Veteran Joe Brown

imageFuneral services for Veteran Joe Brown of Americus, Georgia will be held on Thursday, December 1, 2016 at 11:00 A.M. at the Lebanon Baptist Church in Plains, Georgia with Pastor Hosie Waters officiating. Burial will follow at the Andersonville National Cemetery.

Veteran Joe Brown was born March 9, 1936 in Andersonville, Georgia to the parentage of the late Mr. Johnnie Willie Brown and the late Mrs. Willie Mae Davis Brown Plair.

He attended the Sumter County School System and later enlisted in the United States Army where he served his country from June 24, 1954 to June 21, 1957. He received National Defense Service Medal and Army Occupation Medal (Germany). Joe received an Honorable Discharge from the Armed Forces of the United States of America on May 31, 1962. Joe was employed by Sumter (Studstill) County Livestock and Reeves Construction Company.

At an early age he joined the Friendship Baptist Church under the leadership of the late Reverend Daniel Thomas. Joe moved to the Douglas Circle Community and he became affiliated with Praise, Preach and Deliverance Ministries under the leadership of the late Pastor Vernell Carter. Upon moving to the Lillian Carter Health and Rehabilitation Center he joined Lebanon Baptist Church under the leadership of Reverend Hosie Waters.

He was preceded in death by his grandfathers: Mr. Ely Brown and Mr. Will Davis; grandmothers: Mrs. Laura Wilkerson Brown, Mrs. Mattie Snipes Murray Davis Kelly Hill. Joe transitioned peacefully at the Phoebe-Sumter Medical Center in Americus, Georgia on Saturday, November 26, 2016 surrounded by his family.

He is survived by one son, Shelby Ray Brown of Atlanta, Georgia; one daughter, Audrey Davis of Brooklyn, New York; one grandson, Donte Brown; two granddaughters: Sherneka Brown and Chesha (Lakieza) Simon-Richardson; two great grandchildren: Yarwin Brown and Jordan Lowe; two sisters: Mrs. Mary Alice Caldwell of Miami, Florida and Ms. Robin Plair Wiley of Plains, Georgia; one brother-in-law, James Bowman Wiley, Jr. of Americus, Georgia; one nephew, James Bowman Wiley, III; six great nephews: Christian Tyler Wiley of Auburn, Alabama, Caleb James Wiley of Albany, Georgia, Jordan Eli’sha Wiley, Kaicen Aamir Wiley, Trontavious Deon Brown and Travontavious Leon Brown of Americus, Georgia; devoted cousins: Josephine (Albert) Cooper of Americus, Georgia, Mattie (Amos) Edge of Hope Hull, Alabama, Dorothy Melvin Daniels of Detroit, Michigan, and Artice Melvin of Atlanta, Georgia. Several other devoted relatives and friends survive the late Veteran Joe Brown.

Annie Ruth Smith Battle

Annie Ruth Smith Battle

Annie Ruth Smith Battle

Annie Ruth Smith Battle, age 62, passed on Friday December 2, 2016 at Phoebe Sumter Medical Center, Americus, Georgia.

The funeral service will be held at 1:00 P.M., Wednesday, December 7, 2016 at Upper Room Apostolic Holiness Church, 1627 Georgia Hwy 90 West, Oglethorpe, Georgia. Burial will follow in the Oglethorpe City Cemetery, Memorial Drive, Oglethorpe, Georgia.

Annie Ruth Smith Battle was born in St. Petersburg, Florida on December 1, 1954 to the late Alonzo Smith and Everleaner Lyles Smith. Annie was preceded in death by two children, Henry Battle and Brenda Battle; a sister, Ethel Mae Battle; and a brother, Alonzo Smith. She was educated in the public school system of Sumter County.  She was a member of Upper Room Apostolic Holiness Church of Oglethorpe, Georgia. Annie was a homemaker. She was also employed with Southern Frozen Food Inc. as a Line Technician.  She was joined in holy matrimony to Harold Battle Sr. and to this union seven children were born.

She leaves to cherish her precious memories a husband, Harold Battle, Sr., Oglethorpe, Georgia; five children  Harold Battle Jr. (Hattie), Oglethorpe, Georgia, Patricia Battle (Gregory), Montezuma, Georgia, Michael Battle (Neisha), Montezuma, Georgia, David Battle (Betty), Griffin, Georgia, and Lisa Willock (Jermaine), Oglethorpe, Georgia; a granddaughter who she reared as her own, Theodosis Battle; 13 grandchildren; 6 great grandchildren; six siblings, Charlie Smith (Daisy), Oglethorpe, Georgia, Ernest Smith (Ann), Americus, Georgia, Rosa Bell Harris (Sammy), Oglethorpe, Georgia, Willie Smith (Blondell), Oglethorpe, Georgia, Dennis Smith (Delphenie), Oglethorpe, Georgia, and Edward Smith (Maryann), Americus, Georgia; a host of other relatives and friends.

Mrs. Irene Murray Kleckley

Irene Murray Kleckley

Irene Murray Kleckley

Mrs. Irene Murray Kleckley, age 92, 84 B Dixon Drive, Americus, Georgia passed Wednesday, November 30, 2016 at the Magnolia Manor Nursing Center, Americus, Georgia.

The funeral service will be conducted at 11:00 A.M., Thursday, December 8, 2016, at Friendship Baptist Church, 411 Cotton Avenue, Americus, Georgia, where Bishop Melvin McCluster is pastor. Reverend George Monts will officiate. Interment will follow in the Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church Cemetery, Mt. Zion Road, Ellaville, Georgia.

Mrs. Kleckley was born June 4, 1924 in Ellaville, Schley County, Georgia to the late Burton Murray and the late Alberta Wallace Murray.  She was educated in the public school system of Schley County.  She was united in holy matrimony to Henry B. Kleckley in 1953 and to this union they were blessed with seven children. She accepted Jesus Christ as her personal Savior and joined the band of Christian believers at the Mount Zion Baptist Church of Ellaville, Georgia. She was a great supporter in all the church ministries including being a member of the Senior choir.

After twenty-five years of dedicated services, she retired from J & M Trucking Company as a custodian.

She leaves a legacy of love and many fond memories to her beloved husband, Henry B. Kleckley, Americus, Georgia; seven children, Beverly Ross, Linda Kleckley both of Americus, Georgia, Henry Wallace Kleckley, Warner Robins, Georgia, Fred Douglas Kleckley, Maurice Murray Kleckley, Milton Jerome Kleckley all of Americus, Georgia and Cynthia Kleckley Hinton (Jerrold) Alexandria, Virginia; her beloved godson, Lafayette Banks (Loraine), Americus, Georgia; twenty-three grandchildren and fifty-three great grandchildren; two sisters, Carrie L. Varner, Ellaville, Georgia and Ola Mae Smith (L.C.) Americus, Georgia; sister-in-law, Rosie Mae Clemmons, Americus, Georgia; a host of beloved nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends including three devoted friends, Marie Perkins and Dorothy Walker, both of Americus, Georgia and Sara Mills, Andersonville, Georgia.

Elijah Mays, Jr.

Elijah Mays, Jr.

Elijah Mays, Jr.

Mr. Elijah Mays of 216 Piney Grove Road, Smithville, Georgia died Thursday, December 1, 2016 at his residence.

The funeral service will be held Wednesday, December 7, 2016 at 11:00 a. m. in the chapel of the J. W. Williams Funeral Home, 407 West 17th Avenue, Cordele, Georgia.  The burial will follow at the Saddler Cemetery in Leesburg, Georgia.

On June 4, 1951, God presented Elijah Mays, Jr. to the late Elijah Mays, Sr. and the late Lillie Fields-Mays. His siblings, Mary Preston and Laura Mays preceded him in death.

Elijah received his education in the public schools of Leesburg, Georgia. He proudly graduated with the Class of 1969.

Elijah accepted the Lord at an early age at Mount Able Baptist Church in Desoto, Georgia. He remained a member until his death.

Elijah was joined in marriage to Miss Mary J. Wright. Their union was blessed with the birth of a son.

Elijah and a group of concerned men of the Leslie and Desoto area established a men’s club. The club was named, “A Few Good Men.” One of the club’s major purposes was to cook fish for bereaving families of the community and surrounding areas.

Elijah was an avid eight-ball pool player. When he was about to win, he would say, “Happy Birthday to you!” He was his own person, he, along with his brothers, were taught by their father how to use a wrench. It was because of this knowledge, he became the owner/operator of “Mays Garage.” Located in Leslie, Georgia, he operated it until his health failed.

On Thursday, December 1, 2016, he went home to be with the Lord. Leaving cherished memories to his son, Elijah Mays, III and his fiance, Elaine Norris of Cordele, Georgia; his daughter, Denesha Mays of Albany, Georgia; eight grandchildren, Adrian Mays, Deondre Mays, Blake Holloway, Denijah Mays, Kakayla Harris, Shakera Baker, Ajonia Hicks and Breylon Green; a great grandchild, Christian Hawkins; his brothers, Walter L. Mays of Jackson, Mississippi, Frank W. (Gloria) Mays and Fred (Nicole) Mays both of Leesburg, Georgia, his sisters, Ann (George) Miller of Palmetto, Georgia, Geneva Mays of Tyrone, Georgia, Desarie Mays of Smithville, Georgia, Arlene McClary of Leslie, Georgia, and Pam Lawrence of Fayetteville, Georgia; his aunts, Daisy Mays of Brooklyn, New York, Lelia Clinton and Ruthie L. Williams both of Albany, Georgia, Lucille Fields of Atlanta, Georgia, and Charlotte (Ted) Sapp of Leesburg, Georgia; an uncle,   Joseph (Janie) Williams of St. Petersburg, Florida; two great aunts, Eleanor Mays of Smithville, Georgia and Norma Mays of Riverdale, Georgia; a great uncle, James Mays of Stone Mountain, Georgia; a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, other relatives and many sorrowing friends.


1877404_profile_picMrs. Ruby Dean Butler Bullard of 1129 Cobb Cheek Road, Cobb, Georgia died Tuesday, November 15, 2016.

The funeral service will be held Saturday, November 19, 2016 at 11:00 a. m. in the sanctuary of the Saint John Baptist Church, 224 East Allen Street, Leslie, Georgia.  The burial will follow at the Pleasant Grove Church Cemetery in Cobb, Georgia.

Mrs. Ruby Dean Butler Bullard was born October 29, 1948   in Lee County, Georgia. She was born to the late Mr. Tillman Butler and the late Mrs. Mamie Anderson Butler.

She was educated in the public schools of Lee County. Early in life, she accepted Christ and united with the Pleasant Grove Baptist Church. She served faithfully as a member of the Usher Board until her health failed.

Ruby was employed by the Sumter County Public School   System. She was employed as a Nutritionist for over 22 years until she retired.

Aside from the love she had for her children and especially her grandchildren, she enjoyed fishing and traveling. She also loved to cook.

She was united in holy matrimony to Mr. Arthur Bullard. He along with her siblings, Mrs. Dollie Phillips, Mrs. Pearlie     Peterson, and Mr. Walter Butler, precede her in death. On Tuesday, November 15, 2016, our beloved mother and grandmother transitioned from this life while a patient at the   Phoebe-Sumter Medical Center in Americus, Georgia.

Cherishing her life’s journey are her loving and devoted   children, Mr. Arthur Bullard, Jr. and his wife, Mrs. Lynn Bullard of Americus, Georgia, Mrs. Sharon Cameron and her husband, Mr. Robert Cameron of Summerville, South Carolina, Ms. Vanessa Bullard of Cobb, Georgia, Ms. Lula Bullard of Cordele, Georgia, Ms. Tameka Bullard of Cobb, Georgia, and Ms. Bridgette Harrison of Eatonton, Georgia; 22 loving grandchildren; 16 great grandchildren; her loving   sister, Ms. Gloria Sales of Americus, Georgia; her beloved brother, Mr. Tillman Butler and his wife, Mrs. Willie Mae Butler of Decatur, Georgia; her aunts and uncles, Mrs. Catherine Spain of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Mr. Charles Parham and his wife, Mrs. Martha Parham and Mr. Robert Parham all of Eatonton, Georgia; her beloved mother-in-law, Mrs. Lula Bullard of Cobb, Georgia; her brothers/sisters-in-law, Ms. Linda Gail Jones and Mr. Raymond Bullard both of Cobb, Georgia, Mrs. Bonnie Bullard of Vienna, Georgia, Ms. Tracie Pitts, Mrs. Joyce Harden and her husband, Mr. Derrick Harden, and Mrs. Mecca Bacon and her husband, Mr. Julius Bacon all of Americus, Georgia; a host of nieces and nephews, to include her devoted, Ms. Doretha Hamilton of Lee County, Georgia and Mr. Charles Jones of Cobb, Georgia; her god children, Mr. John McMicken of Canton, Georgia, Ms. Annette Ruff of Cordele, Georgia, and Ms. Carolyn Sims of Brunswick, Georgia; her god brother, Mr. Arthur Deriso of Desoto,   Georgia; a host of cousins, to include, Mrs. Martha Cutts of Leslie, Georgia; a host of other relatives and many sorrowing friends.


image31271Mr. Joseph Jerome Flint, Jr. affectionately called “Fatty”  was born in Sumter County, Georgia on June 19, 1981 to the parentage of Mr. Joseph Jerome Flint and Mrs. Gloria Holmes Flint. He received his education in the public schools of Sumter County. He is preceded in death by his

In addition to his parents, he leaves to cherish his memories, one daughter, Ms. Tamara Reynolds, Americus, GA; one brother, Mr. Deon Flint, Americus, GA; three sisters, Ms. Danielle Flint, Ms. Ashley Flint and Precious, Americus, GA; his grandmother, Ms. Annie Bell Holmes, Americus, GA; his great grandmother, Ms. Addie Faye King, Columbus, GA; three aunts, Ms. Pauline (John) Wade, Ms. Linda (Steve) Walker and Ms. Leslie Peeples Johnson, Americus, GA; three uncles, Mr. Robert (Rhonda) Holmes. Buena Vista, GA, Mr. Curtis Holmes, Americus, GA and Mr. Willie (Durhonda) Flint, Valdosta, GA; his great aunts & uncles, Ms. Mozelle Harp, Ms. Mary Lee Walters, Mr. Charlie Walters, Mr. Henry Walter, Mrs. Alice Faye (Sammie) Bridges, Ms. Betty Jean Dodson, Mr. James E. Dodson, Americus, GA, Mrs. Mary (Rev. Tony) Thompson, Riverdale, GA, Mrs. Florine (Rev. Verzelle) Covington, Augusta, GA, Ms. Doris Holmes, Bainbridge, GA, Ms. Barbara Bradley, Ms. Brenda King, Mr. Clarence King, Mr. Hirham King, Columbus, GA, Ms. Francis Washington, Dawson, GA, Mr. Joseph (Thelma) Dodson, Tampa, FL; his great great aunts, Ms. Vera Brown, Americus, GA and Ms. Wilhelmina Brown, Miami, FL; and a host of other relatives and friends also survive.


Ms. Bobbie Jean Adams was born in Schley County, Georgia on March 12, 1952 to the parentage of the late Mr. Felton Adams and the late Mrs. Leomie Minter Adams. She received her education in the public schools of Schley County and A. S. Staley High School. She received an Associate Degree from South Georgia Technical College. For 38 years, she was employed by the Sumter County Board of Education and taught at Eastview and Cherokee Elementary Schools. At an early age, she joined the Oak Grove Baptist Church, Ellaville, Georgia. She was a very dedicated church member and served faithfully as an Usher. She is preceded in death by two brothers, Mr. Fletcher Adams and Mr. Arthur Lee Adams; three sisters, Ms. Annie Clara Green, Ms. Nettie Pearl Adams Howard and Mrs. Mary Virginia Raven.

She leaves to cherish her memories, her daughter, Ms. Ivy McGrady, Jonesboro, GA; one sister, Ms. Juanita Sampson, Americus, GA; one aunt, Ms. Emma Minter, Ellaville, GA; a brother-in-law, Mr. Robert Green, Myrtle beach, SC five nieces, Ms. Debbie Tyson, Columbus, GA, Mrs. Michelle (Mitchell) Ellerby, Jr., Ocean Springs, MS, Ms. Krisitan Raven, Americus, GA, Ms. Danielle Green, Myrtle Beach, SC, Ms. Wanda Lee Adams-Bush and Ms. Pamela Adams of Bloomfield, CT; four nephews, Mr. Andrew Thomas, Columbia, SC, Mr. Alexander (Verna) Thomas, Americus, GA, Mr. Robert Green, Jr., Myrtle Beach, SC and Mr. Mark Adams, Bloomfield, CT; and a host of great nieces & nephews, cousins other relatives and friends, including a devoted friend, Ms. Debra Shelton also survive.

Reatha Mae Harvey Jenkins

image977Mrs. Reatha Mae Harvey Jenkins was born in Dawson, Terrell County, Georgia on April 18, 1933 to the parentage of the late Sgt. Joseph Duggs and the late Mrs. Ruby Lee Harvey Jenkins. She received her education in the public schools of Sumter County. At an early age, she joined the New St. Paul Baptist Church, where she served faithfully and was Mother of the Church. She was a member of the International Minister Wives & Widowers Alliance. She was employed by the Sumter County Board of Education as Assistant Food Service Manager. She was married to the late Rev. M. C. Jenkins. She is also preceded in death by two children, Mr. Mike C. Jenkins, Jr. and Mrs. Ruby D. Jenkins Smith.

She leaves to cherish her memories, her mother-in-law, Mrs. Hattie Bell Jenkins, Atlanta, GA; one son, Mr. William Jenkins, Americus, GA; five daughters, Ms. Eddie Rene Williams, Newark, New Jersey, Ms. Mary Butts, Lithonia, GA, Mrs. Martha (Ray) Johnson, Americus, GA, Min. Valerie (Rahman) Grimes, Savannah, GA and Min. Jennifer (Reco) Dawson, Warner Robins, GA; three sisters-in-law, Ms. Brenda Jenkins, Ms. Pat Small and Ms. Janice Jenkins all of Atlanta, GA; three brothers-in-law, Mr. Nathaniel (Dot) Jenkins, Mr. Lorell (Joann) Jenkins of Americus, GA and Mr. Lorenzo Jenkins, Atlanta, GA; 37 grandchildren, a host of great grandchildren and great great grandchildren; nieces, nephews, cousins other relatives and friends including devoted friends, Ms. Louise Robinson, Ms. Alice Sullivan, Ms. Alberta Rowell, Ms. Mary Green, Ms. Margaret Mathis and Ms. Lena Little also survive.


Carol Fulton

Carol Fulton

Ms. Carol Jean Fulton was born in Greenville, Washington County, Mississippi to the parentage of Mr. Bobby Dean Fulton and Ms. Johnnie Mae Turner. She was educated in the public schools of Greenville, Mississippi receiving her high school diploma and later she studied culinary arts at South Georgia Technical College, Americus, Georgia, receiving an associate degree. She worked for many years as an admission administrator in the emergency room of Sumter Regional Hospital. She was a member of the Restoration Church of Americus, under the leadership of Rev. George F. Edge. She is preceded in death by her grandparents, Ms. Fannie Thomas, Ms. Mary Ella Fulton and Mr. Leon “Billy” Fulton.

She leaves to cherish her memories, her father, Mr. Bobby Dean (Pearl) Fulton, Detroit, MI and her mother, Mrs. Johnnie Mae Turner, Greenville, MS; her step-father, Mr. John Turner, Jr., Indianola, MS; one son, Pvt. Kevin Walker, Americus, GA; three daughters, Mrs. Erecha (Donnivan) Tatum, LaGrange, GA, Ms. Jetona Stuckett and Mrs. Dominque (Dexter) Furlow, Americus, GA; four brothers, Mr. Bobby Dean Fulton, Jr. Greenville, MS, Mr. Marcus Fulton, Detroit, MI, Mr. John Turner, III, Greenville, MS and Mr. James (Francesca) Duncan, Americus, GA; three sisters, Ms. Erika Fulton, Ms. Debbie Burton both of Detroit, MI and Mrs. Andrea (Joey) Robinson of Texas; six grandchildren, Shyeann Stuckett, Kiya Fulton, Jasper Stuckett, Donnavia Tatum, Antonio Nelson, Jr. and Samaj Stuckett; five aunts, Ms. Brenda F. Polk, Ms. Mary B. Thomas both of Greenville, MS, Ms. Beverly G. McGoy, Houston, TX, Ms. Velma Benjamin, St. Louis, MO and Ms. Flora D. Baulton, Detriot, MI; two uncles, Mr. Bradford L. Fulton, Pontiac, MI and Mr. Joseph Duncan, Glen Allen, MS; and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins other relatives and friends, including special friends, Ms. Cornelia Oliver, Ms. Christian Torres and Ms. Shantae Calloway and her church family also survive.

5 Simple Ways To Raise Capital

istock-187115539-e1480628538757-300x232Access to capital continues to be a stumbling block for many entrepreneurs. However, there is startup financing and working capital available to business owners in need of investing in inventory, facilities, and staff to establish a solid market presence and generate a profitable revenue stream. It probably goes without saying that the first source of capital for your business is you—personal savings or supplemental income from a side hustle—followed by money from friends and family. There also are several sources of capital out there in the form of equity, debt, and grants or cash prizes.

Here are a few simple ways to raise cash:


Angel Investors
It is possible to raise money from high net-worth individuals for your small business. Angels, because they’re investing their own money, have different incentives than VCs seeking a large exit strategy. Some may even be willing to structure their financing as debt as opposed to equity. The Pipeline Angels Network is a resource for women angels investing in women-owned businesses and non-binary femme entrepreneurs. AngelList is a website for connecting startups and angel investors.


Bank Loans or Other Debt
There are many types of small business lenders and debt products—banks, online lenders, credit card companies, and microcredit programs offering term loans, lines of credit, cash advances, invoice financing and more. OnDeck, for instance, is an online small business lender in the U.S., issuing over $5 billion in loans and trusted by over 50,000 small businesses. It provides funding in one business day but you must have at least $100,000 in annual revenue. Accion, a nonprofit microlender, is one of the best funding sources for founders with startups less than a year old.


Equity Crowdfunding
Since its launch in 2008, has helped individuals and business owners raise money online through it rewards-based crowdfunding platform. Now the fundraising website has teamed up with MicroVentures, an online venture capital enterprise. The two companies have launched an equity crowdfunding platform to allow individuals to invest in innovative startups. Another online platform is


Startup Competitions
One of the best ways to test your skill is to enter a startup competition. Of course, Black Enterprise has its own Elevator Pitch Competition at the upcoming Entrepreneurs Summit, awarding $10,000 to the first-place winner. But you can also eye other cash prizes across the nation like the FedEx Small Business Contest, which each year awards grants of $25,000. The Miller Lite Tap The Future Business Plan Competition provides a top prize at $200,000.


Service Component
Savvy entrepreneurs have a great opportunity to use a service side of the business to fund another, more capital intensive portion, according to the BusinessCollective, a virtual mentorship program launched by the Young Entrepreneurs Council. Many upfront costs come when you’re selling products (as opposed to services). Equipment or inventory purchases can precede revenue significantly. Services, on the other hand, can be profitable right away with very little upfront expense required.

Want to Boycott All Things Donald Trump? Get Excited ‘Cause There’s an App for That

istock_74685423_medium-300x232Before throwing his obnoxiously red “Make America Great Again” hat into the political ring, Donald Trump was known for his reality TV stints and many businesses. Although the president-elect has not hinted at closing his businesses to lead the country, there are ways that all of us can make sure that he doesn’t use politics to profit any more than he already has.

The Democratic Coalition Against Trump has created an app called Boycott Trump that offers its users an organized list of all the companies that have ties to Donald Trump’s empire.

“This app is a first step in our larger Boycott Trump campaign, which will feature a unified grassroots movement centered on holding companies and individuals that help Trump in any way accountable,” Nate Lerner, executive director of Democratic Coalition Against Trump, told the Huffington Post. “The campaign is all about empowerment. … By doing so, we aim to give people a safe and productive way to voice their disapproval of Trump. We’ve accepted Trump won the election, but that doesn’t mean we have to accept everything he stands for.”

Some companies, such as Starbucks (has locations in Trump Tower), may be difficult for many to boycott, while others should be much easier.

Some of the more noteworthy companies on the list include Amazon, which sells Trump’s line of menswear as well as Ivanka’s clothing; PayPal, whose co-founder Peter Thiel is a supporter and donor of Trump; and Groupon and Sprint, which sponsor Celebrity Apprentice.

The Boycott Trump app is available in iTunes and Google Play.

Carnival CEO Arnold Donald Talks Business Prospects In Cruising And Travel Industry

arnold-donaldArnold Donald, president and CEO of Carnival Corp., recently celebrated the growth of the cruise industry and stressed the importance of collaboration between cruise lines and travel professionals. Donald addressed some 1,000 attendees comprised of Cruises Inc., CruiseOne, and Dream Vacations members—one of the nation’s top travel agency networks—as part of World Travel Holdings 2016 National Conference aboard one of the newest ships in the cruise industry—Carnival Vista. According to Donald, “We are living in the golden age of cruising; these are the greatest days that our industry has ever seen. What you can do and where we can take you on our ships has advanced tremendously over the last 25 years.”

“Since a majority of our business comes from selling cruise vacations, it was important to us that we host the National Conference—themed BELIEVE—aboard a cruise ship, so that our network of home-based travel professional can experience first-hand the product that they are selling,” added Drew Daly, general manager of network engagement and performance for Cruises Inc., CruiseOne, and Dream Vacations.


Business of Leisure Travel
It’s all about the human connection experience. More than 25 million people cruise worldwide every year from Asia to Africa, notes Donald. “Our goal is to introduce even more people to cruising. Our competition is land-based vacations and not other cruise lines because there are still millions out there who have never cruised.” He points to the fact that Carnival has 1% of a 2% market share that books cruise cabins versus hotel rooms, so the strategic plan is to convert the other 98% to cruisers. We call them the new to cruise segment.”

Donald went on to say that travel agents must see themselves as matchmakers—finding the right cruise experience according to that customer’s needs, wants, and likes or dislikes. “Putting the right people on the right ship—looking at psychographics. People who don’t like community fun and want ultra-luxury would travel on Seabourn and not Carnival.” People want different things at different times—traveling with family for a vacation versus traveling with college friends for a getaway, he added.

Arnold, in jest, referenced how the popular ‘80s television show Love Boat did more for the cruise industry in terms of marketing. To that end, Carnival has created three new shows airing on NBC, ABC, and the CW. One such program, Vacation Creation, co-hosted by comedian Tommy Davidson, surprises people with a dream vacation.
Marrying Technology and Travel
When it comes to the outlook for the travel industry, Donald added, “We are ahead on occupancy. We are growing business. What matters is that the people aren’t afraid to travel and borders are open for travel. As long as that exists we are good.”

Donald will make a big tech announcement at CES. Using the correlation of the iPhone: “It’s your individual tool with your images, screen saver, protective case, and apps. People want the same thing in travel; they want a customized experience, which we are engineering with a whole lot of technology behind it.”

Black Hollywood faves snag noms at 2016 Golden Globes

(Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

(Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Damien Chazelle’s Los Angeles musical “La La Land” sang and danced its way to a leading seven Golden Globes nominations, with Barry Jenkins’ celebrated coming-of-age tale “Moonlight” close on its heels with six nods.

“La La Land” earned nominations for its lead actors, Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, as well best picture, comedy or musical. The film also scored nominations for directing, screenplay, score and original song in the nominations announced Monday in Los Angeles by the Hollywood Foreign Press Assocation.

“Moonlight” led the field in the dramatic categories, including best picture. It earned nods for Jenkins’ directing and script, supporting actor favorite Mahershala Ali and supporting actress Naomie Harris.

–Issa Rae gets her first Golden Globe nomination for ‘Insecure’–

The other nominees for best picture, drama, were “Manchester by the Sea,” ”Lion,” ”Hell or High Water” and Mel Gibson’s “Hacksaw Ridge.”

On the television side, “The People v. O.J. Simpson” continued its awards success with five nominations, including best limited series. Other regulars (“Veep,” ”Transparent”) were also recognized, though a number of more recent acclaimed shows not eligible for September’s Emmy Awards elbowed their way in, including “The Night Of,” ”Westworld,” ”Atlanta,” ”This Is Us” and “Insecure.”

The film nominations also verified that this year’s awards season isn’t nearly so white as last year’s. Along with “Moonlight,” nominations were heaped on Denzel Washington‘s August Wilson adaptation “Fences” (including acting nods for Washington and Viola Davis), the interracial marriage drama “Loving” (leads Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton were each nominated) and the inspirational NASA drama about African-American mathematicians “Hidden Figures” (including Octavia Spencer). Those nominations confirmed what has already solidified as a notably more diverse Oscar field.

Kenneth Lonergan’s tender portrait of grief, “Manchester by the Sea,” landed five nominations, including best actor in a drama for Casey Affleck. Producer Matt Damon, in a statement, thanked the Hollywood Foreign Press “for championing a little movie like ours.”

The Weinstein Co.’s “Lion,” the story of an Indian boy separated from his family, had an especially good morning. The film also earned nods for Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman.

The best actress race is one of the year’s most competitive, though it’s so far been dominated by “Elle” star Isabelle Huppert. She was nominated for best actress in a drama, along with Amy Adams (“Arrival”), Natalie Portman (“Jackie”), Jessica Chastain (“Miss Sloane”) and Negga.

The Hollywood Foreign Press, a collection of mostly freelance journalists, has a history of sometimes playing favorites, packing its lively banquet with stars and some eyebrow-raising selections. This year’s picks featured some unlikely outliers like the unheralded Aaron Taylor-Johnson for Tom Ford’s “Nocturnal Animals” for best supporting actor.

The best actor in a comedy or musical included, surprisingly, Jonah Hill for “War Dogs” and Ryan Reynolds for “Deadpool.” Reynolds said on Twitter that “the entire ‘Deadpool’ team is engaged in a grotesque, early morning tickle-fight.”

Other choices were anything but surprising. Meryl Streep landed her 30th nomination for best actress in a musical or comedy for “Florence Foster Jenkins.” Streep, an eight-time winner, will also be the recipient of the Cecil B. DeMille Award for career achievement.

In a sign of Hollywood’s increasing dichotomy between mega blockbusters and smaller independent films, the lead nominee getters were overwhelmingly independent. Lionsgate led the way with 10 nods thanks largely to “La La Land.” The indie outfit A24, producer of “Moonlight,” followed with nine. Amazon Studios, which is distributing “Manchester by the Sea,” outranked goliaths like the Walt Disney Co. (three noms) and Warner Bros. (just one). Plus, it earned five TV nods for “Transparent” and “Mozart in the Jungle.”

The Jan. 8 Golden Globes will be hosted by Jimmy Fallon and broadcast by NBC from the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills.

Ray Lewis, Jim Brown visit Trump to talk issues facing black community

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Former NFL stars Ray Lewis and Jim Brown arrived at Trump Tower on Tuesday in order to chat about issues that face the African-American community.

After the meeting, Brown said, “We couldn’t have had a better meeting,” adding, “The graciousness, the intelligence, the reception we got was fantastic.”

Cleveland pastor Darrell Scott, who was also at the meeting, said that one of the big topics of conversation was Brown’s Amer-I-Can nonprofit group, which helps troubled youth.

–Kanye West meets with Donald Trump at Trump Tower–

“We talked about marrying or merging the Amer-I-Can program with the Trump administration to make America great again,” said Scott. “Rather than going out and inventing a vehicle to enhance the African-American community we have a vehicle in place that we need the country to get behind so we can affect positive change in our communities.”

Lewis, who also works with Amer-I-Can, said of the meeting, “We talked about what entrepreneurship really looks like from the individuals themselves.”

“The bottom line is job creation and economic development in these urban areas to change the whole scheme of what our kids see … he’s wide open to really helping us change what hasn’t been changed.”

48th NAACP Image Awards Nominees Announced

From left to right: Issa Rae (Neilson Barnard/Getty Images), Kofi Siriboe (Jason Kempin/Getty Images), Solange Knowles (Ben Gabbe/Getty Images), and Jussie Smollett (Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Image)

From left to right: Issa Rae (Neilson Barnard/Getty Images), Kofi Siriboe (Jason Kempin/Getty Images), Solange Knowles (Ben Gabbe/Getty Images), and Jussie Smollett (Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Image)

On Tuesday, the nominees for the 48th NAACP Image Awards were announced.

Beyoncé and Solange Knowles led the nominations pack, with seven and five nominations respectively. Chance the Rapper and Kendrick Lamar each received four nominations, with Donald Glover and Nate Parker also receiving three award nominations apiece.

The NAACP noted that the awards ceremony, which celebrates diversity and achievement, are particularly needed at a time when the country is so divided.

“The NAACP is delighted to have a great collaboration with TV One and we look forward to working with them again to create a memorable evening of entertainment celebrating the hard work, perseverance, and achievements of those in our community,” said Roslyn M. Brock, Chairman of the NAACP National Board of Directors.

“The Image Awards is the premier showcase for art and advocacy reflecting the depth and diversity of the African-American experience. It is an American prism through which we see a breadth of culture and color reflected in film, television, music and literature in ways that reveal our shared humanity. At a moment when America is so divided, the Image Awards represents an hour that brings us together,” said Cornell William Brooks, President and CEO, NAACP.

The awards will be broadcast during a live, two-hour show on TV One on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2017 at 9pm/8c.

For a complete list of nominations, see below.



  • Beyoncé
  • Viola Davis
  • Regina King
  • Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
  • Chance the Rapper


Outstanding Comedy Series

  • “Atlanta” (FX)
  • “black-ish” (ABC)
  • “Insecure” (HBO)
  • “Survivor’s Remorse” (Starz)
  • “The Carmichael Show” (NBC)


Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series

  • Anthony Anderson – “black-ish” (ABC)
  • Don Cheadle – “House of Lies” (Showtime)
  • Donald Glover – “Atlanta” (FX)
  • Dwayne Johnson – “Ballers” (HBO)
  • Kevin Hart – “Real Husbands of Hollywood” (BET)


Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series

  • Issa Rae – “Insecure” (HBO)
  • Keesha Sharp – “Lethal Weapon” (FOX)
  • Niecy Nash – “The Soul Man” (TV Land)
  • Tracee Ellis Ross – “black-ish” (ABC)
  • Uzo Aduba – “Orange is the New Black” (Netflix)


Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

  • David Alan Grier – “The Carmichael Show” (NBC)
  • Deon Cole – “black-ish” (ABC)
  • Laurence Fishburne – “black-ish” (ABC)
  • Miles Brown – “black-ish” (ABC)
  • Tituss Burgess – “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” (Netflix)


Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

  • Erica Ash – “Survivor’s Remorse” (Starz)
  • Laverne Cox – “Orange Is The New Black” (Netflix)
  • Marsai Martin – “black-ish” (ABC)
  • Tichina Arnold – “Survivor’s Remorse” (Starz)
  • Yvonne Orji – “Insecure” (HBO)


Outstanding Drama Series

  • “Empire” (FOX)
  • “Power” (Starz)
  • “Queen Sugar” (OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network)
  • “This Is Us” (NBC)
  • “Underground” (WGN America)


Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series

  • Kofi Siriboe – “Queen Sugar” (OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network)
  • Mike Colter – “Marvel’s Luke Cage” (Netflix)
  • Omari Hardwick – “Power” (Starz)
  • Sterling K. Brown – “This Is Us” (NBC)
  • Terrence Howard – “Empire” (FOX)


Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series

  • Jurnee Smollett-Bell – “Underground” (WGN America)
  • Kerry Washington – “Scandal” (ABC)
  • Rutina Wesley – “Queen Sugar” (OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network)
  • Taraji P. Henson – “Empire” (FOX)
  • Viola Davis – “How to Get Away with Murder” (ABC)


Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

  • Alfred Enoch – “How To Get Away With Murder” (ABC)
  • Jesse Williams – “Greys Anatomy” (ABC)
  • Joe Morton – “Scandal” (ABC)
  • Jussie Smollett – “Empire” (FOX)
  • Trai Byers – “Empire” (FOX)


Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

  • Amirah Vann – “Underground” (WGN America)
  • CCH Pounder – “NCIS: New Orleans” (CBS)
  • Cicely Tyson – “How To Get Away with Murder” (ABC)
  • Lynn Whitfield – “Greenleaf” (OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network)
  • Naturi Naughton – “Power” (Starz)


Outstanding Television Movie, Limited Series or Dramatic Special

  • “American Crime” (ABC)
  • “Confirmation” (HBO)
  • “Roots” (History)
  • “The Night Of” (HBO)
  • “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story” (FX)


Outstanding Actor in a Television Movie, Limited Series or Dramatic Special

  • Courtney B. Vance – “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story” (FX)
  • Cuba Gooding Jr. – “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story” (FX)
  • Jeffrey Wright – “Confirmation” (HBO)
  • Malachi Kirby – “Roots” (History)
  • Sterling K. Brown – “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story” (FX)


Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Limited Series or Dramatic Special

  • Anika Noni Rose – “Roots” (History)
  • Audra McDonald – “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill” (HBO)
  • Emayatzy Corinealdi – “Roots” (History)
  • Kerry Washington – “Confirmation” (HBO)
  • Regina King – “American Crime” (ABC)


Outstanding News / Information – (Series or Special)

  • “AM Joy with Joy Reid” (MSNBC/NBC News)
  • “BET Love and Happiness White House Special” (BET)
  • “StarTalk with Neil deGrasse Tyson” (National Geographic Channel)
  • “Stay Woke” (BET)
  • “Unsung: Sugarhill Gang” (TV One)


Outstanding Talk Series

  • “Steve Harvey” (Syndicated)
  • “SuperSoul Sunday” (OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network)
  • “The Real” (Syndicated)
  • “The Talk” (CBS)
  • “The View” (ABC)


Outstanding Reality Program/Reality Competition Series

  • “Iyanla: Fix My Life” (OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network)
  • “Little Big Shots” (NBC)
  • “Mary Mary” (WE tv)
  • “The Voice” (NBC)
  • “United Shades of America” (CNN)


Outstanding Variety (Series or Special)

  • “2016 Black Girls Rock” (BET)
  • “Celebrity Family Feud” (ABC)
  • “Lemonade” (HBO)
  • “Lip Sync Battle” (Spike TV)
  • “The Essence Black Women in Hollywood Awards 2016” (OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network)


Outstanding Children’s Program

  • “All In With Cam Newton” (Nickelodeon)
  • “An American Girl Story – Melody 1963: Love Has to Win” (Amazon)
  • “Doc McStuffins” (Disney Junior)
  • “K.C. Undercover” (Disney Channel)
  • “The Lion Guard” (Disney Junior)


Outstanding Performance by a Youth (Series, Special, Television Movie or Limited series)

  • Emyyri Crutchfield – “Roots” (History)
  • Hudson Yang – “Fresh Off The Boat” (ABC)
  • Lonnie Chavis – “This Is Us” (NBC)
  • Marsai Martin – “black-ish” (ABC)
  • Miles Brown – “black-ish” (ABC)


Outstanding Host in a News, Talk, Reality, or Variety (Series or Special) – Individual or


  • Anthony Anderson & Tracee Ellis Ross – “2016 BET Awards” (BET)
  • Joy Reid – “AM Joy with Joy Reid” (MSNBC)
  • Roland S. Martin – “NewsOne Now with Roland S. Martin” (TV One)
  • Steve Harvey – “The Steve Harvey Show” (Syndicated)
  • W. Kamau Bell – “United Shades of America” (CNN)


Outstanding New Artist

  • Chance the Rapper (Chance the Rapper)
  • Chloe X Halle (Columbia Records)
  • MAJOR. (BOE/Empire)
  • Ro James (RCA Records/ByStorm Entertainment)
  • Serayah (Columbia Records)


Outstanding Male Artist

  • Anthony Hamilton (RCA Records)
  • Bruno Mars (Atlantic Records)
  • Chance the Rapper (Chance the Rapper)
  • Kendrick Lamar (Top Dawg Entertainment/ Aftermath/Interscope Records)
  • Maxwell (Columbia)


Outstanding Female Artist

  • Alicia Keys (RCA Records)
  • Beyoncé (Columbia Record/Parkwood Entertainment)
  • Fantasia (RCA Records/19 Recordings Limited)
  • K. Michelle (Atlantic Records)
  • Solange (Columbia Records)


Outstanding Duo, Group or Collaboration

  • “Blended Family” – Alicia Keys feat. A$AP Rocky (RCA Records)
  • “Everything’s Beautiful” – Robert Glasper & Miles Davis (Legacy Recordings)
  • “Freedom” – Beyoncé feat. Kendrick Lamar (Columbia Record/Parkwood Entertainment)
  • “Mad” – Solange feat. Lil Wayne (Columbia Records)
  • “Royalty” – Sounds of Blackness feat HSRA (High School for Recording Arts) (Sounds of Blackness/Atomic K Records)


Outstanding Jazz Album

  • “Everything’s Beautiful” – Robert Glasper & Miles Davis (Legacy Recordings)
  • “Latin America Songbook” – Edward Simon (Sunnyside)
  • “Leslie Odom Jr.” – Leslie Odom (S-Curve)
  • “Ready Take One” – Erroll Garner (Legacy Recordings / Octave Music Licensing LLC)
  • “Upward Spiral” – Branford Marsalis Quartet and Kurt Elling (Okeh)


Outstanding Gospel Album – (Traditional or Contemporary)

  • “Jericho: Tribe of Joshua” – Livre’ (Glory 2 Glory Entertainment/RAL)
  • “Myron Butler & Levi On Purpose” – Myron Butler (Motown Gospel)
  • “One Way” – Tamela Mann (Tillymann, Inc.)
  • “The Journey (Live)” – Donnie McClurkin (RCA Inspiration)
  • “Worship Journal Live” – Fred Hammond (RCA Inspiration)


Outstanding Music Video

  • “24K Magic” – Bruno Mars (Atlantic Records)
  • “Cranes In The Sky” – Solange (Columbia Records)
  • “Formation” – Beyoncé (Columbia Record/Parkwood Entertainment)
  • “This One’s for Me and You” – Johnny Gill feat. New Edition (Jskillz)
  • “In Common” – Alicia Keys (RCA Records)


Outstanding Song – Traditional

  • “Amen” – Anthony Hamilton (RCA Records)
  • “Cranes In The Sky” – Solange (Columbia Records)
  • “God Provides” – Tamela Mann (Tillymann, Inc.)
  • “I See Victory” – Kim Burrell and Pharrell Williams (I Am Other/Columbia)
  • “Lake By The Ocean” – Maxwell (Columbia Records)


Outstanding Song – Contemporary

  • “24K Magic” – Bruno Mars (Atlantic Records)
  • “Formation” – Beyoncé (Columbia Record/Parkwood Entertainment)
  • “Freedom” – Beyoncé feat. Kendrick Lamar (Columbia Record/Parkwood Entertainment)
  • “Letter to the Free” – Common featuring Bilal (ARTium Records/ Def Jam Recordings)
  • “Royalty” – Sounds of Blackness feat HSRA (High School for Recording Arts) (Sounds of Blackness/Atomic K Records) Outstanding Album
  • “A Seat At The Table” – Solange (Columbia Records)
  • “Coloring Book” – Chance the Rapper (Chance the Rapper)
  • “Lemonade” – Beyoncé (Columbia Record/Parkwood Entertainment)
  • “untitled unmastered.” – Kendrick Lamar (Top Dawg Entertainment/Aftermath/Interscope Records)
  • “What I’m Feelin” – Anthony Hamilton (RCA Records)


Outstanding Literary Work – Fiction

  • “Another Brooklyn” – Jacqueline Woodson (HarperCollins /Amistad)
  • “The Book of Harlan” – Bernice L. McFadden (Akashic Books)
  • “The Illegal” – Lawrence Hill (W. W. Norton & Company)
  • “The Mother” – Yvvette Edwards (HarperCollins Publishers / Amistad)
  • “The Underground Railroad: A Novel” – Colson Whitehead (Doubleday) Outstanding Literary Work – Non-Fiction
  • “Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul” – Eddie S.Glaude Jr. (Crown / The Crown Publishing Group)
  • “Freedom is a Constant Struggle” – Angela Y. Davis (Author), Cornel West (Foreword), (Haymarket Books)
  • “Hidden Figures” – Margot Lee Shetterly (HarperCollins Publishers / William Morrow)
  • “Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America”-Ibram X. Kendi (Nation Books)
  • “Writings on the Wall: Searching for a New Equality Beyond Black and White” –
  • Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Author), Raymond Obstfeld (Author), (Time Inc. Books)


Outstanding Literary Work – Debut Author

  • “Born A Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood” – Trevor Noah (Random House)
  • “Carry On” – Lisa Fenn (HarperCollins Publishers / Harper Wave)
  • “Crook County: Racism and Injustice in America’s Largest Criminal Court” – Dr.
  • Nicole Gonzalez Van Cleve (Stanford University Press )
  • “Grace: A Novel” – Natashia Deón (Counterpoint Press)
  • “United: Thoughts on Finding Common Ground and Advancing the Common
  • Good” – Cory Booker (Ballantine Books)


Outstanding Literary Work – Biography/ Auto-Biography

  • “Answering the Call: An Autobiography of the Modern Struggle to End Racial
  • Discrimination in America” – Nathaniel Jones (The New Press)
  • “Around the Way Girl: A Memoir” – Taraji P. Henson (37 Ink/Atria Books)
  • “Born A Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood” – Trevor Noah (Random House)
  • Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching, A Young Black Man’s Education” – Mychal Denzel Smith (Nation Books)
  • “My Life with Earth, Wind & Fire” – Herb Powell (Author), Maurice White (Author), Steve Harvey (Foreword), David Foster (Foreword), (HarperCollins Publishers / Amistad)


Outstanding Literary Work – Instructional

  • “Green Smoothies for Life” – JJ Smith (Atria Books)
  • “LA Reid Sing to Me: My Story of Making Music, Finding Magic, and Searching for Who’s Next” – LA Reid (Harper Collins)
  • “Running the Long Race in Gifted Education: Narratives and Interviews from
  • Culturally Diverse Gifted Adults” – Joy M. Scott-Carrol (Author), Anthony Sparks (Author), Diana Slaughter Kotzin (Foreword), (IGET-Network Press/Book Publisher’s Network)
  • “The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World ” – The Dalai Lama (Author), Desmond Tutu (Author), Douglas Abrams (With), (Avery)
  • “The Power of Broke: How Empty Pockets, a Tight Budget, and a Hunger for Success Can Become Your Greatest Competitive Advantage” – Daymond John (Author), Daniel Paisner (With), (Crown Business / The Crown Publishing Group)


Outstanding Literary Work – Poetry

  • “Collected Poems: 1974 — 2004” – Rita Dove (W. W. Norton & Company)
  • “Counting Descent” – Clint Smith (Write Bloody Publishing)
  • “The Big Book of Exit Strategies” – Jamaal May (Alice James Books)
  • “The Sobbing School” – Joshua Bennett (Penguin Books)
  • “Thief in the Interior” – Phillip B. Williams (Alice James Books)


Outstanding Literary Work – Children

  • “A Poem for Peter: The Story of Ezra Jack Keats and the Creation of The Snowy
  • Day” – Andrea Davis Pinkney (Author), Lou Fancher (Illustrator), Steve Johnson (Illustrator), (Viking Children’s Books)
  • “Daddy’s Little Girl” – Karissa Culbreath (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform)
  • “Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat” – Javaka Steptoe (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
  • “The Golden Girls Of Rio” – Nikkolas Smith (Skyhorse Publishing / Sky Pony Press)
  • “Tiny Stitches: The Life of Medical Pioneer Vivien Thomas” – Gwendolyn Hooks (Author), Colin Bootman (Illustrator), (Lee & Low Books)


Outstanding Literary Work – Youth/Teens

  • “As Brave As You” – Jason Reynolds (Simon & Schuster (Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books))
  • “Riding Chance” – Christine Kendall (Scholastic / Scholastic Press)
  • “Same But Different: Teen Life on the Autism Express” – Holly Robinson Peete (Author), Ryan Elizabeth Peete (Author), RJ Peete (Author), (Scholastic/Scholastic Press)
  • “The Hero Two Doors Down: Based on the True Story of Friendship Between a
  • Boy and a Baseball Legend” – Sharon Robinson (Scholastic / Scholastic Press)
  • “Two Naomis” – Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich (Author), Audrey Vernick (Author), (HarperCollins Children’s Books)


Outstanding Motion Picture

  • “Fences” (Paramount Pictures)
  • “Hidden Figures” (20th Century Fox)
  • “Loving” (Focus Features/Big Beach)
  • “Moonlight” (A24)
  • “The Birth of a Nation” (Fox Searchlight Pictures)


Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture

  • Denzel Washington – “Fences” (Paramount Pictures)
  • Don Cheadle – “Miles Ahead” (Sony Pictures Classics)
  • Nate Parker – “The Birth of a Nation” (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
  • Stephan James – “Race” (Focus Features/The Luminary Group A Solofilms/
  • Trinidad/Trinity/Trinity Race Production)
  • Will Smith – “Collateral Beauty” (Warner Bros. Pictures/New Line Cinema)


Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture

  • Angela Bassett – “London Has Fallen” (Focus Features/Millennium Films/G-Base Production)
  • Madina Nalwanga – “Queen of Katwe” (Walt Disney Studios)
  • Ruth Negga – “Loving” (Focus Features/Big Beach)
  • Taraji P. Henson – “Hidden Figures” (20th Century Fox)
  • Tika Sumpter – “Southside With You” (Roadside Attractions)


Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture

  • Alano Miller – “Loving” (Focus Features/Big Beach)
  • Chadwick Boseman – “Captain America: Civil War” (Marvel Studios)
  • David Oyelowo – “Queen of Katwe” (Walt Disney Studios)
  • Mahershala Ali – “Moonlight” (A24)
  • Trevante Rhodes – “Moonlight” (A24)


Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture

  • Aja Naomi King – “The Birth of a Nation” (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
  • Lupita Nyong’o – “Queen of Katwe” (Walt Disney Studios)
  • Mo’ Nique – “Almost Christmas” (Universal Pictures)
  • Octavia Spencer – “Hidden Figures” (20th Century Fox)
  • Viola Davis – “Fences” (Paramount Pictures)


Outstanding Independent Motion Picture

  • “Lion” (See-Saw Films)
  • “Loving” (Focus Features/Big Beach)
  • “Miles Ahead” (Sony Pictures Classics)
  • “Moonlight” (A24)
  • “The Birth of a Nation” (Fox Searchlight Pictures)


Outstanding Documentary – (Film)

  • “13th” (Netflix)
  • “I Am Not Your Negro” (Velvet Film)
  • “Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise” (The People’s Poet LLC)
  • “Miss Sharon Jones!” (Cabin Creek Films)
  • “Olympic Pride, American Prejudice” (Coffee Bluff Pictures)


Outstanding Documentary – (Television)

  • “Major League Legends: Hank Aaron” (Smithsonian Channel)
  • “Policing the Police” (PBS)
  • “Roots: A History Revealed” (History)
  • “Roots: A New Vision” (History)
  • “Streets of Compton” (A&E)


Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series

  • Donald Glover – “Atlanta” – B.A.N. (FX)
  • Issa Rae, Larry Wilmore – “Insecure” – Insecure as F**k (HBO)
  • Kenya Barris – “black-ish” – Hope (ABC)
  • Our Lady J – “Transparent” – If I Were A Bell (Amazon)
  • Prentice Penny – “Insecure” – Real as F**k (HBO)


Outstanding Writing in a Dramatic Series

  • Akela Cooper – “Marvel’s Luke Cage” – Manifest (Netflix)
  • Anthony Sparks – “Queen Sugar” – By Any Chance (OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network)
  • Ava DuVernay – “Queen Sugar” – First Things First (OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network)
  • Joe Robert Cole – “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story – The Race Card” – (FX)
  • LaToya Morgan – “TURN: Washingtons Spies” – Benediction (AMC)


Outstanding Writing in a Motion Picture – (Television)

  • Alison McDonald – “An American Girl Story – Melody 1963: Love Has to
  • Win” (Amazon)
  • Alison McDonald – “Roots (Night 2)” (History)
  • Charles Murray – “Roots (Night 3)” (History)
  • Rashida Jones and Mike Schur – “Black Mirror: Nosedive” (Netflix)
  • Rhonda Freeman-Baraka – “Merry Christmas, Baby!” (UP TV)


Outstanding Writing in a Motion Picture (Film)

  • Adam Mansbach “Barry” (Black Bear Pictures and Cinetic Media)
  • Barry Jenkins “Moonlight” (A24)
  • Jeff Nichols “Loving” (Focus Features/Big Beach)
  • Nate Parker “The Birth of a Nation” (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
  • Richard Tanne “Southside With You” (Roadside Attractions)


Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series

  • Anton Cropper – “black-ish” – God (ABC)
  • Anton Cropper – “black-ish” – Good-ish Times (ABC)
  • Donald Glover – “Atlanta” – Value (FX)
  • Marta Cunningham – “Transparent” – Exciting and New (Amazon)
  • Melina Matsoukas – “Insecure” – Insecure as F**k” (HBO)


Outstanding Directing in a Dramatic Series

  • Anthony Hemingway – “Underground” – The Macon 7 (WGN America)
  • John Singleton – “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story: The Race Card” – (FX)
  • Millicent Shelton – “Empire” – The Lyon Who Cried Wolf (FOX)
  • Paris Barclay – “Pitch” – Pilot (FOX)
  • Sam Esmail – “Mr. Robot” – eps2.5_h4ndshake.sme (USA Network)


Outstanding Directing in a Motion Picture (Television)

  • Carl Seaton – “Bad Dad Rehab” – (TV One)
  • Mario Van Peebles – “Roots (Night 2)” – (History)
  • Rick Famuyiwa – “Confirmation” – (HBO)
  • Thomas Carter – “Roots (Night 3)” – (History)
  • Vondie Curtis-Hall – “Toni Braxton: Unbreak My Heart” – (Lifetime)


Outstanding Directing in a Motion Picture – (Film)

  • Anthony Russo, Joe Russo – “Captain America: Civil War” (Marvel Studios)
  • Barry Jenkins – “Moonlight” (A24)
  • Garth Davis – “Lion” (See-Saw Films)
  • Mira Nair – “Queen of Katwe” (Walt Disney Studios)
  • Nate Parker – “The Birth of a Nation” (Fox Searchlight Pictures)


Outstanding Character Voice-Over Performance – (Television or Film)

  • Dwayne Johnson – “Moana” (Walt Disney Studios)
  • Idris Elba – “Finding Dory” (Walt Disney Studios)
  • Idris Elba – “The Jungle Book” (Walt Disney Studios)
  • Kevin Hart – “The Secret Life of Pets” (Universal Pictures)
  • Loretta Devine – “Doc McStuffins” (Disney Junior)

Willie Joe Ligon of Mighty Clouds of Joy Passes Away

Willie Joe Ligon

Gospel quartet legend Willie Joe Ligon passed away December 11 in Los Angeles.

Gospel quartet legend Willie Joe Ligon passed away December 11 in Los Angeles.

Born September 11, 1942, in Troy, Alabama, Ligon migrated to Los Angeles at age 14 and met his future mates in the Mighty Clouds of Joy in the late 1950s while attending Jefferson High School. Like top quartets such as the Blind Boys of Mississippi, the Blind Boys of Alabama, and the Gospelaires of Dayton, the Clouds incorporated the growls, shouts, and rasp of African American preachers into their singing, a style sometimes referred to as “hard gospel.”

Brother “Duke” Henderson, an L.A. musician turned gospel radio personality, record company owner, and religious retailer, heard the group singing around the city circa 1959 and recorded a live performance for his Proverb label.

In 1960, the Mighty Clouds of Joy auditioned for, and were signed by, Peacock Records, one of the premier record companies for gospel quartets. The group enjoyed a long run with the Houstonbased label, recording and touring across the country, becoming one of the nation’s top gospel quartets. Among the Clouds’ early hits was a remake of “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” retitled “Family Circle.”

Updating their sound to confirm to the changes in popular music, the Mighty Clouds innovated with 1975’s “Mighty High,” a disco-influenced song that crossed over onto the pop charts. While the church community looked askance at this bold new sound, youngsters were tearing up the club floors to the sound of “Mighty High.”


We are heartbroken to share the news that the World’s Greatest Male Gospel Singer – Willie Joe Ligon, Founder and Lead Singer of the three time Grammy Award winning group – The Mighty Clouds of Joy of Los Angeles, California passed away today Sunday, December 11, 2016.

Joe was a loving Husband, Father, Grandfather, Brother, Cousin, Uncle, Mentor, and Friend to so many who loved him dearly.

As much as Joe cherished his privacy, he always appreciated the expressions of good will from people around the world and from all walks of life.

While we mourn the loss of a very good and humble man, we also celebrate his remarkable life as one of the most successful Artist in Gospel Music History and hope that it serves as an example to young people around the world to work hard to make their dreams come true, to be willing to explore and push the limits, and to selflessly serve a cause greater than themselves.

For those who may ask what they can do to honor Joe, we have a simple request. Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a stormy day think of Joe and get comfort in knowing that he is no longer in the storm.

Additional information about the final arrangements will be released to the general public pending Mr. Ligon’s family’s approval.

We kindly ask everyone to please respect the Family’s privacy during this time of bereavement.

Thank you!
Best regards, Pastor Isaac Lindsey, Manager Joe Ligon & The Mighty Clouds of Joy

HPV vaccination rates tripled with practice’s comprehensive intervention

– A multifaceted comprehensive intervention significantly improved human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination rates in a Florida pediatric health care group practice.

Alix G. Casler, MD, chief of pediatrics at Orlando Health Physician Associates, described how her practice put into place practices to improve the overall HPV vaccination rate of their clients.

Her practice is a large multispecialty health care group with 22 pediatricians, 2 pediatric advanced registered nurse practitioners, 80 pediatric staff, and 11 offices that serve 57,000 pediatric patients, about 40% of whom are at least 11 years old. In 2013, only 23% of their female patients and 12% of their male patients ages 13-17 years had received any doses of the HPV vaccine, far below the 54% and 21% nationally. Fourteen percent of girls and 3% of boys in their practice had received all three doses, Dr. Casler said at a conference sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

She described the critical components of a vaccination quality improvement project: set specific goals, know your practice’s actual rates, identify areas of weakness and/or opportunity, and then implement effective and sustainable processes for improvement. Their initial goal was to show any improvement at all in the first year and then to meet the highest national rates 2 years later.

“We started by agreeing we would become transparent to one another,” Dr. Casler explained. “This is called peer influence. What we didn’t want to be was the one who deviated from standard practice.”

As they got further along into their initiative, this transparency led physicians to ask others with better rates for help. “It’s not just a motivator in terms of not wanting to be the worse; it’s also a motivator in knowing how to get help,” said Dr. Casler, also at Florida State College of Medicine in Tallahassee and the University of Central Florida in Orlando.

Individual physicians’ rates were first shared privately with that physician, then shared with the department, and then published monthly and eventually only quarterly.

Then they developed the interventions to improve rates: verification and clean-up of their data, physician and staff education, physician incentives, previsit planning, electronic follow-up orders for the second and third doses, reminder calls, manufacturer tools, and clinical summaries.

The physician education program involved first making HPV vaccination a priority even when multiple competing priorities exist at each well visit.

“Our doctors felt, as all doctors feel, that we have 75 things to do and it’s not possible to do them all,” Dr. Casler said. “If we don’t have a fast and dirty way of doing something, it won’t get done.”

Part of prioritizing the vaccine was making physicians aware of how common HPV and HPV diseases were, which many did not realize. Then the training addressed providers’ discomfort about discussing the vaccine. They provided a script that included a clear recommendation for the HPV vaccine – sandwiched between the recommendations for the meningitis and Tdap vaccines – without adding unnecessary extra information unless the parent requested it.

During staff training, her practice found similar obstacles as with the doctors. “They had different competing priorities, they didn’t really know what HPV was, and they didn’t want to talk about sex,” Dr. Casler said.

Following training, they distributed tools such as posters and fact sheets to physicians and developed incentives: competition among each other, a quality bonus structure, and wine. “It’s amazing what will motivate people,” Dr. Casler said with a smile. “Again, this is the real world.”

Daily previsit planning meant documenting on patient lists the priorities for each patient, including the HPV vaccine as well as needs such as flu shots; other vaccines; screening for asthma, depression, and STIs; smoking assessment; diet and exercise counseling; and risk factor assessments.

“That is one of the most valuable interventions and got a tremendous amount of feedback from the staff,” Dr. Casler said. “Any practice can do this for free. I look at every metric that needs to be covered with that patient during that visit.”

Patients then are required to schedule their second and third doses on their way out. “If someone no-shows or doesn’t reschedule, my secretary knows what HPV is and what it does,” Dr. Casler said. “She will call the parents and leave a message, ‘Call me tomorrow to reschedule your appointment… so that your child doesn’t get cancer.”

In evaluating the program, Dr. Casler said the most popular interventions were the physician and staff education programs, scheduling subsequent doses in real time, and using manufacturer-supplied tools such as magnets and cling posters. Staff involvement turned out to be a critical resource in the overall intervention as well.

As a result of the program begun in August 2013, the practice’s rates of girls and boys receiving one dose of the HPV vaccine increased to 65% and 57%, respectively, by the end of 2014. Further, 43% of girls and 30% of boys received all three doses. By June 2016, 75% of girls and 72% of boys were receiving their first dose of HPV vaccine, and 55% of girls and 47% of boys were receiving all three doses.

How Tom Price Can Help Donald Trump Cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid

AP/Alex Brandon Rep. Tom Price delivers the keynote address at an event on reforming the federal budget and hosted by the Brookings Institution on November 30, 2016.

AP/Alex Brandon
Rep. Tom Price delivers the keynote address at an event on reforming the federal budget and hosted by the Brookings Institution on November 30, 2016.

Just one day after President-elect Donald Trump nominated Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) to be secretary of health and human services, Rep. Price—who currently chairs the House Budget Committee—released a new agenda that would enable automatic across-the-board cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other programs for low- and middle-income Americans. Rep. Price calls this “budget process reform.” In fact, Rep. Price is using the arcane language of budget process to obscure how these cuts would harm American families and rig the system to slash key social programs without requiring Congress or the president to take responsibility for the result. If Congress enacts President-elect Trump’s proposed tax plan—which mostly benefits the wealthiest Americans—then Rep. Price’s automatic cuts would slash Social Security by $1.7 trillion and Medicare by $1.1 trillion over 10 years.

Rep. Price proposes “long-term debt limits” that would trigger automatic cuts to almost all federal programs—including Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid—if the debt is not on track to meet the required levels in a given year. The president and Congress would not have to agree to a plan for achieving these fiscal goals when they establish a debt limit. Lawmakers would only have to vote in favor of reducing the national debt.

Rep. Price’s automatic cuts provide a way for members of Congress to vote for both tax cuts and debt reduction—and for President-elect Trump to sign these measures into law—while falsely claiming to uphold campaign pledges to protect Social Security and Medicare. Despite evidence to the contrary, President-elect Trump will likely continue to claim that massive economic growth will keep the national debt under the limits set by Congress without the need for automatic cuts. But history has shown that trickle-down tax cuts do not grow the economy, with careful studies finding no evidence that tax cuts by Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush boosted long-term economic growth.

In order to offset the cost of President-elect Trump’s tax cuts, Rep. Price’s budget process would make a 13.5 percent across-the-board spending cut. The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center estimates that President-elect Trump’s tax plan would decrease revenues by $6.15 trillion in the first 10 years. Paying for this would mean cutting Social Security by $1.7 trillion, Medicare by $1.1 trillion, and Medicaid by nearly $700 billion. The average monthly Social Security benefit is roughly $1,240, and these cuts would reduce this benefit by $168 per month, or about $2,000 per year. Even Rep. Price’s own committee staff note that this process “may force indiscriminate cuts in benefits to eligible individuals or groups.”

These calculations significantly understate the damage that Rep. Price’s automatic cuts would do. A 13.5 percent across the board cut would only be sufficient to offset the cost of President-elect Trump’s tax plan, but Rep. Price would require significantly more spending cuts to achieve his goal of reducing the national debt as a share of the economy. If Congress enacts the military spending increases proposed by President-elect Trump, then domestic programs would have to absorb even deeper cuts. In addition to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, these cuts would reduce nutrition assistance, education, and other programs for low- and middle-income Americans that have been proven to help grow the economy.

It is important to remember that lives and livelihoods are at stake. Social Security keeps 22 million Americans out of poverty and provides retirement security, life insurance, and disability protection for nearly all American workers. Medicare and Medicaid provide health insurance to one-third of Americans.

Rep. Price claims that lawmakers would have a strong incentive “to correct breaches of spending limits through the legislative process” instead of allowing the automatic cuts to take effect. However, lawmakers said the same thing about the across-the-board sequester cuts that were included in the Budget Control Act of 2011 and implemented in 2013. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) acknowledged, “We didn’t craft that legislation with the sequester in mind. In other words, we didn’t expect it to happen.”

Almost all congressional Republicans—including Rep. Price—have essentially sworn to oppose any bipartisan deficit reduction agreement by signing a pledge to oppose any tax increases, even as part of a compromise that also includes spending cuts. Furthermore, Leader McConnell and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) already support raising the retirement age for Social Security—which is equivalent to an across-the-board benefit cut—so they may view Rep. Price’s cuts as a positive outcome.

Rep. Price says his process changes would “take control” of the federal budget, but lawmakers can already pass laws to change taxes and spending, including for programs such as Social Security and Medicare that are not funded by annual appropriations bills. Lawmakers exercised this power in 2010 when they passed the Affordable Care Act, which included major reforms to increase efficiency and reduce spending in federal health programs. It is not the process but the public’s strong disapproval of cutting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid that so far has kept politicians from making harmful cuts to these programs.

Lawmakers would be ceding control of the federal budget by implementing automatic across-the-board cuts, but that may be the point. President-elect Trump himself stated in 2011 that supporting the Ryan budget was “political suicide” because of its cuts to Medicare. Rep. Price’s budget process changes provide a way to cut programs such as Medicare without having to sign specific cuts into law.

If American leaders want to cut crucial programs for low- and middle-income Americans, they should have a clear debate and vote on doing so, instead of hiding behind a budget process designed to shield unpopular choices from voters.

To reduce prison population, invest in public mental health, new study says

Every dollar a state invested in inpatient mental health can cut about a quarter from its jail expenditures, the study found. (Photo: Jonathan Haeber/flickr/cc)

A new study points to a key way to reduce the prison population in the incarceration capital of the world: boost spending on public mental health.

Reducing the prison population means reducing jail expenditures. The average cost in the U.S. to incarcerate a person is $60 a day, an accompanying press release states.

As the ACLU has written, “The human and financial costs of mass incarceration are staggering.”

For the study, researchers Jangho Yoon and Jeff Luck, professors in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences at Oregon State University, analyzed data from 2001–2009 on 44 U.S. states and Washington, D.C.

They found that while greater spending on public inpatient care and greater spending on community mental health both decreased prison populations, the inpatient spending had a greater return on investment.

A 10 percent boost in per capita public inpatient mental health expenditure on average leads to a 1.5 percent reduction in jail inmates, they found.

“An increase in public inpatient spending would decrease jail populations in the 35 states that spend less than $134 per capita on community mental health care, and the District of Columbia, which also spends less than $134 per capita,” Yoon stated.

Under that amount, “the associated benefit-cost ratio is 26 cents, which indicates a positive intersystem return on investment of 26 percent. Every dollar spent annually on inpatient mental health by a state would yield a positive spillover benefit of a quarter dollar for the jail system by reducing the number of inmates,” he continued.

As Jamie Fellner, senior advisor for Human Rights Watch’s U.S. program, wrote last year, locking up those who need mental health services can lead to vast rights abuses:

It is well known that U.S. prisons and jails have become de facto mental health facilities. Hundreds of thousands of persons with mental disabilities spend time behind bars each year, with the surging numbers driven by the limited availability of community-based outpatient and residential mental health programs and resources, the lack of criminal justice diversion programs, and the persistent national problems of poverty and homelessness.

What is less well known is that most persons with mental illness who are incarcerated face living conditions that at best can be characterized as counter-therapeutic; at worst, they are dangerous. Part of the problem arises from staff use of force. Persons with mental illness in inpatient hospitals are not at risk of needless or punitive beatings, assault with pepper spray, or being stunned with conductive electrical devices. But those in jails and prison are.

A 2014 report from the National Research Council, which noted the “historically unprecedented and internationally unique” boom in incarceration rates, said that “64 percent of jail inmates, 54 percent of state prisoners, and 45 percent of federal prisoners report[ed] mental health concerns,” the American Psychological Association noted.

“Part of what’s really swelled our jail and prison population, especially our jail population, is our inability to deal with the mental health crisis that we’re facing in this country,” June Tangney, a psychology professor at George Mason University who studies offender rehabilitation, said at the time. “We have an enormous number of people who are suffering from very treatable illnesses who are not getting treatment and who end up getting caught in the criminal justice system as opposed to the mental health system.”

The new study was published in the December 2016 issue of the journal Social Science & Medicine.

The World and Cuba Mark Passing of Fidel Castro


Cuban President Fidel Castro attends a ceremony outside the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, Feb 6, 2006. Scores of giant black fl ags bearing a single white star were solemnly raised outside the American mission, remembering the thousands of people Cuba says have been killed in violence against the island and blocking an electronic sign on the building’s facade. Photos: AP/Wide World photos

Former Cuban President Fidel Castro died in Havana Nov. 25. He was 90-years-old. The late leader was lauded by many as a rare and consequential person who impacted the world. He shares that distinction with others like the Haitian hero Toussaint L’Ouverture; visionary liberation leaders Simon Bolivar, Jose de San Martin and Antonio Jose de Sucre; the Black Nationalist leader Marcus Mosiah Garvey and Nation of Islam patriarch Elijah Muhammad, they said.

“He was one of the great iconic revolutionaries of all time,” said Dr. Ron Daniels, president of the Institute of the Black World 21st Century.

Mr. Castro’s death was officially confirmed by his brother, President Raul Castro, in a somber announcement to the Cuban people and the world via a national television broadcast.

“Dear people of Cuba, with sadness I inform our people, the friends of our Americas, and the world, that today, 25 November 2016 at 10:29 in the night, the Commander-in-Chief of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz has died,” President Raul Castro announced, reading from a prepared statement.

Fidel Castro led Cuba for nearly a half of a century evolving the revolution he helped create since the 1950s. After a near fatal illness he handed the reins of power provisionally to his younger brother Raul in 2006 and then formally in 2008. However “El Comandante,” as he was widely known, remained an inspiration and guide for progressive thinkers, movers and freedom loving people worldwide.

“The reason why Fidel occupied such a huge part of the global stage is that he was a principled spokesperson for both the struggle of nationally oppressed countries and people to become free, and because he connected that struggle with a global struggle for Socialism,” said Brian Becker of the national ANSWER Coalition reflecting on Mr. Castro’s legacy.

Fidel Castro Ruz was born Aug. 13, 1926, in eastern Cuba’s sugar country, where his Spanish immigrant father was a labor recruiter for U.S. sugar companies before establishing his own major business. Mr. Castro attended the University of Havana, where he received law and social science degrees. His life as a revolutionary began in 1953 with an attempted attack on the Moncada military barracks in the eastern city of Santiago. In the attempt most of his comrades were killed and Fidel and his brother Raul were jailed. Mr. Castro represented himself in the trial and turned his defense into a manifesto where he famously declared “History will absolve me.”

When Mr. Castro was pardoned, he went to Mexico, formed a rebel group and returned to Cuba in 1956. He continued to organize in the eastern Sierra Maestra Mountains. Mr. Castro was relentless in pursuit of a changed Cuba, which led to his eventual coming to power in 1959. Mr. Castro became the personification of the revolution he led, said analysts.

“He emerged in his own personality, the fight for national independence… egalitarianism and social justice for all classes. When other socialist governments fell, Fidel proclaimed that the Cuban people would prefer death over the abandonment of socialism,” Mr. Becker added.

As news spread of Mr. Castro’s passing, there was a mixture of feelings and thoughts about him; everything from admiration and respect to disapproval and vitriol. For some, like exiled Cubans 90 miles north in Miami, he was a tyrant and dictator. Some celebrated his death in the streets of Miami’s “Little Havana.” But not all Cuban decedents agreed with the expressions of joy.

“I think the celebration of death of any human being … is utterly repulsive,” remarked community organizer Tony Muhammad whose parents left Cuba after the revolution. Both sides of his family left Cuba for different reasons.

“One side came because they lost property,” he said. “The other side because they felt like their freedom of expression was taken away.”

Mr. Muhammad feels the “gap must be closed” between Cubans on understanding Mr. Castro and positives from the revolution like free education and medical care. “Because of narrow mindedness, because of emotion, which is a real thing, it precluded many of our people that migrated from Cuba since 1959 from understanding the mind of a Fidel Castro,” he said.

Others see Castro as an uncompromising stalwart against the machinations of imperialism, foreign domination and global exploitation of Central and South America, the Caribbean and Africa by major world powers like the United States and Europe.

“I will not try to offer anything approaching an analysis of the man and his times,” said Bill Fletcher Jr, talk show host, writer and activist in an e-mail. Mr. Fletcher remembered the Cuban leader as someone sensitive to the issues of racial disparity in Cuba and pointed out the courage of Mr. Castro in the face of powerful adversaries.

Domestically Castro fought against a prevailing attitude of racism in the country where Black Cubans suffered discrimination and stigma, said Mr. Fletcher, a former leader of TransAfrica, a lobbying group for Africa and the Caribbean.  He lifted the plight and profile of the Afro-Cuban descendants in the country, said Mr. Fletcher. Fidel was forthright about Cuba being an Afro Hispanic nation giving a clear and emphatic statement about the lineage of Cuba as a nation—that it began with this African heritage, he said.

“It has been a rare moment when a leader, particularly of a small country, has been willing to thumb his or her nose at the capitalist juggernaut and seek a different path,” Mr. Fletcher said. “The challenge of taking on racist oppression and approaching it as the cancer that it is—a disease to be removed.”

Every U.S. administration from Dwight Eisenhower to the present were in some way connected to or responded to Cuban reactionaries who had plotted against Mr. Castro after he took power leading the 26th of July Movement—the organization that led the revolutionary resistance culminating in the 1959 ouster of a U.S.-backed regime headed by Fulgencio Batista.

Mr. Castro survived five decades of active efforts by Washington to undermine and kill him. According to a former Castro security official, there were upwards of 634 assassination attempts orchestrated by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.

Mr. Castro didn’t begin as a communist. In the aftermath of overthrowing Mr. Batista, the U.S. shifted its Cuban policy to one of hostility. Mr. Castro formed an alliance with the Soviet Union as a counter weight to the threat of the United States. The U.S. placed an economic embargo to cause domestic hardship aimed at destroying the popular support of Mr. Castro. In recent times relations have thawed, but the embargo is still in order.

Observers note despite the strain, under Mr. Castro, Cuba supported other struggles outside its borders.

In Haiti, Castro sent the largest number of doctors in response to the cholera outbreak in recent years. In West Africa Cuban medical personnel helped fight the deadly Ebola virus, which killed thousands of people. When Hurricane Katrina devastated the U.S., Cuba offered to deploy 1,000 doctors to help but President George W. Bush arrogantly rejected the offer. Thousands of people lost their lives in the disaster. And these were a few of the recent contributions Castro’s Cuba made toward human dignity, preserving life and backing liberation movements.

“It’s a significant and profound loss,” Dr. Gerald Horne, University of Houston history professor told The Final Call. He expects a large number of heads of state and delegations from the Caribbean and Africa to pay their respects to Mr. Castro.

“You cannot begin to talk about the liberation of Southern Africa—not least—Angola and the ultimate overthrow of apartheid without talking about the role of Cuban troops under the leadership of Comandante Castro,” he added.

Dr. Horne was referring to Cuban military assistance and training of liberation struggles in Africa to end White minority rule.

Mr. Castro sent thousands of troops to back the Popular Movement for the liberation of Angola (MPLA) and helped win the infamous battle of Cuito Cuanavale, a decisive victory and turning point in defeating the murderous apartheid regime in South Africa.

In a statement the MPLA sent condolences: “The MPLA considers that the evocation of his name and memory (is) always alive in the heart of the Angolan People.”

“That was the Pan Africanist spirit of Fidel all over the African world,” Dr. Daniels said.

On current U.S.-Cuban relations with President Barack Obama leaving office and President-elect Donald Trump coming into office the political impact of Mr. Castro’s death is “uncertain,” said Dr. Daniels.

“Much of what President Obama did was by executive order. Certainly the momentum to lift the embargo is more likely to be slowed, except, frankly there are serious economic interests, even within the Republican Party,” Dr. Daniels added.

He predicts in the short term U.S.-Cuban relations will be on “a rocky road” with the Trump administration. “But in the long term we may see the business economic interest within the Republican Party pushing for a more normalized relationship; not because they love Castro or love Cuba, but because it may be economically beneficial.”

Mr. Becker is optimistic about a successful Cuba moving forward because of a transition of power over time after Mr. Castro fell ill several years ago.

“That in fact is a great benefit; if Fidel had been the head of state and the leader of the revolutionary process and suddenly out of the blue dies, it would have had a politically convulsive impact.” Mr. Becker said.

Some next moves will be seen after President Raul Castro steps down in 2017, opening the way for a generation of young leaders who Cuba watchers say have been under preparation for leadership for decades.

Voter Fraud Isn’t Real—But Voter Suppression Is a Grave Danger

A precinct manager clips "I Voted" stickers in Jackson, Mississippi, November 2016.

AP/Rogelio V. Solis A precinct manager clips “I Voted” stickers in Jackson, Mississippi, November 2016.

By every valid account, voter fraud is exceedingly rare. Yet this noxious myth continues to be perpetuated by self-serving politicians seeking to deny American citizens their voices and their power at the polls. While voter fraud is virtually nonexistent, the real threat to our democracy is voter suppression that keeps people from casting their ballots in the first place.

Politicians who fan the flames of the voter fraud conspiracy rely on fearmongering by telling Americans that their elections are being overrun by nonexistent fraudulent voters. By doing so, these very same politicians can then pass suppressive voting laws and affect election outcomes. In 2011, emails were uncovered between a Republican operative in Wisconsin and a colleague concerning the state’s tight Supreme Court race. In preparing for an unfavorable outcome, the Republican operative wrote, “Do we need to start messaging ‘widespread reports of election fraud’ so we are positively set up for the recount regardless of the final number? … I obviously think we should.” In striking down Wisconsin’s strict photo ID law this summer, a federal court wrote that “preoccupation with mostly phantom election fraud leads to real incidents of disenfranchisement.”

Up until 2013, the Voting Rights Act adequately protected Americans’ right to vote from the worst abuses, but the U.S. Supreme Court’s Shelby County v. Holder decision severely weakened those protections. In response, Republican leaders in states across the country raced to implement restrictive voting measures that would keep their party in power by making it more difficult to vote. In total, 14 states had new voting restrictions in place for the first time in a presidential election, including strict voter ID laws and measures that slashed early voting opportunities.

Many of these states cited voter fraud as the reason for passing suppressive measures. In reality, courts have found that voter fraud is “a truly isolated phenomenon” in many of those places. Texas, for example, passed its strict voter ID law to police against voter fraud, but the federal 5th Circuit Court of Appeals found that there were “only two convictions for in-person voter impersonation fraud out of 20 million votes cast in the decade” when striking down the law last July.

Those who champion voter suppression laws are often the most vocal voter fraud conspiracy theorists. They know that voter ID laws and cuts made to polling places and early voting disproportionately affect people of color, people with low incomes, as well as students and youths—groups that tend to vote for Democrats. In striking down North Carolina’s monster voter suppression bill, the federal 4th Circuit Court of Appeals found that the state legislators set out to “deliberately ‘target African-Americans with almost surgical precision’” in an effort to suppress black voters.

The facts are clear that voter suppression laws cost a significant number of Americans their voices at the polls this year. As an example, in Wisconsin, where voter turnout was at its lowest level in two decades, 300,000 registered voters lacked the strict forms of photo ID needed to vote. Places such as Milwaukee, where 70 percent of the state’s African American population lives, were hit the hardest, with voter turnout decreasing by 13 percent. In addition, cuts made to polling places and early voting in Ohio and North Carolina also disproportionately affected people of color and led to lower voter turnout.

Fearmongers have succeeded in convincing nearly half of all Americans that widespread voter fraud is real. In doing so, they have been able to pass laws that deprive eligible Americans of their right to vote. Voter fraud does not pose a threat to American democracy because it simply does not exist. Voter fraud conspiracy theories, on the other hand, have led to a direct assault on our democracy and our fundamental constitutional rights through tactics to suppress American voters.

There is a real threat that voter suppression laws will become more common and severe in coming years with Republicans now taking control of the presidency, both chambers of the U.S. Congress, two-thirds of state legislative chambers, and soon, perhaps, a conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court. Americans must see through the conspiracy theories and push back against voter suppression laws: They are based on a lie and are eroding our republic and the values for which it stands.

Condemning Keith Ellison’s DNC madness and attempts to smear Min. Louis Farrakhan


(L) Ex-police officer Michael Slager in court for the case of the fatal shooting of Walter Scott. (R) Walter Scott was fatally shot in the back by a North Charleston Police Officer.

COLUMBIA, S.C.—A mistrial was declared in the state murder case of Michael Slager, the White former North Charleston police officer accused of killing Walter Scott, an unarmed Black motorist stopped for a broken tail light in April 2015.

The jury was in deliberation since closing arguments Nov. 30. The mistrial was declared Dec. 5.

Reactions to the outcome showed it wasn’t unexpected, even with video of Mr. Scott running away from the officer that was seen worldwide on the internet.

Initially 11 jurors voted guilty with one holdout, a White male creating a deadlock against an outright conviction. Defense lawyers had argued Off. Slager didn’t know if Mr. Scott was going to turn and attack him—despite the officer having a weapon and Mr. Scott having nothing. There was also no sign Mr. Scott ever turned toward the officer while being shot in the back.

“I’m not surprised,” said Charleston community organizer Thomas Ravenell. “A lone holdout and my honest opinion … I think this guy was a White racist and his mind was made up.”

Mr. Ravenell believes the juror was determined, if chosen for the jury, he was not going to convict the ex-cop regardless of the evidence.

At one point in a letter to Judge Clifton Newman, the single juror wrote, “I cannot in good conscious consider a guilty verdict” against the ex-officer who was filmed on a witnesses’ camera phone calmly squeezing off rounds of bullets, shooting Mr. Scott five times in his back. The video showed Mr. Scott, 50, running away from the ex-cop and the video was reviewed several times over the course of the trial by jurors. The video showed there was a considerable distance between the two men.

This is the latest travesty of justice against people of color around the country and in Charleston, S.C., a city on edge with a long history of racial disparity and injustices, observers said.

“This shows us as we have heard from the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan—with trials like this—that  America’s justice system or injustice system is on trial as well,” said Student Minister DeAndre Muhammad, the Charleston Representative of the Nation of Islam.

The outcome proves again that the system is “unfit” to render justice, he added. “We have to be convinced now, as a people, that we have to turn inward,” the Muslim student minister continued.

Trust is broken again and the masses of Black people are once again disappointed in a system that protects the perpetrators of injustice, he said.

“This is another notch in the belt for them,” Mr. Muhammad said. “Our prayers and our thoughts go out to the Scott family. … I pledged our support and our backing of the family, letting them know that God is ultimately with them.”

Speaking after the verdict, Anthony Scott, Mr. Scott’s older brother called for peaceful protests.

“We’re not going to tear up this city,” he said. “We’re going to keep it just the way it is. We’re going to believe in peaceful protests, because it didn’t turn out the way we feel, but we feel our voices need to be heard.”

The Washington Post quoted Chris Stewart, an attorney for the Scott family saying the outcome is “a missed opportunity for justice” and that the fight was far from over, noting that Mr. Slager faces federal charges as well as a retrial.

“He may have delayed justice, but he did not escape it,” Attorney Stewart said.

Scarlett A. Wilson, the prosecutor for Charleston County, said in a statement that her office fully intended to put Mr. Slager on trial once more.

“We will try Michael Slager again,” she said. “We hope the federal and state courts will coordinate efforts regarding any future trial dates but we stand ready whenever the court calls.”

A conviction would have been significant, experts say, because police are not often found guilty of murder or manslaughter. The killing of Mr. Scott is part of a national problem with police shootings of Black and Brown people.

In a recent interview with The Final Call, on police crime and accountability, Philip M. Stinson, an associate professor with the Criminal Justice Program at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, pointed out a small fraction of police are charged criminally in comparison to shootings on the streets. The “overwhelming majority” of the cases are judged as justifiable homicide on the part of the cop, he said.

“I do think that the press is paying more attention (and) prosecutors realize they are being watched and people are demanding transparency and accountability,” Mr. Stinson said. “But the fact of the matter is that over a thousand times a year, on average—the best estimate we have—is that police officers shoot and kill somebody in this country,” he shared. However his research, which goes back to 2005, found only 73 officers were charged with murder or manslaughter, according to Mr. Stinson. On manslaughter and murder, he said, since January 2005, fewer than 80 police officers, deputy sheriffs or state troopers across the country have been arrested and charged. Out of 73 officers, 24 were convicted which is less than one third.

“It’s very difficult to get a conviction,” Mr. Stinson explained. “In those 24 cases where there’s been a conviction … twelve of those convictions were by guilty plea and twelve by jury trial … no convictions by bench trial,” Mr. Stinson told The Final Call.

There were 11 Whites and one Black on the Slager jury. “To be honest, I’m surprised that we only had one hold out,” said Shakem Akhet, an activist who has been in the courtroom from day one of the trial.

On Dec. 2 Judge Clifton Newman divulged that the juror stated, “I cannot and will not change my mind” in a letter. Defense attorneys immediately called for a mistrial, which the judge rejected, instructing jurors to keep deliberating. Meanwhile the state prosecutor asked whether it was a hung jury or a question of whether more clarification on issues and laws was needed.

Mr. Akhet said Judge Newman—who is also Black—strongly pushed for a decisive conclusion rather than mistrial which would require the process to begin again.

“That brother is kind of a tough cookie,” said Mr. Akhet about Judge Newman. “Everybody in their right mind knows this is some bullsh–.”  The judge could have easily called a mistrial but chose to keep sending the jurors back into deliberation. “The judge saw through it,” Mr. Akhet added, referring to the one juror holding out while 11 were ready to convict.

Since the time of the shooting and during the weeks of Mr. Slager’s trial, Blacks in Charleston expressed doubt justice would be meted out to Mr. Slager.

It’s been long overdue that Blacks become serious about “rolling up our sleeves and moving forward to a new reality for ourselves” to prevent another generation from going through the same experiences, said Mr. Muhammad.

Mr. Slager was facing 30 years to life if convicted and still faces federal charges in the coming year related to the Scott killing.

State of the Black World conference confronts challenges—seeks solutions


Abdul Akbar Muhammad

NEWARK—The State of the Black World Conference 2016 could be one of the great gatherings of this century, perhaps this generation’s Black Power Conference if its goals are achieved, said participants.  Among those goals are Blacks coming together, planning and pooling resources to deliver themselves.

The conference was organized by the Institute for the Black World and Dr. Ron Daniels. Dr. Daniels has periodically convened activists and leaders to assess the outcome of presidential elections, confront issues, and find ways to work together. The Nov. 16-20 conference theme was “It’s Nation Time … Again! Racial Healing and Collaboration for Black Empowerment.”

It featured a who’s who of Black leaders and thinkers and was dedicated to the memory of the brilliant poet, playwright and political activist Amiri Baraka. The conference was held at the Robert Treat Hotel.

Conference participants discussed a wide range of topics, including town hall meetings on reparations, education, economic development, spirituality and healing the Black family amid the war on drugs, mobilizing and organizing hip-hop activists and cultural workers for Black empowerment  and implications of the U.S. presidential election on Black America and the Pan African World.

According to conference organizers, the sessions were intentionally chosen to explore ways to draw on cultural, spiritual, historical and institutional strengths to enhance or devise collaborative strategies and models for Black empowerment.

The five-day conference also focused on the struggle for democracy and development in Africa, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. A major town hall explored developments in the U.S. and the global reparations movements.

“We need more Black folks like Ron Daniels to exhibit the amazing tenacity that kept him on focus and on fire for African American people. Too often, our focus is episodic, revolving around public incidents—who got shot today, or who got racially profiled,” said conference presenter and economist Dr. Julianne Malveaux said. “The fact is that we are all profiled, all day, every day, either frontally or subtly. Just a few are committed to rejecting the subtle profile in both domestic and foreign policy. Dr. Ron Daniels is one of the few, and his work on Haiti speaks to the ways he connects domestic and foreign policy.”

The authenticity of the conference was cemented on the final day with presentations by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, of the Nation of Islam and convener of the largest gathering of Black people in American history, the Million Man March, and Dr. Maulana Karenga, founder of Kwanzaa and a brilliant visionary and scholar. Participants were ecstatic as Minister Farrakhan committed financial resources to the Institute of the Black World to help create ministries to serve Black people and interests.

“The way this conference was organized was solution-orientated. In every one of the plenary sessions, people came together to have outcomes to organize things. So we have a basis to build on,” explained Dr. Daniels. “We had a rich exchange with people sharing with each other, learning from each other and coming through with concrete ideas.”

“The timing of the conference was providential. Who would have thought when we call for this conference with this theme? We came to this place for a reason, it was about honoring Amiri Baraka. The theme ‘Its Nation Time’ came to me because it is a time where we need to get up and get moving and then the whole notion of racial healing and collaboration for Black empowerment. Who would have known the timing? That’s providential, that’s God moving, the ancestors moving in history. The conference was amazing, the love, the sharing. It’s not about the individual but about the process that was put in place and the incredible people that help make it possible.”

Conference highlights, according to Dr. Daniels, included a Pan African Institute discussion which actor and activist Danny Glover chaired; a commitment to intensify the struggle for reparations; a major town hall meeting on reparations; the critique of national elections with analysts like Dr. Julianne Malveaux, Mark Thompson, and others.

“We called for a domestic Marshall Plan. We can’t do this without massive resources. A number of organizations have called for this in the past such as the Urban League. We talked about ending the war on drugs, the intergenerational struggle and the coming together of young people. We had an amazing panel with Jasiri X and others,” said Dr. Daniels. “Newark mayor Ras Baraka came to the town hall meeting and gave a brilliant speech.”

Abdul Akbar Muhammad, international representative for Min. Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam, said the change in the political climate and election of Donald Trump as president increased interest and participation in the conference. Min. Farrakhan made a call for separation during the conference as people are considering different strategies, but it was clear and strong, he said.

The conference was excellent, the spirit was great and the question was what is next for the conscious community, he said. They talked about solutions to problems, such as mass incarceration, as well as the workshops about the Caribbean and the challenges Africa faces, he added.

“Our theme is It’s Nation Time, which is a reemphasis on the urgent need to build our Black institutions to take control of Black territory, to be in a position to say Black nationalism only means to control the politics, economics and social life of the community. So we have to make that real now,” said Dr. Daniels.

With closing messages and calls for unity and self-determination by Minister Farrakhan and Dr. Karenga, the conference spoke to the threat as racial attacks rise and overt White hostility reasserts itself—beginning perhaps in the White House itself.

Mysonne, a rapper and activist with the Justice League NYC, agreed with Minister Farrakhan’s scripture reference that Donald Trump represented a wind blowing on the dry bones. “I’ve realized that we are asleep. I think that sometimes, what happened with Barack Obama is that it was a pacifier for us, and I feel like Hillary would do the same thing, because a lot of women would feel like we’re making progress because we finally got a woman president, but like (the Minister) said, this Trump president has pulled back the layers of civility. And you start to realize what the nation that we’ve been thinking of giving us justice or really has our interest really thinks of us,” Mysonne said.

I think a lot of us got real comfortable because we had a Black president. We thought that we didn’t have to fight as much anymore. But this is the backlash to that—the white lash—really just like what happened during Reconstruction,” said Mark A. Thompson, also known as Matsimela Mapfumo, who hosts a talk show on Sirius XM radio. “So they’re pushing it, we got to push back even harder.”

He and other conference participants were clear on one thing: White hostility in the Trump era would force Blacks to one another for survival and solutions. And that, they said, was a good thing.

Condemning Keith Ellison’s DNC madness and attempts to smear Min. Louis Farrakhan

Keith Ellison with The Final Call newspaper. Photo:

Keith Ellison with The Final Call newspaper. Photo:

Minnesota congressman Keith Ellison is seeking to lead the Democratic National Committee as the party seeks someone to bring Democrats into the political Promised Land. There is nothing wrong with Rep. Ellison’s desire to move his party forward or his desire to help make America progress.

But he must be condemned and lambasted for trying to make his political bones by smearing the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan. The Minnesota congressman has been attacked for a connection with the Nation of Islam years ago, while in college and for support of the Million Man March.

The Anti-Defamation League and others have branded Rep. Ellison as unfit for office, saying he is tainted by the anti-Semitism of Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam. Given that neither the Minister nor the Nation are anti-Semitic, a man with principles and courage would have stood up on the truth, the track record and the history of the Minister and his followers. Over the past 40 years, the Nation and the Minister have not harmed nor prohibited any Jewish person from exercising their rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It was not Muslims who chanted in the 1980s, “Who do you want? Farrakhan! How do you want him? Dead!” as the Jewish Defense Organization did. It was not the Nation of Islam nor the Minister who were involved in a 1990s alleged death plot featuring Jewish federal stooge Michael Fitzpatrick. Mr. Fitzpatrick seized on the pain and vulnerability of Quibilah Shabazz, a daughter of Malcolm X, and federal authorities charged her with planning the murder of the Minister. It was the Minister whose blast of truth shook the feds as he declared the FBI has never been his friend. The Minister declared he wanted nothing to happen to Malcolm X widow Dr. Betty Shabazz, or her daughters and pulled the covers off of an old enemy, while seeking reconciliation. His stand was so incredible the feds essentially dropped the charges against Qubilah Shabazz and a rapprochement between the Nation and Dr. Shabazz started. She was featured as one of the speakers of the 1995 Million Man March. The prosecutors in this fiasco, by the way, were located in Rep. Ellison’s home state of Minnesota.

Mr. Ellison, who was captured in at least one photo distributing The Final Call while in college, condemned the Minister as he sought his new place. But his cowardly and baseless repudiation is nothing new. While running for Congress a decade ago, his “I’m not with Farrakhan and he’s a hater” narrative started.

But let’s go back and examine words published in the Nov. 6, 1995 edition of Insight News, a Black weekly in Minneapolis: “Third, Minister Farrakhan is a role model for Black youth; however he is not an anti-Semite. He is a sincere, tireless and uncompromising advocate of the Black community and other oppressed peoples in America and around the world. Despite some of the most relentless negative propaganda anyone has ever faced, most Black people regard him as a role model for youth and increasingly, a central voice for our collective aspirations.

“I am sensitive to members of the Jewish community who have been lead to believe that Minister Farrakhan is anti-Jewish. I believe they should do two things: engage in a dialogue with Black people who support Minister Farrakhan (which includes Cornel West, Jesse Jackson, Ben Chavis, Dorothy Height and many others) and urge their leadership to engage in the dialogue proposed at the Million Man March.

“The White community, however, must come to the realization that there are too many Black people who have been cleaned-up, taught and uplifted by Minister Farrakhan for us to let anyone gratuitously insult him anymore.”

That’s pretty powerful language and a powerful argument penned by one Keith X Ellison. Yes. That’s the same Rep. Keith Ellison who represents the Fifth Congressional District in Minnesota and seeks to chair the Democratic National Committee. He was also once known as Keith Ellison-Muhammad.

If Mr. Ellison once believed those things about the Minister and changed his mind, that’s his business. We will leave Allah (God) to judge and handle the hypocrites. But what cannot be tolerated are the lies, the slander and false narrative against Min. Farrakhan. These lies cannot be proven, nor can these false charges be sustained. The Minister has been a strong voice for Black self-determination, a warrior against Jewish paternalism and control of Black people and a sledge hammer against the wall of White supremacy and neo-colonialism. None of that work would make him the favorite of a system or wicked people whose demonic rule he is working to destroy.

But Mr. Ellison knows better. Years ago sitting in my Chicago office here at The Final Call, when I was managing editor, there was no question about Min. Farrakhan and who he was. There was no question when Mr. Ellison, aka Keith X Ellison, aka Keith Ellison-Muhammad, came to Chicago for an urban peace summit in October 1993 that featured Min. Farrakhan, or a vital summit in Kansas City that included Min. Farrakhan as the major speaker and one who helped legitimize the anti-violence movement in April 1993.

The problem comes from a simple place: “All of you that want national and state prominence: Sometimes I am the ‘litmus test’ to see if White folk can do anything good for you. And some of you are so weak and so cowardly, that your desires mean more than the integrity of your being. But every time I forgave my brothers, and kept moving forward,” observed Min. Farrakhan in a message delivered Oct. 30.

The Minister’s forgiveness and willingness to suffer insults apparently has led some to think that there is no end to his patience and smearing him is acceptable— just come back and apologize in the dark later. No. This man’s life’s work, his status as a vibrant elder and indispensable leader in our community cannot and must not allow that. Mr. Ellison and those who would misuse the Minister’s name for their personal advancement must be confronted and their hypocrisy and cowardice must be condemned. How can Rep. Ellison speak of justice for the poor, a just U.S. foreign policy, social change that improves the lives of people and respect for all and denigrate a man who has worked to achieve those goals for longer than the congressman has been alive?

Shame on you Mr. Ellison for your pandering and shame on us if we don’t call you out for it.


No Justice, No Purchase!


Nathaniel Dyer carries a sign during a Black Lives Matter protest near Lenox Square Mall in Atlanta, Sept. 24, in response to the police shooting deaths of Terence Crutcher in Tulsa, Okla. And Keith Lamont Scott in Charlotte, N.C. The Black Lives Matter chapter of Atlanta is boycotting major retailers following the recent police shooting deaths Involving Black men. Photo: AP/Wide World photos

Efforts to curb spending and inflict economic pain in battle to obtain justice grow in 2016

A movement to use economic power to bring justice to Black and oppressed people in America is gaining momentum as more groups push for boycotts of the holiday spending season.

Various efforts to inflict economic pain to corporate America have caused many activists to promote the boycotting of Black Friday and Christmas spending to help raise awareness to and force an end to police violence. There has also been a rise in those protesting the election of Donald Trump by refusing to spend their money in stores that have associated themselves with the president-elect, all in response to his divisive views and incendiary language in his run to becoming the 45th president of the United States.

“When we’re talking about the economic shutdown, we’re talking about stopping corporations from getting our money, right? So, we’ve got to go to the stores that don’t care about us; don’t care about people of color,” said Carmen Perez, co-founder of the Justice League of New York.

In 2015, her group participated in the economic boycott called for after last October’s “Justice Or Else!” gathering, which coincided with the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March. The event was convened by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam, which included a national demand for justice and economic boycotts being used as one of the primary tools.

In September, New York Daily News columnist Shaun King, called for the need to have a long-term, nationwide economic boycott to shine a light on both police brutality and racial injustice, forcing America to act in the same way it did during the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott which lasted for 381 days.

“It is time, brothers and sisters, for us to make a unified national pivot. Our protests, of course, must continue, but we must add a critical new layer on top of them,” Mr. King wrote. “It is time that we organize a passionate, committed, economic boycott. It must be painful. It must be unified. And we must continue with it until we see change. This country is clearly willing to continue killing unarmed men, women and children without ever making any serious efforts at reforms. This economic boycott can change that.”

On the 61st anniversary of the historic bus boycott, this Dec. 5 King who is also a social justice activist has called for an economic withdrawal by Black people around the country to “show every city, state, institution and corporation in this country that meaningful, reasonable, achievable reforms on police brutality and injustice are not our long-term dreams. They are our immediate emergency priority.”

Various chapters of the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as activists from traditional civil rights organizations, are also participating in various forms of economic boycotts.

Prior to the Thanksgiving holiday, the Alabama state NAACP called for “people of good will and moral conscience to forego participating in Black Friday sales events in Alabama,” in response to the many police shootings of Blacks—which the group labeled as another form of genocide—and as justified retaliation for the police killings of Black motorists, such as Philando Castile in Minnesota and Walter Scott in South Carolina.

“We are asking those to come out and support the Alabama NAACP as we stand in solidarity with those fallen victim to the irresponsible actions of law enforcement,” said Benard Simelton, president of the Alabama NAACP. “Too often are we reading headlines of continuous police brutality and the lives of young men of color being taken senselessly for things like minor traffic incidents. All lives matter and everyone should make it home.”

The Justice League of New York launched their “Economic Shutdown 2.0” over this year’s Black Friday weekend, following similar action taken in 2014 after Eric Garner was killed by police in Staten Island for allegedly selling loose cigarettes. Many recalled seeing the shocking video depicting the way Mr. Garner was assaulted by police and placed in what activists called a chokehold, a restraining tactic outlawed by the New York Police Department in 1993.

This year, on Black Friday, Justice League NYC activists met at Columbus Circle in New York City and interrupted business at the Apple Store and Macy’s. The three-day action also included a visit to memorials honoring people who lost their lives to police brutality, as well as attending services at churches and mosques in the city.

“Whatever faith that you worship we’re going to support activists who go there to get healed, to hear the word of God, to hear the word of Allah, whoever you worship to,” Ms. Perez said. “We’re encouraging people to go and get their souls and their spirits fed. Of course, we support let’s give Christmas back to Jesus, and go back to our business. We support [the message] the Minister [Farrakhan] puts out,” she added.

This year, Minister Louis Farrakhan called for a second seasonal spending boycott, echoing the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who in his last speech spoke of the need to “redistribute the pain” as part of the effort to fight injustice.

In Chicago, activists and demonstrators took to the popular Michigan Avenue retail strip dubbed “The Magnificent Mile” the day after Thanksgiving to protest and disrupt shopping. Once again, “Up with Jesus! Down with Santa!” was the rallying cry.

“Don’t spend money from the day after Thanksgiving, called ‘Black Friday,’ through the first week of January,” Minister Farrakhan said in a recent address. “We just can’t keep burying our dead and suffering quietly while the rich and the powerful continue business as usual. Redistribute the pain, and tell them that fairness to God’s people should be high on [the politicians’] agenda,” the Minister added.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the Black Friday protests in Chicago had a significant impact, to the tune of a 25-50 percent drop in retail sales for various retailers.

“We were down a lot,” Sarah Midoun, a sales associate at Aldo shoe store, told the newspaper. “We were budgeted to make $37,000 but we only did $19,000—customers told us they were concerned.”

Other stores affected included Men’s Warehouse, which made less than $10,000 on Black Friday this year compared to $19,000 last year. High-end shoe retailer Stuart Weitzman projected to make as much as $50,000 this year, saw sales more than $20,000 short of the goal. Garmin, a manufacturer of GPS devices, said its in-store Black Friday sales were down by as much as 40 percent because of the Michigan Ave. protests.

Last year, Minister Farrakhan’s divine command for economic withdrawal was also a successful one and this past February, he detailed how the effort had hurt corporate bottom lines.

“We are the ones that are spending big money—billions. Six-hundred and two billion dollars is spent in America on the Christmas and Thanksgiving holidays through the first of the new year,” the Minister pointed out. “Here is what you did to redistribute the pain: Apple, they say, in the current quarter—which was from the last quarter of the year 2015—there was a decline in Apple’s sales for the first time in 13 years,” said Minister Farrakhan.

“Best Buy holiday sales declined as the retailer sold fewer smart phones than expected. Domestic sales over the nine weeks through January 2 fell 1.2 percent,” the Minister said. “Macy’s announced plans to lay off 4,350 employees due to disappointing holiday sales. Macy’s said about 80 percent of its sales declines can be attributed to shortfalls in cold weather goods like coats, sweaters, hats, gloves and scarves. Because the weather was so warm, the people weren’t buying, so it’s wonderful to know that we give commands and God helps us! God backs us up!”

For the third consecutive year, the Los Angeles chapter of Black Lives Matter waged its “Black XMAS” campaign, organized by Dr. Melina Abdullah, chair of the Pan African Studies Department at California State University—Los Angeles.

“Last year we were doing it in solidarity and partnership with the Nation and we continue to share the view that when we think about the oppression and exploitation of our people, we have to recognize the role that rampant consumerism and spending with White corporations plays,” Dr. Abdullah told The Final Call.

“We have to remember that they whip us in into this frenzy, making us think that we have to buy things that we don’t need,” she added. “So we need to really think about whether or not our child needs another toy, or whether or not we need another pair of shoes.”

Dr. Abdullah also called for Black people to not just stop shopping with White companies in favor of Black ones, but to also spend and invest their dollars in Black-led community-based organizations as well.

“Rather than spending those dollars with White corporations that we know exploit us and are also tied to the police state that killed our people, we want to be deliberate in the usage of our money and spend those dollars or invest those dollars in building Black communities,” she said.

Faheem Muhammad of Mosque No. 27 in Los Angeles, helped organize “Black Out Black Friday.” The effort was supported by noted filmmakers such as Ryan Coogler, Ava Duvernay and others. The idea for the boycott stemmed from the 2014 police killing of Michael Brown Jr. in Ferguson, Missouri.

“The decision of [the district attorney] to not prosecute Darren Wilson actually dropped a few days before, which caused a great energy around [the boycott],” Mr. Muhammad said. “The following year, you had the momentum from 10-10-15, and then the LaQuan McDonald case, so you had great energy created right around that time [too].”

“Every year, God has blessed it to grow,” Mr. Muhammad added. “For me personally, the direction that we’re going is great. I think the boycott has awakened a lot of people to the effect economics can have on social conditions—particularly for our community—and I think that where it’s headed now is really the shift in spending. The initial goal was to get people to just stop spending so they could recognize how economics plays a major role in the fight for justice.

“Many activists and protesters really weren’t talking about economics, but now that they’ve awakened to that level of consciousness, it’s time for people to shift their mentality to where they spend and bank year-round. I think any other event that happens will continue the momentum and continue to wake people up to the realities of what’s going on.”

So how effective has this year’s holiday shopping boycott been? At present, there is no agreed upon consensus, but some data shows that an impact has been made.

According to the National Retail Federation, consumers spent less money this year than they did in 2015. Also, while online shopping went up, brick-and-mortar operations saw a decrease of three million in-store shoppers this year, compared to last. Research firm ShopperTrak revealed that nationwide, overall in-store sales fell 10 percent, from $11.6 billion in 2015 to $10.4 billion in 2016.

Cassiopeia Sledge of, a Chicago-based website that sells Black-owned goods and services, also sees change on the horizon.

“There’s been a surge of interest in people buying Black and [doing business with] pop-up shops ready to serve them,” she said.

“People’s language is changing to reflect what myself and others have been saying for years. It makes it like ‘Ah! Thank you! This work is not in vain! These efforts are not just tireless efforts!’ These five years of completely being devoted to this [movement], we’re starting to see the fruits of our labor. We’re seeing the seeds pop. Flowers are coming from it. It feels amazing and I’m happy to be a part of it.”

Ms. Sledge added, “There’s been more people than ever. We’ve had The Black Mall since 2011 and I’ve been talking about buying Black since about 2005, and I went to some really good grammar schools and high schools growing up here in Chicago with a lot of amazing Black people, but they were considered the Black elite.”

Her “Buy Black” message may have once seemed a little radical to that particular group of people, but now she says, the tide has turned. “A lot of them have been inboxing me and like, ‘Yo! I want to do something. I want to start buying Black. I’ve been seeing you posting about it. Where do I go? What do I do?’ ” she said. Black celebrities and entertainers such as Usher Raymond, Killer Mike, David Banner, Solange Knowles and her sister Beyoncé, have all become vocal about buying Black.

The latest addition to the movement of economic power being used to inflict pain have been anti-Trump protests. Shannon Coulter, a brand and digital strategist based in San Francisco, was the co-founder of the #GrabYourWallet movement which launched in October. The goal was the same: to encourage consumers to not do business with retailers that worked with Donald or Ivanka Trump. Ms. Coulter created a spreadsheet of approximately 65 companies that had aligned themselves with the Trumps in one form or another.

“In the wake of Trump’s selection of Steve Bannon as chief strategist, more and more people are committing to not doing business with companies that do business with the Trump family,” she said. Some of the most notable companies included on the spreadsheet were Amazon, Nike, New Balance, Home Depot, Sears, Nordstrom and Bloomingdales.

As a result of this effort, Ivanka Trump’s brand has been the hardest hit so far. FastCompany wrote that her brand has seen a 54 percent drop in interest, which was calculated based on views of products sold in her name on websites of multiple retailers.

In his article, “Want to Protest Trump? Nix Black Friday, #CancelXmas Shopping,” Tom Ewing encouraged protestors to forget taking to streets to denounce the election of Donald Trump to the presidency. Mr. Ewing wrote that the only way to protest Trump is to stop shopping.

“It’ll hurt, but there’s no more effective way to block his racist, misogynistic, anti-science agenda,” he said. “It will be hard. But it will work. It might be the only weapon left.”

The Democratic Coalition Against Trump created a “Boycott Trump” app which lists businesses that have been linked to Trump and helps people avoid spending money with those companies. Nate Lerner, a representative of the group, tweeted that the app was not only working, but has been well received after revealing nearly 250 companies that have been linked to Donald Trump.

“Our Boycott Trump app enables people to take action against Trump by turning their purchasing power into a tool for protest,” Mr. Lerner said. “This hits Trump and his allies where it hurts them most—their wallets.”




A Tribute to the Legacy of the Late Pastor Eugene Cooper and Missionary Delorn Cooper of Bibleway Fellowship Center

This month I commemorate Bibleway Fellowship Center’s 20th Founders Anniversary with a tribute to its founders, the Late Pastor Eugene Cooper and Co-Founder Delorn Cooper.


I have heard that he had plans of retiring and living the good life. He had begun renovating his home and had added on what was dubbed “his retirement room.” He was all set to lie back on his end of his reclining sofa and enjoy the years to come. And then God came knocking.

It was then, while some of the renovation work had not even been completed, that God gave Pastor Cooper a vision for a ministry that would become Bibleway Fellowship Center. I’m sure it seemed to him that God had not considered his age, his resources, or his plans. And yet the call had been made and the knocking on the door of his heart was relentless. As his forefather Abraham did, he moved by faith, regardless of his age or any other factors. He simply believed God, trusted God, and obeyed His instructions from the heart.

The church was established in 1996 when he was in his late sixties. Weekly services were held at his home. The church building was later built at 1914 Vienna Highway on a lot of land that Pastor Cooper’s family had once farmed for others.

Others may say different, but from my perspective, he was a very quiet and soft-spoken man. He had a gentle spirit about him. He was not one to try to overpower anyone by his demeanor, words, or presence. Nonetheless, his presence and words carried weight. And that is why I believe he was so highly respected and regarded in the community.

What I loved most about Pastor Cooper was his humility. He never was one to boast or brag. And he never was one to want anything but the will of God to be done. In that sense, he welcomed the moving of the Holy Spirit. He always allowed God to have His way in his life and at Bibleway. One true example of his leadership ability is the servant that he was to the community. I have long known of his involvement with the NAACP as its president and all of their efforts to bring equality to Sumter County. He was one of the organizers of the boycott for better county schools. He also was among those that saw to the establishing of “Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.” drive in Americus.


Proverbs speaks of virtuousness three times in the Bible. Proverbs 12:4a states, “A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband.” In Proverbs 31, it mentions that a virtuous woman is a valuable treasure. Many believe that virtue comes from a title or some other form of status. However, according to the Bible, virtue describes an individual that allows God to use them to bless the lives of others. Every time you see the term “virtuous” or “virtue,” keep reading. Somewhere and somehow, someone is getting blessed.

Co-Founder Delorn Cooper’s life embodies virtuousness. She is a shining example of what it means to be a First Lady and, now, Mother of the Church. From her life, you realize that it’s never too late in life to tell God, “Yes,” when He’s calling you to a higher level.

When they considered a location for a church, “right here in this room” was Pastor Cooper’s answer. She readily got into agreement. Their din and dining room became the sanctuary, the formal living room became the children’s Sunday School room, and the kitchen was open to any and everybody. They anticipated that they might be there a year. But it was from 1996 to 2002. In order to accommodate services, she rose as early as 6:30 am to feed her family breakfast on Sundays and fully prepared her Sunday dinners on Saturday evenings. The church met every Sunday, including evening services every first Sunday. In addition, early morning prayer was held at 6 am on Wednesdays and Bible Study later that evening. And every three months, the Cooper family hosted a fellowship dinner.

As a pastor’s wife, she recalls vowing to treat people right. She says, “You got to know who you are in Christ Jesus …and you have got to treat people the way you want to be treated.” Because she knew her identity, she had no problem humbling serving those whom God has entrusted to her and her husband. She states, “It’s nothing to play with. You have got to live it. And it’s got to be real. You have got to let your light shine.” She states that her husband taught her about love. She says, “You have got to get to heaven-and you get there by loving everybody.” She iterated that love has to be real and sincere. It’s not just in the words, but also in the actions. She knew that she had to love everyone. Thinking back over the experience, she reflects, “I stood by him. I stood right there. I never put it down. And I still don’t put it down.” She is excited about Bibleway’s future. She adds, “And God will let me live to see it.”

BIBLEWAY FELLOWSHIP CENTER was founded Thursday, December, 26, 1996 by Elder Eugene Cooper and Missionary Delorn Cooper with 25 members. The first service was held at the Coopers’ residence on the following Sunday-December 29, 1996. The Coopers’ home served as the place of services and most of its functions. Pastor Cooper was 65 years old when the church was established. Despite many criticisms, Pastor Cooper fulfilled God’s will. On Saturday, May 2, 1998, Bibleway’s members witnessed the groundbreaking of its present-day building. Although the groundbreaking occurred in 1998, it wasn’t until 2002 that the building for Bibleway was dedicated during a climax service held April 14, 2002. Pastor Cooper continued in his pastoral role until his health failed in 2007. Elder Johnie Evans assumed the role of pastor on August 17, 2007. God called Pastor Cooper home on the morning of Sunday, July 27, 2007. However, his spirit and mission still lives. This year, Bibleway celebrates twenty years of fulfilling the vision and mission that God gave Pastor Eugene Cooper almost two decades ago. Though Co-Founder Cooper’s husband of thirtyseven years went home to be with the Lord, Missionary Cooper continues to faithfully serve as Mother of the Church, which she loves. She believes in loving people and treating people right. Bibleway continues to thrive under the leadership of Pastor Johnie L. Evans (Elect Lady Freddie L. Evans).


Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan

Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan

Greetings to you.  I am Minister Louis Farrakhan, National Representative of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and The Nation of Islam.  I wanted to bring to you, my beloved brothers and sisters, particularly those who visited Washington on 10.10.15 to support the call for “Justice … Or Else!”—remember what we said.  The Honorable Elijah Muhammad, who gave us the idea for that day, told us that we would go to Washington, and:  “We would not leave until we got what we came there for.”

As I pondered his words, I knew that we could not stay in Washington until justice came; but we have to stay on the subject of Justice.  Everything we say and do must be geared toward that day when justice will “roll down the mountain,” and righteousness “like a mighty stream.”

This is that day that justice will come down from the mountain, like a river, and righteousness will flow like a mighty stream; because God is The One Who is the real “Or Else.”  Nobody can defeat Him if He stands with us—and He does.  And this is why the scripture says in the Book of Revelation:  “The nations are angry and Thy wrath has come, for it is the time of the dead, that they should be judged and given justice.”

The Honorable Elijah Muhammad pointed to all of the nations on the Earth:  There’s great anger among them; but the anger to be feared is The Wrath of God.  And His Wrath is now in the world because Justice is in His Hand, but it is a Weapon that He is using against the wicked.  “As thou hast done, so shall it be done unto you …” so no matter where you go on the Earth, the people are upset, the people are rising; the awakening of the masses is throwing that supremacy class into confusion because they can’t control the masses anymore.

And while I’m on that subject:  Thank you to the students of the University in Missouri, in Columbia.  Thank you for demonstrating to our people the power of unity, standing together on that campus for change.  You were brilliant.  I marveled at the young man who spoke of the plans for the future. …  Even though the president had resigned and the chancellor had resigned, [the students] said, “This is just the beginning!  We want … ”—and he listed several things.  The Cry for Justice doesn’t end with somebody retiring, or somebody exiting the scene, because when they exit the scene, injustice is still there.  I hope that the new Black president will not be an “Uncle Tom” that the enemy has placed their thinking; that a “Tom” will quell our desire for justice.

To my dear brother who is the new president: Stand up for the students—all of them!  Stand up for their grievances, all of them!  Fight those things that disturb the peace of the students, and you will be a great president, and set a great example for university presidents across this nation.  As Ferguson was the epicenter of a Movement, the University of Missouri-at-Columbia is also the epicenter of the Movement of Students now rising, and using the power of our ability that is making all these colleges rich because of our great talent.  But the moment the Black football players said, “No, no—we will not practice!  We will not play a game until what we seek is carried out,” it didn’t take long—because they saw $35 million at a loss.  So it seems like spreading that kind of pain, where dollars are taken from the pool of White Supremacy, then all of a sudden our dollars matter; and then they can consider our lives, and what matters to make our lives better.

To Brother Jonathan Butler:  You demonstrated that selflessness, and that love for your people, that you would suffer hunger even to the point of death to bring about a change.  My dear brother, that spirit is what encouraged the football team.  And until we are ready to make the ultimate sacrifice to bring about a change for our generation, and generations yet unborn, this is the spirit that all of us should beg God to give us, the spirit of our brother Jonathan Butler.  I will carry you in my heart for what you did.

‘Boycott Christmas’: An ‘old idea’ relevant to our present-day demands for justice

So we’ve decided, as you know, to boycott Christmas.  It’s not a new idea at all!  Oh, it started a long time ago, but it never gained the traction nationally.  Did you know that Frederick Douglass, one of our great ancestors—study what he said about these “holidays”; he was talking not just about “Christmas,” no …  A “Christmas thought” from Frederick Douglass, who wrote, quote: “The holidays are part and parcel of the gross fraud, wrong, and inhumanity of slavery.” “From what I know of the effect of these holidays upon the slave, I believe them to be among the most effective means in the hands of the slave [master] in keeping down the spirit of insurrection.  …  These holidays serve as conductors, or safety-valves, to carry off the rebellious spirit of enslaved humanity.”  [Narrative of The Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, published in 1851 (pgs. 68-70).]

So all these “holidays” that have been introduced to us by our former slave masters and their children, they have a purpose:  It let the slaves off for a day (which they really appreciated); and then, they had games and competitions between the slaves, and then they allowed the slaves to take a drink, and they would give prizes out to the slave that drank the most and didn’t show signs of drunkenness.  And isn’t that the way we behave today?  Our days off, which [are] called their “holidays,” give us a day; and of course, the liquor stores are always busy on that day, because that’s the culture of the observance of American holiday seasons.  The greatest of these holiday seasons is winter holidays.

Let’s look at the money that the business people get for Christmas:  All the holidays that America celebrates brings in a total of three-quarters of  $1 trillion ($750 billion)—and $602.1 billion of this $750 billion pie comes in just two months, November and December, which makes up nearly 30 percent of a retailer’s annual sale.  Now the winter holidays, $602.1 billion; back-to-school and college, $74.9 billion; Mother’s Day, $19.9 billion; Valentine’s Day, $17.3 billion; Easter, $15.9 billion; Father’s Day, $12.8 billion; The Super Bowl, $8.7 billion; Halloween, $7.4 billion; and St. Patrick’s Day, $4.8 billion.  “Holidays” are a bonanza for the business community.  But the worst of these holidays is “Thanksgiving” and “Christmas.”

The Native people are angry that we would dare celebrate “Thanksgiving” when Christopher Columbus sat down with the Native people and had dinner—no!  The Native people were the “turkey” on the table for those folk!  The Native Americans are angry; the Western Hemisphere is upset, because before Columbus came there were 112-120 million Indians in the Western Hemisphere, particularly in North America, and when Master Fard Muhammad came to us, that number had come all the way down from 112-120 million down to 2 million.  So we don’t celebrate Columbus and we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving.  Of course we give thanks, but we ought to keep our money, this Thanksgiving, in our pocket.  If you can afford a turkey, fine—but the purpose for this should not be “thanksgiving” like the early Pilgrims celebrated it; our “thanksgiving” should be every day that we are alive, and in the company of our families.

Don’t spend your money up on Thanksgiving!  And the day after, isn’t that what is called “Black Friday”?  I would like to see “Black Friday” absent of Black and Brown people.  Can you imagine on “Black Fridays” in the past when we’ve rushed to the big stores, and you would watch them watching us:  I want them to watch for us; that we won’t be there.  On “Black Friday,” “Black Saturday,” “Black Sunday,” all the way to the New Year, put your money in your pocket.

If you notice, when the football players were about to deprive that university of the million or so dollars on that Saturday (Nov. 7th):  Immediately, what they wanted they got.  Martin Luther King said, “Look, you don’t have to run around talking bad; you don’t have to gather any Molotov cocktails and burn up your own community!”  Elijah Muhammad said, “You don’t even have to fire one shot—all you have to do is fire the cannon of our unity.”  And that’s what brought us to the table, and that’s what gave us a little measure of justice.

Now suppose we withheld our money during November and December?  That’s easy to do:  Just keep your money in your pocket.  And if you keep your money in your pocket, that’s money that you will have saved.  Imagine if we save hundreds of millions of dollars during that time, we will have money to spend and money to invest in creating a future for ourselves.  Did you know that if we just spent one-tenth of 1 percent of what we spend for these holidays with Black businesses, they would be able to hire thousands of Black people, giving them jobs?  Imagine if we knew how to invest the money that we would save; we could be free, justified and equal, building our own economic base.

Let’s look again at this “Christmas”:  Did you know that in 1962, Medgar Evers—(some of you young ones have not heard of him, but look him up; he is a great brother from the NAACP in Jackson, Mississippi)—decided, because of the ill-treatment of the Blacks in Mississippi, particularly in the city of Jackson, that they would not support those big businesses in Jackson, Mississippi with Black dollars.  The boycott that he did was 99 percent successful; so successful, that the mayor had to come out and literally beg Black people, “Spend money!  We’ll protect you!  We’ll give you police protection from the boycotters!”  Not today!  We don’t need protection—we’re not going to show up.  We intend to make our unity felt in America.

Unfortunately, within a few months Medgar Evers was assassinated:  In 1963, he was murdered right in the driveway to his garage, in his home.  That same year they bombed the church in Birmingham, Alabama, and several of our young girls were killed.  Dr. Martin Luther King was so upset, he said, “Let’s boycott Christmas.”  Way back in ’63, Dr. King wanted to do this to redistribute the pain that we were feeling over the loss of Medgar Evers, over the loss of our children in that bombing.  And, I think it was Roy Wilkins of the NAACP; he said:  “Well, we shouldn’t do that … We shouldn’t do it, because we don’t want to deprive our children of their toys.”  And of course there will be some who will say the same now—but keep your eye on them, because they’re working for the enemy.  They are not the “leaders” that you think they are if, in the throes of our pain as a people we want to hold our money and some of these weak leaders will come and say, “No, no, we don’t wanna deprive the children of their toys.”

Brothers and sisters, “Santa Claus” is a lie.  The great Adam Clayton Powell told us, “Boycott Christmas!  Santa Claus is a lie!”  You who are Christians, you read the Book of John where Jesus said, “I am The Way, The Truth, and The Life”:  If Jesus is The Truth, why would you lie to your children on his birthday, telling a lie that a big fat Caucasian came down a chimney that you don’t have, with his eight reindeer, and gave you something that your parents went out and sacrificed (and went into debt, by the way, for another year) to give you a puzzle or a doll, or a little pistol, or whatever your heart’s desire?  You’ll get your “toys,” but not now; not November, not December.  We’ll find a Black store that’s selling things that have meaning.

Most of the gifts that you give on Christmas really have no meaning.  The best gift you could give on Christmas is you: Your heart, your love, for your family and your friends.  Let’s make this Christmas a Christmas where Christ is back in the center of what we believe is his birth date.  And now you know the slave master let the slaves get drunk; the slave master put it in the “holidays,” and every single holiday, particularly Christmas, the liquor stores get our money:  Let’s rid our selves of the lust of wine and strong drink.  Let’s keep that money in our pocket.

And you know, when they look up and they don’t see you at the liquor store, they will know that the boycott is successful (“Black folk are rising, and we feel their power!”).  Then whatever demands we put on the table—because this boycott is just the beginning, [then] of course, don’t be afraid:  Their loss of money makes them desperate, and of course they’re going to want to do something about it.

Now, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad said to me, “Brother, I can’t promise that we won’t get a hickie”—not on your neck, but on your head (smile)—“I can’t promise you that some of us won’t go to jail.  I can’t promise you that some of us won’t even lose our lives in this quest for justice,” but he said, “I can promise you victory.”  And “victory” means that what we seek we shall find; what we ask for we will get, and any door that we knock on, as a unified body, that door will open.  And that heart, even if they don’t feel it:  The loss of their economic strength will cause the door to open.  It’s time now.  Did you know that in the Book of John, the thing that caused Jesus to be murdered, betrayed and lied on was he got angry, and in his anger, he took a cord and he twisted [those] cords together, into a whip, and he went in and drove the money changers out of the temple and turned their tables over.  This is Jesus, angry, whipping the money changers.  Well who were the “money changers” in that day?  And who are the “money changers” today?

Elijah Muhammad said, quote:  “If one well-twisted cord is hard to break, what about 100 cords twisted together?  Impossible to break.”  And that is the power of our unity.

‘Are we worshiping The Son or The Sun?’:  The acculturated mannerisms of the ex-slave

May Allah bless us to be unified in mind and spirit; may we find joy in keeping our money in our pockets.  Man, just think about the discipline that you will impose on yourself.  Did you see on television?  All kinds of sales are being offered.  Oh man, Christmas is coming early this year. …  They started playing all the Christmas music, Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer—“Santa” is big, man.  I even saw this morning on television a Black-faced “Santa.”  (If you see one, tell him: “Come on, brother, get up out of that foolish uniform!  The ‘uniform’ that you got is what is catching hell, and that’s your Black face.”)  We can’t take that off; we are suffering because we are Black.  And we are suffering more because of the lack of knowledge.

“Christmas” is a pagan holiday that the enemy invented; it came out of the Babylonian era.  Did you know that?  Did you know that the Sun worshipers that were heathens:  They would go in the forest and cut down a tree, and then deck it with silver and gold, and fasten it with nails on the floor?  Look in the 10th Chapter of Jeremiah, verses 1-5, and you will see that this is a heathen practice; that the pagans, when they became “Christians,” they didn’t give up their pagan practices:  “Hear ye the word which the Lord speaketh unto you, O house of Israel: Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.  They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good.”

Now let me close this with these holidays that are based on paganism:  Did you know that when you put your lights on, put it all over your house, put a candle in the window, and a wreath, that’s because the people worshiped the Sun?  And next month, December the 21st is the shortest day of the year, so the Sun worshippers thought their god was leaving them; so they were entreating their god to come back to them, so they would burn a yule log, they lit candles; they cut the tree out of the forest—yes!  And when Constantine became a “Christian” from being a pagan, he substituted the worship of The Sun for the worship of The Son of God.

But how do you carry out the honor and worship of Christ?  Drunk? That’s part of the holiday season.  Foolish?  Doing unrighteous things?  We have dishonored Jesus by the way we practice pagan/heathen practices as ex-slaves in the manner that we were acculturated to act.

Did you know that the money that we get out of our economy, $1.1 trillion to $1.3 trillion, we spend it almost as fast as we get it?  I was shocked when I heard some statistics; that:  The Asian people, Chinatown, Koreatown:  Their money circulates in their community nearly a whole month before it goes.  The Jewish people:  Their money circulates in their community for 20-some days before it leaves.  Even our Mexican family:  They are better than we, in turning their money around in their own community.  But when I heard that our money leaves in six hours:  Where did that come from?

Did you know that under Abraham Lincoln, he established “The Freedman’s Bank”; and Black people coming out of slavery put over $5 million in several of the Freedman’s Banks, and through a scheme they closed the banks down and all our money was lost?  This crippled in us a desire to save.  And most of us have not saved anything; as fast as we get the money, we spend it.  Did you know that when we were sharecropping:  If we saved our money and put it in a mattress, the slave master could come, go in our house, or a little place where we lived, and take our money?  If we hid it in a bale of cotton, they would search, and if they found it they’d take it.  It’s part of “The Slave Code” (“A Black man must never save money!”  “A Black man must never invest money!”  “A Black man must never think about economic development!”)  So as fast as you get your money, you run away to spend it, because we learned during slavery that’s the only way we could keep the power of our money; because the slave master would take it if we saved it, so we went right out and spent it.  And now it’s part of our culture:  $1.1 trillion to $1.3 trillion, and it’s gone; fast as we get it, we spend it.

Remember the words of Dr. King and be the ‘Or Else’

So we’ll be breaking some bad habits this Christmas, with your help:  We’ll be getting a “step up” on economic development for our people starting with this boycott.  And all you’re doing is squeezing your money in your pocket.  Just squeeze it. …  Don’t throw it away.  Don’t give it away.  Find a Black business that is selling things, and spend some of your money with them.  Elijah Muhammad hated these big retail stores.  You know why?  They come into our community; they buy in bulk, and they can lower the price, and they put all little Black businesses out of business.  We should say, “To hell with them!”  Find a Black store that you can support!  Find a Brown store that you can support!

And this Christmas, after we get to the New Year by God’s Grace, we’ll get ready to get on toThe Second Phase of Our Work!  [This Movement] can’t stop until justice flows down the mountain like a river, and righteousness like a mighty stream.  You’ll be the “Or Else!”…  God is the big “Or Else!”—but you and I can be a little “or else.”  Remember the words of Dr. King when he said (in his April 3, 1968 speech “I’ve Been To The Mountaintop”):  “Go by the business stores and tell them, ‘God sent me by here to say to you: You are not treating His people right’”—these are Dr. King’s words!—“God said He wants you to treat His people fair; that should be first on your agenda.”  He said, “But if you don’t do that, in our agenda we will withdraw our support economically from you.”  We’re going to do that until The Black Life, The Cause of Justice, is honored and respected.

May Allah bless you.  There’ll be more messages like this coming to you, [but] parse these words; sit around a table and discuss it.  Get your Bible, and look at it.  And if the enemy is so angry with me and us for calling this boycott:  Then don’t bother my people, come to me—I’m talking to the enemy—I’m waiting on you.  My God has something for you; if you think that you can put over what you’ve been doing to my brothers before me, try it, and God will be quick to show you.  Dr. King is probably the last great Black leader that you will kill.


Americus-Sumter High Senior Leaves It All On The Field And Becomes School Winner In Wendy’s High School Heisman

december-2016-4_11[AMERICUS, GEORGIA] (November 15, 2016) – There are some students who set the bar. They work harder, show more passion and lead by example in the classroom, on the field and within the community. Today, Wendy’s High School Heisman recognizes Jada Boyd from Americus-Sumter High School and her dedication to never cutting corners by naming her a School Winner.

“Miss Boyd is known by her teachers and friends for her commitment to excellence. We are excited and honored that a program like Wendy’s High School Heisman is also recognizing her hard work,” said Kimothy Hadley, principal of Americus-Sumter High.

Since 1994, Wendy’s and the Heisman Trophy Trust have been running the same play to perfection: honoring more than 600,000 of the nation’s most esteemed students. This year, Wendy’s will celebrate the accomplishments of thousands of the best high school seniors by awarding winners in five phases. School winners will receive a certificate and a Wendy’s High School Heisman Patch.

Miss Boyd said, “I am honored to be the ASHS Wendy’s Heisman Winner. Throughout my four years of high school, I have dedicated myself to my academics, sports, and any other extracurricular activities I could be involved in. I owe all of the awards I have received and accomplishments I have made to my mother, Georgia Boyd. Her unconditional love, compassion, and support has fueled my undying ambition and work ethic.”

About Wendy’s High School Heisman

The Wendy’s High School Heisman was created by Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas in 1994. Dave Thomas dropped out of high school when he was 15 years old in order to work full-time, then went on to become one of the most successful entrepreneurs in history. While this nontraditional path led to his prosperity, it always worried Dave that others would follow in his footsteps and expect to achieve similar fame and wealth by not finishing high school or attending college.

Faced with this dilemma, at 61 years old, Dave enrolled at Coconut Creek High School in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., and received his General Equivalency Diploma (GED). Inspired by this moment and with a desire to celebrate the outstanding achievements of youth in America, he launched the Wendy’s High School Heisman program.

Twenty-two years later, Wendy’s High School Heisman has honored more than 600,000 of the nation’s most esteemed high school seniors who share Wendy’s values of giving back to the community, treating people with respect, continuing education and excelling on the athletic field.

The Wendy’s High School Heisman is a joint program between Wendy’s and the Heisman Trophy Trust, host and custodians of the Heisman Memorial Trophy®.

Sarinda Woodson: Making Students’Worlds Bigger

Sarinda Woodson

Sarinda Woodson

For Sarinda Woodson, the goal of education is to inspire students to look beyond their world.

“It has always been my belief that education can take a person anywhere their imagination will allow them to go,” said the Family and Consumer Sciences instructor and Teacher of the Year at the Sumter County Ninth-Grade Academy. “My philosophy of teaching includes a belief that if you want to get the students to ‘go’ somewhere in life, you must ‘take’ them somewhere during that part of your life that you share. This involves exposing them to another view of the world.”

The challenge for a teacher, as she sees it, is to build relationships with the students that allow them to look past their circumstances in life.

“There is no truer statement than ‘a child does not care how much you know until they know how much you care,'” said Ms. Woodson. “When you can relate to the child’s world, then you can encourage them to explore other worlds and other interests. The lack of exposure appears to be the main hindrance and direct cause of students’ limited interest in classroom activities.”

Ms. Woodson is concerned that an increasing number of regulations and restrictions may drive the passion out of teachers to the overall detriment of the educational system and the society in general.

“No profession can grow without an accountability tool, but it must be flexible enough to offer an opportunity for self-reflection,” she said. “An unknown author once said, ‘Teaching is the profession that teaches all other professions.’ Contrary to popular belief, knowledge is still power.”

Because of the importance of education to the overall social well-being, her message to educators and the general public is clear:

“We are in a state of emergency as it pertains to our children and educational system,” she said. “They are our future, and without the necessary set of skills, they will not be equipped to carry on the patterns in education we are attempting to establish.

“While we are making strides and moving in the right direction, we must re-establish in children the innate desire for learning and unearth what made teachers want to enter this profession in the first place.”

No, Trump, We Can’t Just Get Along

Charles Blow

Charles Blow

Donald Trump schlepped across town on Tuesday to meet with the publisher of The New York Times and some editors, columnists and reporters at the paper.

As The Times reported, Trump actually seemed to soften some of his positions:

He seemed to indicate that he wouldn’t seek to prosecute Hillary Clinton. But he should never have said that he was going to do that in the first place.

He seemed to indicate that he wouldn’t encourage the military to use torture. But he should never have said that he would do that in the first place.

He said that he would have an “open mind” on climate change. But that should always have been his position.

You don’t get a pat on the back for ratcheting down from rabid after exploiting that very radicalism to your advantage. Unrepentant opportunism belies a staggering lack of character and caring that can’t simply be vanquished from memory. You did real harm to this country and many of its citizens, and I will never — never — forget that.

As I read the transcript and then listened to the audio, the slime factor was overwhelming.

After a campaign of bashing The Times relentlessly, in the face of the actual journalists, he tempered his whining with flattery.

At one point he said:

“I just appreciate the meeting and I have great respect for The New York Times. Tremendous respect. It’s very special. Always has been very special.”

has been very special.” He ended the meeting by saying:

“I will say, The Times is, it’s a great, great American jewel. A world jewel. And I hope we can all get along well.”

I will say proudly and happily that I was not present at this meeting. The very idea of sitting across the table from a demagogue who preyed on racial, ethnic and religious hostilities and treating him with decorum and social grace fills me with disgust, to the point of overflowing. Let me tell you here where I stand on your “I hope we can all get along” plea: Never.

You are an aberration and abomination who is willing to do and say anything — no matter whom it aligns you with and whom it hurts — to satisfy your ambitions.

I don’t believe you care much at all about this country or your party or the American people. I believe that the only thing you care about is self-aggrandizement and self-enrichment. Your strongest allegiance is to your own cupidity.

I also believe that much of your campaign was an act of psychological projection, as we are now learning that many of the things you slammed Clinton for are things of which you may actually be guilty.

You slammed Clinton for destroying emails, then Newsweek reported last month that your companies “destroyed emails in defiance of court orders.” You slammed Clinton and the Clinton Foundation for paid speeches and conflicts of interest, then it turned out that, as BuzzFeed reported, the Trump Foundation received a $150,000 donation in exchange for your giving a 2015 speech made by video to a conference in Ukraine. You slammed Clinton about conflicts of interest while she was secretary of state, and now your possible conflicts of interest are popping up like mushrooms in a marsh.

You are a fraud and a charlatan. Yes, you will be president, but you will not get any breaks just because one branch of your forked tongue is silver.

I am not easily duped by dopes.

I have not only an ethical and professional duty to call out how obscene your very existence is at the top of American government; I have a moral obligation to do so.

I’m not trying to convince anyone of anything, but rather to speak up for truth and honor and inclusion. This isn’t just about you, but also about the moral compass of those who see you for who and what you are, and know the darkness you herald is only held at bay by the lights of truth.

It’s not that I don’t believe that people can change and grow. They can. But real growth comes from the accepting of responsibility and repenting of culpability. Expedient reversal isn’t growth; it’s gross.

So let me say this on Thanksgiving: I’m thankful to have this platform because as long as there are ink and pixels, you will be the focus of my withering gaze.

I’m thankful that I have the endurance and can assume a posture that will never allow what you represent to ever be seen as everyday and ordinary.

No, Mr. Trump, we will not all just get along. For as long as a threat to the state is the head of state, all citizens of good faith and national fidelity — and certainly this columnist — have an absolute obligation to meet you and your agenda with resistance at every turn.

I know this in my bones, and for that I am thankful.