his bedroom. In many of the apartments, the walls are rotting from mold and water damage. One tenant, Wayne Carroll is forced to take showers at another location because the mold-infested tub is too unbearable. And his sinks back up when he turns on the water. The rusting toilet doesn’t always work.

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President Clinton campaigns for Crist

Visits Miami to boost voter turnout, in gubernatorial Democratic bid

Charlie Crist’s campaign for governor received a big boost last weekend when former President Bill Clinton visited Miami to support the Democratic candidate who’s locked in a close race against incumbent Rick Scott. At a rally at the JW Marriott Hotel in downtown Miami last Friday, Clinton spoke to about 700 campaign supporters, elected officials and voters with a rousing speech that aimed to help Crist in opinion polls and increase voter turnout in the Nov. General elections. Clinton urged supporters to flock to the polls to avoid a repeat in 2010 when low turnout sent Scott to the state's highest office.

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Will mall benefit Overtown?

Worldcenter developers pledge to recruit residents for employment

Overtown residents stand to benefit from the proposed massive mall at Miami Worldcenter after the city commission unanimously approved a zoning change for the upscale shopping and dining retail complex. The city commission is set to review more zoning changes for the development on Thursday. But last Wednesday, commissioners voted 9-0 to approve a special zoning plan that helped long-stalled plans move forward to build Miami Mall at Worldcenter Mall.

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From Little Haiti to Abu Dhabi

His works does not contain the iambic pentameter of William Shakespeare’s sonnets but come October, Calvin "madeS.O.N" Early of Little Haiti will take his urban poetry thousands of miles away to a rich Middle Eastern country where poetic recitals are growing in appeal.

Black contractors losing millions

Disparity study by Urban League, NAACP claims firms not receiving their fair share of bids from M-DCPS

After achieving little success to address economic disparities among Black firms doing business with Miami Dade County Public Schools, community and civil rights leaders are set to release a blistering report that attacks policies and practices that have shut Blacks out of hundreds of millions of dollars in plum contracts.

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Going Over the Edge for Liberty City

The Miami Children's Initiative went over the edge last weekend with a charity event at the JW Marriott Marquis Hotel in downtown Miami that raised $150,000. About 100 brave people rappelled down 19 stories of the hotel to raise money to benefit families and children in Liberty City. The two-day event featured local civic and business leaders, elected officials, philanthropists, journalists and university presidents. Celebrities including Joe Morton from the hit ABC Show Scandal, participated in the event. "The event was a good analogy for what people experience in Liberty City," said Hopi Horton

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5000 Role Models kick off new school year with bigger dreams

The 5000 Role Models of Excellence program kicked off the school year with bigger dreams and plans to prevent hundreds of Black males from suffering the same fate of Michael Brown, who was killed by a White police officer in Ferguson, MO officer last month. At its annual Site Directors Training meeting at the PortMiami on Thursday, about 200 educators, administrators and professionals helped Congresswoman Federica Wilson and Congressman Emanuel Cleaver II open the 21st year of the mentor program which has helped thousands of young, Black males succeed in the midst of poverty and social ills. The meeting provided training and

EEOC files suits against South Florida farms

EEOC files lawsuits, allege rape, sexual harassment at two South Florida farms

While they were on the job, two female workers say they were raped, another says she was terminated after she refused her supervisor's sexual advances. And after they had sex, male bosses demanded more. Those allegations are part of two blistering new lawsuits filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against two South Florida farms who are accused of subjecting its female workers to sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation.

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The American Dream underwater

Coconut Cay residents frustrated over constant flooding problems, red tape

Coconut Cay in Miami Gardens is the American dream for many Black professionals. Rows of large Spanish Mediterranean-style single family homes with massive rooms and soaring, vaulted ceilings line pristine streets where children skateboard and play amid well-manicured lawns. SUV’s and luxury cars occupy large driveways. Located just off State Road 441 and NW 204th St., Coconut Cay spans several blocks. Once priced at half million dollars per home, the planned community has been considered the city’s most affluent and exclusive neighborhood.

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Egellocs gear up for 2014-2015 Men of Tomorrow program

Long before there was President Barack Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper” or the 5000 Role Models of Excellence program in Miami-Dade public schools, there was the ‘Men of Tomorrow’ program in Miami for Black males conceived by The Egelloc Civic and Social Club of Miami.

In the spotlight

New Miami Urban Music and Film Festival aims to help Black producers

The inaugural Miami Urban Music and Film Festival (MUMFF) is preparing to shine the spotlight on South Florida and make an impressive debut with a lineup of events to cultivate a stronger and successful entertainment industry among urban producers.

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Fifth annual African Diaspora Dance and Drum Festival in Little Haiti

The thumping sounds of traditional African drums will celebrate ethnic pride and culture during the fifth annual African Diaspora Dance and Drum Festival from Sept. 5-7 in Little Haiti. Sponsored by Delou, Africa, Inc. the festival will include myriad music, dance and drum traditions of Africa under the event’s theme, Bridging Cultural Gaps. Adults and children of various cultures will be immersed in workshops and classes that aim to promote diversity and harmony. Organizers said the festival will also showcase the creativity and the cultural resilience of the rich traditions of Africa.

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Anti-crime campaign comes alive in Brownsville cemetery

The fight against crime is not dead. Amid thousands of above-ground graves and towering evergreens, District 3 Commissioner Audrey Edmonson, joined police officials in one of Miami’s oldest Black cemeteries to appeal to community residents in helping solve dozens of deadly shootings that have plagued Miami’s urban neighborhoods this past year. At an unusual press conference at Evergreen Cemetery in Brownsville, Edmonson along, with pastors and community leaders, pleaded residents to come forward

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Black incumbents win; Ighodaro, Burns headed for runoff'

After months of listening to campaign speeches and attending political forums, Blacks in Miami-Dade County headed to the polls to vote in the primary elections on Tuesday. Education, health care, unemployment and moral integrity were all important issues that concerned Black voters regarding several key political races in Miami Gardens, North Miami, Liberty City and Miami-Dade County. Black voters also turned their attention to the gubernatorial race, and the bid for the attorney general office.

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Crist turns up campaign for the Black vote

Democratic candidate for Gov. renews attacks with “Restore Cuts Tour”

Trailing behind Gov. Rick Scott in most polls, Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist campaigned heavily in Miami’s Black community last Friday with his “Restore Cuts Tour” to boost sagging numbers as the clock ticks down to Election Day. With concerns about his political aspirations fading, Crist launched the campaign to regain the lead in opinion polls against his opponent. Traveling on a yellow school bus to highlight this election’s hottest issue, education, Crist campaigned in Liberty City before he opened a new office in Miami Gardens, where he hopes to increase the number of new voters in Florida’s largest Black city.

Problems plague Campbell in tough re-election bid

Incident, ethical problems hurt legislator’s bid to keep her seat

State Rep. Daphne Campbell is under investigation for an intense confrontation that may cost the embattled legislator her re-election bid next week. Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief accused Campbell’s brother-in-law of pulling a gun on her during an argument over politics two weeks ago in the parking lot of the WAVS Caribbean radio station in Davie. Daphne Campbell’s brother-in-law, Jeremiah Campbell, allegedly emerged from the station with a gun in his hand, according to story aired on WPLG Channel 10 Monday evening.

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Campaigns turn dirty as election nears

The political race for Miami Gardens’ general election turned dirty last weekend after allegations of unethical campaigning swirled among candidates seeking seats on the city council. The seats are currently occupied by Lisa Davis and Dr. Erhabor Ighodaro who are stepping up their campaigns against a group of determined candidates who want to change the city with bold opinions and fresh ideas. Davis, who occupies Seat 2, seeks a second term against Charlene Butler, 65, a retired postal worker and Tamarah Lee, who has a law degree from the University of Florida.

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Diddy leads a REVOLT

Music mogul to host star-studded conference on Miami Beach

Diddy. Russell Simmons. LA Reid. Look out. They’re set to lead a REVOLT in Miami. The trio will be among a powerhouse lineup of some of the most influential movers and shakers who will converge on Miami Beach for the first-ever REVOLT Music Conference at The Fountainbleau Hotel OCT. 16 – 19.

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MOCA programs in jeopardy, former board members leave for new museum

Aug. 9 was the last day for the creative summer arts camp for seven to ten year olds at North Miami’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA). It was time to say good bye after the participants put the finishing touches on six fun-filled weeks of art lessons, activities and memorable relationships. They gathered together for a group photo near the museum’s reflection pool. The students shouted “MOCA” before a little girl snapped the picture. It may be the last time they will attend this camp again.

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Rematch set for District 2 seat

Rolle seeking to reclaim spot from Monestime as new challenger emerges

It’s a rematch of two political heavyweights. In one corner is former District 2 Commissioner Dorrin Rolle, who is seeking redemption after a financial scandal that stained his political career. In the other corner is District 2 Commissioner Jean Monestime who is riding on a string of victories in his community.

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Candidates mobilize for early voting

They were fired up and ready to vote. That was the slogan candidates and community leaders used Monday to mobilize voters to the polls as early voting began for various offices throughout the county, state and federal government. Monday was the first of 14 days of early voting, the result of a new effort by state lawmakers to allow election officials more flexibility in hours and operations. The early voting period culminates with the election day primaries on Aug. 26.

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Jackson Hospital offers five-star treatment

Jackson Memorial stepped up efforts to boost revenue with the birth of its new maternity suites, part of a posh, luxurious center that aims to improve the reputation of the 94-year-old public institution. The suites are part of a $6 million renovation project to modernize Jackson’s aging facilities, which are losing paying patients to newer hospitals that offer better services and rooms. Jackson hopes the upgrades will make the hospital more competitive in the growing healthcare market.

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CRA passes $43.5M bond

Hopes to jumpstart the redevelopment projects in historic community

Following pleas from Overtown residents, Miami commissioners on Wednesday unanimously voted to release $43.5 million in bonds to jumpstart redevelopment projects in the historic Black neighborhood. The bond will fund various affordable housing complexes and mixed-use development projects at St. John’s Plaza, the Historic Lyric Theater and The Culmer Center Housing Development.

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Jackson to offer 'VIP treatment' to new mothers

Hospital is looking to gain patients lost to competition

The suites are part of a $6 million renovation project to modernize Jackson’s aging facilities, which are losing paying patients to newer hospitals that offer better services and rooms.

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Arcola Lakes Park to open new senior center

A dedication ceremony will be held for the new Senior Center at Arcola Lakes Park, located at 1301 NW 83 St., Miami. The opening marks Miami-Dade County Parks’ first recreational facility specifically built for seniors. Senior residents of the Arcola Lakes community are invited to the park at 10 a.m., on Wednesday, for the dedication ceremony and a tour of the new facilities. 

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Recipe for success

Youths gobbling up new skills at culinary camp in Miami Gardens

The dish for the day was curry chicken, but not the kind from the West Indies. Everyone knows that kind from the Caribbean. It was time to cook something different. That would be curry chicken from India, a region where spices and flavor are heavier and more abundant. The chicken would be paired with mango chutney, a thick flavorful sauce with a kick and seasoned Basmati Rice, a popular starch in the India.

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UPDATED: Partial bond money released for Overtown CRA projects

The future of Overtown’s redevelopment efforts grew uncertain last week after a financial dispute between county and city leaders delayed funding to long overdue construction projects aimed at revitalizing the historic Black neighborhood.

Campaigns gear up for primaries

Candidates reach out to voters in the community amid elections

Candidates running for various political and judicial positions in Miami-Dade County stepped up their campaigns with speeches at various forums held throughout Miami’s Black communities in the past week.

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Charles R. Drew Middle closes

After decades of educating Liberty City youth, Charles R. Drew Middle School has closed. School officials plan to turn the school building into a community service center, where academic and community resources will be offered to residents.

Pastors lead march against crime in Liberty City

Dozens of religious leaders walked arm in arm and sang spiritual hymns as they led a chorus of weary residents through tough neighborhoods last Saturday in a demonstration reminiscent of those during the civil rights era.

TACOLCY CEO ousted, decision applauded by some

A group of residents known as The Concerned Citizens for the Preservation of TACOLCY, has been calling for Brown’s removal since a whistleblower complaint was filed last August.

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James Brown biopic hits home for one Miami daughter

Legendary performer and the "Godfather of Soul" James Brown left to the world more than dance moves and music.

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Churches unite as a community mourns

The shooting of a popular Liberty City pastor last week has spurred Miami’s Black churches into the fight against crime as religious leaders urge residents to take action against random shootings that have gripped their neighborhoods with fear. Hundreds are expected to march through the streets of Liberty City this weekend to help strengthen a grassroots anti-crime movement that has been brewing in the past several months following the deaths of innocent victims of gun-violence.

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Lights, camera, action!

New BOCA Black Film Festival opens in South Florida

The inaugural Boca Black Film Festival opens this weekend to showcase the talents of local professionals in film, TV and cinema arts. Held at Palm Beach State College, the festival will include panel discussions, film screenings and educational workshops. The festival is open to the entire South Florida community and neighboring areas. The three-day festival will be held July 17-19. It will provide an array of activities for youths seeking to gain knowledge, information and insight into the entertainment industry. In May, the festival held a scriptwriting competition for aspiring Black film makers.

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West Grove’s ACE theater gets a chance at redemption

Its closed doors may reopen after being named a historic site

The seats that once held movie-goers are now rusted. Cobwebs cover the entrance of the doors. The marquee that once attracted hundreds of moviegoers to sold-out shows has not lit up in decades. Rewind to the 1950s and ‘60s when the ACE Theater on Grand Avenue in Coconut Grove was humming with Blacks who had their own community theater during those segregated times. Along with Overtown’s Capitol,

Proposed bus route cuts include Liberty City

A proposal to eliminate two bus routes serving Liberty City and Overtown was deferred last week after drawing stiff opposition at the Miami-Dade County Commission meeting. Bus routes 46 and 254 are two of several routes that may be eliminated as part of the county’s bi-annual ridership evaluation and service adjustment. The review is taken every summer and fall when transit officials propose service and schedule adjustments as a response to ridership trends.

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Miami Gardens sues county to gain control of stadium area

A legal battle is brewing between the Miami Gardens and Miami-Dade County over the area around Sun Life Stadium. The dispute involves the Dolphin Center Development of Regional Impact, an area surrounding the Sun Life Stadium at NW 27th Avenue and 199th Street. Though located in Miami Gardens, the area falls under the jurisdiction of the county.

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The Links award scholarships to students

Jasmine Michaels is about to record her own album. Alana Starke wants to be an anchor on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” Kaliyah Brown is going to college to become a doctor. The newly-minted high school graduates were among seven bright teenagers who were awarded scholarships last Saturday by the Greater Miami Chapter of the Links, Inc. an international women’s organization dedicated to service. The group honored the students’ academic excellence and community service with a festive ceremony at the Kroma Gallery in West Coconut Grove.

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Education takes center stage at major political forum

Democratic candidate for Governor Nan Rich stepped up her campaign on Monday as she joined Black leaders at New Birth Baptist Church to tout her experience as a solid, unwavering legislator during a major political forum where education, a key issue in the upcoming gubernatorial election, was a hot topic.

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South Florida observes 1964 Civil Rights Act

EEOC to join local organizations at FIU North Campus

Several federal agencies and local government bodies will join forces on July 2 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson's signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (CRA). The landmark legislation, which outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, was envisioned and drafted by President Kennedy in 1963 and was enacted in 1964 following his assassination. 

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Opa-locka, Miami Gardens hold gun buyback drives for safer holiday

There were sawed-off shotguns, Uzis and rifles. Once owned by residents, the weapons became the property of police departments in Opa-locka and Miami Gardens, who held gun buy back drives on Saturday in an effort to a create safe Fourth of July weekend, traditionally a dangerous time for revelers who are injured during celebratory gunshots from owners.

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Officers not liable in civil trial, community attendance in courtroom low

Activists: Where is the outrage?

In courtroom 10-4 at the King Building in the Miami Federal Courthouse Complex downtown, two blacks watched helplessly as a judge allowed defense attorneys to attack the credibility of Latasha Cure, a woman who sued two police officers who injured her and brutally killed two Blacks in Little Haiti seven years ago. The defense attorney would continue to have their way as U.S. Magistrate Edwin Torres would deny numerous objections from Cure’s attorneys. He would also prohibit jurors for hearing the sullied background of Miami-Dade police officers Ryan Robinson and Michael Mendez. From there, the case went downhill as jurors returned with their verdict: not guilty.

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Military photographer wins three-year battle to become U.S. citizen

Elisha Dawkins: It was a battle for my life

He fought for freedom in Iraq but Elisha Dawkins’ real battle for liberty was on American soil where the 26-year-old could not get a job or enjoy the privileges that many citizens take for granted. After three years of clearing his name of serious allegations that could have sent him to jail for years, Dawkins, a Miami Central High graduate and military reserve became a U.S. citizen in a patriotic ceremony filled with deep emotions for the Bahamas native.

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Man stalks, vandalizes Miami Times office

It started around 2:30 p.m. Amid the raucous environment of a busy newspaper came a loud crash, followed by screams. A middle-aged man wearing a white T-shirt was seen fleeing the front entrance of The Miami Times. Employees at the paper saw him throw a large red brick through the Times’ front window sending a shower of broken glass flying through the office. Police were called and a report was filed.

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Mass shooting in Liberty City leaves two dead

Gunmen kill two, injure seven

Residents said bodies were everywhere. When it was all over, two people were dead and seven were injured in one of the worst mass shootings in Liberty City’s history. On the ground dead was Kevin Richard, 30. Another casualty, Nakiel Jackson, died later from his injuries. A 17-year-old girl was in critical condition at Jackson Memorial Hospital. The names of the other victims were not yet released by The Miami Times’ deadline.

TACOLCY’S CEO cancels meeting

Residents and activists planned to address mismanagement allegations

TACOLCY CEO Taj Brown and board members cancelled a meeting Friday with concerned community residents are seeking answers to allegations of financial mismanagement at the Liberty City institution. The meeting, which was scheduled at 9 a.m. at TACOLCY, was actually intended to form a Community Advisory Council, where residents would meet with leaders four times a year to offer input on issues and concerns to the CEO and TACOLCY board members.