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Archive for April, 2012

Rush’s vow to stop METRA on its track: ‘I’m not playing’

Posted by Admin On April - 30 - 2012 Comments Off on Rush’s vow to stop METRA on its track: ‘I’m not playing’

Says Congress willing to pull all of METRA’s projects

(This article was updated April 30, 2012 at 2:52 p.m.)


 By Chinta Strausberg

To some elected officials who do not know the civil rights history of Rep. Bobby L. Rush (D-1st) and the ends he will go to on behalf of his constituents including his vow to stop METRA on its tracks if there isn’t more African American participation, Saturday Rush simply said, “I am not playing.”

Referring to this particular phase of the $133 million Englewood Flyover METRA’s project and the current controversy over the $86 million construction bid, Rush said there is only one African American contractor who has received a $112,000 subcontract.

 “This project is funded mostly by federal dollars. I will work with members of Congress who are willing to pull all of METRA’s projects out of the Transportation bill.” The dispute between Rush and METRA involves a second phase of the multi-tiered project, which totals $133 million. Rush is upset over the second phase involving a $86 million bid which includes the African American subcontractor’s $112,000 contract to handle security, which Rush says is totally unfair.

While the mayor believes Rush is simply raising the alarm over the paucity of black contractors on this project, Rush said, “ I’m not playing around.” “I am grateful for whatever support the mayor will give” to get fairness from METRA, “but, we’re not depending on the mayor’s good graces or any other person’s good graces in order to make this happen.

“There is a resolve, a growing and very vocal resolve among people in the neighborhoods who are among the unemployed and are saying we are not going to tolerate these kinds of projects anymore in this city,” said Rush referring to citywide contracts that have either no or few African American workers and/or contractors.

“We get all the dirt, the dust and the delay, then we want some of the dough, also. Cut us in or cut it out,” said Rush.

Referring to Governor Pat Quinn, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Senator Dick Durbin’s promise to help resolve this dispute, Rush said, “We’re not going to turn down their support. We hope that it is sincere, and we hope they can do all that they can to help us to force METRA to rebid this contract.

“We also know that this is not going to be done in the backroom because we’re going to have community people in the boardroom,” said Rush who called for transparency in the bidding process. Rush said he is serious about getting a fair share of contracts for African Americans on these public works projects.

Back in 1987 when Rush was alderman of the 2nd Ward, the CTA turned a deaf ear to his pleas not to tear down the 40 and Indiana El stop; so Rush hauled the agency into court. Circuit Court Judge Thomas J. O’Brien ordered a halt to the demolition. With the court order in his hand, Rush and his supporters went down to that site and stopped the demolition. Today, the 40th and Indiana site has been renovated and remains open.

While METRA spokesperson Michael Gillis told the Chicago Suntimes the bidding on this job has not been completed and that METRA did all they could to urge minority bidders to be a part of the project including holding five events in Englewood, Rush said, “METRA completely reneged. They crossed us out. They walked away from the table. They are doing something that is totally unacceptable.

“I have been working with METRA for two-years to get them to commit to opening up the process to include minorities, and they have reneged on that.  We have to now use another strategy” said Rush. 

“They walked away from the table. “How can anyone be satisfied with one African American contractor getting 0.12 percent out of a $86 million project. That’s ridiculous. That’s laughable and that’s totally unacceptable. We will change the mind of METRA,” vowed Rush. 

Chinta Strausberg is a Journalist of more than 33-years, a former political reporter and a current PCC Network talk show host. You can e-mail Strausberg at: Chintabernie@aol.com.

New book: “The Whirlwind or the Storm: LA Riots Perspectives”

Posted by Juanita Bratcher On April - 30 - 2012 Comments Off on New book: “The Whirlwind or the Storm: LA Riots Perspectives”

LA riots 20th Anniversary

Los Angeles, CA (BlackNews.com) — The Whirlwind or The Storm: LA Riots Perspectives by Darryl James has been completed for release on April 27, 2012 – the twentieth anniversary of infamous 1992 acquittal and rioting, unleashing a unique history of rioting in America accompanied by viewpoints on civil unrest.

The book includes essays by Los Angeles Mayor James K. Hahn, Public Enemy’s Chuck D. Comedian Paul Mooney, the late Bo Taylor (founder of Unity One and organizer of the LA gang truce), “Sweet” Alice Harris (the “mother” of Watts), Pat Moore (former Compton City councilwoman), and a host of activists, politicians and average citizens as well as Henry Keith “Kee Kee” Watson, one of a group now known as The L.A. Four, prosecuted for involvement in the beating of Reginald Denny.

Award-winning author Darryl James, founder of Tenacious Books, has collected personal statements and essays on the ’92 LA Riots, culling powerful reflections on the conditions that gave birth to one of the most violent outbreaks of domestic civil unrest in recent history–The LA Riots of 1992. Those essays form the basis of the new book, The Whirlwind or The Storm: LA Riots Perspectives.

The riots affected men and women of all races, leaving citizens from every corner of the nation with a personal perspective. James brought in eyewitnesses to the events in Los Angeles in 1992, or in Watts twenty six years earlier, who have unique insight on those events.

“The LA Riots of ’92 were broadcast all over the nation and all over the world, and were felt at a feverish level,” said James. “Reading accounts of people who were there provides a sense of how a normal day unraveled as nervous tension evolved into chaos and disorder. These essays will nearly suffocate the reader with palpable authenticity.”

The Whirlwind or The Storm: LA Riots Perspectives also contains a dynamic retrospective on the 1992 Los Angeles Riots from Henry “Kee Kee” Watson, one of the group known as the LA Four, connected to the beating of Reginald Denny.

Twenty years after the LA Riots, “Kee Kee” Watson talks about beating Reginald Denny and gives an overview of the conditions that caused the two major riots of Los Angeles (1965 and 1992).

The book was published using the new eBook for Kindle technology, which is also available for personal computers. It will also be available for print on May 1. Both versions are available on Amazon.com.

The Whirlwind or The Storm: LA Riots Perspectives sells for $2.99 for the eBook and $14.99 for the physical book. For interviews or more information contact Tenacious Books at 888-501-4448 or email Darryl James at Darryl@darryljames.com.

Photo Caption: Bookcover

Fathers Incorporated announces Fred Hammond to serve as Co-National Chair and Spokesperson for “Ties Never Broken” campaign

Posted by Juanita Bratcher On April - 30 - 2012 Comments Off on Fathers Incorporated announces Fred Hammond to serve as Co-National Chair and Spokesperson for “Ties Never Broken” campaign

Chris Broussard and Fred Hammond to lead the effort of the “Ties Never Broken” Blue Bow Tie Campaign

New York, NY (BlackNews.com) — Inspired by President Barack Obama’s 2010 Father’s Day address, Fathers Incorporated (FI) has launched its Ties Never Broken campaign. Fathers Incorporated, a not-for-profit organization in New York is committed to eliminating fatherlessness and increasing the commitment of men to become mentors. Over the last several months, the campaign has garnered international attention and is supported by The White House and several major urban cities. The Ties Never Broken campaign is symbolized by the social marketing icon of a “blue bow tie.”

New to the team in championing the mission of responsible fatherhood is Fred Hammond, Grammy Award and multiple award-winning performer, producer and writer. Hammond joins fellow co-spokesperson Chris Broussard, journalist and sports analyst for ESPN. “I am excited to serve in this honorable capacity of saving our children,” states Hammond. “I’ve spent my life striving to be a responsible father and man, and I find it unacceptable what’s happening to our children because of the disengagement of fathers and able bodied men.”

“For years, FI has been working in the field of responsible fatherhood, with the goal of creating effective service models to serve men,” says Kenneth Braswell, executive director of Fathers Incorporated. “Our biggest struggle in combating both father absence and the lack of viable mentors is our inability to raise the societal level of conciseness regarding the importance of responsible male involvement.”

“It is our hope to garner the support of other influential men in sports, entertainment, business and in our faith-based communities to champion our efforts. Particularly those who have played impactful fatherhood roles in television and screen, as well as those who have a passion for elevating the image of responsible fatherhood and family values,” adds co-spokesperson, Chris Broussard.

About Fred Hammond:

Fred Hammond is a multi-faceted Award-winning contemporary gospel artist, producer and musical arranger. For more than four decades, he has shared his musical gift to the world; an accolade few gospel artists can boast. As a solo artist and member of the pioneering urban group, Commissioned, he has sold more than 2 million albums. Hammond is a Grammy Award winner and multiple Stellar Award winner. He has also been nominated for every major award including the NAACP Image Award, BET Award and Dove Award. Hammond’s first love album, a double-CD set entitled, “God, Love, & Romance,” released earlier this year on January 31, 2012.

Fathers Incorporated will be engaged in several projects within the coming months including the kick-off of Fatherhood Buzz, an initiative with the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse (NRFC) and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services in support of President Obama’s Responsible Fatherhood and Mentoring Initiative. The NRFC Fatherhood Buzz is an effort to promote responsible fatherhood and disseminate parenting information to fathers, families, and the community at-large via one of the most trusted community resources for men – Barbershops. In honor of Father’s Day, seven targeted cities across the country (Atlanta, GA; Chicago, IL; Los Angeles, CA; Milwaukee, WI; New York, NY; Philadelphia, PA; and Washington, DC) will participate in the inaugural Fatherhood Buzz event on Saturday, June 16, 2012. FI has also teamed with the McDonald’s Gospel Fest to promote the organization’s weMentor campaign in three cities: Newark, NJ; Chicago, IL; and Philadelphia, PA.

Additional FI partnerships and initiatives include: “Power Down,” a campaign to encourage parents to acknowledge their children’s technology habits and “Rumble Young Man Rumble,” mentorship development strategies at the Muhammad Ali Center and several other activities to highlight the importance of father involvement. FI is working in partnership with ICF International, Ad Council and BLH Technologies.

For additional information and updates on the campaign, please visit www.fathersincorporated.com.

Free concert of Mexican and Polish music

Posted by Juanita Bratcher On April - 30 - 2012 Comments Off on Free concert of Mexican and Polish music

The well-known Lira Singers and Cuerdas Clasicas String Ensemble will perform a concert of Mexican and Polish music on Sunday, May 6, 2012 at 4pm at St. Bruno Church, 4751 South Harding in Chicago .  Admission is free; a free-will collection will be taken.

The concert celebrates two important ethnic holidays  — Cinco de Mayo and May 3rd/Polish Constitution Day.                                                                          

The concert features the Lira Singers, the core group of the Lira Ensemble which specializes in Polish music and dance, and the Cuerdas Clasicas String Ensemble of men and women who play traditional Mexican stringed instruments as well as sing. The program includes Mexican, Polish and American folk and patriotic songs as well as Marian hymns performed by the two companies.


Reverend Antoni Bury, pastor, invites all to this concert which honors the Polish immigrants who created and built St. Bruno Church as well as the many Mexican Americans who now are parishioners.


The event is produced by the Lira Ensemble, artist-in-residence at Loyola University Chicago, and  is part of a series of Mexican/Polish performances presented by Lira since 1990. The series has been praised by audiences, community leaders, as well as critics. A reviewer in the Chicago Tribune described these joint concerts as “a joyous explosion of song and ethnic traditions” which “proves the power of music.”  The Lira Ensemble won the City of Chicago 2001 Human Relations Award for its inter-ethnic concerts with Mexican Americans, African Americans, and its outreach to American Jews – many of whom have roots in Poland . 


Mexican Americans celebrate Cinco de Mayo (the 5th of May) to commemorate the Mexican victory at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862 against the French.  This was part of the Mexican fight against Napoleon’s invading armies. Polish Americans celebrate May 3rd as Polish Constitution Day to remember the signing of the Polish Constitution of May 3, 1791.  This was the second written constitution in world history, second only to the United States Constitution, on which it was partially based.


The May 3rd concert will be narrated in English by Lucyna Migala of WCEV Radio/1450am, who is co-founder, artistic director, and general manager of the Lira Ensemble.  In 2007, she received the Sor Juana Award of the National Museum of Mexican Art in recognition of her cross-cultural initiatives. The Cuerdas Clasicas String Ensemble will perform under the direction of Rodolfo Hernandez, founder of the group.  The concert will be conducted by Mina Zikri, resident conductor of the Lira Ensemble.

Admission to this Mexican-Polish concert is free, but the audience is asked to make a contribution when the free-will collection is taken. Free parking is available adjacent to the church.

The concert is funded in part by the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency and the CityArts Program of the Chicago Department of Tourism and Culture.

For more information, call the Lira Ensemble at 773-508-7040.

Black author advocates business etiquette in new book

Posted by Juanita Bratcher On April - 30 - 2012 Comments Off on Black author advocates business etiquette in new book

New book advocates ‘Lost Art’ of business etiquette

Sony Point, NY (BlackNews.com) — The economic downturn is sculpting a new way of doing business. The old business models revolving solely around profits margin riding on line items has run its course. There’s a new way of thinking.

In his new book, A Lost Art: Business Etiquette with Exceptional Service, New York author James E. Alston says it’s impossible to achieve business goals if one doesn’t have a satisfied, engaged workforce.

It’s such a basic concept, yet employers fly by the concept. Alston shows that if they take care of their employees, their employees will take care of their clients and guests. Businesses that accept this philosophy will prosper; the market conspires to help businesses that help people.

Published by Tate Publishing and Enterprises, the book is available through bookstores nationwide, from the publisher at www.tatepublishing.com/bookstore, or by visiting barnesandnoble.com or amazon.com.

Alston resides in Stony Point, New York. For more information, please contact Chris Coffey, marketing representative, at (888) 361-9473 or send an email to ccoffey@tatepublishing.com.

Photo Caption: Author James E. Alston and bookcover

Scholars Address wide impact of unconscious bias; promote racial healing and racial equity

Posted by Juanita Bratcher On April - 27 - 2012 Comments Off on Scholars Address wide impact of unconscious bias; promote racial healing and racial equity


Healing for Democracy Conference was hosted by W.K. Kellogg Foundation New Orleans



NEW ORLEANS Leading social justice scholars said  that “unconscious bias” is a major obstacle for communities across the United States because negative racial stereotypes can      unknowingly prompt discriminatory actions and attitudes impacting the lives of people of color.


At the Healing for Democracy conference hosted by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), a panel – moderated by Maria Hinajosa, anchor and managing editor of NPR’s Latino USA – discussed the role that unconscious bias plays in access to employment opportunities, school discipline action, immigration, health care access, criminal justice and social opportunities for African Americans, Latinos, Asian American and Pacific Islanders and Native Americans.


Hinojosa said it is “irrefutable” what is happening in America today. “We are clearly becoming a more multicultural, multiracial, mixed country. That is the future.” But she noted that the changing demographics are causing tension and fear among the majority. “There’s an element of unconsciousness there,” she said, “but there’s also an element of consciousness which is saying – at this moment I’m in the world of being a non-Hispanic Anglo…I don’t want to become a minority.”


One panelist, Dr. David Williams, professor of African and African American Studies at Harvard University, cited studies documenting that when Latinos and African Americans were treated by physicians for a broken bone in their leg, they received pain medication significantly less often than white patients with the same injury.


“How on earth do we make sense of this?” Dr. Williams asked. “How is it possible that for the best trained medical workforce in the world to produce… care that appears to be so discriminatory? The answer: unconscious discrimination. Research shows that when one holds a negative stereotype about a group and meets someone from that group, without their conscious awareness, it is an unconscious process and it is automatic. They will treat that person differently and honestly not know that they did it.”


Dr. Williams noted that most Americans would resist a label saying they are discriminating, but he added, “Welcome to the human race. It is a normal process about how all of us process information. The problem for our society is that the level of negative stereotypes is very high.”


Understanding the power of unconscious bias has emerged as a new mission for leaders and advocates working to bring racial healing and racial equity to communities across the U.S.


Dr. Gail Christopher, vice president for program strategy at the Kellogg Foundation, explained that centuries of a racial hierarchy in America has left its mark on our society, especially pertaining to how people of color are perceived by whites. “Our society assigns value to groups of people,” she said. “It is a process that is embedded in the consciousness of Americans and impacted by centuries of bias.”


During the discussion today, panelists shared insights demonstrating how people make unconscious decisions. Dr. Phillip Goff, assistant psychology professor at UCLA, showed examples ofhow law enforcement officials can be motivated by unconscious bias not only to race, but also to what they perceive as threats to their masculinity.


Moreover, Rachel Godsil, director of research for the American Values Institute, maintained that many Americans believe that racism no longer exists and want to be colorblind and not even discuss race. “That is an illusion,” Godsil said, “and not what people of color are looking for.”


The last panelist, john powell, director of the Haas Center for Diversity and Inclusion and Robert D. Haas Chancellor’s Chair in Equity and Inclusion at the University of California Berkeley, closed the session sharing several examples of how our mind looks at pictures, images and the world around us, and the impact on our unconscious. He said, ” the fact that we have these deep, unconscious biases – and it’s conflicted around race … we can be primed to be racially fair, we can be primed to be racially anxious – and it doesn’t make us a racist. It makes us human. And if we’re going to address it, we have to acknowledge that.


This convening is part of the WKKF’s America Healing work that provides grants for organizations to promote racial healing and racial equity to improve the lives of vulnerable children in communities.


For more information about America Healing, visit www.AmericaHealing.org.


W.K. Kellogg Foundation


The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer, Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to create the conditions where vulnerable children can realize their full potential in school, work and life.


The Kellogg Foundation is based in Battle Creek, Mich., and works throughout the United States and internationally, as well as with sovereign tribes. Special emphasis is paid to priority places where there are high concentrations of poverty and where children face significant barriers to success. WKKF priority places in the U.S. are in Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans; and internationally, are in Mexico and Haiti. For more information, visit www.wkkf.org.



State Senator Raoul’s proposal allows small businesses to form purchasing groups, save money on benefits

Posted by Juanita Bratcher On April - 27 - 2012 Comments Off on State Senator Raoul’s proposal allows small businesses to form purchasing groups, save money on benefits
SPRINGFIELD, IL – Illinois State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-13th)’s proposal to allow more businesses to form health care purchasing groups has passed the Senate. Because groups of businesses can negotiate lower rates than individual businesses, the legislation will result in lower costs for employers and a greater incentive to insure employees.

“Purchasing groups have a history of providing superior care at competitive prices in Illinois and other states,” Sen. Raoul said. “I want to expand this option at a time when we desperately need to make our state more business-friendly while also making it a great place to work.”

Senate Bill 2885 allows businesses with up to 2,500 employees to join health care purchasing groups. Previously, Illinois law had restricted membership in such groups to businesses with 500 or fewer workers. Businesses in a health care purchasing group pool their collective size to negotiate better prices for health insurance by reducing risk for the insurer, so opening the door to larger businesses could drive prices even lower.

Federal health care reform legislation has also authorized $6 billion in federal loans to assist in the creation of health insurance cooperatives, which allow businesses to band together and contract directly with health care providers.  These two options – health care co-ops and purchasing groups – will help more businesses insure their workers, leading to better health outcomes and fewer working people forced to purchase costly individual insurance, apply for medical assistance, or go without coverage.

“Purchasing groups and co-ops are critical to reaching the goal of health care access for all Illinoisans,” said Sen. Raoul. “Working with all stake-holders to craft viable legislation has not been easy, but giving small businesses and workers these new options will be well worth the effort.”

Small businesses that offer group health insurance pay an average of 18 percent more in premiums and 25 percent more in administrative costs than larger companies.

“This legislation helps level the playing field so that small and medium-sized businesses can compete and grow,” Sen. Raoul said.

New African-American news portal looks to reshape “Black News”

Posted by Juanita Bratcher On April - 27 - 2012 Comments Off on New African-American news portal looks to reshape “Black News”

DALLAS, TX (BlackNews.com) — The Black American News Network has launched its new website at www.tbann.com. Based in Dallas, Texas, this new online news portal is looking to make its mark. “TBANN is looking to reshape black news just as BET reshaped black entertainment,” says owner Dameon Runnels.

“The ‘T’ in TBANN stands for our company’s core operating values – timely, trusted and true news coverage,” says Runnels. “Timely, because we believe our readers deserve the latest news, trusted because we will only use trusted sources for our information and true because the truth is the most important element in every story.”

“TBANN is not just for African-Americans, it’s for everyone interested in the current topics and issues that affect African-Americans,” says Runnels, “TBANN is a trusted news source for all who want to engage black America.”

A major goal of TBANN is to connect its readers to the stories. With nearly a decade at one of the nation’s top news organizations (The Dallas Morning News) Runnels strongly believes he knows what it takes to deliver that connection. “You have to be committed to your audience and finely tuned into their world. Otherwise the connection is never made,” Runnels says.

TBANN also wants to connect stories and readers through social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. “These sites have a large number of African-American users that are heavily engaged with today’s top issues. Any business should be where their people are and the same goes for us at TBANN. We’re asking people to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter,” Runnels says.

In 2010, over 13.4 million African-Americans went online to get their news according to a Pew Research report on American journalism. TBANN plans to attract them by providing a news website that reflects their interests and concerns.

TBANN also has a mobile website that caters to smart phone users. TBANN mobile is a streamlined version of the main site designed to give the latest news to users on the go.

“Whether it’s at a desk or on the go, we want to make access to TBANN as easy as possible,” says Runnels.

Illinois State Board of Education announces meeting schedule changes

Posted by Juanita Bratcher On April - 27 - 2012 Comments Off on Illinois State Board of Education announces meeting schedule changes

SPRINGFIELD, IL – The Illinois State Board of Education has announced several changes to its upcoming meeting schedule. 

The May and June meetings are now scheduled as one-day meetings on May 17 and June 21 in Springfield. The meetings will be held in the 4th Floor Board Room at 100 N. First Street.  Please watch for the final posting notice on the Friday before the meeting for the meeting time.

Additional meeting dates and details, including the 2013 meeting schedule, are listed below: 

2012 Board of Education Meeting Schedule
Changes are noted in bold and underlined text.

Please check back to the ISBE website (www.isbe.net/calendar) for final meeting postings.



May 17 Springfield (Note: one-day meeting)
June 21 Springfield (Note: one-day meeting)
July No Meeting
August 16 one-day meeting via video-conference (10:00 a.m.)
(Springfield & Chicago ISBE v-tel rooms)
September 19-20 Board Strategic Agenda Planning Session – Bloomington
Eastland Suites Hotel & Conference Center, 1801 Eastland Drive
October 29-30 Richton Park – Southland College Prep Charter School4601 Sauk Trail, Richton Park, IL
November 16 Chicago – Hyatt Regency (as needed); (10:30 a.m.)
December 12-13 Springfield


2013 Board of Education Meeting Schedule

Please check back to the ISBE website (www.isbe.net/calendar) for final meeting postings.



January 23-24 Springfield
February 20 via video-conference (10 a.m.)
(Springfield & Chicago ISBE v-tel
March 20-21 Metro-East area (location to be determined)
April 16 via video-conference (10 a.m.)
(Springfield & Chicago v-tel rooms)
May 16 Springfield (10 a.m.)
June 19-20 Suburban Chicago Area
July No Meeting
August 15 via video-conference (10 a.m.)
(Springfield & Chicago v-tel rooms)
September 18-19 Board Strategic Agenda Planning Session – Bloomington
October 23-24 Downstate (Tentatively in Marion; location to be determined.)
November 22 Chicago – Hyatt Regency (as needed) (10:30 a.m.)
December 18-19 Springfield


  • State Board of Education meetings in Springfield are held in the 4th Floor Board Room at 100 North First Street, Springfield, Illinois.
  • Video Conference Meetings are held

Springfield Location:                               Chicago Location:

Illinois State Board of Education             Illinois State Board of Education

100 North First Street                              James R. Thompson Center

V-Tel Room (3rd Floor)                             100 West Randolph – Suite 14-300

                                                              V-Tel Room (14th Floor)

  • One-day meetings typically begin at 10 a.m. to allow time for closed session as necessary.
  • Two-day meetings begin at 1 p.m. on first day and adjourn shortly after lunch on second day.

Father of twin boys writes tribute to Trayvon Martin

Posted by Juanita Bratcher On April - 27 - 2012 Comments Off on Father of twin boys writes tribute to Trayvon Martin


Hopes it will reduce gun violence


By Chinta Strausberg


While recently driving home, Darryl Duncan, a father of twin teenage boys, turned up the radio when he heard about the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, and before he got home in less than a half-hour, he had written a song entitled “18” to a youth he never knew.

Duncan, founder, president and CEO of the Flow Corporate Audio Group and Gamebeat Studio located in south suburban Matteson, has been a writer/producer for more than 30-years.

With his sons being around the same age as Martin, Duncan said he was overwhelmed at hearing how Martin was followed by 28-year-old George Zimmerman, a volunteer watchman at a gated Sanford, Florida gated community. Zimmerman was armed, which was against the complex’s rules, and Martin only had a bag of Skittles and a can of ice tea.

“I thought of my own two children who are 16-years-old. I thought of them and the fear Trayvon must have went through in the last moments of his life trying to figure out who this guy was and why was he following him,” said Duncan. “That was the perspective of the song—Trayvon’s speaking to the man who took his life.”

Duncan said he wrote 80 percent of the song while driving home. He put it all together when he got to his studio.

Asked his initial feelings when he first learned about Martin’s death, Duncan said, “When it all came out, it saddened me as it did most people. What bothered me the most about it was the fact that this gentleman (Zimmerman) was not an official neighborhood watchman. He was not operating in an official capacity.

“When he encountered Trayvon, he initially, immediately assumed that Trayvon was a criminal and up to no good; so every action he took was based on him assuming and being certain in his own mind that he was encountering a criminal, a bad guy someone who was there to break into someone’s house. He never really gave him a benefit of the doubt…. He just assumed he was a criminal and that’s the sad part,” said Duncan.

In talking about this case with his family and friends, Duncan said no one knows what actually happened when Martin was killed, but he wonders “what Trayvon was thinking and he’s walking to his home and is continually being pursued by this gentlemen who doesn’t have on a uniform and is not in any type of marked or official car.., what would any 17-year-old think? Was he thinking he was going to be hurt, robbed, mugged or killed?

“At some point, Trayvon turned around and said, ‘what is going on? What do you want? Why are you following me’? What ever transpired from that point on should not have happened because Zimmerman was told not to pursue him. As far as I am concerned, everything after that is on Zimmerman because he never should have continued to pursue him when he was clearly told by the police not to pursue him. The police were called. They were coming. There was no need for Zimmerman to pursue him and he did so because he knew he had protection on him, a gun.

“The tragedy for me is the fact that Trayvon need not have lost his life,” Duncan said. He said a conversation should have been initiated and “Trayvon would have been on his way…. Nothing good could have come out of this situation especially when he was carrying a gun. It’s a real tragedy. Zimmerman made some key decisions that he should not have made that night.”

In producing the song, Duncan reached out to Emmy award winning international vocalist Joan Collaso who recommended Isaiah Robinson. “I auditioned him over the phone, and his voice blew me away,” said Duncan. Collaso also recommended a 12-member gospel choir from New Faith Baptist Church. Duncan played all of the instruments, did the mixing and productions.

His message in producing the song is clear. “It was originally dedicated to the memory of Trayvon Martin,” said Duncan. “If you listen to it from a lyrical perspective, it’s very easy to lay this song across the tragedy of gun violence all over this country. The song is about Trayvon in general, but the fact that so many children do not reach their 18th birthday because of violence” is a tragedy. His song asked why can’t I reach my 18th birthday.  I want my 18.“

“That message,” said Duncan, “that communities all over battling gang violence, gun violence and violence in general can connect to.” He has received a bevy of positive messages and e-mails about his song and that half say the song brings tears to their eyes “because it is from Trayvon’s perspective…Trayvon’s singing from the grave asking ‘where is my 18’’”

Duncan wants the message to be “that all children deserve to reach their 18th birthday and beyond and that we need to figure out a way to end this senseless violence in the street, end the gang violence, end unnecessary deaths all together. While I know this song is not the one tool to do it, it can help. It can go a long way to help people look at it differently and maybe do more about it on a personal level.”

Chinta Strausberg is a Journalist of more than 33-years, a former political reporter and a current PCC Network talk show host. You can e-mail Strausberg at: Chintabernie@aol.com.

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Welcome to CopyLine Magazine! The first issue of CopyLine Magazine was published in November, 1990, by Editor & Publisher Juanita Bratcher. CopyLine’s main focus is on the political arena – to inform our readers and analyze many of the pressing issues of the day - controversial or otherwise. Our objectives are clear – to keep you abreast of political happenings and maneuvering in the political arena, by reporting and providing provocative commentaries on various issues. For more about CopyLine Magazine, CopyLine Blog, and CopyLine Television/Video, please visit juanitabratcher.com, copylinemagazine.com, and oneononetelevision.com. Bratcher has been a News/Reporter, Author, Publisher, and Journalist for 33 years. She is the author of six books, including “Harold: The Making of a Big City Mayor” (Harold Washington), Chicago’s first African-American mayor; and “Beyond the Boardroom: Empowering a New Generation of Leaders,” about John Herman Stroger, Jr., the first African-American elected President of the Cook County Board. Bratcher is also a Poet/Songwriter, with 17 records – produced by HillTop Records of Hollywood, California. Juanita Bratcher Publisher

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