Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Local News

The oldest Black business industry in America began 190 years ago this month.

On March 16, 1827, the first edition of the “Freedom’s Journal” was published, thrusting African-Americans into the bustling publishing business.

At the time, Blacks in America weren’t even considered citizens, most were slaves and forbidden to read or write.

However, John Russwurm and Reverend Samuel Cornish rose up bravely declaring that, “We wish to plead our own cause. Too long have others spoken for us.”

Dorothy Leavell, publisher of the historic “Chicago Crusader” newspaper which celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2015, said that when Russwurm and Cornish established the Black Press by publishing the “Freedom’s Journal,” they wanted to provide a voice for Black people. The Black Press became one of the only means of communication between Black people.

“Black men and women were vilified in the New York press in the 1800s,” said Leavell. “Some White newspaper publishers sought to defend the dignity, honor and character of Black people, however, Russwurm and Cornish said they, ‘wish to plead our own cause.’”

Without the Black Press, genuine stories of African-Americans would go untold, said Robert W. Bogle, the publisher of the “The Philadelphia Tribune.”

Bogle said that only Black people can tell their stories accurately.

“We are as relevant today as we were when the ‘Freedom’s Journal’ said they wanted to tell our story in our words,” said Bogle.

Denise Rolark-Barnes, the chair of the NNPA and publisher of “The Washington Informer,” said she studied the history of the Black Press and used the 190-year milestone to reflect on the legacy of Black newspapers.

“[What I discovered] help me understand how the Black Press played a vital role in fighting for human rights, abolishing slavery and outlawing lynching,” Rolark Barnes said. “The lesson for us, as publishers, is that we must remain important in our communities and continue to be the voice for victims and spotlight those who have achieved success.”

While mainstream media seems distracted by the current political atmosphere, Rolark Barnes said that it’s vital that the Black Press continue to focus on telling the stories that are relevant to the Black community and recording Black history.

NNPA President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., said that March 16, 2017 is a sacred historical day in the long, multidimensional freedom struggle of African people in America and throughout the world, because of the courage of John Brown Russwurm and Samuel Cornish who dared first to publish the “Freedom’s Journal.”

Chavis said that the Black Press in America has been on the frontlines of social change in the United States for 190 years.

“Today, more than ever, the Black Press remains the trusted and audacious voice of Black America,” said Chavis. “Today, the NNPA continues this irrepressible tradition of publishing truth to power. Our freedom fighting publishers are all united as we reaffirm the vital importance and relevance of the Black Press now and into the future.”

Jacqueline Miles, publisher of the half-century-old “Pensacola Press” in Florida said that it’s important to note that the Black Press has become the source of information for jobs, weddings, births, deaths and even entertainment.

“Today, the Black Press still serves the African-American community with news that is vital to them,” said Miles. “We still endeavor to bring about news that will educate and keep our communities aware of what’s going on.”

Further, Miles said, with the term “fake news” emanating regularly from the White House and the new administration, it’s imperative that the Black Press remains vigilant.

“We must be the glue to hold our community together and encourage togetherness, in business and economically, in this new Donald Trump era,” Miles said.

Harry Colbert Jr. recently summarized the importance of the Black Press in a column for “Insight News,” an NNPA member newspaper, where he touted the achievements of many that were noted only through the pages of the Black Press.

Margot Lee Shetterly, the author of “Hidden Figures,” said if not for the archives of the Black Press such as the “Norfolk Journal and Guide” and the “Pittsburgh Courier,” the inspiring story of Black women geniuses at NASA would not have been possible to tell.

If not for the “Florida Sun” newspaper in Orlando, the story of the great training in science and technology taking place at Bethune-Cookman University – one of the nation’s historically Black universities – would go untold and unnoticed, Colbert said.

Colbert continued: “In Baton Rouge, it may have been a citizen’s lens that captured the senseless killing of Alton Sterling at the hands of police, but it is ‘The Drum’ that keeps Sterling’s memory alive and is shining the white-hot spotlight on those responsible for his homicide.”

Hiram Jackson, the publisher of Real Times Media in Michigan said that it’s important to note the significance of Russwurm and Cornish’s words.

“‘We wish to plead our own cause.’ Words that continue to be as inspirational today as the movement they declared on the front pages of ‘Freedom’s Journal,’” Jackson said. “Looking at those words today, I am awe-struck at the vision of the Black Press forefathers and I’m heartened knowing that this statement continues to shine as our collective beacon.

Jackson continued: “The voice of the Black Press is as important today as it has ever been. In today’s political climate, we cannot afford to miss any opportunity to educate, enlighten, and inform our community on the issues that our very lives depend on.”

Journalist, author, activist and Black Press historian A. Peter Bailey said the NNPA has always provided a great service to African-Americans through the pages of its newspapers.

An adjunct professor at the University of District of Columbia, Bailey said it’s also vital that coverage continues to spotlight Black economics.

Bailey said that, according to Black author Lionel Barrow, there are four basic functions of the Black Press: to act as a watchdog for the Black community; to answer attacks on the Black community; to preserve Black culture and to present a different viewpoint.

“I believe the Black Press is doing okay on those, but we could do better by working more closely together and it would really help if the [NNPA] would dedicate a reporter to the United Nations, who could send news to its member papers, and a reporter on Wall Street, because economics are the most important thing that the Black Press can report on for Black people.”

Editors of the “Pasadena Journal” noted that Black-owned and operated media has been filled with the stories of trailblazers, pioneers and forerunners that helped get us to where we are today, with 48 Black elected United States Congressmen and women.

In the aftermath of the Plessy vs. Ferguson Supreme Court ruling in 1896 that said that no Black man has any rights that a White man must honor, there came a flood of Black publications that advocated for Black rights and protested the wrongs done to Blacks. Newspapers like “Freedom’s Journal,” the “Tri-State Defender” and the “Chicago Defender” paved the way for freedom, justice and equality.

Brenda Andrews, the publisher of “The New Journal and Guide,” said that after 190 years, the primary challenge facing the Black Press remains its limited human and financial resources needed to continue to tell news from the perspective of being Black in America.

“It is a mission that, at times, can seem like making bricks without sand; tying shoes without strings; pulling yourself up by your bootstraps without boots,” Andrews said. “But, for me it’s a personally fulfilling mission that has been guided for the past 35 years by my deep spiritual faith.”

Andrews continued: “To keep aiming to thrive, rather than occupying a posture of survival, for me, requires immense faith in the destiny of Black America and a passion to ensure the American story includes the perspective of its Black citizens.”

By Stacy M. Brown
NNPA News Wire Contributor

The five-story  office building which houses the Willis Broadcasting Co. and other small Black-owned businesses at 645 Church Street is up for sale or lease, according to  the Norfolk  office of S.L. Nusbaum Realty Company.

A Nusbaum Realty sign indicating that the 57,000 square foot building  has been  placed on the market appeared on the north side of the  structure recently.

According to Nusbaum,   the proposed price of the building is $2.49 million and it has  been on the market since the first of the year.

The building was constructed in 1988.  The main tenant has been Willis Broadcasting owned by the family of the late Bishop L.E. Willis II. Willis was a prominent leader in the national  and local Church of God In Christ (COGIC) and was considered an astute businessman and community leader.

It is not clear if the Willis Family still owns the buildings or the extent of the family’s ownership of the broadcasting company that was founded by the elder Willis.

Owners of the broadcast outlet had not return calls from the GUIDE as of press time on March 21.

Bishop Willis II was the first African-American to own a powerful network of radio stations inside and outside of Hampton Roads, including WOWI.

Currently Willis Broadcasting operates three stations at the 645 Church Street, including long time outlet WPCE.

Commonly known as the Willis Buildings, it is  the only African Amerian-owned multi-story office complex, housing Black-owned firms in the rejuvenated downtown Norfolk business district.

By Leonard E. Colvin
Chief Reporter

Kiana Montgomery says if her father didn’t take her and both brothers rowing when she was a young girl, she would not have joined the U.S. Navy.

“It was a long way for us kids to row back to shore at Newport News State Park, but I love the ocean,” the Virginia Beach native said. “So I had to be a Sailor.”

Today, Kiana, 37, uses her naval intelligence training to support the Army Chief of Staff, as a senior military analyst in the Pentagon. She looks for potential threats to U.S. interests in the Middle East.

While the 1999 Ocean Lakes High School graduate was the only member of her family to enlist in the Navy, Kiana comes from a long line of military veterans who proudly served their country, going back to World War II.

“One of my grandfathers was in the Army during World War II when the military was segregated, the other grandfather served in the Air Force during the Korean War when the services were desegregated.”

In 1948 President Harry Truman’s issued Executive Order 9981 which ordered the integration of U.S. armed forces, a major milestone in civil rights. The executive order meant Truman did not need congressional approval for the action.

Kiana’s father, Preston Sr. was an Army aviation mechanic and an uncle served as an Army medic in Vietnam. Her older brother, Preston Jr., is retiring as a Gunnery Sergeant after 20 years in the Marines, while her younger brother, Sterling is a Captain in the active Army Reserves.

“In our family, you were expected to go into the military. All of us served.” Her father said. “I’m glad she joined.”

“Kiana was and will always be my little girl,” her father said. “I went up to Great Lakes (Naval Station near Chicago) to see Kiana graduate from boot camp. I was so proud of her.”
“The Navy was a great experience for me both personally and professionally,” she said. “It changed me forever, it made me grow up.”

“I joined right after graduating high school, and while I was excited, I was real nervous too,” she recalls. “I was never really away from Virginia Beach. It was also a shock to sleep in open bay barracks with young women from all over the country, from all different backgrounds.”

But Kiana knew to be successful in boot camp and become a Sailor, she would have to overcome any challenges.

“Kiana has some wonderful qualities that helped her be successful, well-liked and respected by her shipmates,” said Chief Warrant Officer Four Bob Jordan, 58, who was her Navy boss and mentor aboard ship.

They teamed up on the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and they remain friends today. “Her work ethic, dedication, connection to her family and spiritual persona drew others to her.”

Jordan is back on the “Ike” which is docked now in Norfolk and says he’s the oldest Sailor on the ship and has completed five “on the ground” tours in Afghanistan.

“I tried to instill selfless service, honor and purpose to the hundreds of Sailors I’ve mentored,” he said. “And Kiana was one of the best.”

But when she had personal issues and tough times, Kiana called home.

“My father was always there for me,” she recalls. “He calmed me down and gave me the best advice on how to move ahead.”

Another shipmate from the “Ike,” was Stephen Bird, 35, who has lived in Norfolk since 2001.

“We were both Petty Officers 2nd Class and we worked long and hard,” he said. “We knew our role was critical to the overall success of the mission.”

“All I can tell you is that Kiana is a natural leader. She was cool, calm and positive through the toughest times,” he said.

Talk about hard work, Kiana put in 16-18 hour days gathering data and providing it to jet pilots conducting air strikes from the flight deck of the “Ike,” in the Arabian Gulf.

If you ask her how she learned to deal with hard work and stress while keeping that beautiful smile, she’ll tell you, “I owe it all to the Navy and … my Dad.”

By David N. Lakin – U.S. Army
Special to the New Journal & Guide

The Black Press is celebrating its 190th birthday on March 16, 2017, and some of its readers in Hampton Roads reached out to social media to say, ‘Congrats.’

FYI. ‘Congrats’ means, ‘I wish you well’ on social media. Yep, that’s social media talk. It means ‘You go, girl.’ Or, ‘What’s up dawg?’

While the New Journal and Guide routinely receives encouraging, enthusiastic feedback on various social media platforms, its enthusiastic readers continue to express sentiments that are similar to those that Samuel Cornish and John Brown Russwurm heard after they launched the abolitionist newspaper for people of color in Brooklyn in 1827. In other words, people of color gave shout outs to the founders of the nation’s first Black newspaper, like they give shout outs to today’s Black Press.

For example, this is the shout-out that The Christian Recorder received after it published an editorial in The New York Times that called for the emancipation of people of color on Jan. 4, 1862. “If emancipated they will refuse to work, and will engage in robbery and murder,” the editorial noted.

But readers of color fired back in a shout-out.  “Its readers said, “Yes, God has looked down upon this great national sin, and is now frowning upon it, and declares His judgment upon it.

He has heard the groans of His people, and has come down to deliver them.”

This means then and now the Black Press’ impact was strong. For example, Nathan Richardson, a Suffolk poet, writer, and speaker who portrays Frederick Douglass at schools, churches, and non-profits, said, “It’s had a major impact, not only has it expanded my audience but it has also become an evolution of my becoming Frederick Douglass. Basically, everything I’ve been involved in during my life has helped me to become Douglass. You know he published the North Star newspaper.”

Specifically, Richardson pointed to how his poems and other information have been published in the New Journal and Guide through the years. It has increased his audience base through the years.

“The meaning of what it means to be an activist and advocate for the Black cause has been amplified by my contact with the New Journal and Guide,” he said. “They’ve published my poems. They’ve published events I’ve performed at. They have covered youth I work with and support.  And the feedback I’ve gotten is encouragement and support. I routinely meet people who tell me they read about me in the Guide.”

Richardson was extremely busy during Black History Months. And he performed at the National Women’s Historical Park in November after the presidential election. He has several upcoming speaking engagements including one in New York in April. “The value that it (the Black Press) adds to my life, is it shows we have a diversity of ideas. And we need to understand that it takes all kinds of opinions to come up with the answers to a complex problem.”

In February, Richardson  did 18 performances of Frederick Douglass in Maryland, North Carolina, and Hampton Roads. “I rec’d tremendous feedback because my character is now focusing on the U.S. Constitution. I give every youth who attends a pocket-size version of the U.S. Constitution.

“I have found we are woefully weak in our understanding of the US Constitution. I mean it’s plain and simple we do not know the amendments that guarantee our freedom of speech, the press, freedom of religion, and the right to vote for women. If you don’t know your rights you can’t be as confident as you should be.”

Explaining how Frederick Douglass argued with William Lloyd Garrison because he wanted to tear up  the U.S. Constitution, a document leaders were not heeding, Richards said, “But Douglass said we have to make our leaders live up to the words in the constitution.”

In another clear shout-out to the New Journal and Guide, Richardson said, “The Black press dates back to slavery: The newspaper then was what the Internet is now. It was the Black community’s Internet where we could exchange ideas, meet challenges of social and economic injustice, and have a platform and a voice.”

Go to www.thenewjournalandguide.com to view an interview between Nathan Richardson in character as Frederick Douglass and Publisher Brenda H. Andrews.


Another shout-out came from Anthony Stockard, the director of the Norfolk State University Players and the newly formed Division of Drama at Norfolk State University. “The impact has been tremendous,” Stockard said. “It has been hard to get other news outlets to give us the type of attention and recognition that we have received from the New Journal and Guide. It has proven to be quite a challenge to get other outlets to give us the value we are trying to put out there.”

Stockard said he has produced multiple plays and heard many audience members say they came out to see the performance because they read about it in the New Journal and Guide.

“And we have also bought advertising with the New Journal and Guide,” Stockard added. “While we have bought advertising in other newspapers, it seems like the New Journal and Guide is very proud and quite willing to share our good news. In my opinion, they do not just print Black news, but worthy news. Some of our counterparts that have seemingly less, fewer, and far-reaching accomplishments tend to get their stories published in other newspapers, but not ours.”


Another reader who offered a shout-out was Chukwuma “Chuck” Awanna, a Navy veteran who lost his job when ITT Educational Services closed most of its campuses nationwide. including its Norfolk campuses. While Awanna is still looking for a comparable job in recruitment and marketing, and told his story to the New Journal and Guide shortly after his employer closed most of its campuses, Awanna is still a busy man.

He heads Nigiafest, an organization that sponsors Nigerian cultural events including Nigiafest which was held in Military Circle Mall  last year. Attendance doubled from about 300  the first year to nearly twice that in the second year.

“Being in the New Journal and Guide helped Nigiafest reach a demographic that we didn’t have access to,” Awanna said. “People who read the New Journal and Guide are outside of my influence. It is a paper many read often. They came to our event, tasted, and went back enriched.”


Meanwhile, another reader, Patricia Fitchett, who runs a funeral home that her father and grandfather operated for several decades in the area, said, the New Journal and Guide featured a story on her that many read.

“They told me it was nice story,” said Fitchett who began to oversee the funeral service four years ago after her father passed.

“I would say about ten people told me they read the story. They said it was nice. We are here to continue to serve people in the community like my grandfather and father.”

By Rosaland Tyler
Associate Editor

Congressman Donald McEachin, the newest Member of Congress representing Virginia’s 4th Congressional District, spent a day in Hampton Roads connecting with his constituents.

He began his day at the Hampton Roads Colorectal Cancer Roundtable. As a colorectal “cancer conqueror,” the Congressman said he values any opportunity to bring attention to this form of cancer.

McEachin then met with local representatives of the Army Corps of Engineers to talk about current and upcoming projects. Rep. McEachin ended his day with his coffee event in Chesapeake at Sunrise Breakfast Shoppe.

He met with about 100 constituents to discuss their values and answer any questions they had about the district and what is going on in Washington. McEachin said that he always looks forward to meeting his constituents.

“One of my favorite parts of being a Congressman is when I get to speak directly to my amazing constituents about our values and how I can best serve them,” said Congressman Donald McEachin.

He’s has already achieved one version of the American Dream.  

After growing up in poverty in Flint, Mich., DeVon Taylor ’12 graduated from Old Dominion University and from Harvard Medical School in 2016. Taylor now has begun a three-year residency in emergency medicine at the prestigious Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C. 

And that experience has inspired Taylor to pursue a new version of the American Dream, going beyond personal success: expanding access to health care.  

“A large proportion of the patients we see in the emergency rooms have nowhere else to go,” Taylor, 33, said. “It’s something as a country that I feel we haven’t adequately addressed. Hopefully, that will be an area I am able to make a mark in.”  

Taylor rarely saw a doctor when he was younger. As a teenager in Flint, he lived in a run-down home in a poor neighborhood. His mother worked multiple jobs to keep the family going. 

After barely graduating from high school, Taylor joined the Navy, working in the nuclear power program in Norfolk for more than eight years. When he enrolled at Old Dominion, he had already trained his focus on a medical career.

He graduated in 2012 with a 4.0 grade point average and a degree in public health. Taylor became the first Old Dominion graduate to go directly to Harvard Medical School, and on a full scholarship.

He maintained his ties with the University while at Harvard, mentoring minority undergraduates interested in entering the medical field. 

During his time in medical school, Taylor was national speaker of the House of Delegates for the Student National Medical Association, elected by students representing every medical school in the nation, and served as a member of the association’s board.  

He also participated in several research projects, studying the rollout of the Pioneer Accountable Care Organizations, a new risk-sharing payment model that emerged from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare.  

He presented his findings to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. 

That work fits with Taylor’s belief that access to medical services, particularly for children, is a right that all Americans should enjoy. 

“To me, it doesn’t make sense that we have made this choice as a society, in the richest country in the world,” he said. 

Taylor would like to practice in a medically underserved community. He’d also like to work on the front lines of health policy to ensure that others receive the level of care that eluded him as a youth. 

“There are people who work hard but who still can’t afford the cost of health care,” Taylor said. “Like my mother.”

Brendan O’Hallarn is a public relations specialist at Old Dominion University. 

Mahogany Duvall

On Saturday March 4, students from Hampton Roads woke up at the crack of dawn to meet the bus for Road Show Six’s trip to the 2017 DC/Maryland Black College Expo at Bowie State University in Bowie, Md.

My name is Mahogany. I was asked to write about my trip to the expo.

Now many people have gone on one of the memorable journeys to experience new things, trying to discover the right college, asking serious questions, and getting a real grip on college life. But this college fair was a bit different than most, and what I mean by that is, it was held at an HBCU, formally known as an Historically Black College and University.

You are probably wondering why an HBCU. Well, with the majority of the students on the bus being African-American, many parents, faculty and staff thought this would be a great experience. The trip was sponsored by GOing2COLLEGEisEZ (EZ).

Its website said it was established in July 2013 as “a social enterprise of educational consultants that partners with like-minded educators, administrators, entrepreneurs, and mentors to deliberate and deploy strategies that help deter school dropout and close the achievement gap among at risk (i.e., first-generation, low-income, minority) and other underrepresented student populations in Grades 6-12. It provides educational consulting services that support educational processes or systems to enhance student achievement and offer college and career planning as a simple, manageable, and seamless alternative.”

Mr. Willie Lee, a businessman who volunteers each year, was one of our chaperones who helped organize our trip. First, the bus picked up a diverse group of students at New Hope Baptist Church in Virginia Beach, VA. Then it picked up a few students at my high school, Booker T. Washington in Norfolk. While talking with Mr. Lee, I discovered that he also attended and graduated from an HBCU, even an historically (predominantly) African-American high school known as Booker T. Washington High, my school.

Bowie State University, an HCBU, was founded in 1865, making it the oldest HBCU in Maryland and one of the 10 oldest in the United States.

Inside the vast college expo, I discovered many colleges that I hadn’t heard of, some which weren’t even HBCUs. Some of them I had heard about, like Morgan State University, Howard University, North Carolina A&T, Lincoln University, Alabama State, Delaware State University, Liberty University, Florida A&M and many others.

Each was very informative and very attentive of all of the guests. With over 150 colleges being there, it could seem very overwhelming; but, honestly, after speaking with specific colleges, it seemed to go well.


My name is La’kia Burns.

I attend Heritage High School in Newport News.

My aunt arranged for me to make this trip. Though she lives in Norfolk, she took me to New Hope Baptist Church on Indian River Road, because she didn’t want to take any chances of my missing this opportunity. She wanted me to experience the whole trip since this was my first experience going to a college expo.

Nothing quite compares to having your senses tested by trying to function correctly at three o’clock in the morning. In my personal opinion, it is inhumane to be up so early in the morning. Between getting out of bed, shivering from the cold breeze of opening the bathroom door, and having a civil war with the toothbrush and your mouth, it is almost unheard of for teenagers. The only explanation or excuse  for the sleep deprivation is going on a trip to a well-known HBCU college expo.

Getting on the bus was a memorable experience. I can’t speak for everyone’s personal anxieties; but, I don’t like the idea of sitting with strangers. Especially when the places you are going to are unfamiliar. It would be recommended that you choose wisely where you sit and whom you sit with.

Coming on campus was a great experience. Thanks to Mr. Wille Lee, and the other directors of the trip, who made it possible.

Stepping onto the campus was nothing short of a phenomenal experience. It helped expose me to the different opportunities and roads I can take. When I first went into the crowd of noisy students, I wasn’t sure where to start. It took me a while to figure out where to begin due to the many choices of universities.

As I walked around, I ran into colleges I had never even heard of. I probably never would have heard of them if not for the efforts of Mr. Lee and the other adults.   As an executive for the Bank of America, it means a lot that he took time out of his schedule to help plan our futures. The multitude of colleges there were ready to answer the accumulating questions of future scholars.

Because of Mr. Lee, I got the chance to meet another outstanding individual by the name of Dr. Margaret Calloway. She specializes in infectious diseases, and she is an assistant professor of Medicine at the Uniformed Services University Uniformed Services He’bert SOM (in Bethesda, MD). My aunt made me Google her after I told her I met her, and that she wanted to help me. Dr. Calloway gave her office number and email address.

Dr. Calloway was not a college recruiter. She was at the expo to do some research and network. She told me she had some contacts at different colleges and universities that I may be interested in since I want to major in architectural engineering. She also gave me a site that would help me study with my SAT.

When I got home I called to thank her for reaching out to me. For this story I asked her why she attended college. She said furthering her education was something she wanted to do to “pursue the field of medicine she was interested in.” She spent many years pursuing her education. She even quit jobs just to do so. Her dedication to what she strived to do will forever be an inspiration.

“In order to open more doors, you must close some,” she told me.

After the expo, we were treated with mouth-watering selections at  brunch. As our day ended, the different fraternities put on a showcase demonstrating what they are all about.  All and alI I would say the trip was a great step in the right direction for students on the road to better themselves. I would recommend this trip to anyone looking for a route to be a successful individual wherever they may be. I would say this was a great excuse for getting out of bed so early in the morning. Thank you Mr. Lee. Thanks, Auntie!

Mahogany Duvall is a junior at Booker T. Washington in Norfolk, VA. She plans to major in Journalism and/or Theater in college. La’kia Burns is a junior at Heritage High in Newport News, VA. He is interested in pursuing Architectural Engineering. Student notes were edited for publication.

Norfolk State (17-16) could not overcome a second-half collapse that saw them give up a 3-point lead at 14:33 minute mark as North Carolina Central (25-8) ignited a 19-0 run that kept NSU scoreless for 11 minutes in the MEAC championship game at the Scope. NCCU guard Patrick Cole, the MEAC Player of the Year and the MVP of the tournament, led the Eagles with 18 points. NCCU coach LeVelle Moton was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Coach.

NSU was led by guard Zaynah Robinson, who scored 18 points. The Eagles will get an automatic bid in the NCAA tournament. NSU will be invited to a lesser post-season tournament. The Eagles have won 3 regular-season MEAC titles over the past 4 years. Coach Moton dedicated the championship victory to late NCCU chancellor Debra Saunders-White, who died of cancer in November.

In the women’s championship game, Hampton University (20-12) captured the MEAC hoops title with a 52-49 win over Bethune Cookman (21-10).

HU guard Jephany Brown, the game’s MVP, and center Mikayla Sayle, each scored 10-points to lead the Pirates. HU coach David Six was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Coach. HU gains an automatic bid to the NCAA women’s tournament.

By Randy Singleton
Community Affairs Correspondent

The Civil War physically ended slavery in the United States in 1865, but it was the passage of the 13th Amendment that legally abolished slavery.

Yet, the practice of enslavement has been ongoing in various forms since 1865.

After emancipation, Black men and women could be arrested for frivolous reasons, jailed and leased  to  farmers to labor on farms or to the state to work on  chain gangs.

Even today, thousands of people around the world have lost  their freedom of mobility,  and  their constitutional and civil rights associated with being free.

A modern version of slavery is called “Human Trafficking” or “Involuntary Servitude,” and according to the  FBI website, it is existing in  the shadows today.

“Here in this country,  people   are being bought, sold, and smuggled like modern-day slaves, often beaten, starved, and forced to work as prostitutes or to take jobs as migrant, domestic, restaurant, or factory workers with little or no pay,” notes the FBI on its website.

It occurs in rural and urban communities in America.

Recently, according to various media accounts, a 20-year-old woman telephoned a Sandy Springs,  Georgia police dispatcher and said  she and a house full of girls were being held against their will.

“It’s a house full of girls and … if I try to leave, he’ll try to kill me and stuff,” she said, prompting the dispatcher to ask, “Wait – did you say you’re in a house full of girls?”
Georgia authorities eventually uncovered an alleged case of human trafficking based in  a $1 million luxury home in the suburbs of Atlanta.

The man who ran the operation,  Kendric Roberts, 33, who is African-American, was charged with additional felonies, Sandy Springs police told NBC News.

The authorities found eight women ranging from ages 19 to 22 at the home.

Roberts faces five counts of false imprisonment, five counts of trafficking persons for labor and two counts for possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony. An AK-47 pistol and a Glock .45-caliber handgun were found in the home, police said. Possible federal charges are also pending.

Roberts was renting the residence, and the homeowners weren’t there. The president of the local homeowners association told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the group had received complaints from neighbors about cars constantly “coming in and out.”

On March 18, at the Historic First Baptist Church’s  Murray   Center’s Taste N See Banquet Hall in downtown Norfolk, Paula Fillmore will host a  five-hour  workshop on the subject of Human Trafficking.

According to Fillmore,   the program  is designed to  look at the “Crisis of Human Trafficking” and the critical role of  local government and police, the criminal justice system, civil rights groups, churches and other institutions  in stopping it.
It will have two sessions starting at  9 a.m. with experts who have firsthand knowledge of the issue from their professional insights.
The first  will included a presentation by Mitze Glass, a Licensed Social Worker  and her daughter Brittney J. Gainey on making the “Connection Between Mother and Daughter.”
Tasheeba McLeod will talk about “How to Access the  Resources for Victims and Family Members”.  The issue related to civil rights will be addressed by  Social Worker Marcia Watkins. Rev. Stanford Macke will look at the topic from the “Pulpit’s Point of View.”
During the second half of the program, Norfolk’s Commonwealth Attorney Gregory D. Underwood  and his Assistant Krtistyina Fulton will look at the issue from the perspective of the criminal justice system.
Fillmore is  a  Court Appointed Special Advocate for the City of Portsmouth and an advocate for various issues related to social and criminal justice system, including domestic abuse, gender, elder and victim’s rights.
Fulton is a leader of her Crisis Circle at her home church.  She said she has been involved with the Lott Carey Global Christian Missionary Community, which is supporting anti-human trafficking laws domestically and abroad.
Her interest and advocacy related to human trafficking and domestic violence came after years as a registered foster parent in the Hampton Roads area. She has sheltered over  20 children and her own children.
Her experiences as a foster care parent exposed her to the factors which lead to human trafficking, especially abandoned children and homelessness.
“Human trafficking is today’s slavery 2.0,” said Fillmore.  “All people, Black, White, Hispanic, rich poor…all should be concerned about this new form of slavery and should be supporting  its end.”
“People are being held against their will   and  are sexually and economically exploited,” she continued. “Not only small children, but adult women and men. It is not just prostitution, but people are working for free and abused as domestics or in the nail shops doing manicures, nails and other works.”
Victims of human trafficking in the United States may be lured into it from overseas; however, many victims are born in the states and are just as vulnerable, according to the FBI.
“It is right here in our own back yards,” Fillmore said.
The most vulnerable victims are persons fleeing   domestic abuse, the abandoned, runaways,  and homeless adults and youth, men and women.
Many people are working  as domestics, or as skilled laborers in factories in urban downtown business districts and malls.
Coercion, physical or emotional, are the keys to entrapping victims. But many poor adults and youths are lured by drugs, material goods like clothes, food and cell phones, and promises of security.
“They are told ‘if I can get you off the streets or get you out of  town or to another country, there is something you must do for me’,” said Fillmore. “Then they are threatened and physically intimidated.. beaten. The traffickers promise to kill members of their families and  even them.”
Full indoctrination involves destroying their self-esteem and stripping victims of their personal cultural memory, by traffickers who take full control of the victim’s lives and movements.
Fillmore said one warning sign of people who are victims is they are always accompanied by their traffickers.  There are signs of physical abuse and if they are asked about it, they say they fell  or had an accident.
“If you have seen them a while, and if you ask  them about a well-known street or place in Norfolk….Tidewater Drive or Virginia Beach Boulevard and they don’t know, that is a sign,” said Fillmore.  “They are not  allowed to know where they are located to assure they won’t seek to escape. Trafficking is happening in our own backyard and often it is not easy to recognize.”
Fillmore is supportive of Senate Bill 553, introduced in the last Congress designed to fight the human trafficking internationally and in the states. It has yet to be passed.
“This workshop is a way in which we can   alert the public about this problem which impacts thousands of people,” said Fillmore. “We want to expose it and build support for laws to stop it But first we must educate  people, get them involved to help pass legislation and help those who are modern-day slaves.”
There is a $20 donation for the event.
For more information call (757) 332-4906 or paulafillmore.pf@gmail.com

By Leonard E. Colvin
Chief Reporter

It is still a proposed blueprint, but the Trump Administration’s proposal to cut the budget  of  various non-defense related federal agencies by $54 billion-plus has many advocates for housing and assistance for the poor, the environment and education concerned.

The Administration is working  on its first budget  and while agencies such as Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)  would have their budgets cut, the Department of Defense  will get a hefty raise.

Also in the works is a cut in the Commerce Department’s budget which has Coast Guard leaders worried.

And funding may be siphoned from non-defense agency budgets to pay for  President Donald J. Trump’s wall on the Mexican border to fulfill a campaign promise.

HUD’s budget, under Trump,  could take a $6 billion dollar hit, according to White House Budget documents obtained by the media.

The cuts could negatively impact public housing support and maintenance, housing vouchers and  erase money for Community Development Block Grants (CDBG)  programs,  used by community action agencies and cities to  assist the poor  and fund business growth in neglected communities.

The CDBG program is expected to receive some $3 billion this year and that could be cut severely if the Trump Administration carries out its plans.

The HOME Investment Partnership Program, which provides block grants for local communities to build affordable housing and the Choice Neighborhoods  program which invests  in redeveloping low income communities, would be cut, as well.

The budget calls for some $4 billion in community planning and development grants  used to clean up struggling neighborhoods, to be eliminated under the Office of Management and Budget’s proposal.

Direct rental assistance, including Section 8 vouchers and housing vouchers for homeless veterans, would be cut by at least $300 million.

Also housing for the elderly known as the Section 202 would be cut by $42 million – nearly 10 percent.  The Section 811 housing program for people with disabilities would be slashed by $29 million.

Money for Native Americans’ housing block grants would fall by $150 million or 10 percent.

A HUD spokesperson, Jereon Brown called the budget a “work in progress.”

The funding for public housing authorities, the city and state agencies which provide subsidized housing and vouchers to poor local residents, would be the hardest hit at about 14 percent or $600 million.

With  election of  Trump,  and his nomination of Black Conservative Republican Ben Carson, housing advocates for the poor feared such cuts. Carson, a noted brain surgeon, worth millions, recently bought a $1.3 million mansion in the D.C. area.

Carson has often been critical of low income people for being too “dependent” on public assistance, even during the low point in the nation’s economic standing.

Locally, community action agencies and housing authorities say they are being cautious about their reaction to the budget plan, for political forces may change the White House’s outlook on the issue.

Edward Ware, the Director of Communications and Government Relations for the Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority (NRHA), said it is too early to  determine what the impact could be on  the agency’s ability to serve its existing programs.

He said that NRHA officials will be meeting with U.S. Congressman Robert Scott, and Senators Tim Kaine and  Mark Warner on March 28 to discuss the  impact of the cuts in funding for the agency and others.

All three lawmakers are Democrats and the Republicans control the White House and both houses of Congress. Unless there are some Republican defections, Democrats will not be able to deter cuts from being approved.

Norfolk has the  largest amount of residents in Hampton Roads benefiting from HUD and other federal funding for housing  assistance and development.

Currently according to NRHA Board Chair Barbara Hamm Lee, some 17,000-plus poor and working class people rely on  some form of federal assistance for housing and other services in Norfolk alone.

She said there are 14,558 people and their families living in the city’s six public housing units and sites for the elderly, which have about 3,496 units.

She said  NRHA  directly funds 2,921 housing choice vouchers used by 6,758 families in units not in public housing communities.

NRHA receives about  $27 million in choice vouchers  and that would be cut $3.8 million dollars. Four hundred families would  lose funding.

Ware said the public housing wait list currently stands at 1,190 and housing choice voucher list at 7,856.

The Trump administration’s cuts would impact  the housing authorities’ maintenance budgets used for upkeep of public  housing units. Norfolk’s share  now stands at $5.2 million and would be cut 14 percent.

Hamm Lee said NRHA would lose  $2.1 million of the  $15 million in operating  subsidies for public housing  from HUD if the cuts are applied.

Another $880,000 would be cut from its $6 million  capital maintenance fund.

Also with  the 14 percent  cut, the CDBG funding which is used by the city for commercial development would be “killed.” First time home buyer counseling could be eliminated.
The HOME program would be disbanded. It  provides down payment and closing costs  for first time home buyers.

Hamm Lee said that one saving grace for Norfolk is its fiscal reserves derived from rents  in two apartment complexes  which charge market rents and other  developments to generate revenue used to support programs for the poor and aged.

“It is too early,” said Hamm-Lee. “But we hope that some changes will be made in this proposed plan.  We hope that people in D.C. will come to their senses because  of the impact it has on so many people.”

According to a press release from the National Low Income Housing Coalition, currently just one in four low income people in need of assistance, including seniors, people with disabilities, families with children, and veterans, get the help that they need. In light of these considerations, the cuts that are being suggested will increase homelessness.

“The proposed cuts would devastate critical programs that keep roofs over the heads of some of the most vulnerable people in our communities,” noted the release.

“They are in direct contrast to Mr. Trump’s promises to revitalize distressed communities and ensure that ‘nobody’s going to be dying on the street’ from homelessness.”

By Leonard E. Colvin
Chief Reporter

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