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Archive for December 16th, 2013

NAACP responds to Miami Gardens Police Chief resignation

Posted by Admin On December - 16 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Miami Gardens, FL – One day after the Florida State Conference of NAACP Branches and its Miami-Dade County Branch asked Attorney General Eric Holder to direct the Justice Department to review the practice of intimidation by officers of the Miami Gardens Police Department against African American residents, Miami Gardens Police Chief Matthew Boyd resigned amid allegations that officers in his department have systematically committed civil rights violations against residents of city.

“The Miami Gardens community deserves a police department that is committed to stopping crime and preserving justice,” stated Adora Obi Nweze, President of the NAACP Florida State Conference. “This is a good first step toward that goal, but hardly the last step. The systematic allegations of police intimidation did not happen because of just one person; they were the result of a sustained lack of oversight. We hope that the Miami Gardens Police Department will continue to work with the community on a fairer and more just system.”

Many Miami Gardens residents have faced and continue to face harassment and misconduct carried out by the Miami Gardens Police Department, related to a program called the Zero Tolerance Zone Initiative. Public records contain 27 video recordings from one store owner, Alex Saleh, who also filed a complaint with the internal affairs commander, Gary Smith. These recordings show police regularly questioning, frisking, and arresting people who not only have permission to be on the property, but also have not committed any crimes.

On Tuesday, the NAACP sent the following letter to the Department of Justice:

December 9, 2013

Hon. Eric H. Holder, Jr.
Attorney General of the United States
Grande H. Lum
Director, Community Relations Service
Jocelyn Samuels
Acting Assistant Attorney General, Director of the Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W.
Washington, D.C.  20530-0001

Wifredo A. Ferrer
U.S. Attorney of the Southern District of Florida
99 NE 4th Street, Miami, FL 33132

by e-mail

Dear General Holder, Ms. Monroe, Ms. Samuels and Mr. Ferrer:

RE: Request for a Civil Rights Investigation of the Conduct of the Miami Gardens Police Department

On behalf of the Florida State Conference of NAACP Branches and its Miami-Dade Branch, I am respectfully requesting the Department act promptly to review the overwhelming and systemic pattern and practice of intimidation by officers of the Miami Gardens Police Department against African American residents of Miami Gardens, and ensure that an impartial and thorough investigation is performed promptly.  We also respectfully request a meeting with Department of Justice officials to whom we can present our concerns.

The people of Miami Gardens are currently facing a severe crisis in the form of harassment and misconduct carried out by the Miami Gardens Police Department. The police have made hundreds of apprehensions of employees and customers of convenience stores for “trespassing.” This supposed “zero tolerance” initiative by the police has left the Miami Gardens community shaken and uncertain of whether the police are willing to protect them from actual criminals.

Alex Saleh, the owner of the 207 Quickstop market in Miami Gardens, filed an internal affairs complaint in August 2012 as a result of the excessive number of his employees and customers who were being harassed and arrested by the Miami Gardens Police Department at his store at 3185 NW 207th Street – often times for offenses they had not even committed.   Over the past four years, one of Mr. Saleh’s employees, Earl Sampson, 28, has been arrested more than 100 times, including 62 arrests for loitering and trespassing even including occasions when he was stocking store shelves.  Even after filing the report, one of the officers who Mr. Sampson had complained about, Michael Malone, continued to harass a customer who was part of the complaint.  This type of police misconduct has resulted in employees like Mr. Sampson having a 38 page criminal file filled with a substantial number of charges that were never pursued by prosecutors, which itself is a strong indicator of police misconduct in Miami Gardens.

Mayor Oliver Gilbert contends that the allegations of police misconduct made by Mr. Saleh are untrue and that Mr. Saleh refused to provide information for the City to investigate. However, public records support Mr. Saleh’s contention that he did provide videos to the internal affairs commander, Gary Smith, in compliance with the state attorney’s subpoena for the videos last year.

Having lost faith in the police department’s ability to conduct an impartial investigation, Mr. Saleh gathered more than 27 recordings from the $7,000 worth of video surveillance installed inside and outside of his store. These videos show police regularly questioning, frisking, and arresting people who not only have permission to be on the property, but also have not committed any crimes.  This video archive documents what may be the most pervasive, most invasive, and most unjustified pattern of police harassment in the nation.

Miami Gardens is not a small jurisdiction: it is the third-largest city in Miami-Dade County, with a population of over 106,000.  As it happens, 76% of the population and most of its senior public officials are African Americans, but that does not excuse the Police Department’s administration of a pattern of grave misconduct. Police harassment is unlawful and morally wrong irrespective of the race of those who are ultimately responsible and accountable.  Public officials of other jurisdictions surely are watching Miami Gardens, knowing that if police harassment of African Americans is acceptable in Miami Gardens, it is acceptable anywhere.

Absent federal oversight and intervention, the NAACP has no confidence that the Miami Gardens Police Department or other city officials will willingly conduct a complete and impartial investigation. We therefore call upon you to deploy personnel to Miami Gardens immediately to uncover all of the facts, determine whether federal laws have been violated, prosecute those responsible, and ensure that new procedures are implemented to prevent recurrences and effectively reduce crime without abusive tactics.


Adora Obi Nweze
President, Florida State Conference of Branches, NAACP, and
President, Miami-Dade Branch of the NAACP

cc:   Thomas Battles, Regional Director, Community Relations Service, Atlanta, GA

The Correct Answer

Posted by Admin On December - 16 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

By William E. Spriggs

This time of year college students cram for final exams. They get graded in a very stark right-or-wrong fashion. Splitting the difference between a bad guess and the right answer is not rewarded.

Unfortunately, Washington is locked in such a crazy struggle. Five years after Wall Street’s fall, the economy still is more than 1 million payroll jobs short of where things stood at the last peak of the labor market. Median household income is still below the peak, meaning more than half of America’s households are behind where they were five years ago.

The poverty level of America’s children is higher, and state and local revenues only recovered last fiscal year, leaving hundreds of thousands of fewer teachers and larger class sizes for our children. Our nation’s total output is more than $1 trillion less than where it would be if we could get to full employment. Clearly, the right answer to this set of problems is for massive government action to kick start the economy to address the woes of the American people.

But what we have is a Washington elite preoccupied by its fetish with federal deficits, and a Republican party blinded by ideology to shrink the government to the size the 1% is willing to pay for (meaning not very much at all). There is such a disconnect between Congress and the problems of America’s households that whatever President Barack Obama might do is stuck in the muck of policy group-think.

The last employment numbers only encourage a group-think that believes the economy is doing well. November’s numbers boosted the average monthly job growth to a level that could get private-sector jobs back to their January 2008 peak within six months-in mid-2014. But rising to the job levels of more than six years ago means that would leave the deficit of all the new job entrants over that six-year period-almost 8 million jobs needed!

Unemployment is like landing on fly paper. It is easy to get stuck. From one month to the next, the majority of the unemployed remain unemployed. Of the nearly 10.7 million people looking unsuccessfully for work in October, 6.7 million remained unemployed in November. More give up and drop out of the labor force, quitting their searches-2.4 million-than leave unemployment by finding a job, 2.1 million; and unfortunately, 1.6 million people who had been employed in October joined the rank of the unemployed in November. For millions of people we are simply not addressing the immediate need to create job opportunities.

After weeks of deliberating, Congress appears to have reached a budget compromise. Fortunately, it makes a sizable portion of the sequestration cuts in federal spending go away, making the federal government less a drag on the economy. It will help create more jobs but only a tiny dent. And it is being done by punishing federal workers-both civilian and military-by reducing their retirement benefits. And federal unemployment benefits are set to expire for 1.3 million still stuck in the unemployment queue, leaving them with no relief.

Back in October, there were 2.87 unemployed workers for each job opening. This is why more than 4 million Americans remained unemployed for more than 27 weeks. The loss of income for these families is a strain and part of the reason household incomes remain below their peak of five years ago.

The Congressional Budget Office has shown that unemployment benefits help stimulate the economy more than any other government program. It is only common sense. Unemployed workers need to make rent or mortgage payments, buy groceries and pay utilities. With the fall in income from a job loss, all unemployment benefits are put to use. And, unlike a tax cut that a Wall Street broker might use to go take a ski trip to St. Moritz, those grocery bills and utilities are dollars that circulate in the local economy.

A compromise that splits the difference between not extending unemployment benefits and choosing to extend them is moving away from the right answer. As the bumper sticker says, “I’d agree with you, but then we would both be wrong.”

Follow Spriggs on Twitter: @WSpriggs. Contact: Amaya Smith-Tune Acting Director, Media Outreach AFL-CIO 202-637-5142

Despite ACA Eligibility, Many Inland Empire Youth Remain Uninsured

Posted by Admin On December - 16 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Despite ACA Eligibility, Many Inland Empire Youth Remain Uninsured

New America Media
By Viji Sundaram

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. – Despite open enrollment for health plans through the Affordable Care Act, nearly a quarter of San Bernardino County’s 2 million-strong residents remain uninsured. Among children, some 35,000, or 9 percent, are uninsured, compared to the national average of 8 percent.

“There’s no reason why (the children) can’t be insured,” asserted Michael Schertell, deputy director for Children’s and Regional Programs for the San Bernardino County Department of Behavioral Health.

But he acknowledged that getting them insured could be challenging, given that around 20,000 of them fall into the category of homeless, defined as not having “a permanent setting.”

As San Bernardino struggles with its financial woes, the city has understandably seen an increased demand for mental health services for children, given that behavioral disorders are closely tied to social and economic issues.

Schertell was sharing those observations while on a panel at an ethnic media briefing here Dec. 4 organized by New America Media and sponsored by The California Endowment. The briefing focused on how the Affordable Care Act (ACA) could help San Bernardino County’s youth access mental and medical health care services, starting Jan. 1, 2014, when the ACA is fully implemented.

While many young adults are now covered by the ACA and able to remain on their parent’s insurance plan until age 26, the rules are different for former foster care children, once they age out of the system. At that point, they lose their coverage.

Schertell pointed out that that’s going to change in January, when Medi-Cal coverage will be extended to them until they turn 26, as long as they were enrolled in it while they were wards of the state.

Dr. Kim Clark, a professor in the Department of Health Sciences at Cal State San Bernardino, and currently on assignment with the San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools, said in his presentation that schools in the county have been forced to cut back on counseling services for financial reasons. Many of them have nevertheless benefitted from a program the county’s behavioral health department has been offering. Under it, local community agencies contracted by the county provide students on-campus counseling.

Schools have the option of hosting those services, Clark said, but not every one of the county’s 32 school districts do.

Clark said that in order to get a true picture of how prevalent mental health disorders are among the San Bernardino County student population, school districts should modify the California Healthy Kids Survey schools administer every two years and include questions on drug problems, violence and sexual behavior.

“The irony is that they ask safe questions,” he said, noting that that could largely be because of “the political ramifications of determining that there are more mental health and/or sexual concerns than the district is willing to deal with.”

That, he said, is a pity given that data drive policy.

He also lamented what he called a “fundamental failure” by schools to not include health education in their curriculum. Educating students on health issues, he said, would decrease visits to emergency rooms and reduce needless medical expenses.

Panelist Linda Hart, president and co-founder of the African American Mental Health Coalition in San Bernardino, said that even though the ACA requires all insurance companies, whether participating in the private market or the online marketplace exchange, to cover 10 essential health benefits, including mental health and substance abuse coverage, unless youngsters with mental health disorders “feel comfortable” talking about their illness, no laws passed will help.

“The stigma associated with mental illness is so great, youth don’t want to reveal” they have a disorder, Hart said.

Panelist David Levitus, the state’s deputy director of the four-year-old national group, Young Invincibles, said that contrary to what many believe, a poll done by his group suggests that most youngsters between the ages of 18 and 34 want health coverage.

The Obama administration has said more than once that youth are crucial to making the ACA work because when they buy coverage they help to spread the risk and hold down premiums for everybody.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, some 27 percent of young people in that age group lack coverage largely because they are less likely to be offered coverage through their employers because many of them work part-time or hourly-wage jobs that offer no health benefits.

In places like the Inland Empire and its surroundings, Levitus said, there is an increase in substance abuse and other mental health disorders. Access to health care is crucial in these places, he said.

Storycatchers Theatre prepares young people in detention, poor and marginalized communities to make thoughtful life choices

Posted by Admin On December - 16 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Chicago’s leaders and residents keep looking for ways to stop the downward spiral into violence that has plagued the city, particularly its youth. However, there is a local nonprofit that is making strides in giving young people a second chance at a better life – by writing and performing it.

Storycatchers Theatre prepares young people—those in detention and those in poor and marginalized communities—to make thoughtful life choices by writing, producing and performing original musical theatre inspired by their difficult and challenging personal stories. They take a therapeutic approach to help teens in the juvenile justice system and other marginalized teens envision different endings to the traumas they’ve experienced or witnessed.

Their innovative approach has gotten the attention of national and state leaders:

—Two weeks ago, First Lady Michelle Obama recognized Storycatchers with a 2013 National Arts & Humanities Youth Program Award—the nation’s highest honor for such programs—at a White House awards ceremony hosted by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities.

—The Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice’s Behavioral Health Services Administrator works closely with Storycatchers at all IDJJ facilities to ensure cooperative and productive work with the Department’s counseling staff.

Now, Storycatchers is expanding their programs to have an even bigger reach and is working with IDJJ to explore solutions for providing better care to incarcerated youth after they are released.


—Nearly 40% of incarcerated youth are detained for parole violations that pose no threat to public safety, such as skipping school or missing curfew, according to a 2011 Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission Study.

—Each year, Storycatchers serves up to 250 incarcerated and community youth between the ages of 13 and 21, and up to 2,000 additional youth and audience members.

—A University of Chicago Crime Lab study found that supportive programs result in a 44% drop in violent crime arrests among youth, and 36% decline in youth arrests for non-violent crimes.

—For more than 10 years, Storycatchers Theatre has collaborated with the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice (IDJJ).


On Saturday, Dec.14, Storycatchers honored teens and their families with a presentation of the national award during a staged reading of “What I Want to Be,” a play in development. Attendees include:

—Girls currently in detention and alumni from the Warrenville Illinois Youth Center program

—Boys from the Teens Together community program including Ryan Sims, a 17-year-old Storycatchers apprentice teacher who met the First Lady at the White House

—Mayor Rahm Emanuel (invited)

—Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL)

—Arthur Bishop, Director, Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice (invited)

—Judy Davis, Superintendent, Illinois Youth Center/Warrenville

—Meade Palidofsky, Founder and Artistic Director, Storycatchers Theatre

As one of the detainees said during a rare performance outside of the detention center of their musical What It Means To Fly, which imagined freedom from incarceration and from their inner demons, the recent award from the White House showed that “people in the world actually do care”. Another teenage girl said working on the musical helped her see a future for her away from incarceration and “it will stick with me because I know I can do better.”

Saint Sabina’s Father Pfleger says goodbye to Nelson Mandela

Posted by Admin On December - 16 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Vows to take whole church to see his movie

By Chinta Strausberg

Saint Sabina’s Father Michael L. Pfleger paid tribute to the life and legacy of former South African President Nelson Mandela who died on December 5, 2013 at the age of 95.

The traditional ten-day period of mourning ends today as thousands attended the state funeral and watched his coffin, draped int he red, white and green South African flag, being carried to its final resting place.

Last Sunday, Father Pfleger asked the church to stand and applaud the life of Mandela, Pfleger saying, “The world tried to change him, but he changed the world. We thank you Nelson for all that you did for the sacrifice, for becoming better and not bitter, for loving and not hating, for teaching us what it means to live with justice in our heart and but kindness in our hand. Thank you, Nelson.”

Pfleger said there are times people can involved “in the rat race, the ritual, the habits of our minds, we miss history right in front of our eyes.”

Talking about the death of Mandela, who will be buried on Sunday in his ancestral home of Qunu, Pfleger talked about John The Baptist and how he called on the world to “repent, prepare ye the way of the Lord. Make straight the path. Take the crooked and make it straight. Take the rough and make it smooth. Level the mountains. As I hear him confront the religions and the government of his day and hear John The Baptist calling Pharisees and the Sadducees vipers…challenging the arrogance of the rule of the land.”

Pfleger reminded the church of the many times John The Baptist was in prison because of the good news he proclaimed. Wow, we’ve come a long way from John The Baptist,” he said.

“We look at a church where apostles and disciples were arrested for preaching the gospel and now today the church has become mainstream, become another corporation in the world and now we say benedictions and invocations for burials instead of telling them to let my people go.

“I watched them confront the government and the gospel of John The Baptist and Jesus the same, and I remember the time when he was in prison and even beheaded for his preaching of the truth of the gospel.”

Referring to the Isaiah prophet in the first reading day talk about the belt of justice wrapped around God that he was a God of justice who called the land to become a land of peace and brotherhood and sisterhood, as we hear that I can’t help thinking about Nelson Mandela,” said Pfleger.

“I can’t help thinking about who he was and not just what you heard in the last 24-hours but what he’s been for the last 95-years.”

Saying many young people don’t know Nelson Mandela or Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Pfleger said, they just know pictures and names. “We rob our children of history,” Pfleger said announcing he will beholding a “Saint Sabina Day” where the church will go to see Nelson Mandela’s movie at the Chatham 14 Theaters, 210 W. 87th St. “I want everybody here to go and take your children so they will understand the man and not a blimp on the news.”

Referring to the days following Mandela’s death,Pfleger said, “You hear all of the praise and the affirmation and the accolades of Nelson Mandela. Some of those same accolades and affirmations from the very mouths of those who called him a terrorist.

“Let’s not forget that he was the (U.S.) terrorist list until 2008,” said Pfleger. “He needed special permission after he came out of prison he still couldn’t leave the country without special permission because he was a terrorists. The African National Congress (ANC) was listed as a terrorist organization.”

Now, since his death, Pfleger said everyone is talking about how great Mandela was. “Let’s not forget how he think he was. You hear the world commending him now, but let’s not get amnesia about a world that condemned him… a world that continued to crucify him while he was locked in a prison cell. We must not forget his condemning America when we entered the war in Iraq. We must not forget that when he was raising money for South Africa and America said to him, ‘now that we are defending you and we’re raising money and we’re supporting you, we now ask you to denounce your friendship and your allegiance to Cuba and to Fidel Castro and to Omar Gaddafi.’”  Pfleger quoted Mandela who said at that time, “Why would I remove myself from old friends who have always been with me to join hands with some new friends whose relationships have not yet been tested.” Pfleger said that is called “integrity…character.”

Mandela, Pfleger said, would not travel to or have a relationship with Israel “until they denounced their covering of ownership over Palestine and Palestine was free. Until Palestine would have freedom and be free of their own, he would cut them off from Israel’s dominance.”

Referring to Mandela, Pfleger said, “We honor him like we honor John The Baptist, like we honor great prophets who walked among us, like we honor Jesus Christ. All of those be it Mandela, be it King, be it Malcolm, be it Jesus, all of them suffered the condemnation of systems and governments and religious structures and people. All of them went through a great time, a great struggle and persecution by the system and even those around them,” said Pfleger.

“It is also interesting to me that three great leaders who impacted our lives, Dr. King, Nelson Mandela and the Apostle Paul all impacted the world from jail cells. The letter from the Birmingham jail of Dr. Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela from the single cell from Robben Island and the Apostle Paul who wrote most of the New Testament locked up in a jail.

“Don’t you dare put down people who’ve been to jail,” he said to a round of applause. “Don’t you dare hold grudges and” judge people who have gone to prison because Pfleger said many have changed the world especially Dr. King, Mandela and the Apostle Paul.

“If we are going to be witnesses of truth, if we’re going to be following of Christ, if we’re going to be disciples and not simply the believers…that’s always been the charge of this church…we’re called to be believers turned into disciples, believers where the place in the kingdom of God and giving their lives to Jesus Christ. They now have a place in the Kingdom of God that cannot be taken from them….”

“Believers have a place in the kingdom of God but disciples have matured to a place to understand my job is to bring the kingdom of God to earth every day where I am like Mary breaking open an alabaster jar and changing the atmosphere in my job, in my school, in my block where ever I work.

“This ought to be different because I brought a change to the atmosphere. Some stuff can’t go on because I work here. Some stuff can’t happen at that school because you’re a student there. Some things that happen in that work place because you work there and there is some stuff you won’t tolerate. The devil ought to get angry when you wake up in the morning when you ought to come into a place and say I’ve come to change the atmosphere….”

“We got to stop being such punks. You are a world changer…,” bellowed Pfleger. Referring to a job, Pfleger said, “You know the good news about a job, they are paying you to start trouble. Some demons ought to run out…when you enter a place….”

Referring to those who are bashful and timid too afraid to offend anybody, Pfleger said, “no sexism should be in the place you work. No racism should be tolerated. Let’s start banning together with some other believers where you’re at and start an army turn this place upside down….

“We must understand if we’re going to be disciples of Jesus not just believers who go to church but disciples who are church who understand I’m a walking sanctuary. I’m an arch of the covenant that where is church where ever I go.

“If we’re going to be that, we must be willing to struggle. We must be willing to be condemned. We must be willing even to die,”he said.

Referring to the days of segregation and his getting ready to board one of the buses, Pfleger said, “they said if you’re not ready to die today, don’t get on the bus. My immediate response to myself was‘hell no. No, I wasn’t ready to die today.’

“My mama always told me make sure before you go out you have clean underwear…and I wasn’t sure I’d done it that day because I didn’t know this was the day.

“We got to be willing to be condemned and yes die. Sometimes we’re so afraid of dying that we forget to live and that’s not popular in a world that likes the easy road. That’s not popular in a world that says I don’t want anything that cost be nothing…. I want to get through this thing as easy as I can as quick as I can and get on to the next thing in my life. That is not very popular in a world where everybody wants to be accepted.I’m OK. You’re OK. We want the affirmation of people.”

But, Pfleger warned Christians that “until you mature to a place that you understand your affirmation is from him…when you understand that it is he who affirms you and his is the only vote that counts, then you get released and free from needing the affirmation from somebod yaround you. Why would you need affirmation from seasonal friends? They may be with you in the spring of your life but when the winter comes they can’t be found, but I know there is somebody who will never leave you or forsake you. I will never abandon you. I am with you Emanuel….”

Pfleger said one of the things that Jesus, Dr.King, Mandela and John The Baptist taught us was to fight against injustice. “Sometimes we live…where it’s not in my backyard. As long as it’s not in my backyard, hell can be going through across the street. I didn’t see nothing. Code of silence because I won’t speak up. If I speak up, I may become a target, but if 20 people on a block speak up, there is no target,” he stated.

“We don’t want to get involved. We used to be caretakers for one another. We didn’t use to wonder if you came home and nobody was at home where would you go. You would just ring Miss Jones…Miss Johnson’s doorbell. You’d go somewhere on the block because it was the block that took care of each other. Nothing happened on that block that the block didn’t allow.

“We must fight against injustice. Don’t ignore it. Don’t avoid it. Don’t run from it. If you really know who is with you, you’ll run to it” and say there won’t be injustice “on my watch.”

“We forget that God gave us this garden. He said work it and make it fruitful, but too many of us are bad landlords. The earth is in our hands at this time. It’s a long race.” Pfleger asked the members to ask the one next to them to say “the batons are in your hands now, are you running it”?

“We’re called to be world changers to be agents of change through the transformer it ought to be different like on your job or in the world because we live here,” he stated.

“We have to get beyond the day of just celebrating those who went before us and ask ourselves the question will there be a generation to come that looks back on you and say thanks. Will there be someonet o be thankful that we paved the way….

“We can’t keep going back to ground zero. Somebody ought to build something. Somebody ought to change…transform something…” so that one day people will say “thank good because this generation lived or 50 or 60-years from now when they have to skip over us to keep going back to Mandela, King and Rosa (Parks). “We’re called to fight against injustice.”

The second thing Jesus, Dr. King, Mandela and JohnThe Baptist taught us was “life is a constant evolution.” Referring to the February 15, 1990 interview with Mandela and Ted Koppel after Mandela, who spent 27-years in prison, was released (http://abcnews.go.com/Archives/video/feb-15-1990-nelson-mandela-interview-12779866,) Pfleger said, “He said that time in prison gave me time to think and go back on my mistakes and learn about other people impacted the world and how they came from their mistakes and became leaders of change.

“The most dangerous thing that can happen to any of us here is to think you’ve arrived,” said Pfleger who said the longer a person lives the less he or she knows. “It’s true because you start to remember and acknowledge our incomplete our database is.

“Always keep growing. Always look at people around you what can they teach you. What can they share with you? What can they impart in you. What do they have to give you? What gift do they can that can touch your life. Don’t ever think you’ve arrived and think you’re there. Keep growing. Keep becoming. Keep evolving. There’s more ahead of you than behind you” he said.

Reflecting on a 15-minute one-on-one conversation with President Mandela when he was touring the country including Chicago, Pfleger thanked former Mayor Richard M. Daley because “Daley grabbed my hand and pulled me with him” at the Palmer House where Mandela was being honored.

“I didn’t know where we were going but he was the mayor. Where ever he was going, I was going.” When they brought President Mandela into the holding room, Pfleger was allowed to talk to Mandela alone.

A nervous Pfleger asked Mandela how did he take life in prison for 27-years; however before he could finish his question, Mandela grabbed Pfleger’s hand and said, “it made me strong….”

“Don’t let your adversities destroy you. Let them teach you so when I come out of this I’m going to be better. I’m going to be stronger. I’m going to be wiser. Some stuff ain’t going get to me no more because I’ve been there done that….

“I shake this stuff off because you don’t know what I’ve been through and if he can bring me through that, he can bring me through this…. Adversity should make you stronger. Let your adversity teach you, wise you up so the next time the devil comes with your trick, you can laugh at him and tell him, ‘You should have got me before I learned what I learned on my last set back.’”

The third thing Mandela taught us, Pfleger said,was “to be uncompromising in our standard. Sometimes as Christians we have to ask ourselves what do you stand for because we have watered down our beliefs so much because we want to fit in, get along? We don’t want to trouble no waters or make no waves; so we fit in the groups and what ever they’re talking about we just ride on with them like a lap dog.

“We got to be uncompromising for what we stand for and what we believe because while you’re trying to fit into somebody else they don’t like you no way. You’re wasting your time trying to get somebody to say you’re a nice person. They don’t like you. They ain’t going to be there when you lose your job. When you ain’t got no money, got no car…, they ain’t going to be there,” he said recognizing ABC 7 anchor Hosea Sanders and WGCI Tony Scofield. “You lose your job tomorrow, you out there in the street” and people won’t remember their names. “Don’t believe your own press,” he said.

Pfleger told of the time when he was speaking at an event and somebody came up to him and said, “I can’t stand you.” Pfleger responded, “Well, praise the Lord. God bless you, too. Have we ever met before? He said, ‘no.” Have you ever heard me before”? The person said, “no.”

Pfleger shook the hand of his hater and said, “I’m so glad that you’re here because now you’re going to know why you hate me. You going to make sense when you talk now because you sound real stupid right now.You hate what you don’t know. Know what you hate about me.

“Have some standards. Be uncompromising,” Pflegers aid honoring Mandela. “Sometimes, we are so willing to come down we forget that Nelson Mandela was offered to come out of jail so many times if he would just sign a document” declaring he would not talk about certain topics. “He said no,” Pfleger said.

There are lessons in how Mandela handled his27-years in prison that are teachable and relevant today. “It’s better to be locked up in a prison than to be free and locked up in your heart. I’d rather have a free mind, a free heart and a free spirit” rather than to “compromise my values. “Now, I’m letting people lock me up and become our jailers.”

“If you are a person of faith, there some stuff you ought to stand for….”

The fourth lesson Mandela and other black leaders taught us is the power of forgiveness. Pfleger equated social change with Dr.King and the formula for a transformation being “after education, after negotiations, after self-purification, after demonstrations, the fifth step isalways reconciliation because Dr. King says you never win an argument untilyour enemy becomes your ally.

“Dr. King understood the power of forgiveness.Nelson Mandela understood the power of forgiveness. When he was asked weren’t he bitter and angry about the people that did this you, Mandel   said, “They kept me captive for27-years. Why would I now keep them captive as I am a free man”?

“In this season of expectation and preparation, as we prepare for the great celebration of Christmas look into your inventory of who you need to forgive,” said Pfleger.

Referring to the time when he first became the pastor of Saint Sabina, Pfleger said there was this woman who sat in either the third or fourth pew and every time he’d begin to preach she would put her fingers in her ears in a very visible and public way.

It puzzled Pfleger who said, “Well, maybe there is something wrong with her ears, but she did it every time, every Sunday and I said wow, that’s not nice. It wouldn’t have been so bad if she had been in the balcony or the basement but she was right here.

“But. God taught me to let it go and to go right on and preach and not allow that to get into my spirit because the enemy was trying to use her to vex my preaching. I had to let it go and ignore it.

“Years later, I got a call from one of her children who said mother wanted you to come to her house because she’s dying of cancer,”he recalled.

As Pfleger walked up the stairs to her house he thought to himself, “As I was walking in and…this will be her death date today,” he said worried that she would stop her ears when he spoke. An anxious Pfleger thought as he approached her doorbell, “It’s going to be like the Supreme Court Justice on Scandal. She’s going down today,” he mused telling his members who were laughing to “calm down gladiators.”

“I came there. She could barely move, talk or speak, but one of the first things out of her mouth was ‘I’m sorry.’”

Going back home, Pfleger said he remembers God telling him “if you had not planted the seed of forgiving him, you would never have enjoyed the joy of her saying I’m sorry, but you watered that seed overall those years and you didn’t hold a grudge.

“Whenever you think somebody has hurt you so bad that you just can’t forgive them, think about Jesus on the cross dying for you and I jacked up lives saying he knew all of the stuff you were going to do, buthe believed in his potential so much he still hunger and would not come down.The only thing he could say before he gave his last breath was ‘father forgive them. They know not what they do.”

The members repeated, “If there is anybody you should forgive, let that be their Christmas present. Forgive them. Wrap up that forgiveness in the bow of a smile. Wrap up that forgiveness in a bow of a gift and a joy…. We don’t have to be friends. We just can’t be enemies anymore.”

“Mandela hugged his jailers and then hired some of them to work at the presidential palace,” Pfleger said explaining there is a funny irony to that.

“The people who used to call him names and talk about him, harass him behind the bars, now when Mr. Mandela walks into the office they say ‘sir, can I take your coat? Can I get you some coffee….” God said he’d make your enemies your foot stools. Don’t get caught up in unforgiveness. Don’t get caught up in grudges. Learn how to be forgiving.

Pfleger laid out the fifth lesson Mandela and other leaders taught us about “the willingness to teach us about the struggle.”

Referring to the sign in back of the church that says “Discipleship cost are you willing, Pfleger said it bothers him that some people don’t want to go through anything…. “Are you willing to pay he cost? Sometimes we treat discipleship like we treat going shopping. Where is the sale? We want things cheaper.”

“We want things easy and quick…. If you are going to make any real chance out here, you got to be willing to sacrifice and struggle,” he said.

Referring to Allen Boesak who spoke at Saint Sabina a few weeks ago, Pfleger said, “When we come to judgment and God will look at us and ask ‘Do you have no wounds,’ and we will say no. He will say, ‘was there nothing worth struggling for? Was there nothing worth fighting for? Was there nothing worth bleeding for?

“Why did Jesus still have his wounds? Jesus has his wounds because he wants us to know when we see him in glory and we walk up tothe throne of God and reach out to Jesus, he will reach out with hands with wounds in it to say, ‘I just want to remind you what it cost for you to get there.

“Don’t forget he went to Calvary because everythingcost. Mandela sat in his cell for 27-years. King…Malcolm was murdered….Countless people hung like strange fruit from trees. There’s a cost. The questionis are you willing to pay it?

Listing the names of Jesus, King, Mandela and John The Baptist, Pfleger said they taught us “about humbleness and gentleness while still being bold and strong.

“We live in a very weird world today where we somehow think if you’re gentle you’re weak. If you’re humble, something is wrong with you. You’re a push over. Jesus was no push over. Jesus was a radical messiah…. He was bold and strong and unbending in what he believed.

“Don’t think your strength is lording it over somebody. Let your strength be your character that makes somebody look up to you. Learn how to be gentle. Learn how to be kind. Learn how to care for people and treat people.

“Do you know how easy it is to just say hello to somebody on the street”?

Father Pfleger said, “We have to learn how to be humble. What the world lacks more than anything right now is kindness. We’re such a mean spirited world the way we treat each other, the way we talk to each other.  It doesn’t cost nothing tobe kind…to be gentle…to be friendly with one another.”

Pfleger talked about the seventh thing Nelson Mandela and others taught him. “How did we become such a selfish world with such witnesses that walked among us. We’re not talking about 200-years ago.They were in our lifetime.

“Shame on us that we have become so self-centered and so selfish in a time when there has been such great prophets God has allowed to walk amongst us. Shame on us that there was a Christ that we say we worship and he gave his life. There is no better love than one who lays down his life for another.

“Christ said you’ll know you are my disciples by your love for one another.”

Pfleger told about the parable about the Samaritan who cared about someone along side the road. “Yet, we have become so harden and immune we don’t care about children dying. We don’t care about poverty greater than it has ever been. We don’t care about unemployment seven percent in the country, 22 percent in our neighborhood. We don’t care about people who have no heat. We just want a bigger coat,” Pfleger said.

“We don’t care that as we sit here somebody is under a viaduct and someone is sitting in a doorstep trying to learn how to get through the day.” To those who don’t like what they have in their refrigerators, Pfleger said, “Somebody wish they had your refrigerator to go to. “How do we become so selfish…”?

Saying Jesus could not get discouraged because eventually the cross would free us all, Pfleger said, “We have to have the kind of hope in us that nobody in life that nobody can extinguished. There has to bea hope in us that like Martin said, ‘I’ve seen the promise land….

“There has to be a hope that kept Nelson Mandela alive and 27-years and getting stronger and developing kindness, love and forgiveness so he can walk out and go from a prison to a presidency.”

“What ever you do, never quit. The fight’s fixed.We win at the end. Read the last chapter. When you get discouraged, go to Revelation. Read the end of the book. It’s a good ending…. If you just don’t give up, you’ll be all right. We win at the end….

“If you really want to honor Mandela, there’s no easy walk to freedom anywhere. If you want to honor King, don’t just watch the funeral. If you want to honor King, don’t just go to some King event. If you want to honor Jesus, just don’t have some nice little Christmas dinner, put some carols around the house, a tree and decorations because” anniversaries end and the holiday lights will come down.

“If you really want to honor Mandela, if we want to honor Jesus, then we must embrace who they were with the lives that we live every day. It’s easy to celebrate them. It’s easy to mourn them, but we can do that from a distance. The question is do I believe enough in them to embody what they stood for.

“Do I have a divine tension in me that doesn’t allow me to just walk through life with worry about my own comfort, and my own thing and my own position and my own power but do I care about the world likethey cared about the world”?

Father Pfleger shared a story about the late Coretta Scott King who told him to “take him off the pedestal.”

Pfleger shared another story about Dr. King’s father and how he suddenly heard “Daddy King saying ‘Michael.’” “Dr. King was standing there in a T-shirt and his drawers. I said, I can’t see you like this.”

Daddy King reported told Pfleger to “never put somebody up above you. Just picture that person sitting on the toilet seat because all do it just like you… It wasn’t the Daddy King I wanted to talk to right now, but it taught me a lesson because if we put them up that dismisses us from having to be like them.” Referring to Dr. King’s daughter, Bernice, Pfleger added, “Don’t honor a King, be a king.”

Pfleger charged the church on the weekend of honoring Nelson Mandela in remembering “this great man…. You’re all great. Don’t remove him. Embrace him. Become like him. The bible tells us there is a crowd of witnesses up there and that crowd of witnesses are sitting in the grand stands of life cheering you and I on because it’s your time and my time on the field.”

Pfleger said, “It’s our job is to run this race as best we can giving it everything we got. Tomorrow is not promised.” He asked the members to place their hand over their heart and repeat, “I am Mandela. I am Rosa. I am Harriet. I am Sojourner….”

Pfleger made an altar call asking all high school and grade school students to come to the altar.

When the children gathered around Father Pfleger, he told them, “The world is going to try and tell you who is important and who is valuable. You see all that stuff on TV trying to tell you what makes you rich, what makes you great…. The world is going to lie to you and try to makeyou think what’s important, what’s valuable and what is great.

“I bind up that wrong thinking right now. Be ye not conformed by the world but be ye renewed by the renewal of your mind by the word of God. Do not be deceived by the world. This is success. This is greatness….”

“I charge everyone of you young people do not compromise the truth God puts in you. Do not be deceived on what’s on TV. Be it as crazy as Real Housewives…the devil stuff.”

Father Pfleger told the children to place their hand on their body and to repeat. “I am Malcolm. I am Martin. I am Rosa, I am Mandela I am the disciple of Jesus Christ. I am the new leadership I am tomorrow’s future. I am a world changer. I will not sell out. I will be humble. I will achieve my destiny. I will be great like Mandela.”

Asking each to raise their fist, Pfleger asked them to repeat, “I am Mandela. I am tomorrow’s new Mandela…. Pick up the baton….”

Father Pfleger asked the church to honor the memory of Nelson Mandela by singing the song, “Freedom.”

Saint Sabina’s Father Thulani Magwaza, who is from South Africa, prayed in English and in his native tongue thanking the life ofMandela and what he stood for, “for his teachings and all that he did for South Africa and the world….”

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.

Former Astor House tenants and their supporters to hold protest today after four families were evicted

Posted by Admin On December - 16 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Will detail BJB Properties’ actions, demand change, and outline next steps

(From Cuafe Chi)

Letters to Editors

Former Astor House tenants and their supporters will hold a protest today at Daley Plaza (Clark and Randolph side), at 10:15 A.M.

On Friday, four families were evicted from the Astor House building at 1246 W. Pratt. And reportedly several tenants’ belongings were “cruelly dumped” outside the building — many with items missing.

After building owner Jamie Purcell and 49th Ward Alderman Joe Moore refused to intervene and help tenants, at least six people are now homeless, including an ill tenant who had nowhere to go but the hospital.

One of the evicted tenants, Melvin Jennings, had been told by a judge on Wednesday that he would not be evicted until January. Another tenant was illegally evicted on Friday despite having a court hearing on his eviction set for today. Tenants and supporters will attend the 11 a.m. court hearing immediately following the press conference.

“I was angry, mad, upset,” says former tenant Arbie Bowman, who helped move evictees’ belongings out from the sidewalk. “Because you’re looking at somebody who had a place to live, now has nowhere to go and their stuff is being put on the street like they’re a villain.”

Another tenant, Anthony Ollins, who was illegally locked out of his apartment three weeks ago, has since been awarded damages by a judge for the theft of his belongings by property management. But, he says, it amounts to just a slap on the wrist for the multi-billion-dollar company.

“They should be prosecuted for breaking and entering,” Ollins says. He adds: “BJB are a bunch of crooks. They take advantage of good, honest working people for their own greed. They get people in here, but don’t plan on doing repairs to your apartment. It’s all about making a quick buck off tenants.”

Many of the tenants have received legal assistance from the Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing, which will also participate in the press conference.

Illinois Student Assistance Commission announces Illinois State Scholars

Posted by Admin On December - 16 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

More than 19,300 high school students recognized for academic achievement

DEERFIELD, IL – The Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) is recognizing more than 19,300 students from across the state as this year’s Illinois State Scholars. This year’s honorees join the ranks of thousands of top Illinois students honored since the prestigious designation was first made in 1958.

Illinois State Scholars rank in approximately the top ten percent of the state’s high school seniors, this year representing 675 high schools from across Illinois. Selection is based on SAT, ACT, and/or Prairie State Achievement Exam scores, and/or on class rank at the end of the junior year. High school guidance counselors work with ISAC to determine the winners.

“It’s always a real pleasure to announce the new group of Illinois State Scholars,” said Eric Zarnikow, ISAC Executive Director. “These young people don’t just represent the best in educational excellence in Illinois. Their hard work and continued success are going to be a key to the state’s economic well-being in the future. Regardless of what type of education or training they choose to pursue after high school, we at ISAC wish them all the best in college and in their careers.”

Congratulatory letters from ISAC have been sent to honorees, and the agency has provided personalized Certificates of Achievement to each high school for distribution, often at school award ceremonies or assemblies. While this recognition does not include a monetary prize, Illinois State Scholars are encouraged to cite the honor on applications for college admission and scholarships.

“These State Scholar designees can be very proud, and so can all of the families and educators who were part of their achievement,” Zarnikow continued.

The ISAC Executive Director also encourages any student interested in attending college next fall to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) on or after January 1 to determine eligibility for federal and state aid, including Illinois’ need-based Monetary Award Program (MAP) grant. A calendar of free events, including FAFSA completion workshops to assist students and families with the form, is available at www.isac.org/calendar. A wealth of additional financial aid and college planning information is available at ISAC’s family of websites: www.isac.org, www.collegechangeseverything.org, and www.collegeillinois.org.

Created in 1957, ISAC provides postsecondary students of all ages and backgrounds with resources and support to pursue higher education. As a state agency, ISAC administers scholarship and grant programs that provided more than 170,000 awards totaling more than $415 million in academic year 2012-13. The state’s flagship grant program, the Monetary Award Program, continues to be a centerpiece in efforts to ensure that financial considerations do not prevent Illinois students from realizing their postsecondary education goals.

Illinois Department of Human Rights Commemorates 2013 International Human Rights Day

Posted by Admin On December - 16 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

CHICAGO, IL – The Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) commemorated International Human Rights Day with the celebration “Human Rights: More than a Movement” spotlighting LGBT rights and contributions, including a panel discussion featuring leaders whose contributions have made a significant difference in the advancement of LGBT civil rights.

“On International Human Rights Day, we reflect on the principles that guide us in our daily mission at the Illinois Department of Human Rights: fairness, freedom from discrimination and protection of civil and human rights under the Illinois Human Rights Act,” Director Rocco J. Claps said.

The UN General Assembly proclaimed December 10 as Human Rights Day in 1950 to bring attention to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as the common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations. 2013 also marks 20 years since the establishment of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, which renewed the effort for the promotion and protection of all human rights.

This year also marks the 34th anniversary of the passage of the Illinois Human Rights Act, which bars discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex (including sexual harassment), national origin, ancestry, age (40 and over), order of protection status, marital status, physical or mental disability, military status, sexual orientation (including gender-related identity), and other protected classes.

In addition to the panel discussion IDHR’s celebration, which was free and open to the public, also featured an interpretive American Sign Language dance and other networking opportunities for local human and civil rights advocates.

Anyone who believes they have been discriminated against should contact IDHR. IDHR’s main office is located in the James R. Thompson Center at 100 W. Randolph, 10th Floor, Chicago, 60601, with other offices located in Springfield and Marion. IDHR can be contacted by dialing (312) 814-6200 (general), (312) 814-6229 (housing inquiries), and (866)740-3953 (TTY), (800) 662-3942 (toll free), or go to the agency’s website for additional information: www.illinois.gov/dhr.

Goodman Theatre welcomes more than two dozen Chicago public high schools to the 2013-2014 “Student Subscription Series”

Posted by Admin On December - 16 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Unique process-oriented series has introduced theater to Chicago youth for 27 years, remains the only program of its kind offered completely free of charge

CHICAGO, IL – More than 2,700 students and 66 teachers from 28 Chicago high schools join Goodman Theatre’s 2013/2014 “Student Subscription Series” (SSS), the theater’s longest-running education program and the first of its kind in the country. SSS unites Goodman staff with teachers—two to three per school, including at least one math or science teacher—who attend workshops to learn how to use theater process and product to differentiate instruction, build curriculum that connects the plays on stage with students’ classroom studies and activate student engagement. Twenty-six of the participating schools are Chicago Public Schools and two are parochial schools; 22 of the schools serve students on the South and West sides of Chicago. Five schools are new to the program, and 10 schools have participated in SSS for five years or more. Last year, 88% of SSS participants were from low-income families with only 70% on-track to graduate from high school. This year, participants experience four Goodman productions—Pullman Porter Blues by Cheryl L. West, Luna Gale by Rebecca Gilman, Buzzer by Tracey Scott Wilson and The White Snake written and directed by Mary Zimmerman—completely free of charge.

“What distinguishes the Goodman’s Student Subscription Series from programs at other organizations is that we see theater as a transformational art form and believe in the arts as education. Students see a series of shows, so the topics, themes and issues around which we can get students and teachers engaged in conversation is extraordinarily wide-ranging,” said Willa J. Taylor, now in her seventh season as director of education and community engagement and who previously led education programs at Lincoln Center Theater and Arena Stage. “We also understand that teaching goes beyond the lines delivered on stage; the set of Luna Gale, for instance, is designed on a turntable, which presents more than 30 different mathematical applications that teachers can use to spark students’ interest in math and science. These elements, plus the fact that it’s offered completely free of charge, make SSS one of a kind.”

Taylor and her team pair math, science and other non-humanities teachers with drama, English and history teachers to develop curriculum that integrates theater across all subject areas. Classes participating in the 2013/2014 SSS include music, geometry, algebra, law, biology, engineering and theology. Prior to attending the performances, participants receive play scripts and a student guide, plus additional free tickets for parents and guardians interested in viewing the production prior to their student’s experience.

“I can think of dozens of students for whom SSS has been either a doorway to a bigger vision of life, or a literal life-saver,” said Ira Abrams, a teacher at Chicago Military Academy at Bronzeville who has worked with the Goodman to bring theater to his students for almost ten years. “The Goodman program has been the cornerstone of my effort to help students see what is possible with a text. There’s a light bulb that comes on when they see the shows on stage, and I would be hard-pressed to reproduce that kind of learning by any other means.”

Participating schools include: Chicago Math and Science Academy, Chicago Military Academy at Bronzeville, Chicago Vocational Career Academy, Collins Academy High School, Dunbar Vocational Career Academy, Edwin G. Foreman High School, Frederick Douglass Academy High School, Gage Park High School, George Washington High School, Gordon Tech College Prep, Holy Trinity High School, John Hancock College Preparatory High School, Johnson College Prep, Lindblom Math and Science Academy, Stephen T. Mather High School, Muchin College Prep, Multicultural Academy of Scholarship High School, Nicholas Senn High School, North Lawndale College Preparatory Charter High School – Collins Campus, Orr Academy High School, Simeon Career Academy, South Shore High School of Leadership, South Shore International College Preparatory High School, Spry Community Links High School, Vaughn Occupational High School, VOISE Academy High School, Walter Payton College Prep and Westinghouse College Prep.

Polk Bros. Foundation is the Principal Foundation Supporter of the Student Subscription Series. Target is the Major Corporate Sponsor of the Student Matinees. JP Morgan Chase is the Corporate Sponsor of the Student Subscription Series. The Dr. Scholl Foundation is the Foundation Supporter of the Cindy Bandle Young Critics Program. Crown Family, Grosvenor Capital Management, L.P., Helen V. Brach Foundation, Butler Family Foundation, and The Siragusa Foundation are supporters of Education and Community Engagement. 

Blackcelebritygiving.com announces call for nominations for the 3rd Annual BCG Awards, honoring those who give back!

Posted by Admin On December - 16 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Nominations Accepted Thru December 20th; Online Voting to take Place January 6th – 19th, 2013

Nationwide (BlackNews.com) — BlackCelebrityGiving.com is proud to announce the call for nominations for the 3rd Annual BCG Awards, Honoring Those Who Give Back! BlackCelebrityGiving.com (BCG) is the go-to destination for news, videos, photos, and unique content of celebrity philanthropy, nonprofit organizations and causes that directly correlate with black communities. The organization is the leader in celebrity cause driven campaigns benefitting urban communities nationwide. Dawned in 2011 from a strong desire to honor everyday people, doing extraordinary things around the world, BCG is now accepting nominations for the 3rd Annual BCG Awards.

“The impetus behind the BCG Awards is to honor nonprofit organizations, celebrities, corporations and community leaders around the world, who are striving on a daily basis to bring about social change in our communities,” says Jasmine Crowe, BCG Founder.

Last year, the 2nd annual awards yielded over 1,200 nominations for organizations, celebrities, causes and everyday people doing extraordinary things from across the United States and Canada. With more than 35,000 votes cast for the 12 winners that included Celebrity Giver of the Year Chanita Foster and the Nonprofit of the Year New York Based Young Women of Color HIV/AIDS Coalition were announced on January 21st, 2013. As with last year’s awards, the BCG Awards are slated to generate hundreds of thousands of impressions across the web as readers will nominate and vote online through a custom social media platform, developed exclusively for BCG by Contest.Is.

2nd Annual BCG Awards Categories:
Best Cause Campaign
Celebrity Giver of the Year
*Best Non-Profit Organization
Community Leader of the Year (BCG Change-Maker)
Best Charity Event of the Year
Best Non-Profit PR and Event Planning Firm
Best Giving Circle
Young, Black and Giving
Best Corporate Giving
BCG Rising Star
BCG Volunteer of the Year
*5 Regions: Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, Southwest, and West.

Nominations are being accepted now until December 20th, 2013. All finalists will be notified by Monday, December 23rd, 2013. To submit a nomination visit: www.blackcelebritygiving.com/2013/12/bcg-awards-3rd-annual-submission/

The community is highly encouraged to nominate individuals and organizations worthy of one (or more) of the distinguished BCG Awards. The BCG Awards voting will kick off on Monday, January 6th, 2014. All winners will be readers choice, voting will be calculated by the online voting system. BCG Award winners will be announced via live webcast on BlackCelebrityGiving.com, Google + Hangout and on the BCG Twitter Page @BlkCelebGiving on Monday, January 20th, 2014 at 8PM EST in honor of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service.

About Black Celebrity Giving
BlackCelebrityGiving.com (BCG) is a media platform offering readers uniquely positive content of all things surrounding the premise of “Giving Back”. The site offers readers news, matched with photos and videos of black celebrity philanthropy, daily charity spotlights as well as ways for readers to support one of thousands of causes to make our world a better place. BCG is committed to addressing leading issues in the black community including: education, health disparities and financial management among other causes. The organization hosts national cause campaigns featuring celebrity ambassadors, designed to get everyone in our communities to give back. Since it’s inception in summer 2011, BCG has raised and donated more than $150,000 in monetary gifts and goods to various causes and organizations around the country. Visit www.BlackCelebrityGiving.com daily for good news, missing person spotlights, contests, charities, causes and more.

Join in on the Conversation follow BCG on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest – @BlkCelebGiving

Like BCG on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/BlackCelebrityGiving

Official BCG Awards Hashtag: #BCGAwards

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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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