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Archive for May 1st, 2014

President Obama responds to Minimum Wage Bill blocked by Republicans

Posted by Admin On May - 1 - 2014 Comments Off on President Obama responds to Minimum Wage Bill blocked by Republicans

President Barack Obama’s statement

After 14 months since I’ve called on Congress to reward the hard work of millions of Americans like the ones who we have here today to raise the federal minimum wage, we saw this morning a majority of senators saying “yes,” but almost every Republican saying “no” to giving America a raise.

They blocked a bill –- sponsored by Senator Tom Harkin and Congressman George Miller, who is right here in front.  A bill that would have gradually raised the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour.  By preventing even a vote on this bill, they prevented a raise for 28 million hardworking Americans.   They said no to helping millions work their way out of poverty — and keep in mind, this bill would have done so without any new taxes, or spending, or bureaucracy.  They told Americans like the ones who are here today that “you’re on your own” -– without even looking them in the eye.

We know these Americans.  We depend on them.  The workers who’d benefit from a minimum wage increase often work full-time, often in physically demanding jobs.  They average 35 years of age.  Most low-paying jobs are held by women.  But because Republicans in Congress said “no” to even allowing a vote on the floor of the Senate, these folks are going to have to wait for the raise they deserve.

Now the good news is outside of Washington folks aren’t waiting.  While Republicans have been deciding whether to even allow a minimum wage bill to even come up for a vote, you’ve seen 10 states and the District of Columbia go ahead and raise theirs.  Yesterday, the Hawaii legislature voted to raise their minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.  Maryland did the same thing earlier this month -– and I know we’ve got some Maryland state legislators here today.  Thanks for the good work.

So the actions that have been taken in just four states — Maryland, Connecticut, Minnesota, and Hawaii -– means that over a million workers will see a raise.  What’s more, we’ve seen big companies like The Gap, and small businesses — from a pizza joint in St. Louis to an ice cream parlor in Florida — increasingly choosing to raise wages for their employees because they know it’s good business.  They know that it means employees are more likely to stay on the job, less turnover.  It means that they’re going to be more productive, and customers see the difference.  That’s one of the reasons I issued an executive order requiring employees on new federal contracts to be paid a fair wage of at least $10.10 an hour.

So Americans have been way out in front of Congress on this issue.  In fact, about three in four Americans support raising the minimum wage.  And that’s because we believe that in the wealthiest nation on Earth, nobody who works full-time should ever have to raise a family in poverty.  That’s a basic principle.  And at a time when those at the top are doing better than ever, while millions of Americans are working harder and harder just to get by, that three out of four Americans understands that America deserves a raise.

A few months ago, I got a letter from a woman named Sheila Artis.  And Sheila lives in Lilburn, Georgia and at the time she was working two jobs — making $8 an hour at each job.  As Sheila wrote, “I do not have days off, I have hours off.”  But she kept going to work every day because she wanted to be able to afford college tuition for her daughter.  And so she wrote to me and said, “I do not want a pot of gold.  All I want is to pay for college and pay my bills in full every month.”  That’s all she’s looking for.  Doesn’t expect to get wealthy, just wants to be able to pay the bills at the end of every month, be able to act responsibly, meet her responsibilities based on her own hard work.

People like Sheila deserve a fair shot.  So far Republicans in Congress disagree.  In fact, some of them want to scrap the minimum wage entirely.  One House Republican said, “It’s outlived its usefulness.  I’d vote to repeal the minimum wage.”  A Senate Republican said he doesn’t think the minimum wage helps the middle class.

This is a very simple issue.  Either you’re in favor of raising wages for hardworking Americans, or you’re not.  Either you want to grow the economy from the middle out and the bottom up so that prosperity is broad-based, or you think that top-down economics is the way to go.

Republicans in Congress have found the time to vote more than 50 times to undermine or repeal the health care bill for millions of working families.  Earlier this month, they voted for a budget that would give the wealthiest Americans a massive tax cut while forcing deep cuts to investments that help middle-class families.  But they won’t raise wages for millions of working families when three-quarters of Americans support it?  That makes no sense.  And on top of that, they’ve blocked our efforts to make sure women receive equal pay for equal work.  They’ve stood in the way as we’ve fought to extend unemployment insurance for parents who need a little help supporting their families while they’re out looking for work.  Republicans have failed to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, and they’ve increasingly failed to do anything when it comes to helping people who work hard get ahead.

If there’s any good news here, it’s that Republicans in Congress don’t get the last word on this or any issue — you do, the American people, the voters.  Change is happening, whether Republicans in Congress like it or not. And so my message to the American people is this:  Do not get discouraged by a vote like the one we saw this morning.  Get fired up.  Get organized.  Make your voices heard.  And rest assured, I’m going to keep working with you and Leader Nancy Pelosi and other members of Congress who are here today to raise wages for hardworking Americans.  It’s the right thing to do.

If your member of Congress doesn’t support raising the minimum wage, you’ve got to let them know they’re out of step, and that if they keep putting politics ahead of working Americans, you’ll put them out of office.  Tell them to reconsider.  Tell them it’s time for $10.10.  You can tweet at them — Means.  Let them know how raising the minimum wage would help you, or your family, or somebody that you know.  And while you’re at it, tell them to restore unemployment insurance for Americans who are trying to support their families right now while they look for work.  Extending this lifeline of unemployment insurance would actually strengthen the economy and create jobs, and give millions of Americans across the country a sense of hope.

In the meantime, I’m going to keep offering my support to every business owner, and mayor, and governor, and county official, and legislator, and organization that’s working to give America a raise.  Because change does not come from Washington, it comes to Washington from all the folks out there who are working hard.  Americans want the people they send here to set aside the old political arguments and move this country forward.  With enough determination and enough persistence, the American people will ultimately win out.

So thank you, God bless you.  God bless the United States of America.

There are 2 million black-owned businesses in the U.S. – and 10 other little known facts about Black Entrepreneurs

Posted by Admin On May - 1 - 2014 Comments Off on There are 2 million black-owned businesses in the U.S. – and 10 other little known facts about Black Entrepreneurs
Black Business Woman Smiling

Nationwide (BlackNews.com) — According to the United States Census Bureau, there are more than 2 million businesses in the country that are owned by African Americans. That statistic dispels a lot of rumors that African Americans are not successful in business. On the contrary, Black-owned businesses are a huge asset to the U.S. economy. But wait there’s more!

Here are 10 more little-known facts about Black businesses:


#1 – The highest ratio of Black-owned businesses is in Washington, DC where 28% percent of ALL businesses there are owned by African Americans.

#2 – The second highest ratio of Black-owned businesses is in the state of Georgia, where 20% of ALL businesses there are Black-owned.

#3 – Although the ratio is only 10.6%, the state of New York actually has the most Black-owned firms at 204,093.


#4 – Of the 2 million Black businesses in the U.S., only about 107,000 of them have actual employees and they employ more than 920,000 people with a total annual payroll of about $23.9 billion.


#5 – Nearly 38% of Black businesses are in health care and social assistance, repair and maintenance, and personal and laundry services.

#6 – Other popular categories among Black businesses include advertising firms, auto dealerships, consulting services, restaurants, barbershops, beauty salons, and more.


#7 – World Wide Technology, a global technology consulting firm based in St Louis, MO, is the LARGEST Black-owned business in the country. Founded by entrepreneur David Steward, they post annual revenues of more than $2 billion.

#8 – There are actually many Black-owned businesses that generate millions in annual revenue. For example, Oprah Winfrey’s Harper Productions and Bob Johnson’s RLJ Companies. There is also GlobalHue, an advertising agency in Detroit, that generates more than $480 million in annual revenue; and many, many others.


#9 – African Americans make up more than 13% of the U.S. population, but only own 7% of the businesses.

#10 – Nearly 1.9 million of the 2 million Black-owned businesses do not have paid employees. If each of these were able to hire just one or two employees, experts say that would be a huge solution to Black unemployment.

For more stats and information pertaining to Black businesses, visit www.BlackBusiness.org

Senator Kirk Provision in Russian Sanctions Bill Blocks Intelligence Sharing Between Administration and Putin

Posted by Admin On May - 1 - 2014 Comments Off on Senator Kirk Provision in Russian Sanctions Bill Blocks Intelligence Sharing Between Administration and Putin
White House Confirms Sharing of Information “When Senior Leaders Decide To”

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and 20 other Senate Republicans introduced the Russian Aggression Prevention Act, legislation that represents a tough and comprehensive U.S. response to Russia’s occupation and continued destabilization of a sovereign Ukraine. The legislation seeks to strengthen the United States’ bond with Poland and our NATO allies, in order to safeguard Eastern Europe from further Russian aggression.

The legislation would:

  • Prohibit the sharing of sensitive missile defense information with Russia
  • Impose sanctions on four key Russian banks, state-owned oil and gas monopolies Gazprom and Rosneft, and the major Russian arms dealer Rosoboronexport
  • Substantially increase U.S. and NATO support for Poland and the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia
  • Require the President to accelerate implementation of missile defense in Europe and provide other missile defense support for our NATO allies

“Russia’s actions in Ukraine demonstrate clearly that Vladimir Putin’s aim is to destabilize the region and prevent a Europe which is whole, free, and at peace,” Senator Kirk said. “This legislation is the firm response that is needed to show Russia that aggression carries substantial costs. The United States will always stand with Ukraine and with our reliable NATO allies.”

Included in this legislation is language authored by Senator Kirk that would prohibit the United States government from sharing sensitive missile information with Russia. It would also prohibit the integration of any Russian radar or missile defense system into the United States’ or NATO’s missile defense system.

On March 26, 2014, Senator Kirk authored a letter with 37 other Senators to President Obama requesting that any plans to share sensitive missile and defense information be canceled effective immediately, due to Russia’s ongoing military activities in Ukraine. The letter can be read here. The Administration’s response noted that military relations with Russia have been suspended, but “This Administration, in keeping with previous administrations, has sought cooperation with Russia on missile defense. Genuine missile defense cooperation with Russia has the potential to strengthen the defensive capabilities of the United States and NATO against the ballistic missile threat from states such as Iran and Syria.”

A ‘Sterling’ Example of Our Confusion

Posted by Admin On May - 1 - 2014 Comments Off on A ‘Sterling’ Example of Our Confusion
By Ron Busby, Sr.
President, U.S. Black Chambers, Inc.

Let me get my disclaimer out of the way first… The U.S. Black Chambers, Inc. (USBC) is a business organization. Our sole purpose is to improve the lives of Black people by actively working to change the market environment. We advocate for improvements in capital access, increased opportunity and the transfer of the skills necessary to successfully, and profitably compete in America’s economy.

Despite this clarity of purpose, we are often called upon to weigh in on issues that typically are addressed by civil rights or social justice organizations. For certain, we are Black in America, so we do have opinions about continued evidence of inequality, racism, bigotry, discrimination and hatred being directed against Black people. But, as I said, we are a business organization, so our perspective is always going to be a business perspective.

Donald Sterling is a businessman who owns, among other interests, a National Basketball Association franchise. Donald Sterling said some insulting remarks that prove his disdain for Black people, presumably including the men whose athletic ability make his franchise valuable. And, Donald Sterling, through his twisted thinking, has hijacked ALL of Black America’s communications channels.

Facebook, Twitter, radio, newspaper… all on fire with commentary about Sterling and what must be done to make him pay.

Excuse me, but there’s real life going on here! Black America, even after the furor over Sterling’s telephonic rant has dissipated, will STILL suffer from gross inequality. The $2.5 million fine levied by the NBA for his “transgression” is a pittance for someone whose fortune is reported to be over a billion dollars. His franchise, the Los Angeles Clippers, will still receive millions of dollars in television royalty payments, even if he is not allowed to attend games or go to his office.

And all the while, Black businesses are still not able to qualify for a loan guaranteed by the full faith and credit of the United States government! Black businesses are still failing to net their federally mandated share of contracts awarded by that same government. As a result, Black unemployment figures – as reported by the same federal government — are still spiraling skyward, with no apparent ceiling.

Talk about misplaced anger! This is not to diminish the obvious – that Sterling’s perspective is unacceptable, is deserving of any fine, penalty, compensatory payment and public shaming available under law. But Congress makes the laws that limit our ability to have equitable access in the marketplace and the courts interpret and uphold those laws, even in the face of glaring inequity. Doesn’t that make you mad, too?

So, if we’re going to be mad about something… okay, okay, Donald Sterling is as good a place as any to start. But his despicable record in denying housing opportunities to Black families has had more direct impact on Black folks than anything he may have said to his “side piece” in a recorded phone conversation. So, maybe Sterling is a pretty good place to start showing just how angry we are today.

In the meantime, if we truly want to demonstrate our displeasure, let’s go cold turkey! Turn off the NBA playoffs. Don’t buy another jersey. Don’t watch NFL games this fall. Stop buying that profanity-laced, misogynistic crap that is being foisted upon us as cultural expression. If it’s our money that is financing the exploitation of Black talent, we can do something about that. If the empires built on exploitation can no longer rely on our complicity (in ticket sales, athletic attire, and viewers/consumers, etc.) they will quickly lose their value.

If we truly want to demonstrate our displeasure, let our money do our talking. Do something different – support Black-owned businesses. Here at the USBC, we’ve grown fond of pointing out that if each of America’s Black-owned businesses earned enough money to hire just one new employee, we’d wipe out Black unemployment overnight!

So, we have a real opportunity here to prove that we really have taught our dollars some sense. Racism, bigotry, discrimination and personal animus seem to be – after all these years — beyond our control. Unfortunately for us, those behaviors are also apparently beyond the control of federal laws designed to stamp them out.

Our money, however, is entirely within our control. If you don’t like racism, don’t finance it. If you don’t appreciate being discriminated against, don’t finance it. If you don’t like stupidity, don’t finance it either! After all, money talks…and you-know-what walks. You can take that to the bank! (A Black-owned bank, please!)

In the Spirit of Success.

The Legends Come Out – After Midnight – Patti LaBelle, Gladys Knight and Natalie Cole

Posted by Admin On May - 1 - 2014 Comments Off on The Legends Come Out – After Midnight – Patti LaBelle, Gladys Knight and Natalie Cole

This Summer Patti LaBelle, Gladys Knight and Natalie Cole  join the company of The Tony(R) Award-Nominated Best Musical, “After Midnight” as “Special Guest Star”
New York, NY (Wednesday, April 30) – In the glow of its seven Tony® Award nominations, including one for Best Musical, producers Scott Sanders and Wynton Marsalis announced today that a trio of true music legends will make their way to Broadway this summer in After Midnight.  Multi-award winning icons Patti LaBelle, Gladys Knight and Natalie Cole (making her Broadway debut) are set to join the illustrious roster of “Special Guest Star” vocalists in the red hot Broadway musical.
Combined, this trio of legends boasts 22  platinum and gold records, 18 Grammy Awards, and almost 300 million albums sold worldwide. Ms. LaBelle will play performances from June 10 – 29, Ms. Knight July 8 – August 3, and Ms. Cole August 5 – 31 at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre (256 W 47th Street).  Conceived by Jack Viertel, and directed and choreographed by Warren Carlyle, After Midnight began preview performances on Friday, October 18, 2013, and opened to the best reviews of any new musical this season on Sunday, November 3, 2013.
Photos Courtesy of It Is Done Communications
On Tuesday, the production garnered seven Tony® Award nominations, including Best Musical, Best Direction of a Musical (Warren Carlyle), Best Choreography (Warren Carlyle), Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical (Adriane Lenox), Best Costume Design of a Musical (Isabel Toledo), Best Lighting Design of a Musical (Howell Binkley) and Best Sound Design of a Musical (Peter Hylenski).  Last week, After Midnight received five Outer Critics Circle Award nominations for Outstanding New Broadway Musical, Outstanding Director of a Musical (Warren Carlyle), Outstanding Choreographer (Warren Carlyle),  Outstanding Costume Design (Isabel Toledo), and Outstanding Lighting Design (Howell Binkley), as well as Drama League nominations for Outstanding Production of a Broadway or Off Broadway Musical and the Distinguished Performance Award (Adriane Lenox), and three Drama Desk nominations including Outstanding Revue, Outstanding Choreography (Warren Carlyle) and Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical (Adriane Lenox).
After Midnight takes the sexy, smoky glamour of the original Jazz Age and catapults it into a whole new era of heart-pounding, mind-blowing entertainment for modern Broadway audiences. Refracted through a contemporary lens, After Midnight celebrates Duke Ellington’s years at the Cotton Club using his original arrangements and performed by a world-class big band of 17 musicians hand-picked by living jazz legend, Wynton Marsalis. The timeless tunes set against a narrative of Langston Hughes poetry provide an authentic backdrop for an array of cutting-edge performances by 25 sensational vocalists and dancers, including special guest stars, whose interpretations shatter everything you think you know about music, nightlife and Broadway.
If you are unable to view, go to: http://youtu.be/t_91nxK7WSY
In its heyday, the Cotton Club featured a cavalcade of guest stars each week, known then as “Celebrity Nights.” After Midnight reintroduces this exciting tradition by presenting stars of today in limited engagement appearances throughout the musical’s run. Currently starring multi-platinum recording artist and actress Vanessa Williams through May 11, 2014, Grammy Award-winning recording artist Fantasia began the tradition (10/18/13 – 2/9/14), followed by four-time Grammy Award-winning icon k.d. lang (2/11/14 – 3/9/14) and Grammy Award-winners Toni Braxton & Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds (3/17/14 – 3/30/14).   Fantasia will be returning to After Midnight for a four-week return engagement (5/13/14 – 6/8/14) leading up to the Tony Awards on June 9, 2014.

After Midnight features musical direction by Wynton Marsalis, musical supervision by Daryl Waters and direction and choreography by Warren Carlyle. The design team for After Midnight includes prolific design couple Isabel Toledo (costumes) and Ruben Toledo, Tony Award-winners John Lee Beatty (set design) and Howell Binkley (lighting design) and Peter Hylenski (sound).

After Midnight is produced by Scott Sanders Productions, and Wynton Marsalis, in association with Marks-Moore-Turnbull Group;  Stephen and Ruth Hendel; Tom Kirdahy.

The performance schedule for After Midnight is as follows: Tuesdays – Thursdays at 7:30 pm, Friday and Saturday nights at 8 pm, and matinee performances on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 2:00 pm and Sundays at 3 pm. Tickets range from $60.00 to $142.00 (premium tickets are $199) and are available via TicketMaster and in persona at the Brooks Atkinson box office.  Tickets for groups of 12 or more can be purchased by calling 212-239-6262 or 800-432-7780 or by visiting http://www.ticketmaster.com/.

Capital Press Club hosts ‘Mayday in America’ Forum on Race

Posted by Admin On May - 1 - 2014 Comments Off on Capital Press Club hosts ‘Mayday in America’ Forum on Race

The Capital Press Club (CPC) has announced a solutions-oriented panel discussion and town hall-style meeting May 1st,  that will focus on racial division in 21st Century America.

The panel, themed “Mayday, Mayday, Mayday in America! – A Nation Divided Against Itself…” is in conjunction with the CPC’s 70th anniversary celebrations. It will be held Thursday, May 1, from 6:30-8:30 pm at the Washington, D.C.-based African-American Civil War Museum, 1925 Vermont Avenue NW.

The panel will include Dr. Jamal-Harrison Bryant, pastor of the Baltimore-based Empowerment Temple and founder of the Empowerment Movement, which has been actively involved in the campaign against “stand your ground” and other volatile issues. Also, Shanta Driver, national chair of By Any Means Necessary (BAMN), who argued the recent Schuette affirmative action case before the U. S. Supreme Court. Panelists will also include Dr. Benjamin Chavis, co-chair of the Hip Hop Summit Action Network, who was a member of the wrongly imprisoned Wilmington 10, recently pardoned by a North Carolina judge. Panelists will also include political scientist and radio talk show host Wilmer Leon and Nicole Austin-Hillery, director-counsel of the Brennan Center for Justice.

The discussion and town hall will be moderated by economist and commentator Dr. Julianne Malveaux, former president of the Bennett College for Women. The audience will include civil rights, social justice leaders, community residents, high school and college students.

Doors will open at 6 pm. Forum to begin at 6:30 with a reception to follow. For more information, please call 202-291-9310 or email President@CapitalPressClub.org.

“The deafening silence that has continued on some of the greatest racial atrocities facing America has set off a level of urgency that cannot be ignored,” said CPC President Hazel Trice Edney. “Economic recovery, quality education and criminal justice remains elusive in much of our communities; not to mention the unfinished criminal justice agenda on the issue of Trayvon Martin and other African-American children. It’s time to sound the alarm.”

The Capital Press Club, www.capitalpressclub.org, was founded in 1944 as an African-American alternative to the National Press Club, which did not accept Blacks and women.

Lt. Governor Simon to honor police officers at memorial in Springfield

Posted by Admin On May - 1 - 2014 Comments Off on Lt. Governor Simon to honor police officers at memorial in Springfield

SPRINGFIELD, IL – Illinois Lt. Governor Sheila Simon on Thursday will honor and remember Illinois police officers who have lost their lives on duty.

Simon will join elected officials, police officers and the public to remember Trooper James Sauter of the Illinois State Police from Downers Grove, Officer Casey Kohlmeier of the Pontiac Police Department and Investigator Cuauhtemoc Estrada of the  Cook County Sheriff’s Police Department at the Police Officers Memorial in Springfield.

Earlier in the day, Simon will thank volunteers for the Yes for Independent Maps campaign as they load petitions into a semi-truck to drive them to Springfield to be filed. The campaign aims to put an amendment on the November 2014 ballot to improve the redistricting process. Simon signed the petition earlier this year.

EVENT: Yes for Independent Maps Breakfast

DATE: Thursday, May 1

TIME: 7:15 a.m. – 7:45 a.m.

LOCATION: 300 N. Elizabeth St., Ste. 220B, Chicago

EVENT: Police Officers Memorial

DATE: Thursday, May 1

TIME: 11 a.m.

LOCATION: East steps of the Capitol, Springfield

Applications Available to Serve on ISBE’s Student Advisory Council

Posted by Admin On May - 1 - 2014 Comments Off on Applications Available to Serve on ISBE’s Student Advisory Council

High schoolers from across Illinois represent student interests

SPRINGFIELD, IL – The Illinois State Board of Education is now taking applications from eligible high school students interested in serving on the state agency’s Student Advisory Council (SAC) for the 2014-15 school year. Students attending a public high school in Illinois who are entering the fall semester as a sophomore, junior or senior are eligible to apply.

“It is a joy working with our Student Advisory Council,” said State Board of Education member Melinda LaBarre of Springfield. “They provide very important perspectives from classrooms across Illinois.” LaBarre is a former teacher and principal in Springfield District 186 and served as a member of the Springfield School Board from 2003 to 2009.

The Student Advisory Council, which was established in 1975, represents a diverse group of students who have demonstrated a strong work ethic and the ability to think creatively and work well in groups. Members share student concerns and can provide thoughts on ISBE’s existing and proposed programs, policies and regulations.

“They say the best way to learn is to experience it. Student Advisory Council provides students with so many amazing experiences. You are constantly learning new things,” said Morgan Rich, a member of this year’s council and a junior at Deer Creek-Mackinaw High School in Mackinaw. Morgan is in her second year on the council and will return for the 2014-15 school year as a senior member.

“Being a member of the council gives you a chance to inspire real change on the education system,” said Thomas Rice, a senior member of this year’s SAC. “It also gives members the opportunity to gain different perspectives on education and the issues associated with it.” Thomas attends Dundee Crown High School in Sleepy Hollow. He plans to attend Vanderbilt University in Nashville, where he will study civil engineering.

Each year, the members of SAC select a topic that they research in depth and present to the State Board of Education. In previous years, the council has examined the effects of cyber bullying, the effect of mandatory physical education on high school students and district budgets, and the dropout crisis. This school year, members of ISBE’s Student Advisory Council are researching a standards-based grading system. They will present their research project at the State Board of Education meeting in June.

“Working on the project has been fascinating,” said Colleen Madden, a sophomore at Carlinville High School who is serving her first term on the council. “I’ve had the opportunity to get in contact with administrators from across the state, and they have been overall very positive and helpful. The data we have collected is prominent and useful.” Colleen will return next year as a junior on the Student Advisory Council.

Seven SAC members plan to return to the council next year. They are listed here with their school, city of residence and grade level for the current school year.





Colleen Madden

Carlinville High School



Brandy Brown

East St. Louis Senior High School

Washington Park


Shelby Ireland

Riverton High School



Khushi Suri

Proviso Math and Science Academy



Kayla Van Burg

Carlyle High School



Hannah Auten

Benton Consolidated High School



Morgan Rich

Deer Creek-Mackinaw High School



Those graduating this year after serving on ISBE’s Student Advisory Council for the current school year are listed here with their school and city of residence:




Destiny Alicea

Elgin High School


Ernesto Alvarez

Oswego East High School


Mary Casino

Grant Community High School


Tyler Cozad

O’Fallon Township High School


Richard Cunningham

North Chicago Community High

North Chicago

Miles Healy

North Clay Community High School


Thomas Rice

Dundee Crown High School

Sleepy Hollow

Rhett Warner

Taylorville High School


Sabrina Flohr

Collinsville High School


Austin Hansen

Naperville North High School


Danielle Segerstrom

LeRoy High School


“The ISBE Student Advisory Council is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Not only are you able to voice the concerns of your peers on a state level, the networking opportunities as well as the perspectives you gain through this experience are remarkable,” said Mary Casino, a senior at Grant Community High School in Fox Lake. In the fall, Casino plans to attend Butler University in Indianapolis.

The deadline to submit an application for the 2014-15 Student Advisory Council is 5 p.m. Friday, May 30, 2014. Interviews will be scheduled in July for those applicants chosen as possible members. For questions, contact Vince Camille at (217) 782-3007 or vcamille@isbe.net. Additional information about SAC is available on ISBE’s website at http://www.isbe.net/sac/.

“All students should definitely apply to be part of SAC,” said Miles Healy, a senior at North Clay Community High School in Mason who plans to attend George Washington University in the fall. “Taking a role in SAC allows students to be a part of something larger than themselves, and the opportunity and responsibility should not be taken lightly.”

TransAfrica President Nicole C. Lee Resigns

Posted by Admin On May - 1 - 2014 Comments Off on TransAfrica President Nicole C. Lee Resigns

First female leader oversaw TransAfrica’s renaissance, increased relevance on contemporary issues impacting Africa and the African Diaspora, and brought TransAfrica into digital age

WASHINGTON, DC – Nicole C. Lee, Esq has resigned as president of TransAfrica, the legendary rights organization which became a nonprofit in 1977 and is famous for its historic work to free the late Nelson Mandela from imprisonment.  Lee was the first woman to lead the organization. Her eight-year term was second in length to Randall Robinson, the founder of the organization.
Lee, a prominent human rights attorney before assuming the role of president, said it was the passing of the legendary Nelson Mandela last December that in part led to her decision. She coordinated the U.S. national memorial for Mandela held at the Washington Cathedral featuring Vice President Joe Biden, South African Ambassador Ebrahim Rasool, and actress Alfre Woodard.
“I am proud of what TransAfrica was able to accomplish during my term.  Now I want the opportunity to work more closely with other international movements and organizations and work with communities here at home in understanding international affairs.” said Lee.
Under Lee’s leadership the organization became a dynamic policy force, lobbying on Capitol Hill for a myriad of causes to benefit African and Caribbean nations.  Lee led a diverse team and provided in depth analysis of policy issues for a broad spectrum of African organizations, policy makers and thought leaders. She oversaw the modernization of the organization’s communications infrastructure and enhanced its social media platforms allowing for more engagement with NGOs overseas. Lee also led TransAfrica in embracing relevant social issues. Most recently Lee was instrumental in bringing rights activist Frank Mugisha to the U.S to meet with rights leaders concerned with Uganda’s anti-gay policies.
In her letter to the Chairman of TransAfrica’s Board of Directors, actor Danny Glover, Lee stated:
“Upon assuming my role, and with the Board’s encouragement and stated support, we set out to build upon TransAfrica’s legacy as a voice for social justice, and create a body of work that was true to its Pan African and civil rights history.  Today, TransAfrica stands as a renowned thought leader on issues relating to the African Diaspora, and serves as ‘the voice’ of advocacy with regards to matters of social, political, and economic justice for members of the Diaspora .”
Photo Caption: Nicole C. Lee

New Book: “Pooling Our Resources to Foster Black Progress: An Entrepreneurship and Impact Investing Framework,” provides blueprint for job creation and economic progress

Posted by Admin On May - 1 - 2014 Comments Off on New Book: “Pooling Our Resources to Foster Black Progress: An Entrepreneurship and Impact Investing Framework,” provides blueprint for job creation and economic progress

The book provides a framework for pooling resources on a large scale to foster black progress through the establishment of an impact investment fund. The framework is a business plan that shows how this can be accomplished by harnessing the great potential enabled by the nexus among: the strong culture of philanthropy in the black community; resource-pooling; black earning/buying/investing power; entrepreneurship; business development; impact investing; and job creation. This powerful nexus could foster wealth-building and alleviate poverty, particularly in underserved communities.

Washington, DC (BlackNews.com) — In his new book, Pooling Our Resources to Foster Black Progress: An Entrepreneurship and Impact Investing Framework (available at Amazon.com), author Michael J. Isimbabi, Ph.D., a finance and energy industry professional and a former finance professor and banker, provides a blueprint for pooling resources on a large scale to address critical economic and social problems in the black community. The need for such resource-pooling has been a common refrain in the black community for decades but it has yet to materialize on a scale that could have sustained transformational impact.

Isimbabi shows how this can be accomplished by harnessing the great potential enabled by the nexus among: the strong culture of philanthropy in the black community; resource-pooling; black earning/buying/investing power; entrepreneurship; business development; impact investing; and job creation. This powerful nexus could foster wealth-building and alleviate poverty, particularly in underserved communities.

More than mere commentary or a presentation of problems, this book delivers concrete solutions and a path to greater economic empowerment through self-reliance.

Isimbabi argues that the current noxious political climate is likely to persist for several years, and therefore it would be largely futile to wait for public investment on a large enough scale to transform distressed communities. Thus, self-reliant resource-pooling, to the extent possible, on a large scale is the most realistic strategy for creating more economically vibrant and thriving communities, even as advocacy and other efforts to boost public investment in job creation and anti-poverty initiatives continue.

Isimbabi shows that the time is right for like-minded people who believe in this approach – evidently a substantial segment of the black community – to make it happen, and thereby help to finish what remains, as President Obama recently noted, the “unfinished business” of the civil rights movement.

He writes:

“Imagine the captivating and galvanizing impact that would reverberate through the black community if:

* Five to ten highly-respected, high-profile African Americans got together and convinced 1000 affluent African Americans – successful entrepreneurs, top corporate executives, entertainment, sports and other celebrities, etc. – to invest, on average, $20,000 each, thereby generating $20 million as seed capital for establishing an “impact investment fund” that could provide the “patient capital” to help foster entrepreneurship, business development, and job creation in underserved communities; and then.

* The 1000-plus pioneering investors in turn helped to galvanize some of the over 10 million blacks who make $25,000 or more per year to invest – that is, with the expectation of some financial return, not just give away – an average of $600 per year in the fund (i.e., $50 per month on average–individual investments could range from as low as $5 per month to hundreds of dollars per month). Even if only one-third of those 10+ million people were able to make such investments, the fund could raise at least $2 billion per year. And, even if only one-tenth, i.e., about 1 million people, were able to do so, it would result in $1.8 billion or more over three years.

The capital raised could be leveraged even further to mobilize additional billions of dollars to finance businesses that could provide needed products and services in underserved communities. This would create jobs, help people get out of poverty, foster the entrepreneurial spirit and wealth-building, and uplift and transform communities.”

Wishful thinking? Hardly. Isimbabi lays out a comprehensive and credible framework for establishing such a fund, and explains how this fund – the “Excellence and Ventures Transformation Fund” or “EXCEL-TRANSFORM Fund” (http://www.poolingourresources.com/the-excel-transform-fund/) – can be socially and economically uplifting. This framework is a business plan rather than a social program.

The framework specifically addresses a fundamental challenge: engendering enough trust and confidence to enable the galvanization of millions of African Americans (and non-African Americans) to invest in a fund that can have a sustained transformational impact.

The book discusses recent developments and trends that indicate that, with innovations such as impact investing and crowdfunding, as well as the galvanizing power of online and social media, the black community’s financial, intellectual, entrepreneurial and other resources – which are considerable – can be potently harnessed and leveraged to accomplish this goal.

It then outlines how the visionaries, entrepreneurs, and innovators who take up the challenge can overcome the barriers that evidently have hampered the creation of such an initiative to date, particularly the “trust barrier”—credibility, leadership, accountability, and innovative and effective implementation strategies to mobilize and galvanize the black community.

For more information, please visit: www.PoolingOurResources.com.

Dr. Isimbabi is a Washington, D.C.-based finance and energy industry professional and consultant. A former professor of finance, banker and engineer, he is co-author of the investments book, “Contemporary Portfolio Theory and Risk Management” (West Publishing), and author of articles and scholarly papers in finance and development published in the Journal of Banking and Finance, the Atlantic Economic Journal, SAIS Review: A Journal of International Affairs, and other publications.

Isimbabi’s professional career includes consulting, research, analysis, writing, teaching, and management experience spanning: Financial Markets; Investments; Banking/Financial Services; Energy Markets; Electric Power & Utilities; International Finance & Development; Emerging Markets; Technology; etc. He has worked on consulting projects for business/consulting firms, U.S. Government agencies, financial institutions, international development organizations, industry associations, and nonprofit organizations.

For more details, visit www.poolingourresources.com/about-the-author/

Photo Caption: Bookcover

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