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Archive for September 14th, 2012

Fate of Affirmative Action Hangs on Fisher v. Univ. of Texas

Posted by Admin On September - 14 - 2012 Comments Off on Fate of Affirmative Action Hangs on Fisher v. Univ. of Texas

Fate of Affirmative Action Hangs on Fisher v. Univ. of Texas

New America Media Question & Answer

By  Khalil Abdullah

Editor’s Note:
On October 10 the U.S. Supreme Court will hear
Fisher v. University of Texas, a case that could upend affirmative action policies nationwide. The plaintiff, Abigail Fisher, is suing the state over her rejection for admission into the University of Texas, which considers race in allotting a percentage of available seats after the top 10 percent of high school seniors are admitted. Fisher, who is white, did not place in the top 10 percent. She contends the race-based portion of the institution’s admission policy is a violation of her constitutional rights. Veteran education reporter Scott Jaschik spoke with New America Media’s Khalil Abdullah on the potential ramifications of the hearing and what it could mean for minority college students across the country. Jaschik was the editor of the Chronicle of Higher Education from 1999 to 2003 before co-founding Inside Higher Ed, where he now serves as editor.

New America Media: How will this decision affect college admissions policies throughout the country?

Scott Jaschik: I think this will have a large impact in different ways. There are places like the University of Texas, other flagship universities and also elite private universities that consider race in admissions. These institutions are very hard to get into, places that typically make their admissions decisions based – in large part – on test scores and course grades. On average — and it’s very important to say on average because there are exceptions to this — if they eliminated the consideration of race, most of these institutions would admit fewer black, Latino, and Native American students. Many of them might see an increase in Asian-American students. In fact, when affirmative action was eliminated in California, there were initial spikes in Asian-American enrollments more so than white enrolments.

So, first of all, the decision will be important for the highly competitive admission institutions, but it [may have] other impacts. It could well affect the way many colleges, and not just the elite institutions, administer financial aid or how their summer programs operate.

NAM: Could you give an example of how a financial aid formula might be affected?

Jaschik: Scholarships that are based on income level are race-neutral and wouldn’t be affected, but some campuses have scholarships in which race and ethnicity are considered for certain awards, and you also have some summer programs and outreach programs that use race as a criteria.

NAM: How else could a ruling upholding the suit change a school’s demographics?

Jaschik: There were very interesting briefs filed with the Supreme Court by community colleges, for example. At first glance, you would say, community colleges are open admissions, so why would they be concerned? But community colleges want some of their students to transfer into flagship universities. In that process, race and ethnicity are sometimes considered … If affirmative action is radically scaled back, some [non-flagship] institutions might see an increase in black and Latino students. The impact of the court’s decision could really be quite broad, but we don’t know what the court will do.

NAM: What’s your sense of where court is headed?

Jaschik: Most experts think the current court isn’t generally sympathetic to affirmative action. The court could scale affirmative back partially or fully. You really don’t know until the decision comes out. Even then, if it’s a decision that drives a major change in current policies and the colleges start to adjust accordingly, there will probably be more lawsuits and court decisions. I think the ramifications of this decision could be quite dramatic over a period of time.

NAM: What is some of the possible fallout given the court’s timing in hearing this case?

Jaschik: Because this case is going to be argued in October, in the middle of a presidential election … you’ll see a lot of campus debates. Generally when affirmative action becomes a hot issue, it can create difficulties for minority students on campuses who feel that people are raising questions about whether they are welcomed there or not, or whether they deserve to be there or not. If the court rules against Texas, anyone who has been admitted [under the current policy] wouldn’t be kicked out, and remember that not all of the minority students on that campus were admitted under affirmative action criteria. But it could be a very difficult time for people who are already on campuses.

NAM: With Justice Kagan recused from this case, what’s your read on the eight justices who will be voting?

Jaschik: A tie vote would mean that the University of Texas wins, but a tie doesn’t have the same precedential value as a majority five-three decision. Likely to back Texas would be Justices Ginsberg, Breyer, and Sotomayor. I think these three are fairly safe predictions. As the court’s health care decision shows, you can never be sure what’s going to happen. Nobody expected Justice Roberts to be the savior of Obama’s health care. So you don’t want to say you can be sure, but if you look at what the justices have written in the past, the remaining justices are skeptical of affirmative action. Sometimes people vote for what they’re skeptical of, but one of those five would have to change for Texas to win [by getting a four-four vote].

NAM: California and Florida are among the states with policies guaranteeing admission to high school students in the top-percentage of their class. Can you share some thoughts about Texas’ Top 10 Percent (TTP) admissions policy?

Jaschik: Texas has a fairly highly segregated system of high schools. [The state] knows, with a TTP, there are a number of high schools that are overwhelmingly black, so it will get some African-American students. It knows it has high schools that are almost all Latino, so some Latino students will get in. Now, obviously Texas [is] not de jure segregated like before Brown v. Board of Education, [it’s] de facto segregated. The question a lot of people have is whether this is the best way forward for American society.

A key criticism of the top TTP plan is that it doesn’t encourage high school districts to improve. They know the top 10 percent is getting in, whether they offer AP courses or not; whether they offer advanced calculus or not. Historically, one way in which flagship universities can promote quality education in a state is by having certain admissions standards. A TTP policy sort of takes them away from that.

NAM: If Texas loses the suit, what might be some short-term outcomes?

Jaschik: State universities would have to look to other approaches if they wanted to get a decent number of minority students. Some advocates of race neutral policies urge using economic status as an alternative. You could give a preference to a low-income student. This would still be legal if the Supreme Court said you couldn’t do affirmative action admissions. You’d get some black and Latino students and the benefit would also go to low-income white and Asian students. But I think most colleges would say that this approach and others would not add up to the level of diversity they have now.

Religious Leaders unite in fight to restore water exemptions

Posted by Admin On September - 14 - 2012 Comments Off on Religious Leaders unite in fight to restore water exemptions


Unveil price tag on services they provide to city


By Chinta Strausberg

More than three-dozen diverse religious leaders met earlier this week at Elder Kevin A. Ford’s Community Center on the South Side, where they called for unity in urging Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the City Council to approve a budget amendment that would restore the water exemption and ensure the support of at least 27 aldermen needed to prevent a veto.

The more than two-hour meeting was held at Ford’s St. Paul Church of God in Christ Community Center, 4550 S. Wabash, where religious leaders including officials from the Archdioceses of Chicago agreed to accept the West Side’s already approved documents calling for the restoration of Water fee exemptions. They set October 1, 2012 as the deadline for the documentation of their church services to be submitted to Ford.

In a show of unity, Elder Michael Eaddy, pastor of the Peoples Church of the Harvest Church of God in Christ, and Rev. Dr. Leon Miller, pastor of the Mt. Ebenezer Baptist Church, agreed to blend their collection of water exemption documents with Ford’s and the Archdioceses’ as a sign of unity in this massive citywide project.

Elder Ford said this coalition has the initial support of Finance Chairman Ald. Edward M. Burke (14th) and Ald. Howard Brookins (21st) who is also chairman of the City Council Black Caucus. Brookins asked that the “churches entertain methodology to” to include conservation relative to church operations.

Ford said in their discussion with Brookins they talked about “the city of Chicago in conjunction with the churches develop a methodology that could be deployed in the document that qualifies churches based upon their ministry and social services to the community.” He said that document would be submitted for the water exemption.

Attending the meeting was Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd) who said the city was facing a $750 million deficit last year and that this year the deficit will be around $370 million. “We’re still in a hole. We are looking for every source of funding in order to sustain government.”

Dowell said as the religious leaders go through the process of fighting to restore the water exemptions, that “aldermen would be opened minded to the argument of rolling back” these taxes. However, she said, they needed to give them a “financial argument.” “No aldermen will want to say aye to a budget that will raise property taxes…or nickel and dime the average citizen.

“The challenge is to be able to find” ways to run the government, she said. She favors the documentation of the churches’ services to the communities.

Ford said churches that have food kitchens, shelters, after school programs “for the churches that are actually doing the work of the church must be supported. There is nothing wrong with finding a way to restore these exemptions.”

“The church ensures the quality of life…has always been the support mechanism when families have lost homes, when children have no where to go, when families suffer death and there is no way to pay the bill, they come to the church,” said Ford.

“The church has always been the focal component for the quality of life in the city of Chicago. This is not the time to challenge what the church is doing. This is the time now for the churches to work together. We want to support the government, but we’ve got to support the church. There is no where else where people can turn…,” said Ford. “We do what we do because of love.”

“I believe we can restore this. No insult, but I don’t think they really considered what the value was the church in the community…” said Ford. “The church as an impact on the economics of the city of Chicago.” “Most of us are working with unfunded mandates. We do this out of love,” he said not knowing the total amount of money the churches save the city through their services.

Archdiocese Chancellor Jimmy M. Lago said the impact of having churches and faith communities pay for water is troubling and that “it presents a huge challenge for us.”  He too called for unity in asking the city to restore the water/sewer exemption.  “The kind of presence…that the churches bring to the communities cannot be replaced.”

Lago said when you look at a church that has a $10,000 water bill that might have a budget of $100,000-a-year, “That’s significant. That’s cash out the door.” He said it leads to a cutback in providing services to the needy and that paying water bills “presents a huge challenge to us”—including the fiscal challenge of paying to install water meters in difficult locations as required by the city of Chicago.

The stakes are high for religious leaders especially for larger churches and institutions like the Misericordia Heart of Mercy whose water bill could easily soar to $500,000 a year. “They have kids who can’t get out of the wheelchair and adults who are so cripple from their disabilities that they have to be in the pool two or three times a day and water therapy.

Lago and Ford said they must work with the aldermen and get at least 27 votes to restore these exemptions. “We occupy a unique place,” said Lago.

“The value that we bring to communities in terms of economic value and in-kind services is way more than the kind of taxes and fees that they are trying to get from us,” said Lago. After talking to Ald. Burke, Lago said he believes that the revenue the city will get from the hospitals and universities is significantly greater than what was anticipated. “What we represent is such a small piece and what we are going to lose is even greater.”

“It is a fundamental lack of vision to want to put the burden on religious institutions,” he said. Given the times we live in today, Lago said more than ever “people go to their” houses of worship “during the most critical times of their lives.”

Superintendent Thomas Jackson of the New Original Church of God in Christ, said, “We need this restored because our very survival is at stake.” Jackson said the ministers should sign the letter of support and to present it as a package both to their aldermen with a copy to Elder Ford.

Rev. Leonard DeVille, pastor of the Alpha Temple MBC, who is the former alderman of the 21st Ward, said, “We have to come together as one body.

The group also agreed to set aside September 23, 2012, as “Restoration Sunday” the day for all religious leaders to have their members sign a letter of support in calling on the mayor and the City Council to restore the water exemption.

In the interim, Ford, who said most of his colleagues are burdened with “unfunded mandates” they do from love, asked religious leaders to submit to him a report that includes the names of their houses of worship, address, 2011 net operations (that may include a loss) and more important a detailed report of the social services they offer. Examples of this report were distributed to the group.

Last month, Ford led a delegation of religious leaders, including Superintendent Thomas J. Jackson, New Original COGIC, co-chair, his father, Bishop Charles Ford, St. Paul Church of God in Christ, Dr. Leonard DeVille, Alpha Temple Baptist Church, Rev. Dr. Marshall Hatch, New Mount Pilgrim MBC, Mr. Thomas Kennedy, director, Archdioceses Office for Real Estate Development and Planning and Mr. Jimmy M. Lago, Chancellor, Archdiocese of Chicago, to meet with Finance Chairman Ald. Edward M Burke (14th) who supports their case.

The Interfaith Coalition to Restore the Water Exemption for Religious Institutions agreed to sign an agreement that says, “The water exemption is a reasonable accommodation for our churches as are other current exemptions. The benefits of these exemptions to government have been significantly greater than the actual amount of taxes collected.

“Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent by religious institutions in this city each year to educate, feed, house, protect, help its citizens grieve and mourn the dead, especially those killed in street violence.

“We offer local police beats at no charge a place to house their patrols. We open our halls and gyms to children and youth in our communities so that they can be safe from gang activity, etc. The examples are endless and the value often incalculable.

“We are most often the essential member of the community network, without which disintegration begins and accelerates. We represent faith, hope, charity, transcendent spirit and the highest ideals of community well being.

“The water tax for religious institutions is a burden that will drive our community-based, faith communities into critical deficits. We solicit your support in an amendment to the Budget authorization for this coming fiscal year to restore the exemption for our churches, schools and related religious ministries and institutions.”

The documents should be submitted to Elder Ford before October 1, 2012 at: spcdm@sbcglobal.net. He can be reached at: 773-538-5120.

The next meeting will be held at 10 a.m.,Tuesday, September 18, 2012, 4550 S. Wabash.

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.

ICIRR to participate in largest National Immigration Integration Conference

Posted by Admin On September - 14 - 2012 Comments Off on ICIRR to participate in largest National Immigration Integration Conference

Baltimore, MD — The largest national conference to bring together a cross-section of immigrant integration leaders and advocates, the National Immigrant Integration Conference 2012 (NIIC 2012), will be held Sept. 22-25 in Baltimore, Md. NIIC 2012 will focus on finding practical solutions to ensure immigrants have the opportunity to become integral members of the U.S. communities they call home. ICIRR leaders will join conference participants and are featured panelists in the Active Citizenship, We Are America, and the Refugees and Asylees tracks. ICIRR members and leaders will highlight our success and strategies in working on immigrant integration issues across Illinois.

The plenary “A Paramount Democracy: The Federal Role in Defending Civil Rights,” will feature Tom Perez, the assistant attorney general for the civil rights division of the U.S. Department of Justice. The plenary will include questions from national immigrant leaders from election battleground states in a year in which the presidency could be determined by immigrant voters.

The conference will also highlight the importance of Active Citizenship with sessions that address different issues within providing service providers with the resources and tools to run and manage a successful citizenship campaign. Alejandro Mayorkas,U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director, is a featured panelist on the “Active Citizenship” plenary to discuss the role of government in promoting active citizenship.

NIIC 2012 will open Saturday, Sept. 22, with a New Americans Festival that will feature an inspirational U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services naturalization ceremony. On Sunday, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley will give the conference opening address. He will highlight how his state is leading a growing movement of state and local governments across the country – from Baltimore to Dayton to Detroit – to recognize and promote immigrants’ contributions, and develop comprehensive efforts to attract and welcome them.

Additional high-profile speakers include:

  • Ben Jealous, president of the NAACP
  • Brenda Dann-Messier, assistant secretary for vocational and adult education, U.S. Department of Education
  • Bob Annibale,  global director, Citi Microfinance

Nearly 40 million immigrants live in America, comprising 13 percent of the total population and 16 percent of the total labor force, and immigrants are key drivers of small business growth. Immigrants are also more likely to live without health care and more vulnerable toworkplace violations.  Immigrant integration, a two-way process that strengthens the systems and tools that allow immigrants in the U.S. to participate fully in their communities, benefits us all by providing people with the opportunity to contribute to their fullest capacity to their families, jobs and communities.

“As we mark another political election with the same divisive debates over immigration policy, the real day-to-day work of providing immigrants who are already in this country the opportunity to pursue the American Dream continues,” said Gustavo Torres the executive director of CASA de Maryland, who is hosting the conference. “A citizen’s right to vote is paramount to that pursuit and we’ll explore this civil justice issue along with opportunities for education, entrepreneurship, community engagement, and more at this signature immigrant integration event.”

The conference will focus on empowering immigrants to build stronger, healthier communities. Important topics that will be addressed include access to education, the political process, health care, religious institutions and commercial resources, like banking.

For more information or to register for the conference, visit www.integrationconference.org. Journalists are welcome to attend the conference and are asked to register in advance online.

The National Immigrant Integration Conference 2012 (NIIC 2012) is the largest national conference to bring together immigrant integration leaders and advocates from across the country. The conference is the signature event of the National Partnership for New Americans. Participants represent a broad cross-section of professionals whose day-to-day work can inform this conversation, including experts on immigration and refugee policies, service providers, academics, government officials and advocates — all of whom are committed to finding innovative and effective ways to develop policies and programs that promote active citizenship and a just and welcoming democracy for all.

The National Partnership for New Americans (The Partnership) advances the integration and active citizenship of immigrants to achieve a vibrant, just, and welcoming democracy for all. The Partnership is a national multiethnic, multiracial partnership that harnesses the collective power and resources of 12 of the largest immigrant advocacy organizations in the country to mobilize millions of immigrants for integration and transformative social change. The Partnership creates and implements innovative programs that help immigrants become active and engaged citizens working for a stronger and more inclusive democracy and a vibrant nation.

Lt. Governor Simon to students: Stop texting while driving

Posted by Admin On September - 14 - 2012 Comments Off on Lt. Governor Simon to students: Stop texting while driving

Simon signs “It Can Wait” pledge, urges students to consider dangers of texting


CARTERVILLE, IL – Illinois Lt. Governor Sheila Simon joined AT&T Illinois and Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) officials at John A. Logan College to announce a joint statewide initiative urging community college students to take a pledge against texting while driving.

“Most community college students commute to class on a daily basis and need to understand the grave danger of texting while driving,” Lt. Governor Simon said. “I’m taking the pledge today to never text and drive, and I encourage students everywhere to join me. When you are driving, put down your phone – it can wait.”

Simon made her comments at the statewide announcement of the AT&T “It Can Wait” campaign on the campus of John A. Logan College in Carterville.

“Our goal is to save lives,” said Jim Maurer, VP of External Affairs, AT&T Illinois. “Too many lives have been forever changed by a texting-while-driving accident, and together, we want to spread the word about how deadly a single text can be.  We’re challenging everyone to take the pledge to never text and drive and to make it a lifelong commitment.”

“We believe community colleges are uniquely positioned to help in the effort against texting and driving and we fully support the initiative from Lt. Governor Simon and AT&T,” said Geoff Obrzut, President & CEO, Illinois Community College Board.

The “It Can Wait” campaign is focusing attention on September 19th as “No Text on Board Pledge Day,” where the company is asking all drivers to take the pledge to never text and drive again. To take the pledge, you can log on to www.ItCanWait.com.

IDOT is assisting in the effort with electronic highway signs that remind drivers not to text and drive, and cause drivers to think about traffic safety by providing the updated number of Illinois highway fatalities.

“Gov. Quinn is committed to making our roads safer, and at IDOT efforts to discourage texting while driving have been significant.  The Governor signed the state law that prohibits texting while driving, and we are educating voters through our ‘Drive Now. Text Later.’ traffic safety initiative,” said IDOT Secretary Ann L. Schneider.  “We are pleased to join Lt. Governor Simon, AT&T and community colleges in Illinois to encourage drivers to take the pledge to never text and drive.  There is no text message that is more important than the safety of our citizens.”

John A. Logan College President Dr. Michael Dreith said that to promote safe driving among students, the college will send an informational email message to its students encouraging them to take the pledge to never text and drive again.

“Texting while driving has become an epidemic on the roads today.  As many of our students are commuters, we want them to stay safe, and this initiative will help ensure they recognize the dangers of distracted driving,” Dreith said.  “We want our students to make the right choices and to take the pledge to never text and drive.”

“I am confident that my colleagues from the Illinois Council of Community College Presidents join with me and Lt Governor Simon in enthusiastically supporting the ‘It Can Wait’ anti-texting while driving campaign,” said Margaret B. “Peg” Lee, Oakton Community College President and President of the Illinois Council of Community College Presidents.

New Orleans to host the First Unity Summit of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church

Posted by Admin On September - 14 - 2012 Comments Off on New Orleans to host the First Unity Summit of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church

With Special Guests Mr. Ben Jealous, The Williams Brothers and Mrs. Cynthia M.A. Butler-Mcintyre

Nationwide (BlackNews.com) — The Christian Methodist Episcopal (C.M.E.) Church will host its first CME Unity Summit September 25-29, 2012 at the Sheraton New Orleans Hotel, 500 Canal Street in New Orleans, Louisiana. Approximately 3,000 persons from the United States and other countries are expected to attend the four-day event which provides educational and spiritual empowerment classes, dynamic ministry and music.

On Thursday, September 27 at Noon, a Unity Summit Luncheon will be held and the guest speaker will be Mrs. Cynthia M.A. Butler-McIntyre, National President of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. Tickets cost $50 for the luncheon. The Williams Brothers, the Grammy-nominated and Stellar Award-winning gospel group, will perform in concert on Thursday evening at 7:00 p.m. and tickets are $27. On Friday, September 28 at 7:00 p.m., Mr. Ben Jealous, the NAACP President and CEO, will be the guest speaker for the Awards Nights Gala, a free event honoring civil rights and other African American achievers. All events at the CME Unity Summit are open to the general public and held at the Sheraton New Orleans Hotel.

The CME Unity Summit will be hosted by the Fourth Episcopal District under the leadership of Bishop Thomas L. Brown, Sr., who also serves as the Chair. Bishop Paul A.G. Stewart, Sr., Presiding Prelate of the Third Episcopal District serves as the Program Chair, and the Finance Chair is Bishop Henry M. Williamson, Sr., Presiding Prelate of the Eighth Episcopal District. The Convocation is spearheaded by the Executive Secretary of the CME Church, Ms. Jeanette L. Bouknight.

The Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, under the leadership of Senior Bishop Thomas L. Hoyt, Jr. and its College of Bishops, is a 141-year old historically African American Christian denomination with more than 1.2 million members across the United States, and has missions and sister churches in Haiti, Jamaica and fourteen African nations. There are four CME related colleges, Lane College (Jackson, TN), Miles College (Birmingham, AL), Paine College (Augusta, GA) and Texas College (Tyler, TX). There is additionally a CME sponsored seminary, Phillips School of Theology, which is an affiliate member of the Interdenominational Theological Center (Atlanta, GA).

For additional information about the CME Unity Summit and the CME Church or to purchase tickets, visit www.c-m-e.org, telephone 1-855-CME-1870, or e-mail 2012cmeunitysummit@c-m-e.org .

Photo Caption: (l-r: Mr. Ben Jealous, Mrs. Cynthia M.A. Butler-McIntyre and the Williams Brothers)


New Web Series seeks to revolutionize African-American horror presence

Posted by Admin On September - 14 - 2012 Comments Off on New Web Series seeks to revolutionize African-American horror presence

Atlanta, GA (BlackNews.com) – Do the roll call on movie titles for the past eight decades and one genre will be notably limited among African-American films – horror. Atlanta-based Prime Factor Films, Inc. seeks to revolutionize African-American horror presence with its recently launched Web series, The Ancient Book of Krawlz.

Since the dawn of motion picture, African-American presence in mainstream and independent horror has been sequestered to a very few noteworthy titles and appearances, but more commonly to a niche expressed in the following sentiment: “While the marginalization of black actors in other genres translates into underdeveloped characters and storylines, in horror, it translates into something more concrete: death. Usually the painful kind.”1

The number of African-American blockbuster horror titles reported on web sites like BlackClassicMovies.com, provides proof of this industry void. This list in particular consists of less than twenty titles spanning the last 80 years and includes works as vintage as Son of Ingagi (1940) and as recent as Vampire in Brooklyn (1995).2

“Major studios make African-American horror films about three times each decade,” says Kewin Muhammad, Executive Producer of The Ancient Book of Krawlz.

“We want to keep African-American horror on the map. Once you produce a feature film, people forget about it as time goes on. But a series gives people something that they can keep coming back to.”

The independent production company seems to have covered every possible angle in its quest to raise the profile of African-American horror. First, “The Krawlz” as it is known for short, boasts webisodes that last a minimum of ten minutes, far exceeding running times of many indie Web-based series. Second, music is very skillfully integrated, a rare find in most independent web series of any genre. (One webisode includes a full-length video from a rising R&B artist.) Finally, since the screen credits don a mostly African-American cast of emerging talent, if one character gets killed offed, many other African-Americans remain to keep the very unique storyline going.

“We want to entertain the hell out of people,” says Muhammad.

And from the looks of things, they are off to a good start.


About The Ancient Book of Krawlz
Details about The Ancient Book of Krawlz and links to free webisodes can be found through the “Movies and Shows” link on Cinemode TV (www.cinemode.tv).

Photo Caption: Marc Henry Lazarre as Billy Bartholomew Boyd in the horror web series “The Ancient Book of Krawlz”.

WVON’s former news director, Sharon K. McGhee, dead at 54

Posted by Admin On September - 14 - 2012 Comments Off on WVON’s former news director, Sharon K. McGhee, dead at 54

By Chinta Strausberg

Pocketbook Monologues creator and former WVON talk show host Sharon K. McGhee has died at the age of 54, WVON’s Cliff Kelley confirmed Wednesday.

A native of St. Louis, McGhee battled ovarian cancer for more than three-years, but she used her illness as a teaching tool going around the country including at Saint Sabina Church where she held a forum to talk about this disease many only whisper about.

Born in St. Louis on June 19, 1958, McGhee, who was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer in 2009, called the disease “Cancer in your Pocketbook”—an old fashion term used by many African American mothers to describe their daughter’s vagina. Back then; it was more acceptable to say “pocketbook” rather than the anatomical and correct name of that organ.

Black mothers would tell their daughters to “keep your pocketbook closed.” It was part of the birds and bees lessons they taught their daughters about the importance of chastity and maintaining their sexual purity until they were married.

McGhee, who learned she had stage 4 ovarian caner just three weeks before she had received a phone call offering her a role in the Housewives of Atlanta, took that message across America having created the Pocketbook Monologues which reportedly was the design of Vagina Monologues aimed at teaching black women and their daughters about the importance of caring for their own sexual health.

Out of respect for their former colleague, McGhee, WVON’s talk show host Cliff Kelley paid tribute to her life and legacy.

WVON’s President/CEO Melody Spann-Cooper released this statement on McGhee read by Kelley: “WVON respectfully announces the passing of one of our own WVON former news director,  Sharon McGhee, has made her transition.

“Sharon died last night around 11 p.m. in Columbia, MO following her battle with ovarian cancer. She was 54-years-old,” said Spann-Cooper. “Our hearts and prayers go out to the McGhee family.

Kelley referred to 11-years-ago when he and McGhee watched the destruction of the World Trade Building; he said he had just mentioned her name yesterday. Both he and his executive producer, Michael Peery who lived in the same building as McGhee, spoke fondly about McGhee whom they say will be sorely missed.

Often racked with pain and armed with her wigs she wore because of the chemotherapy, McGhee had a passion for teaching sexual health including teaching black women about the rise in HIV. Her mission was to tell women early detection saves lives and that she did until her death yesterday, September 11, 2012.

Also reacting to her death was Janice Murdoch, leader of Saint Sabina’s Sisterhood Ministry, who said, “Despite her illness she always put people first. Sharon wanted to come to Saint Sabina again.

“Even in her illness, Sharon wanted to do the cancer monologue to us. She got sick and she never made it,” said Murdoch referring to her conversations with McGhee last spring. McGhee was scheduled to speak at Saint Sabina March 30, 2012. “She always put others before herself.”

According to the American Cancer Society, the most common symptoms are: swelling or bloating of the abdomen, pelvic pressure, abdominal pain, trouble eating or feeling full quickly, urinary symptoms and abnormal vaginal bleeding along with leg or back pain.

McGhee is from St. Louis, Mo. and was once the news director for WVON radio. However, before bringing her talents to Chicago, she hosted the highly rated morning talk show, “Good Morning St. Louis,” for more than five-years.

McGhee won the coveted “Achievement in Radio (AIR) Award on KATZ Radio for her series on the death of Emmett Till, the 14-year-old African American Chicago youth who in 1955 was murdered in Money, Mississippi for allegedly whistling at a white store clerk’s wife.

But, in Chicago, McGhee won the prestigious AIR Award for her five-part series on breast cancer and launched the first WVON book club entitled “Between the Covers.”

McGhee took her message beyond the borders of American She traveled to Africa six times, went to South America, spoke in Europe and the Caribbean Islands. She never let her disease stop her from educating women especially women of color.

That is why she created “The Pocketbook Monologues,” a funny stage play that gave women of color the opportunity to tell their stories about their sexuality. She once told this writer, “It’s sad that some black woman can’t discuss sex.”

So, to address this problem, McGhee created, directed and produced, “Everything your Mother Should Have Told You…But Didn’t.” This play was targeted for girls between the ages of 13-17 she labeled “The Coin Purses.”

“I know it is uncomfortable for parents to talk with their children about sexuality and responsibility, so we are stepping in to provide structure to ensure that girls and women understand the truth and consequences about being intimate in the 21st Century,” said McGhee on her Facebook page.

McGhee also served as the first moderator for “The Michelle Obama Effect: Politics, Family and Fashion” in Chicago. McGhee made the cover of USA Today for that event but more important she left a legacy of teaching thousands of women of color the importance of early detection.

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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