Archive for May, 2016
By Rev. Dr. Harold E. Bailey
Founder and President, Probation Challenge
As the voting public is led into a political turmoil, straddling voters are for the first time in the history of these United States, haltered between two opinions – good and evil!
As followers of presidential candidates fight for clarity based upon what is spoken by the candidate, thons of people are mislead by the misrepresentations of truths leaving people splintered and torn by the Master-of-Deceptiveness! Confusion has now surfaced in the presidential race and Satan has lifted its ugly head leaving voters forgetful as to the tools that would be used to deceive.
The written word of God gives unadulterated clarity as to who the ruler of darkness is and, in a close review of scripture … it is that wicket and contrary spirit that has now entered the presidential campaign! The Spirit of Satan: Scriptures declare that in the latter days; the ruler of darkness who is now presently at war for the very souls of God’s creations has embodied humans and diligently seeking to destroy by calling right-wrong and wrong-right.
Even as the mature voter’s eye denotes that something is not in divine-order, some voters are not factoring in the law-of-God which is a defying error! The exclusion of God, who is to exclude the landlord of this universe! To exclude God… is an act of spiritual defiance and plays into the hands of the enemy … which is a critical and deadly mistake!
If ever blatant evils were demonstrated on this planet they are represented in this 21st Century! Persons of noted and dubious reputations are spiting in the face of voters, misleading millions via falsehoods, while their devious hearts are far from truth as the east is from the west.
Principalities and spiritual wickedness sitting in high places… now has ownership to lawlessness and terrorism and broadly demonstrates divisions rather than comradeship! This is not an attribute of peace… thusly not of God! We know that Lucifer (Aka: Satan, Lucifer, Devil) is the Commander-in-Chief of the mass confusion in these Not-So-United States and in the entire earth ream.
With the murders and violence that has invaded the earth ream from the nation capitol to the state and city houses; one would ask who is the inflammable leader of Principalities, Powers and Spiritual wickedness sitting in High places? The learned Apostle Paul tells us in 2nd Corinthians 4:3-4 – that the answer… it is Satan, Lucifer, the ‘god’ of this world.
Without a trace of doubt, the renowned political enemy comes only but to rob, steals, kill and to rob us of our joy… for the joy of the Lord is our strength!
God is not the author of confusion! We have only but to observe and take note that these are the latter days where the very elect could and would be fooled if possible!
The only hope we have in these crucial matters is in Christ Jesus, for he is the hope of glory! Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who is not caught-up in the clamors of the world, continues to speak with a soft still voice pleading for his people to turn from their evil and devious ways, pray and to seek his face… and the promise which is on condition; he will hear from heaven and will heal the land.
The crucial question resting with our salvation: Whose report do we choose to believe? Do we believe the word of God when it says: You shall know the evil-ones by the fruit they bare? Take note that an apple tree cannot bear bananas!
The true baptized believers in Christ should take into consideration: The bible declares in (2 Corinthians 10: 4-6) 4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalted itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; 6And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.
Ye Shall Know the Truth!
If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. John 8:32
Photo: Rev. Harold E. Bailey
To contact Dr. Rev. Harold Bailey: WWW.ProbationChallenge.org or Mail: Mrheb@aol.com , or 773.978.3706.
Senators Kirk and Gillibrand Announce Key Senate Committee Approves $600 Million for Israeli Missile Defense, Measure Now Heads to Senate Floor
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) today announced that $600 million in funding for Israeli missile defense programs has cleared a key hurdle and was approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee. The measure will now head to the Senate floor for a vote.
Earlier this year Kirk and Gillibrand led a letter signed by a bipartisan group of 30 Senators urging the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee Chairman Thad Cochran (R-MS) and Ranking Member Dick Durbin (D-IL) urging full funding for all three cooperative missile defense programs (Arrow System Improvement Program, Arrow III upper tier interceptor, and David’s Sling), as well as for the successful Iron Dome system, amid growing rocket and missile threats to Israel. Providing full funding of $600 million allows Israel to protect itself not only from short-range threats along its border, but also from mid-range and long-range threats. In addition to the extra defensive capabilities for Israel, this program also provides better data and technology for the U.S. to use in its own national security programs.
“This critical defense bill fully funds U.S.-Israel missile defense programs, which have an indisputable record of saving countless innocent lives,” said Senator Kirk. “I will keep working with Senator Gillibrand to champion this funding and urge our colleagues to vote for ensuring Israel, a democracy and our closest ally in the Middle East, has the strongest capabilities to defend herself against rocket and missile threats from Hamas and Hezbollah terrorists as well as Iran’s terror-sponsoring regime.”
“I’m pleased that full funding for cooperative U.S-Israel missile defense programs has cleared this key hurdle and is now headed to the Senate floor for a vote,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Israel should have all the resources necessary to protect its citizens from the range of threats it faces. Iron Dome, David’s Sling and the Arrow programs are critical resources to help Israel protect itself and fully funding these programs not only benefits Israeli security but also U.S. national security. As this measure heads to the Senate floor for a vote, I’m urging all my colleagues to vote yes and fully fund these critical programs.”
Senators Kirk and Gillibrand have long led support for U.S.-Israeli cooperative missile defense programs that advance U.S. national security interests by supporting Israel’s ability to defend itself against missile and rocket attacks while providing the United States with critical capabilities as well. In fiscal year 2015, Congress fully funded $620 million for this purpose and in 2016, it fully funded the programs at $487 million.
Bill Updates Accessibility Guidelines & Improves Ability for Businesses to Comply
CHICAGO, IL – Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced that the House of Representatives passed legislation to improve accessibility for people with disabilities in Illinois by a vote of 102-6.
“People who live with disabilities deserve equal access to their communities,” Madigan said. “I applaud the General Assembly’s commitment to equality.”
Senate Bill 2956, initiated by Madigan and sponsored by Rep. Ann Williams, will update the Illinois Environmental Barriers Act (EBA). The EBA, which was enacted in 1985, authorizes the Attorney General’s Office to enforce accessibility laws which mandate that public buildings and multi-story housing units in Illinois must be fully accessible to individuals with disabilities. The legislation will amend the EBA to update state law with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act’s (ADA) Standards for Accessible Design. Madigan’s legislation streamlines the existing state statute so that architects can refer to one code in order to comply with both federal and state accessibility requirements.
“Just as we should not define a person by their race, gender, age or sexual orientation, we should not limit someone based on his or her physical ability,” said Williams. “This is about equality – providing equal access for all Illinois residents, and I appreciate Attorney General Madigan’s work to initiate this important measure.”
In addition to the legislation, Madigan’s office is working with the Capital Development Board (CDB) to update the technical building regulations that correspond with the EBA, known as the Illinois Accessibility Code. Under current state law, the CDB must update the Illinois Accessibility Code to incorporate the new federal standards. Madigan’s office is working with the CDB and other stakeholders to ensure that SB 2956 reflects the anticipated changes to the Illinois Accessibility Code and aligns the state statute with the federal standards.
“Our members are committed to designs that inspire and are accessible to all, and SB 2956 will help architects ensure that projects meet both state and federal accessibility laws and regulations” said Dan Hohl, director of government affairs for the American Institute of Architects in Illinois. “The AIA appreciates the Attorney General’s efforts to support people with disabilities, which also improves access to good design for all Illinoisans.”
Changes to the Environmental Barriers Act under SB 2956 include:
- Updating definitions to conform with the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design and corresponding updates to the Illinois Accessibility Code;
- Replacing an outdated state standard for alterations with an easier-to-use standard that mirrors the ADA;
- Clarifying which version of the EBA and the Illinois Accessibility Code applies to new construction and alterations; and
- Updating the enforcement provisions to reflect the current emphasis on working with businesses to resolve issues and alleviate future barriers for individuals with disabilities.
The legislation will now be sent to the governor for final approval.
Attorney General Madigan’s Disability Rights Bureau protects and advances the interests of people with disabilities in Illinois and works with public and private entities seeking to comply with disability rights laws. The bureau receives complaints regarding noncompliance with state and federal accessibility laws and works to bring facilities into compliance with state and federal accessibility standards.
Complaints about accessibility can be submitted to Madigan’s office online, or by contacting her Disability Rights Bureau at (312) 814-5684 (Chicago) or (217) 524-2660 (Springfield).
Member Of Al Qaeda In The Arabian Peninsula Sentenced To 40 Years In Prison In Manhattan Federal Court
Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and John P. Carlin, Assistant Attorney General for National Security, announced that MINH QUANG PHAM, a/k/a “Amin,” was sentenced today in Manhattan federal court to 40 years in prison for his efforts in support of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (“AQAP”), a designated foreign terrorist organization. PHAM was arrested in the United Kingdom on June 29, 2012, and was extradited to the United States in February 2015. PHAM pleaded guilty on January 8, 2016, to providing material support to AQAP, conspiring to receive military training from AQAP, and possessing and using a machine gun in furtherance of crimes of violence. U.S. District Judge Alison J. Nathan imposed today’s sentence.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Minh Quang Pham committed himself to the violent mission of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a terrorist organization that has claimed responsibility for deadly attacks around the world, including the 2015 Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris. Pham went to Yemen to receive military training from AQAP and contributed to Inspire magazine, a recruitment tool and ‘how-to’ guide for would-be terrorists around the world. This prosecution and today’s sentencing show that terrorists and those who support them will continue to be brought to justice in American courts, thanks to the continuing resolve of the Department of Justice, this Office and our global law enforcement partners.”
Assistant Attorney General John P. Carlin said: “This sentence holds Minh Quang Pham accountable for his terrorist activities, including providing material support to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and receiving explosives training from Anwar al-Aulaqi in Yemen for the purpose of committing an attack in the United Kingdom. Counterterrorism is the National Security Division’s highest priority, and we will continue to bring justice to those who seek to aid designated foreign terrorist organizations in their efforts to commit violent attacks against the United States and our allies.”
According to the Indictment, extradition materials and court filings, and statements made at related court proceedings, including today’s sentencing:
AQAP was designated by the United States Department of State as a foreign terrorist organization in January 2010. AQAP’s leadership has publicly claimed responsibility for plots to murder U.S. nationals and commit terrorist attacks against U.S. interests, including the 2009 Christmas Day bomb plot, in which an AQAP operative attempted to detonate an explosive device on a civilian airplane traveling to Detroit, Michigan. Only months later, AQAP attempted to detonate explosive devices within the holds of commercial airliners traveling to the United States. More recently, AQAP claimed responsibility for the January 2015 massacre in Paris, France at the office of the magazine Charlie Hebdo, which had published cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed. The attack killed 11 people and injured 11 others.
In December 2010, after informing his wife and others that he planned to travel to Ireland, PHAM traveled from London, where he resided, to Yemen, the principal base of operations for AQAP. PHAM traveled to Yemen in order to join AQAP, to wage jihad on behalf of AQAP, and to martyr himself for AQAP’s cause. After arriving in Yemen, he swore an oath of loyalty to AQAP in the presence of an AQAP commander.
While in Yemen in 2010 and 2011, PHAM provided assistance to and received training from Anwar al-Aulaqi, a U.S.-born senior leader of AQAP. Prior to al-Aulaqi’s death in September 2011, al-Aulaqi called on his followers to conduct attacks against American interests abroad, including by killing American civilians. Al-Aulaqui advised PHAM to return to the United Kingdom for the purpose of finding and making contact with individuals who, like PHAM, wanted to travel to Yemen to join AQAP, and provided PHAM with money, as well as a telephone number and e-mail address that PHAM was to use to contact al-Aulaqi upon his return to the United Kingdom. In addition, PHAM provided his laptop computer to al-Aulaqi, and al-Aulaqi provided PHAM with a new “clean” laptop to take with him when he returned to the United Kingdom so that PHAM would not have any issues if authorities searched his computer.
In or about June 2011, prior to his departure from Yemen, PHAM approached al-Aulaqi about conducting a suicide attack whereby he would “sacrifice” himself on behalf of AQAP. Al-Aulaqi instructed PHAM to conduct a bombing at Heathrow International Airport, and specifically directed him to target the arrivals section, with a specific focus on the area where flights arrived from the United States or Israel. In connection with that terrorist plot, which would have entailed PHAM carrying the explosive concealed in a backpack, PHAM received training from AQAP, including from al-Aulaqi, on how to build an explosive device using readily available household chemicals and other materials. In particular, al-Aulaqi instructed PHAM to tape bolts around the explosive device to act as shrapnel.
During his time in Yemen, PHAM also assisted with the preparation and dissemination of AQAP’s propaganda magazine, Inspire. AQAP uses Inspire magazine not only as a recruitment and propaganda tool, but also as an operational tool by encouraging its supporters to engage in terrorist attacks against the United States and other Western countries. In furtherance of that goal, AQAP has published articles praising so-called “lone-wolf” style attacks, as well as articles providing detailed instructions on how to conduct a terror attack using household or commercially available materials. Dzkokhar Tsarnaev – the convicted “Boston bomber” responsible for detonating two homemade bombs made from pressure cookers near the finish line of the Boston Marathon in April 2013, killing three spectators and maiming 260 other people – previously told the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) that he and his brother learned how to create the pressure cooker bombs from Inspire magazine.
PHAM worked directly with now-deceased U.S. citizen Samir Kahn, who was a prominent member of AQAP and responsible for editing and publishing Inspire magazine. PHAM, who has college degrees in both graphic design and animation, received training in the various types of software used for Inspire magazine and worked closely with Khan, contributing to the magazine in numerous ways. For example, PHAM used graphic design software to edit videos and photos that would be used as propaganda in Inspire magazine; recorded television programs for Khan that Khan might find useful to the magazine; and offered his camera to be used for the taking of numerous photos used for Inspire magazine. PHAM also posed in photographs that accompanied Inspire magazine’s articles and provided instructions to its followers. Among those were a series of photographs accompanying an article with instructions on disassembling and cleaning a Kalashnikov assault rifle. In another photograph, accompanying an article entitled, “Why Did I Choose Al Qaeda,” which was written by al-Aulaqi, PHAM and three other men were shown wielding automatic Kalashnikov assault rifles. During his time in Yemen, PHAM received training from AQAP in the use of a Kalashnikov assault rifle, and was provided with a Kalashnikov assault rifle by the organization, which he carried with him in furtherance of his activities on behalf of AQAP in Yemen.
On July 27, 2011, PHAM returned to the United Kingdom from Yemen. Upon his arrival at London’s Heathrow International Airport, United Kingdom authorities detained PHAM, searched him, and recovered various materials from him. For example, PHAM was found in possession of various electronic media that contained computer files forensically identical to those possessed by a cooperating witness who had previously reported sharing electronic documents with PHAM while they were in Yemen with AQAP. In addition, upon his arrival in the United Kingdom from Yemen, PHAM was found to be in possession of a live round of .762 caliber armor-piercing ammunition, which is consistent with ammunition that is used in a Kalashnikov assault rifle.
* * *
In imposing the 40-year prison term, Judge Nathan found that PHAM had been convicted of “among the most serious crimes” prosecutable in the United States, the details of which were “extremely disturbing.” Judge Nathan found that PHAM provided material support to AQAP, including by agreeing to carry out a “horrific and violent” plot to conduct a suicide bombing at Heathrow International Airport in London.
In addition to the 40-year prison term, Judge Nathan imposed a life term of supervised release and a $300 special assessment. On January 8, 2016, Judge Nathan issued an order that PHAM be ordered removed from the United States to the United Kingdom promptly upon completion of his sentence.
Mr. Bharara praised the extraordinary investigative work of the Washington, D.C., Field Office of the FBI. He also expressed his gratitude to the New York Joint Terrorism Task Force – which principally consists of agents from the FBI and detectives from the New York City Police Department – for the critical role it played in the investigation and prosecution. In addition, Mr. Bharara thanked the Department of Justice’s National Security Division and Office of International Affairs. Lastly, Mr. Bharara also thanked the British law enforcement authorities, including the Metropolitan Police Service/SO15 Counter Terrorism Command at New Scotland Yard and the Crown Prosecution Service, for their cooperation in the investigation and prosecution.
This case is being handled by the Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Anna M. Skotko, Sean S. Buckley, Shane T. Stansbury, and Ian McGinley are in charge of the prosecution, with assistance provided by Rebecca Magnone of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.
Legislation protects State universities from Affordable Care Act penalties
SPRINGFIELD, IL – Illinois Central Management Services Acting Director Michael Hoffman joined legislators in advocating for a House vote on Senate Bill 2314, which would bring the State Employee Group Insurance Plan (SEGIP) into compliance with the Affordable Care Act’s definition of full-time employees. The legislation would protect State universities from financial penalties by expanding the eligibility of employee health insurance coverage to those who don’t currently meet the federal definition of a full-time employee.
Beginning in July, if the State and each university does not offer healthcare coverage to at least 95% of employees who are eligible under the Affordable Care Act, institutions not in compliance will be assessed a penalty. SB2314 expands the eligibility of SEGIP to ensure that the State and universities meet the 95% threshold, at zero cost to the state. The legislation passed unanimously in the Senate and is currently awaiting a vote in the House.
“I am urging the House to take action on this critical legislation to bring our universities into compliance with the ACA,” said Acting Director Michael Hoffman. “This is important legislation that protects State universities from avoidable federal penalties and should be considered by the House.”
Currently, five state universities would be impacted by the new federal standard if the SEGIP eligibility is not expanded. These include the University of Illinois, Southern Illinois University, Northern Illinois University, Illinois State University, and Eastern Illinois University, whose combined penalty would be approximately $85 million dollars for being below the healthcare coverage eligibility threshold. Chicago State University and Western Illinois University are also at risk of falling below the 95% eligibility level, which would have an estimated impact of approximately $1.8 million and $3.9 million respectively.
“I am urging House Speaker Madigan to release Senate Bill 2314 out of Rules Committee immediately so it can receive a vote in the chamber,” State Sen. Sue Rezin (R-Peru) said. “This legislation is extremely important because if it’s not enacted, the budgets at all our universities will be negatively impacted due to penalties for not complying with the Affordable Care Act. In a time where budgets are tight, the last thing higher education needs are financial penalties that could easily be avoided. Let’s get this passed.”
“Speaker Madigan refuses to give consideration to a commonsense bill that would expand insurance coverage for State employees,” said Rep. Margo McDermed (R-Mokena). “If we don’t pass this bill we risk hiking up costs at our already cash strapped State universities because of non-compliance penalties. The bill passed unanimously from the Senate and it’s fiscally irresponsible to keep this bill tied up in the House.”
Transgender Community & Allies to Counter-Protest Religious Hysteria & Hate at Uptown Target
CHICAGO, IL – To counter an anti-transgender day of protest organized by elements of the religious right, pro-trans forces will show their support for Target Stores’ pro-equality stance by holding a rally in front of the Target store in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood, 4466 N. Broadway at 10 AM, Saturday, June 4.
In March 2016, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signed into law a bill banning transgender people from using restrooms that align with their gender identity.
The U.S. Federal Government examined this law, and found that it violates U.S. Title VII and Title IX which, among other things, ban discrimination based upon sex. Written exchanges took place between NC and the Federal Government, resulting in both sides filing lawsuits.
The Target Corporation spoke up in support of the transgender community, revealing that trans identified Target employees and customers may use the restroom aligning with their gender identity and gender presentation.
The religious right immediately fired back at Target in retaliation of their support by knowingly and maliciously using false information about trans identified persons, painting trans people as sexual predators and deviants. On June 4th, 2016, an organization called Faith2Action, a Southern Poverty Law Center-designated hate group, has announced that it will hold a day of protest at Target stores across the nation.
Trans activists, Chicago’s Gay Liberation Network and allies will hold a counter – protest at the Uptown Target store, 4466 N. Broadway, to support Target and the trans community. This event will take place at 10AM, June 4th, 2016, and will take place regardless of whether or not opponents of equal rights show up.
“The courts are very clear that the arguments of comfort, fear, and religion are not compelling enough to restrict the civil rights of others,” said Tiffany Foster-Grant, one of the pro-trans protest organizers. “We want the public to know that trans people do not transition because of a sexual fetish or deviant mindset. We are real human beings with real civil rights needs who just want to live our lives as other people get to do. That includes such basics as using restrooms to carry out needed bodily functions while being guaranteed the same safety as other people.”
For more information, email the Gay Liberation Network at LGBTliberation@aol.com or call 773.209.1187
More Than 10,000 Illinoisans Rallied at the State Capitol to Demand Gov. Bruce Rauner Drop his Harmful Demands
Legislation would loosen ban on ex-offenders in barbering, roofing and funeral services
SPRINGFIELD, IL — Illinois State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) secured the Senate’s approval for a measure that would open up several licensed professions to some ex-offenders at the discretion of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. Individuals who have committed misdemeanors and non-violent felonies unrelated to their chosen professions would be eligible to earn licenses to be barbers, roofers or funeral directors – and the department would be required to consider mitigating factors such as how long ago the crime occurred, the applicant’s age at the time and whether the offense would have any bearing on the person’s ability to do the job in question.
“So many occupations in Illinois require licenses that a blanket ban presents a significant and unjustified barrier to employment and self-sufficiency and ultimately increases the risk of recidivism,” said Raoul, who served on the governor’s Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform. The Commission recommended a critical reexamination of laws that mandate the denial of a professional license to someone with past criminal convictions.
In Illinois, 24 percent of the workforce must have a state-issued occupational or professional license in order to work, and current state law stipulates that the state either may or must deny 118 types of licenses to applicants with criminal records. Thirty-nine percent of Illinois adults have a criminal history that could exclude them from some jobs or licenses.
“When men and women are released from prison in Illinois and find that they can no longer practice an occupation they are trained to do, the state is depriving them – essentially without due process – of their ability to support themselves, meet financial obligations such as child support and take pride in their work,” Raoul said. “This legislation gives the licensing authority broad discretion to consider each applicant on a case-by-case basis and make a decision that benefits the profession and the economy instead of enforcing a one-size-fits-all ban that doesn’t make the public any safer.”
House Bill 5973 now goes back to the House for concurrence in changes the Senate made to the measure.
Merit School of Music Raises Nearly $1 Million, Honors Nationally Celebrated Alums Demarre and Anthony McGill at 2016 Gala
CHICAGO, IL – Merit School of Music honored two of its most distinguished alumni, brothers Demarre and Anthony McGill, their parents, Ira Carol and Demarre McGill, and corporate leader Northern Trust Corporation at the annual Merit Gala, which took place on May 10, 2016, at the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel Chicago.
Merit’s Gala 2016 was a festive celebration of the non-profit community music school’s distinguished history and its exciting future, all built on its nationally accredited, high-quality music education program, which it provides to Chicago children regardless of their economic circumstances. The benefit attracted a crowd of more than 470 supporters and raised nearly $1 million. Proceeds will help Merit fulfill its mission of giving Chicago-area children – regardless of their economic circumstances – the opportunity to achieve their full musical and personal potential through accessible, high-quality music education.
That mission is exemplified by internationally, renowned classical musicians, Demarre and Anthony McGill. As boys growing up on Chicago’s south side in the mid-1990s, the McGills turned to Merit and what is now the Alice S. Pfaelzer Tuition-free Conservatory to begin comprehensive music instruction. Today, Demarre, who plays flute, and Anthony, clarinet, are the first African-American principal players in their orchestras, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and New York Philharmonic respectively. Both credit the high-quality music education from Merit as crucial to paving the way for their professional careers in classical music as adults.
In addition, Frederick H. Waddell, Chairman and CEO of Northern Trust, accepted Merit School of Music’s 2016 Corporate Leadership Award on behalf of the company. Merit has benefited from Northern Trust’s support for 26 years, which has been critical in nurturing programs that have offered tens of thousands of children life-changing opportunities through music study, performance and appreciation.
Following cocktails, guests were welcomed by Gala co-chairs Merit Trustee and Alum Jennifer Montague, and her husband, Reginaldo Montague, and Merit Trustee Ryan DeVore, and his wife, Amy DeVore. Honorary co-chairs for the evening were Judy Istock and Richard L. Thomas. A delicious dinner was accompanied by an inspiring tribute video sharing the McGill family’s history with Merit, coupled with features on a few of today’s top Merit students. Demarre, Anthony and their parents were presented with the Alice S. Pfaelzer Award for Distinguished Service to the Arts. After the award presentation, Anthony delighted guests by playing the Allego animato movement from Saint-Säens’ Clarinet Sonata, Op. 167 in a duet with 12-year-old Merit Conservatory pianist Joshua Mhoon. Demarre closed the evening with “La Milonga” on flute, accompanied by the Merit Guitar Quartet.
In his first gala as President and Executive Director of Merit, Charles Grode noted, “As we celebrate our past, we also look toward Merit’s 40th anniversary in 2019. We need to boldly embrace the spirit and mission of our founders, while building Merit’s ability to respond to the changing, growing needs of our students and city. Over the next three years we will need to grow our ability to offer excellent, sequential and sustained musical instruction to an increasingly diverse student body, and expand our financial capacity to remove financial, geographic and personal barriers to participation. If we are successful, we have the opportunity to be recognized as the Chicago-based national model for sustained diversity and excellence through music.”
Capping the evening were live performances from Merit’s acclaimed KGT Woodwind Trio, winner of the Junior Division Wind Prize at the 2016 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition, an outstanding performance from Merit’s Vocal Jazz Ensemble, as well as a wide range of the school’s top student soloists and ensembles.
Demarre and Anthony McGill grew up on Chicago’s south side with tremendous support from their parents, began their music instruction at Merit and were both students in the mid-1990s at what is now the Alice S. Pfaelzer Tuition-free Conservatory, Merit’s highest-level program. Both went on to professional classical music careers, winning countless awards, playing on international stages and sharing the media spotlight.
Today, Demarre is Principal Flute of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, and has appeared as a soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra and the symphony orchestras of Chicago and Pittsburgh, among others. Anthony is Principal Clarinet of the New York Philharmonic, and has appeared as a soloist with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, American Symphony Orchestra and the New York String Orchestra, and performed with Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman and Gabriela Montero at the first inauguration of President Barack Obama.
Both brothers regularly return to Merit when they visit Chicago, and each has worked with Merit’s students. In fact, when recently profiled by NBC Nightly News, the brothers insisted the story be filmed at Merit.
Throughout their childhood, Demarre and Anthony’s parents, Ira Carol and Demarre, were wholly committed to their sons’ music education. They sacrificed much, and in the process, raised two amazing men, both master musicians. Demarre McGill wrote a book about it, “A Father’s Triumphant Story: Raising Successful African-American Men in Contemporary Urban Times.” For their devotion to their sons, Merit presented the 2016 Alice S. Pfaelzer Award for Distinguished Service to the Arts not just to Demarre and Anthony, but to their parents as well.
About Merit School of Music
Merit School of Music is a nationally accredited music school located in Chicago’s Near West Side. For 37 years, it’s been home to a diverse community of talented young musicians and a springboard for personal transformations. Known for providing access to high-quality music education, Merit serves more than 4,000 students on site and off.
Merit offers a continuum of programs, including early childhood classes, instrumental music instruction and private lessons. Training takes place at Merit’s Joy Faith Knapp Music Center and within local schools through the unique Bridges: Partners in Music program. More advanced student musicians can audition for the highest-level program, Merit’s Alice S. Pfaelzer Tuition-free Conservatory.
Merit is devoted to giving students – especially those living in economically disadvantaged communities – the opportunity to grow through music. It provides substantial financial support so that motivated students can participate in every program regardless of economic circumstance.
Merit School of Music is a member of the National Guild for Community Arts Education and accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Pre-collegiate Arts Schools (ACCPAS). To learn more about Merit’s music education programs, visit meritmusic.org or call 312.786.9428.
Photo credit: Jasmin Shah.