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Sen. Kamala Harris Gives Props to Black Press 
at 75th Anniversary of San Francisco Sun-Reporter

By Tanu Henry | California Black Media

 “Throughout the course of our history, there have been many moments in time where truth must be spoken. Truth that oftentimes make people uncomfortable, but truth that must be acknowledged so people can be seen and be heard,” said Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), who announced her bid to run for President of the United States in late January.

 “Truth must be spoken from a voice that is trusted,” she continued. “And we know therefore the value, significance and need for the Black press in America.

 Harris, who was born in Oakland and served as California Attorney General from 2011 to 2017, was speaking at the 75th anniversary of the San Francisco Sun-Reporter, the city’s oldest African-American newspaper.

 More than 800 people, including San Francisco first African American woman mayor London Breed, attended the event. Several leaders and journalists from the state’s Black and ethnic media – including the Sun-Reporter’s current publisher, Amelia Ashley Ward – were also on hand to celebrate the legacy and contribution of the paper at the Hyatt Regency Hotel downtown San Francisco.

 The Sun-Reporter was founded in 1944 at a time when Blacks migrated in large numbers to major cities in the north and west to escape Jim Crow laws in the south and seek better employment opportunities.

Many African-Americans came to San Francisco and other parts of the Bay Area during that time to work at World War II military shipyard.

 Like many historically Black dailies and weeklies across California and the rest of the country, the Sun-Reporter became a social and political advocate for African Americans on issues like civil rights, discrimination, housing and education as well as a vital source of information at a time when there was little media coverage of Blacks in the mass media.

 “The Sun-Reporter is an example of the significance of the Black press in America,” Harris said. “There are issues that are unique to the Black community, and until we have true diversity in the press, we must rely on papers like the Sun-Reporter.”

 Carlton B. Goodlett, a physician and activist who once ran for Governor of California and served as editor of Howard University’s Hillltop newspaper, acquired his first publication, The Sun newspaper, through a poker game, according to the Sun-Reporter’s website. The publication, as we know it today, was born out of a merger between the Sun newspaper, which Goodlett owned, and another African-American publication, the Reporter, which was edited and published by his close friend, Thomas C. Fleming.  


Goodlett served as publisher of the paper until shortly before his death in 1997. Since then, Ward, a former reporter and photojournalist who started her career as an intern at the Sun-Reporter, has run the publication guided by the wisdom and vision of its founder.


Harris says when she decided to run for San Francisco District Attorney in November 2002, no one believed in her candidacy except Ward.  


“There were many, many – friends and those who were not friends – who said it can not be done. Wait your turn. They are not ready for you,” said Harris. “But one voice spoke loudly and said, ‘I know it is your time, Kamala, and I will have your back.’ And that was Amelia Ashley-Ward.”


Harris also used the opportunity to talk about the climate of hatred and bigotry prevalent across the country right now, and tell the audience that the majority of Americans have more in common with each other than the things that “separate us.”


She also shared policy specifics about some of the things she would prioritize if she is elected President of the United States next fall. They included mandating the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms to require dealers who sell more than five guns a year to do background checks and a $13,500 annual federal investment to increase each teacher’s salary.


To achieve those things, Harris said, Americans must have honest conversations about problems the country is facing.


“We must speak truth each and every day,” she said. “We must fight for the best that we can be.” 

Photo By: Alain McLaughlin

Amelia Ashley Ward, Publisher of the Sun Reporter stands with Sen. Kamala Harris and San Francisco Mayor London Breed at the 75th Anniversary of the Sun Reporter May 9, 2019.

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Black Religious Groups, Non-Profits Can Apply for Security Grants as Gov Prioritizes Hate Crimes With $15M Emergency Fund  

Photo By CBM:  First African Methodist Episcopal Church FAME, the oldest church in Los Angeles founded by African Americans in 1872 posted signage at their information desk a few years ago because of attacks on houses of worship. Rev. J Edgar Boyd is the pastor of this church.

Black Religious Groups, Non-Profits Can Apply for Security Grants as Gov Prioritizes Hate Crimes With $15M Emergency Fund  

By Tanu Henry | California Black Media 


African-American churches, mosques and other religious organizations are among vulnerable non-profits in California eligible to apply for security grants after Gov. Gavin Newsom approved $15 million in emergency funds this week to help religious and community based groups protect themselves against hate crimes.  


The governor made the announcement two days after a violent mass shooting at a synagogue just north of San Diego shocked Californians and people around the world. 


On Saturday, John Earnest, 19, a White supremacist allegedly entered the Chabad of Poway Synagogue carrying an assault-style rifle and opened fire. Police said he killed one woman, Lori Kaye, 60, and injured three others, including a Rabbi and an 8-year-old girl.  Authorities are investigating the case as a hate crime and possibly a federal civil rights violation.  


“We all must call out hate – against any and all communities – and act to defend those targeted for their religious beliefs, who they love or how they identify,” said Governor Newsom. “An attack against any community is an attack against our entire state – who we are and what we stand for.”


Earnest, the accused gunman and a nursing student at California State University San Marcos, has been arrested and charged with one count of murder and three counts of attempted murder. 


“Just weeks ago, African-American churches were burned in the South and these were confirmed as hate crimes,” said Shane Harris, an African-American pastor and President of the People’s Alliance of Justice, a national civil rights organization based in San Diego. “I have worked closely with the Jewish community for many years on interfaith efforts to take on social justice issues surrounding hate in our country against any faith. It hurts my heart to hear that one person has been killed in this shooting and our prayers go out to the others who have been injured.”


For the African-American religious community in California, the synagogue shooting brings with it echoes of a painful past familiar with centuries of fire bombings, arson, shootings and other acts of domestic terrorism perpetrated against predominantly Black church congregations and places of worship. This year, in a 10-day span between late March and early April, arsonists burned down three historic African-American churches in Louisiana. And between 1995 and 1996 alone, more than 30 African-American churches were burned in the United. States, spurring Congress to pass the Church Arson Prevention Act. Since the 1950s, there have been close to 100 hate crimes committed at African-American places of worship. 


The most heinous attack in recent history against a Black church was a hate-fueled mass murder that happened on June 17, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina. Dylan Roof, a then-20-year-old White supremacist and Neo-Nazi,stormed into the historic Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church during a Bible study in the sanctuary and killed nine African-American parishioners, including a South Carolina state senator, Clementa Pinckney.


In California, there are more hate groups than in any other state. Hate crimes are also on the rise in the state, increasing by 17.4 percent between 2016 and 2017, according to the California Attorney General’s office. The sharpest upturn in the state has been Anti-Jewish attacks which rose from 82 too 104 between 2016 and 2017, 


Several lawmakers, community activists and religious leaders have already stepped forward to thank the governor for his timely decision and his willingness to address a pressing safety concern in the state. 


“We appreciate Governor Newsom commitment to the faith community. These resources will be helpful to protect our residents and communities that rely on our churches. I look forward to assisting Black churches in taking advantage of these resources,” said K.W. Tulloss, president of The Baptist Ministers Conference of Los Angeles and Southern California.


The funding, which will be administered through the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, will be awarded through a competitive grant process. The grants will help Non-profits that are targets for hate-motivated violence bolster security at their facilities. Criteria identifying those groups may include, religious affiliation, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, immigration status and more. 


Since 2015, California has allocated $4.5 million for the State Nonprofit Security Grant Program. Because more non-profits than anticipated have applied for grants, the governor’s office said he made the decision to add an additional $15m to the fund in the wake of the Poway shootings. The governor will also work with the Commission on Peace Officer Standards to ensure training modules are up to date as new applicants become a part of the ongoing state program. 

Heated Charter School Debates Ignore One Key Fact: Black Students Are Underperforming In Our Schools

Photo By: Khiry Malik, Roland Martin takes questions from a town hall attendee directed to the panelist.

By Tanu Henry | California Black Media

African-American children are California’s lowest performing group of students, only above students with special needs. Only 2 percent of Black kids in the state attend schools that are considered “high performing.” And only 10 majority African-American schools, located mostly in hard-to-count, high-poverty census tracts around the Bay Area and Los Angeles, score, on average, above the state math and language arts requirements. 

On top of that, nearly 68 percent of all African-American students in California perform below their grade level in English and language arts. In math, about 80 percent of Black students fail to meet the state’s proficiency mark. 

Black children are also three times more likely than Whites to be suspended for similar behaviors, according to a report by San Diego State University’s Community College Equity Lab and UCLA’s Black Male Institute.

When it comes to getting admitted to a California State University or University of California school, only 22 percent of Black high school seniors graduate from schools where a majority of their racial group passes the required courses.

“The critical question is not being asked: ‘what is best for our children?,’” said Assemblymember Shirley Weber (D-San Diego), a member of the  Assembly Education committee. She was speaking at a hearing held earlier this month on three charter school bills – AB 1505, AB 1506 and AB 1507 – before her colleagues voted to move them out of committee.  The package of legislation would place significant restrictions on charter schools, if the full legislature passes them and Gov. Gavin Newsom signs them. 

Then, last week, the Senate Education Committee voted in favor of another charter school bill. This one, SB 756, would place a five-year ban on certifying any new charters. The language in the bill, introduced by Sen. María Elena Durazo (D-Los Angeles), states that it is designed to ensure public charter schools do not “replace or undermine” the state’s public school system.

In California, roughly 52,800 Black students attend charter schools. Although the independent taxpayer-funded schools only account for about 10 percent of public schools, they enroll 3 percent more Black students than the traditional district schools. 

Because such a high percentage of African Americans attend charters, opponents of the bills see the package of proposals as a direct attack on Black students. 

“Charter schools have been a way within the public school system for African-American and all families to have choice,” says Margaret Fortune, an African-American educator who founded and runs Fortune School, a network of seven charter schools in Sacramento and San Bernardino that focuses on closing the African-American achievement gap and preparing students for college beginning in Kindergarten. 

She says, under current California law, the number one consideration for a charter school to be approved is the academic performance of students. Under the new proposals, one of the criteria would be money – if the applying charter impacts the finances of the local school district. 

The legislators who authored the bills and their supporters say they introduced them to bring about more accountability and that charter school reform is long overdue.

“School board members have a fiduciary duty to ensure the fiscal health of their district. They know the needs of their schools the best and should be able to consider the fiscal impact on their students and district when considering whether to approve a new charter school,” said Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland).

Critics of the legislation have said nowhere in the language of the new bills or public statements about them, have the bills’ legislative sponsors taken a critical look at why Black students are underperforming across the state. 

Last week, nationally recognized television journalist and commentator Roland Martin moderated a town hall in Sacramento focused on school choice.

Martin said charter schools are the only option for African-American families who don’t have the means to move to a better performing school district. 

During the town hall, Martin stated reasons he supports charter schools and has launched a national initiative to explore the issue called, “Is School Choice the Black Choice?” 

“You control the resources,” he told the audience. “You control who gets the janitorial contracts, textbook contracts, IT contracts. So you do not only control the education of our children, you control the economics of our neighborhoods.” 

Assemblymember Shirley Weber (D-San Diego)| recently proposed making Black students a high-risk group under the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) because of low scores on statewide exams. Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell (D-Los Angeles), the Chair of the Assembly Education committee, has pulled the bill. 

The education chair’s staff said that this was not the only bill O’Donnell has withdrawn and that he is waiting for a state auditors report before hearing legislation that would tinker with LCFF funding.

 During the town hall, several of the panelists called out Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento), who is African American and in whose district has three high performing charter schools that are performing above traditional district schools, two of those are Fortune schools. 

“To see Black state legislators, Black city council members, Black county commissioners - who are some of the most ardent opponents of charter schools. Yet, they are representing constituents who have some of the worst academic records,” Martin said. “That to me is an abomination.” 

In McCarty’s legislative area, which covers two school districts, Natomas Unified and Sacramento City Unified, Black students are performing below the state’s African-American averages in both math and English. About 87 percent of students are scoring below their grade level in math and about 78 percent are not meeting the English requirement.

This article is the first in a series of stories on African-American students and public education in California.

                IN MEMORIAM:                         John Singleton Dead at 51

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent@StacyBrownMedia

Famed African American movie producer John Singleton has died.

Singleton, best known for the hit 1991 movie, Boyz N the Hood starring Ice Cube, had been on life support after reportedly suffering a stroke.

He was 51.

Singleton was reportedly traveling back to Los Angeles from Costa Rica when he mentioned experiencing pain in one of his legs, according to Newsweek.

Following transport to a California hospital, Singleton suffered a stroke and was emitted into ICU.

Singleton’s health continued to deteriorate and he was put into a medically-induced coma just eight days after the stroke, TMZ reported.

He had been on life support, but ultimately his family made the “agonizing decision” to remove him from life support on Monday, they said in a statement via Singleton’s reps.

“John Singleton is a prolific, ground-breaking director who changed the game and opened doors in Hollywood, a world that was just a few miles away, yet worlds away, from the neighborhood in which he grew up,” the statement read.

“We are grateful to his fans, friends and colleagues for the outpouring of love and prayers during this incredibly difficult time. We want to thank all the doctors at Cedars Sinai for the impeccable care he received.”

According to Newsweek, Singleton’s family also noted the movie producer’s battle with hypertension, a high blood pressure ailment of which African Americans are particularly at risk for.

“Like many African Americans, Singleton quietly struggled with hypertension. More than 40 percent of African American men and women have high blood pressure, which also develops earlier in life and is usually more severe,” the statement read.

“His family wants to share the message with all to please recognize the symptoms by going to”

Singleton was a father to seven children including Justice, Maasai, Hadar, Cleopatra, Selenesol, Isis and Seven Singleton.

In addition to Boyz N the Hood, which received two Oscar nominations, Singleton also directed classic films and shows like Poetic Justice, Baby Boy, Four Brothers, 2 Fast 2 Furious, Billions and many others.                                                                                                          Photo: John Singleton / George Pimentel Wikicommons)

Rep. Bass Statement On Violence In Venezuela

WASHINGTON – Today, Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations issued the following statement after Juan Guaidó called for an uprising against the government of President Nicolás Maduro and indicated he had military support.

“The focus of the U.S. government should be on supporting efforts both to bring about a peaceful solution to this crisis and to provide aid to the people of Venezuela. We must encourage adherence to the rule of law and under no circumstances support irregular unconstitutional transfers of power. Military intervention would contribute to deepening political divisions, increased insecurity, and decrease the likelihood of a peaceful solution to the crisis. It would also place a further strain on the Venezuelan people, some of whom have been without food, water or power for months. The United States has a significant history in Latin America and we must learn from the past and avoid misguided desires to intervene. We must be on the right side of history.”

Rep. Waters Statement                     on the Death of John Singleton

WASHINGTON – Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-43) issued a statement on the death of Oscar nominated director and highly acclaimed filmmaker John Daniel Singleton who died at the age of 51:

“My heart is heavy with the news that one of the world’s greatest directors and storytellers, and one of South Los Angeles’ most beloved sons -- John Daniel Singleton -- has died. There is perhaps no other filmmaker in history that has so artfully chronicled the story and spirit of South Los Angeles as John Singleton. I am among the millions of people around the world who are mourning the loss of this iconic and once in a generation creative talent. I extend my heartfelt sympathy to his parents, children, relatives, and friends.

“John Singleton’s genius transcended genres and mediums. His creativity knew no bounds. John made history as the first African American and youngest person in history to receive the coveted Academy Award nomination for Best Director for his groundbreaking and norm shattering cinematic work, ‘Boyz N the Hood.’ Time and time again, John drew upon his unique life experiences as a South Los Angeles native to skillfully showcase the African American experience in his highly acclaimed roster of films, which include ‘Higher Learning,’ ‘Poetic Justice,’ and ‘Baby Boy.’ John forced our country to reckon with the ills of our troubled history with the issue of race in ‘Rosewood.’ He brought new awareness to the realities and pain our community faced at the height of the crack cocaine epidemic with his latest FX television series ‘Snowfall.’ All the while, John paved the way for future African American directors and filmmakers, and created opportunities for scores of young African American actors who might have otherwise been overlooked by Hollywood, including Ice Cube, Tupac, Regina King, Janet Jackson, Taraji P. Henson, and Tyrese Gibson.

“While John touched the lives of millions of people through his artistic work, I am among those who had the privilege of calling him a dear friend for more than two decades. John was passionate about our community, and whenever there was a need in South Los Angeles, I could count on John to be there. He would regularly visit with me in my office, and I will cherish the many memories we shared over the years.

“My dear friend John Singleton: a true creative genius and one of the greatest directors of all time. Though he is no longer with us, his work and his impact are larger than life, and his legacy will live on forever.”