Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Local News

By Leonard E. Colvin
Chief Reporter
New Journal and Guide

The   Board of Directors  and other leaders  of the Virginia Beach African-American Cultural Center  (AACC) have hired a team of consultants to conduct a feasibility study on its design and  cost.

Webb Management Services, a leading provider of cultural facility planning services, will orchestrate a Town Hall meeting  February 21 to solicit ideas and suggestions from the African-American community, the cultural community, educational, religious, political and business leaders on the design and amenities inside the facility.

The Community Town Hall meeting will be held on Tuesday, February 21, from 6:30-8 p.m. at Enoch Baptist Church, 5641 Herbert Rd.

The following day,  February  22 at the Sandler Center at Virginia Beach’s Towne Center,  the consultants will meet individually by appointment only with leaders and representatives   from various  arts, business and civic organizations, beginning at 8 a.m. to hear their ideas for the proposed facility.

According to Dr. Amelia Ross Hammond, the Project Director  for the center,   the consultants will compile all of  the ideas during these meetings to determine not only the size of the facility and the facilities inside of it, but the overall cost.

“We are hoping that  it will be a museum and a community center to display African-American culture and history,” said Hammond. “There should be public space enough for the exhibition of arts, for performance and education, including an auditorium inside and a historic trail outside.

Ross-Hammond said the projected size of the center will be 25,000 square feet and  cost nearly $10 million.

Ross-Hammond, a former Virginia Beach City Council member,  said that the city donated the 4.89 acres of land at 705 Hampshire Lane which faces Newtown Road.

The AACC would be one of two in the region once built. The African-American Historical Museum facility is located on the campus of Hampton University.

She said the   African-American Cultural Center, Inc. is a Nonprofit 501 (c) (3) Non-stock Corporation with   an 11-member Board of Directors and Advisory Committee.

She said the AACC’s leaders will  launch a capital fundraising campaign once the consultants have made their assessment of  overall design of the facility and cost.

“This is why the two days of interviews and communication  with the general public and people who are experts and are running such facilities is necessary,” said Ross Hammond. “We want the community to have a hand in the planning and design of the center. We want to know what they want in a facility of this  kind.  Not only are people from Virginia Beach invited, but from the entire region, because it will impact all of Hampton Roads.”

Dr. Linda Bright is the President of the AACC’s Executive Board of Directors and the President  and CEO of Health Care Services of Hampton Roads, Inc.

“You just can’t call it a museum,” said Bright. “This will also be a place  to tell our story in Princess Anne County, Virginia Beach and the region. It will show the diversity of our community, not just

African-American cultures but all of them.

Bright said that when she arrived in Hampton Roads in 1969, she learned that most of the land in the Virginia Beach Oceanfront from Oceana was owned by  Black people.

“People don’t know that history,” said Bright, who first moved to Lake Edwards when she arrived  in Virginia Beach.  “I applauded Mrs. Hammond for working so hard on this project, because it’s her vision  to provide such a facility not only for the Beach  but the whole region.

Once built,  the facility will be supported by the city’s departments of Museums, Parks and Recreation  and the public schools system, which will  help with cultural and educational programming.

Last September 24, on the day the National African-American History Musuem opened in Washington, D.C., a special program  was held at the site of the  proposed center. Dr. Ross-Hammond      said there was a “Blessing of the Land” by a group of religious elders, jazz and gospel music performers, and art work was  on display to give the community a taste of the kind of programming which will be provided once the AACC is built.

Ross-Hammond said she hopes   even if the facility is not up and running by 2019,   a special event will be planned for some time that year which will commemorate the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first  Africans on the shores of  North America.

The museum planners hope the facility will establish Virginia Beach as another hub for African-American historic sites and cultural activities in the region.

Once the facility is up and running,  Ross Hammond said that the organizers of the facility will be soliciting art work  and historical artifacts  from the community to be on display.
“We will be asking people to go to their attics and closets  and retrieve and donate artifacts which tell our  history and contributions to Princess Anne County and Virginia Beach.”

Few used the term mentoring in the 1960s, when Dr. Jeremiah Williams transferred from a segregated high school in Newport News to the newly integrated James Blair High School in Williamsburg.

But, a few good mentors would have helped Williams find his way, especially, after a white guidance counselor did not even bother to sift through Williams’ ACT or SAT test scores. Instead, the counselor looked Williams squarely in the eye and suggested he go join the Army.

Today, Williams is a retired clinical psychologist and the president of 100 Black Men-Virginia Peninsula Chapter. Launched to mentor young men of color in 1990 in Newport News, the mentoring organization started with about 10-12 young males, and now serves 82 young men.

“I’m glad I didn’t take his advice,” Williams said referring to his high school guidance counselor. “I did eventually go into the Navy. I think the military did set me on the right course and helped me discover a lot of my capabilities. I think the Navy helped me achieve my potential,” said Williams, who earned a bachelor’s degree at Christopher Newport College, a master’s degree at the Univ. of Pittsburgh, and a doctoral degree at Norfolk State University.

Williams’ experience brings a troubling reality sharply into focus. Black teachers who once served as mentors and role models in segregated public schools are declining. Black teachers, for example, in 1995 made up 16.8 percent of all teachers nationwide compared to a 64.8 percent rate for white teachers, according to the Digest of Education Statistics.

Black teachers, 20 years later, in 2015 made up 15.3 percent of all teachers nationwide, compared to a rate of 49.2 percent for white teachers.

This means what while minority students have become a majority in public schools, the proportion of teachers who are racial minorities has not kept pace. In fact more than 80 percent of teachers are white, according to a 2013 Department of Education report titled, Characteristics of Public and Private Elementary and Secondary School Teachers in the United States.

A glaring example of the minority teacher shortage surfaces in Boston, according to the 2013 report. There is just one Hispanic teacher for every 52 Latino students, one African-American teacher for every 22 African-American students. Meanwhile, there is one white teacher for one to three white students.

The problem is Williams could easily point to several concerned but firm teachers, who were also mentors, before he transferred to the integrated high school in Williamsburg.

“Those days are gone,” he said. “In a segregated society we all lived in cross proximity. So we had role models who were doctors, lawyers, and teachers – people from all walks of life lived near us and went to church with us. Now, we no longer have those same communities. I’m not sure we could ever regain what he had.”

Williams added, “It’s no accident we are doing so poorly in the school system. A lot of teachers have to buy materials out of their own pockets. Their pay is lagging. Meanwhile the family, employment – everything is changing. I think there are so many reasons why we are seeing failure in our public schools. It’s not just one thing. It’s a very complex issue and we have to look at everything. Sometimes we see overcrowded classes, inactive parents, and a government that doesn’t adequately fund the system.”

And as the New Journal and Guide celebrates Black History Month by examining this year’s theme, The Crisis in Black Education, Part 3 examines the impact that an increasing number of mentoring organizations have had on youngsters, as the number of teachers of color has steadily declined.

“We are no longer in a crisis mode,” Williams said, referring to this year’s theme (Crisis in Black Education) which the committee that launched Black History Month chooses annually.

Instead, the crisis is more of “a chronic social problem that has been going on for some time,” Williams explained. “We started with the thought that African-American boys were suffering. We thought it was an inability to learn. But we learned that they are intelligent. Their social behavior sometimes got in the way.”

He said the mentoring organization in Newport News has steadily grown for several reasons. “In 1996, we formed a partnership with the parents. Back then it was mostly all mothers. Today we have fathers, uncles and grandfathers who participate in our program and come in to learn what they can do to be the best parent possible. It has been marvelous.”

Acknowledging that there has been a steady decline in the number of minority teachers nationwide, Williams said, “So our organization operates as a conduit and a resource. We try to make a difference in a child’s life. For example, we work on social skills, provide tutoring, and help our parents maintain contact with the local school system. Each year, we normally award over 10 scholarships for $1,000 a year for four years.”

Williams added, “We know this approach works because we help these students and their families try to achieve whatever it is they say they want and need. We are not doing this program for them but with them. Our group has 52 strongly committed members, men from all walks of life who are committed to making a difference. So we bring to the table not only our commitment but support from our own family members, as well.”

Williams said he cannot add up the hours he donates each month as a volunteer. “Because I’ve never tabulated it,” he said, laughing. “We do what is necessary. I never felt like anybody was looking at the clock when they were helping me in high school. I never felt like they didn’t have time for me. They are the ones who truly helped me.”

The mentoring group will hold its annual gala on April 22 at the Marriot in Newport News at 7 p.m. Tickets are $100 each.

By Rosaland Tyler
Associate Editor
New Journal and Guide

Part Two: Black History Month: Norfolk Church School Defines Its Calling To Educate Children
Part One: Black History Month – Forbidden To Read As Slaves

Last November voters  in Portsmouth denied then Mayor Kenneth Wright another term and replaced him with former city manager John Rowe. Many said they hoped an era of group cooperation and peace would arise, having witnessed an often rocky relationship among council members.

Recently,  the council held its first retreat as a body tasked to move the city forward under its new Portsmouth mayor and new and continuing council members.

But City Councilman  Mark Whitaker, a close ally of Wright’s, was not  ready to join  his colleagues in their team building moment.

Whitaker boycotted the retreat,  he  said, to symbolize his belief that Mayor Rowe lacks the “social-consciousness and credibility to lead or participate in providing  vision for the city.”

On February 3, Whitaker released a press statement outlining his reasons for boycotting the retreat. Whitaker listed nine specific reasons for his stand, mostly involving Rowe.

Whitaker highlighted his view that payments Rowe, the city’s former city manager, has received from the Virginia Retirement System are improper and  against state  law.

Further, he said, if the VRA does not recover at least $83,000 of the retirement funds paid to Rowe, the city would be liable.

He questioned Rowe’s role in facilitating the transaction involving the city’s payments of $7 million to the Portsmouth Redevelopment and Housing Authority to retire the Holiday Inn loan.

Whitaker said  he does not support diversifying  the city’s police and fire personnel in a city which is majority African American.

Whitaker said  the mayor is not a proponent of the “Living Wage,” and he chided Rowe for orchestrating  a criminal investigation of members of the  Portsmouth School board investigated several years ago  for appropriating funds to  expand school  facilities for students.

“There are so many issues which the council under Mr. Rowe will not address,” Whitaker told a reporter for the New Journal and Guide.

“This is due to the ‘Whitelash’  which has taken place locally and nationally. Also, Black ignorance of the  social norm of White Supremacy.”

Whitaker said while the council is seeking to establish a more unified “group dynamic,” the panel’s ability to address many of the diversity,  education and economic fairness  issues facing the panel may be co-opted.

He pointed out that Jaymichael Mitchell, who was arrested for shoplifting $5 worth of goods, was detained in the  Regional Jail and latter was found dead in his cell.

He also mentioned William Chapman, who  was killed by a Portsmouth Police  officer for allegedly shoplifting $50 worth of goods  from a Walmart.

Whitaker said while these two young Black men died for petty crimes, Rowe is allowed to go free for various issues, including the VRS issue.

But during a telephone interview with the Guide on February 13, Rowe sought to counter Whitaker’s  assertions which he called “opinions and not facts.”

“The retirement that I receive is for my 30 years of earned service prior to becoming Deputy City Manager of Portsmouth and later as City Manager of Portsmouth,” Rowe said in a statement he supplied to the Guide on Feb. 13.  “Portsmouth did not contribute even one dollar to the retirement that I receive.”

Rowe continued by saying, “Both contracts were developed by the City and signed by all parties in good faith years ago. One contract is almost 12 years old and signed by the current City Manager (Patton) who was Deputy City Manager in 2005, and the second was provided to me nearly five years ago and signed by the former Mayor Kenny Wright in 2012.

“However, the matter is now between VRS and me to resolve,” said Rowe said.

Rowe also refutes Whitaker’s charge that he was involved in the City’s paying $7,000,000 to the Portsmouth Redevelopment and Housing Authority for the retirement of the Holiday Inn loan because he was not working in Portsmouth.

“On January 8, 2008, while I was serving as Deputy City Manager of the City of Portsmouth, I told the then City Manager Ken Chandler that I would leave the City at the end of April 2008,” Rowe said.   “This was a public announcement, and the whole City knew that my last day with the City of Portsmouth was April 30, 2008.  I did not resign or leave ‘abruptly’ as alleged by Dr. Mark Whitaker.”

Six months  later,  he said the  Town Council of Windsor hired him as Interim Town Manager.

“The Town’s previous Manager was retiring the end of June 2008 after serving as the Town Manager for 12 years, and the Town Council hired me to be its Interim Town Manager,”  he continued.

“As Interim Town Manager, I was fully immersed in running the Windsor municipal operations, and I had no interactions with the City of Portsmouth. Consequently, I was not aware that Portsmouth had developed and signed this October 31, 2008 agreement with the Greater Portsmouth Development Corporation.”

Rowe submitted a document, dated  October 31, 2008  which was an “agreement, six full months after I left the City of Portsmouth, the then Portsmouth City Manager Ken Chandler signed this contract in which the City agreed to pay $7,000,000 to retire the loan on the Holiday Inn. The then City Attorney Tim Oaksman approved the form and legality of the agreement.”
Rowe said he was disappointed that Councilman Whitaker did not attend the retreat with  his colleagues.

He said the city has devised a four-point vision for its future, including creating a  poverty taskforce  to attack and end the problems “as best we can.”

Rowe said on education, council wants  to reverse the fact that only eight of the city’s 19 public schools are fully accredited  and wants to develop a community wide strategy to reverse that trend. He said that effort will begin Feb. 27 when the council will meet with the school board to approve its budget and outline  plans on its vision for the future in that area.

He said the plan calls for reform in the city’s  ordinance system from  its current “form system” which has been an impediment to recruiting and  retaining  job creating businesses in Portsmouth.

Rowe said that  in 2008 the city eliminated its Marketing and Tourism Department and the current council  will work to revive  it.

Rowe countered  Whitaker’s contention that he was not for diversity and civil and social justice and does not carry his concern for  the “issue on my sleeve.”

He pointed out when he was City Manager for Emporia/Greenville, he received a citation  from the local NAACP  in 2003 for “fighting for Freedom  and Justice for all.”

And from the city’s Oak Grove Baptist Church, he was cited for his “dutifulness  to justice and equality and use of  his “resourcefulness in development  and growth of Emporia/Greenville.”

Rowe said he had no knowledge of and was not involved in the Grand Jury Investigation of the city of Portsmouth School Board over allegations related to funding that “was not returned”   to the city.

Before last November’s elections, Blacks had a 4-3 majority on council, with Wright as Portsmouth mayor.

Now there are four White and three Black council members, including Portsmouth Mayor Rowe who may determine the deciding vote on the panel now if the voting is along racial lines.

By Leonard E. Colvin
Chief Reporter

February 18
Seatack Civic League Will Honor Four For Black History
VIRGINIA BEACH
The Seatack Community Civic League will host its 3rd Annual CITYWIDE BLACK HISTORY PROGRAM on Saturday, February 18, 2017 from noon to 2 p.m.

Four Honorees will receive the “Life Time Achievement Award” to include Presiding Bishop Ted Thomas – National Board of Bishops Church of God In Christ, U.S.A.; Deputy Chief of Police (Retired) John L. Bell, Jr. – first African-American to rise to the level of “Deputy Chief of Police” in the City of Virginia Beach; Ms. Edna Hawkins-Hendrick – Author of the First Black History Book of Princess Anne County / Virginia Beach – Citywide Historian; and Ms. Brenda H. Andrews, “for your many years of service to the citizens of historic Seatack, Virginia Beach and Hampton Roads as the Owner and faithful Publisher of the New Journal and Guide Newspaper.”

The program will place at the Joseph V. Grimstead, Sr. – Seatack Recreation Center, 141 South Birdneck Road in historic Seatack, Virginia Beach.

E. George Minns, NAACP President-Elect Virginia Beach (5th term 2017), is the Presiding Officer of the Seatack Community Civic League Administration.

Navy’s First African American Seal To Be Awarded During Brunch
NORFOLK
The Oakmont Community Development Corporation will hold its 1st Brunch on Saturday, February 18, 2017 where it will celebrate the achievements of Retired, U.S. Navy Master Chief William Goines The event will take place at The Murray Taste ‘N’ See, 455 East Brambleton Ave., Norfolk, Virginia 23510.

Master Chief William Goines is officially regarded as the first African-American Navy SEAL member, a feat he achieved in the early 60s.

Goines, a native of Lockland, Ohio, lives in Virginia Beach with his wife, Marie, of 51 years.

On September 24, 2016, two weeks after his 80th birthday, Master Chief William Goines was honored at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture on its opening day. President Barack Obama was a part of that ceremony.

As a youth, Gaines taught himself how to swim at a local creek, a skill that would be crucial when he joined the Navy in 1955.

In 1962, when President John F. Kennedy formed the first two SEAL teams, Goines was one of 40 men selected, the only African-American.

Gaines completed 43 different training schools where he learned such survival skills as Judo, Aikido, and skills for escape and evasion; jungle warfare, skydiving and weapons training; how to capture enemies and how to rescue fellow seamen; and how to escape from plane and helicopter crashes over water. 

In 1976, he was selected to become part of the Chuting Stars, a U.S. Navy Parachute Demonstration Team. He performed 640 jumps during his five years on the team. 

In 1987, Goines retired from the Navy after 32 years of service. After leaving the Navy, he went on to become the chief of police for the school system of Portsmouth, Virginia. He said that job was harder than combat. After 14 years, he retired from Portsmouth school system and began recruiting SEALS for the Navy.

February 19, 26
Black History Film Series Being Shown At Central Library
VIRGINIA BEACH
A three-week film series for Black History Month continues Sunday February 19 and Sunday February 26 at the Central Library auditorium at 3 p.m.

Each film is about one hour in length and will be followed by a panel discussion facilitated by Virginia Beach History Museum staff.

On Feb. 18, African-American Film Series: Freedom Summer, will be shown. It details the 10 memorable weeks in 1964 known as Freedom Summer, when more than 700 student volunteers traveled to Mississippi to challenge racial segregation. Students from around the country joined organizers and local African-Americans in a historic effort to shatter the foundations of white supremacy in what was one of the nation’s most viciously racist, segregated states.

On Feb. 26, African-American Film Series: The Road to Brown, will be shown. The Road to Brown tells the story of the Brown v. Board of Education ruling as the culmination of a brilliant legal assault on segregation that launched the Civil Rights movement. It is also a moving and long overdue tribute to a visionary but little known Black lawyer, Charles Hamilton Houston, “the man who killed Jim Crow.”

The series opened on Sunday, February 12. There is no registration.

February 20
Hampton History Museum To Hold Discussions On Virginia Civil Rights
HAMPTON
The Hampton History Museum will host three public conversations on the history of civil rights, beginning Monday Feb. 20 at 7 p.m. The free oral history project will focus on civil rights demonstrations that have occurred statewide.

The conversations will feature three moderators: Hampton author Linda Holmes; Emma Edmonds, who will talk about demonstrations in Danville; and Jerrold Roy, associate dean of the School of Education at Norfolk State University.

“The goal is to have a people learn from the history, and use this as a framework to have a conversation about the legacy of the civil rights movement,” said Luci Cochran, executive director at the Hampton History Museum. “Does it have any meaning for us today? Can it inform things today that we want to deal with? It starts with the history.”

The second monthly civic dialogue will be held on March 20. The third will be held April 23.

“It is a conversation with the community,” Cochran said. “The talks are going to look at the civil rights movement, especially in Hampton, from the perspective of the past, the present and the future. We want people to be involved. It’s really about giving some information and then having a frank, productive, problem-solving conversation.”

The series is made possible by a $6,000 grant from the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.

March 4
‘Experience Ghana’ Event To Be Hosted By Norfolk Sister City
NORFOLK
“Experience Ghana” will be presented on Saturday, March 4, 2017 from 4-6 p.m. at The Murray Center: Taste N’ See, 455 Brambleton Avenue, Norfolk, VA. It is being hosted by the Tema, Ghana Committee of Norfolk Sister City Association (NSCA).

The evening of family fun will feature a delegation of Ghanaians who will be visiting Norfolk as part of NSCA’s international program.

Samplings of traditional Ghanaian cuisine and culture will be offered. Events include an African Attire Fashion Show, Raffle of African Artifacts, Traditional Music and other entertainment.

Tickets are $10 (for NSCA members) and $15 (non-members). Children 12 and under are $5. Tickets may be purchased at www.norfolksistercities.org
For more information call (757) 627-0530

By Leonard E. Colvin
Chief Reporter
New Journal and Guide

The goal of  the nation’s public education system is to  prepare our children to feed a pipeline of skilled, innovative  and productive citizens to create and use technology to fuel the economy, effectively rear families, and  maintain the culture.

But a growing field of study shows the system is not  serving Black children and their families according to that role and legacy.

Instead of Black children  flowing through a pipeline toward productivity and  prosperity, for many, they are funneled into a disparity filled conduit  to poverty, dysfunction and prison.

Recently a U.S. Department of Education (DOE)  survey of    the nation’s 97,000 public schools found widespread racial disparities derailing the educational track of  many Black children, causing this trend.

“The fact that the school-to prison pipeline appears to start  as early as four-years-old, before kindergarten, should absolutely horrify us,” said Arne Duncan, former Secretary of  Education under former President  Barack H. Obama.

The DOE’s Office of Civil Rights looked at 15 years worth of data and discovered a pattern of inequality in how Black students are treated and disciplined, in both so-called good and dysfunctional schools.

The report said over half of the preschool children who are suspended more than once are Black, although African-American students make up less than a fifth of the preschool population.
Similar findings were  revealed  in grades from first to 12.

For comparison, according to the report, 43 percent of pre-schoolers are White, but only a quarter of them get suspended more than once.

African  Americans are more likely to  be referred  to law enforcement  and to be arrested for the most minor infractions of school policy.  Black girls are suspended at  higher rates that girls of any other race.

Students with disabilities who  make up 12 percent  of the student population,  account for nearly 60 percent of those placed in seclusion or involuntary confinement or expulsion.

“A routine school infraction  should land a  student   in the principal’s office, I think, and not in a police precinct,” said former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who attended the presentation of the DOE report with Duncan.

“This critical report  shows that racial disparities  in school discipline are not only well documented among older students, but actually begin during pre-school,” Holder continued.  “Every data point represents a life impacted and a future potentially diverted or derailed.”

Dr. Earle Williams is the only African  American  Clinical Forensic Psychologist in Hampton Roads.

His job is to determine the emotional ability of a youth or adult defendant’s level of danger to self and the community and their ability to  help his defense lawyer represent him in court and stand trial.

Many of the children he interviews are as young as 10.

“You do not want to be in a position  where your child  has to see me,”  Williams said. “By then, in many cases, the damage to that child is done. It takes a lot to fix them. I am there to diagnose, unfortunately, not to fix them.”

Dr. Williams said he is keenly aware of the disciplinary and treatment disparities which exist in  the nation’s public schools that Black children face each day.

He had children in the Norfolk public schools and confronted the principal and staff at two sites about the way his children were treated. He removed them from the public setting and place them into the  private one.

It was an option he could economically afford to do because he cared deeply about “how my children were treated them because I am their father.”

He realizes many poor Black  and White parents do not have the resources to make that same choice.

But this does not stop him from speaking out on  the issue  of the growing crisis in education that African-American children and their families  are facing.

On Saturday, March 11, at the Historic Attucks Theater in downtown Norfolk, starting at 10 a.m.  he will host “The Dr. Earle Show.”  There will be no dancing or singing.

Instead Dr. Williams will use his talents and insights to lecture on “Prison: Getting out and Staying out.”

The first part will be a video presentation on his life. The highly regarded Forensic Clinical Psychologist spent a  brief time in jail for a post military stint in robbing warehouses, pimping and other dastardly adventures.

He did not get his first college degree until he was 40, after  searching for his professional niche, he recalls.

The second  part will be the testimonial of  an African-American woman who has landed  on her feet after being in prison for role as an unwilling participant in a string of robberies.
The third leg of his presentation will be how the nation’s public schools are placing Black children in the school-to-prison pipeline.

Dr. Williams said  although it  comes in many forms for Black children,  racism is used against them through the biased lens of teachers and administrators of the schools tasked with educating them.

But criminalization of Black children was bolstered after the Columbine (Colorado) High School massacre  on April 20, 1999.

“After the Columbine shootings, which involved mostly White middle class children,  the nation adopted a zero tolerance of bad behavior in the schools,” said Williams, now 72. “You can bring a piece of bread shaped like a gun and the child is treated like a criminal…simple rough housing is violent  bullying.  A male child just playfully touching a female classmate  causes a child to be defined as a sex offender.”

Williams said that schools have School Resource Officers (SROs)  to provide security and implement school discipline. In many cases they are  sworn police officers.

One of the most ominous options they have in dealing with Black children, regardless of   the  offense, is handcuffing, detaining, and calling the police units to cart them off to be booked.

This is how many poor Black children as young as preschoolers  are introduced to the Criminal Justice System.

“Children act out for   various  reasons – abuse … home life … bored or overactive, “ Williams said. “They do not know how  to deal with the stresses they may encounter in home or the school yard. Instead of teachers and  principals finding out why  the child is stressed and dealing with it in a patient manner, their aim is to punish, especially Black children.”

Often when Black children are tossed out of the classroom setting, they are not allowed to keep up with class work, as White children are allowed to do, according to Williams.

“So you discourage the  child from learning and   being interested in school,” said Williams.  “You kill  their sense of interest  in schools and their desire to attend. Even  if they go back, their bad behavior may be  repeated and gets worse. They start thinking ‘what do I have to lose. I don’t care any more.’”

Many Black children wind up in alternative school settings, if they exist, to deter them from completely dropping out of the system.

But if intense efforts to salvage them academically and personally are not undertaken, they are lost to the streets and wind up deeper in the clutches of the criminal justice system or worse.

Dr. Williams said one of  the strongest tools which could be used to shut down the pipeline  rests in the hands of those who run the schools, as well as the parents.

“But first, parents have to give a damn!!” Williams said. “They have to get involved. When a child comes home, why aren’t you asking them ‘what did you learn in school today?’  said Williams.  “If that child has  a problem answering, you  should talk to the teachers. Engage the  schools. This is how you start.

“Talk to your child’s teacher at that school and attend the PTA meetings,” said Dr. Williams. “You can meet and network with the school’s personnel and other parents who may be experiencing  the same issue and concern.”

William said he often encounters adults of his generation talking fondly about the “the good ole days” when they were going to school and they did not see such bad behavior in often under-resourced and racially segregated schools.

“There was the village to help parents raise and educate children then,” said Williams. “But even then the primary mentor  and trainer of our children were their parents.

“A parent cannot expect a teacher or a school to raise,  mentor and motivate  their children,” said Williams.  “We cannot depend or expect the schools to teach our child discipline or manners.  They should educate our  child as best they can. Also they should be looking at better ways to discipline our children.”

Williams said he applauds public schools systems which  provide a “time out” for children by dealing with the reason for their disruptive behavior, through de-escalating breathing exercises.

Also school divisions are teaching bus drivers,  SROs and teachers to react to negative  behavior by “reaching past  that behavior to identify the various feelings that cause it.”

“Once the child’s feelings are validated, the child can visit a ‘calm-down corner’ to practice breathing or relax by wearing sunglasses for a few minutes.”

School divisions have seen notable  success  in using these strategies, Dr. Williams said, and they should be applied across the country  in urban schools settings.

NORFOLK
Jerrauld “Jay” Jones announced this week that he is running for the 89th District House of Delegates seat of the Virginia General Assembly. The seat is currently held by Delegate Daun Hester who is stepping down to run for the office of Norfolk City Treasurer.

Jones, a lifelong resident of the 89th district, is currently an attorney with Willcox & Savage, P.C. in Norfolk.

He completed his undergraduate studies at the College of William & Mary, where he attended as a “William & Mary Scholar” on a full scholarship. He graduated with a double major in government and history, and later obtained his law degree from the University of Virginia.  Upon graduation from law school, he began practicing law in Norfolk.  Prior to attending law school, he was an associate with Goldman Sachs where he focused on risk management and rating advisory. 

Jay Jones’ family has a long history of service to the city of Norfolk.  His grandfather, Hilary H. Jones, Jr., was a pioneer in the Civil Rights Movement.  A lawyer, he became the first African-American member appointed to the Norfolk School Board and subsequently the first African-American appointed to the Virginia State Board of Education.
   
Jones’ father, Jerrauld C. Jones, served eight terms in the House of Delegates representing the 89th District. He stepped down in 2002 to accept an appointment by Governor Mark Warner to serve as the Director of the Department of Juvenile Justice for the Commonwealth of Virginia.

RICHMOND
Dominion Resources and the Library of Virginia commemorated the leadership and accomplishments of seven outstanding African-Americans during the fifth annual “Strong Men & Women in Virginia History” awards program on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017, at the Richmond Marriott.

The program honors prominent African-Americans, past and present, who have made significant contributions to the Commonwealth.

“For the young man or woman who has big dreams of being a writer, a newscaster or a judge, we have great role models to inspire future generations in this year’s honorees,” said Mark Webb, senior vice president, Corporate Affairs and Chief Legal Officer at Dominion. “It’s an honor to recognize these men and women for their strong leadership and accomplishments that have made our communities better for all.”  Dominion Resources is the parent company of Dominion Virginia Power and sponsor of the annual series.

“Each year, the men and women honored through the Strong Men and Women program are individuals of outstanding merit and accomplishment – and the 2017 honorees are no exception,” said Dr. Sandra G. Treadway, Librarian of Virginia.  “The Library of Virginia is proud to partner with Dominion in highlighting the achievements of African-American Virginians, past and present, who serve as inspiration to us all.” 

The following honorees were recognized: William E. Bailey – aviation pioneer and philanthropist, Accomac; Charles Spurgeon Johnson* – sociologist, author and educator, Bristol; The Honorable Benjamin J. Lambert III* – optometrist and legislator, Richmond; The Honorable Mary Bennett Malveaux –  judge –Virginia Court of Appeals, Henrico; Leonard “Doc” Muse – pharmacist and community leader, Arlington, Stephanie T. Rochon-Moten* – news anchor and cancer awareness advocate, Richmond; and Margaret Ellen Mayo Tolbert, Ph.D. – scientist, educator and author, Suffolk. (*Posthumous honor)

Four high school students also were recognized during the ceremony. Each wrote winning essays, selected from nearly 200 entries, about the importance of helping others. 

The winners of the 2017 “Strong Men & Women in Virginia History” student essay writing contest are: Meenakshi Balan – Thomas Jefferson HS for Science and Technology, Fairfax County; Hunter Davis – Gate City High School, Scott County; Indya Gipson – Nansemond River High School, Suffolk County; and Grace Lu – Douglas S. Freeman High School, Henrico County.

Each student received an Apple MacBook Air laptop and $1,000 for their school. Winning essays and program details, as well as photos and videos of the event are posted on www.lva.virginia.gov/smw.

Bruce L. Turner is used to gazing into an audience and seeing blank or puzzled expressions when he talks about his great-great-great grandfather, Nat Turner.

After all, the slave rebellion that Nat Turner led through Southampton County occurred in 1831. It lasted only three days, triggered fresh laws that restricted the movement and assembly of slaves, and became a historical footnote. Still, Turner said he tries to explain why his ancestor and more than 60 to 100 slaves participated in the slave rebellion that lasted from Aug. 21- Oct. 30.

“I try to educate them about who he was a person,” said Bruce L. Turner who grew up on a farm in Southampton County, served in the U.S. Navy from 1967 to 1974, and earned a bachelor’s degree at Old Dominion University in 1975. He earned a master’s degree at George Washington University in 1979. He is a retired computer systems analyst and programmer.

“The fact that a person comes to hear me speak means they have some interest in the topic,” Turner said. “My satisfaction comes from talking about who my grandfather was, as a man. Only three days of Nat Turner’s life were involved in the insurrection. He was extremely intelligent. He was a preacher. He had a family. He had deep convictions.”

Turner added, “In plain terms, he was interested in ending slavery. His objective was not to simply free himself. He wanted to end slavery totally. So I always try to tell my audience who he was as a person.”

Turner delivered the first lecture on his great-great-great grandfather in 2000 in Courtland,  Va., during a panel discussion. “Since then people have asked me to speak,” he said. “I have spoken at elementary schools, civic clubs, and churches. I’ve spoken in many states including North Carolina, New York, and Maryland.”

Each speech tends to follow the same script, he said. “I try to give the same speech all the time because I want people to understand that once he killed the plantation owner who owned him, he was free. This means he could have disappeared and gotten away. But he was looking to free everybody. He wanted to end slavery totally. His objective was to end slavery not to free himself.”

The problem is the name Nat Turner is unfamiliar to some in the audience. For those who have heard the name, few have sorted through troves of census records, dusty birth certificates, marriage licenses, and slave sale transactions, unlike Turner’s descendent. The point is this. What if some in the audience believe it is wrong to take another human being’s life for any reason whatsoever?

During the insurrection 58 whites were killed. A hysterical climate followed. Nearly 200 slaves, many who had nothing to do with the rebellion, were killed.

Turner paused to consider the question. “The killing was a means to an end,” he said. “Nat wanted to prove to the white population that slaves wanted their freedom and they were willing to kill or die for their freedom. He felt that the rebellion would make slave owners agree to end slavery.”

Turner who is married and has three grown children, and six grandchildren paused to reflect on the question again. Is it wrong to kill another human being for any reason whatsoever?
He said, “My own mother, who is still living, adamantly believes that Nat was wrong in killing. She didn’t think killing was necessary. She is opposed to the fact that women and children were killed. She said it was absolutely wrong.”

But audience feedback during the question and answer session tends to be divided, he said. Black people in the audience sometimes have said they thought it was wrong to kill women and children. Others, however, have said Nat didn’t kill enough people. So I hear opinions from those on both sides.”

Turner said, “I always try to keep the focus on Nat Turner. Whether it is a speech, panel discussion, or TV program, my goal is to educate people on he was as a person. In 1831 after the insurrection, he stayed in hiding for 71 days.”

Turner added, “Yet some newspaper stories have said someone sighted him on a ship trying to leave Norfolk. Other newspapers have said someone spotted him in the Great Dismal Swamp. Some said he moved to Houston and lived there with his family. The truth is he was actually captured about two miles from where he started the insurrection.”

During Black History Month, Bruce Turner will participate in a panel discussion on the film, Birth of a Nation, which will be held at Hampton University on Feb. 23 at 6 p.m. He will speak at a church in New York on Feb. 22.

He will speak at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Norfolk on March 9 at 12 p.m. He will speak at the Genealogical Society on April 8 at 10 a.m.

By Rosaland Tyler
Associate Editor

NORFOLK
Engage Norfolk was held February 12 from 1 – 5 p.m. at the Academy for Discovery at Lakewood and included workshops on how to be a more effective citizen lobbyist. The occasion also offered opportunities to learn about and team up with local organizations whose programs are ongoing in Norfolk.

Before the event, Councilwoman McClellan said, ”This event will provide a means for individuals to channel their energy into making a positive change in Norfolk and beyond.”

Engage Norfolk was also organized by Pilot Media publication AltDaily.com. and supported by the New Journal and Guide, the YMCA, and Volunteer Hampton Roads.

More than 100 local organizations representing political, social justice, civic activism, community outreach and support, and more were on hand in the school’s gym and its corridors to pass out information and recruit volunteers.

The event was free and open to the public.

The Rev. Dr. Robert G. Murray was impressed with the church-owned school he toured at a denominational meeting in Texas; to the point that he returned home to Norfolk, and launched READY Academy at the historic First Baptist Church-Bute Street.

READY Academy was launched in 2004 with 22 students. It currently has 157 students, an impressive curriculum, and about 100 seasoned volunteers and 100 donors. This means READY Academy brings two facts sharply into focus. Black churches not only taught reading, writing, and arithmetic to newly freed slaves in Sunday school or weekly Bible classes. Black churches now provide upgraded educational services including after-school tutoring programs, computer classes, financial seminars, cancer-survivor classes, and exclusive worship services for youth. In other words, as the nation examines this year’s Black History Month theme: ‘The Crisis in Black Education.’ The historic First Baptist-Bute Street illustrates the impact that these churches have had through the years.

“It was a vision the Lord gave him,” said his wife, Amanda Battle Murray, who heads READY Academy, which serves students ages 3-11. “Pastor Murray went to an American Baptist Conference and went on a tour. He was so impressed with the children he saw in the school in Texas. He noticed how disciplined they were. He returned home and offered to buy a nearby building. But when we applied for the building the owners told us they would never sell.  Soon, they came to us and asked us to buy the building.”

The rest is history. “We have so many skilled, competent, and dedicated volunteers,” Amanda Murray said.

She pointed out how Charles Corprew Jr., a former Norfolk Public Schools principal was chair of the board of directors at READY Academy when it opened. Lisa Anderson is the current board chair of READY Academy, which is operated by the 217- year-old church.

“Our school is full of so many experienced educators,” Amanda Murray added. “For example, we have an experienced security person who turns up first thing in the morning when we open the doors. We have many experienced educators who volunteer. We have experienced clerical workers. We have state-certified volunteers who teach classes in music, Spanish, and even swimming off-site. We have parents who hold professional positions at local universities such as Norfolk State and Old Dominion. They come in and do demonstrations or serve as guest speakers.”

Black churches, in other words, continue to provide educational opportunities, a mission that dates back to slavery when newly freed slaves would learn how to read by reciting Bible verses in Sunday school and weekly Bible classes.  Black Baptist associations by 1900 were supporting about 80 elementary schools and 18 academies and colleges. Meanwhile, African Methodist churches were funding 32 secondary and collegiate institutions; and the smaller AME Zion denomination was supporting eight.

Black churches, these days, are tackling headline-grabbing problems like juvenile delinquency, strengthening families, and improving math and reading skills. For example, from 2002 to 2004, there was a 50 percent increase in the number of faith-based organizations that received state funding to provide juvenile delinquency prevention services in several states including Florida.

Another example is Shiloh Baptist Church in Washington. D.C. It established a Family Life Center to strengthen and nurture families. Meanwhile, 10 churches in Jackson, Tenn. launched a tutoring program for children that live in public housing in Jackson, Tenn. About 350 youngsters travel on a church bus to meet with 250 volunteers who pore over homework with youngsters who want to improve their reading and math skills. Meanwhile in Georgia, the 6th Episcopal District of the AME Church launched an America Reads Challenge project with emphasis on rural areas.

In Norfolk, Amanda Murray said the effort at READY Academy continues to surge. “We opened with 22 students in Pre-K-3 and Pre-K-4,” she said.

“Our goal was to add a grade each year up to third grade. Once we accomplished this goal, I thought we had reached our goal. I told others, I am sure we have already done what the Lord told us to do,” she said, laughing softly.

“Soon, we added the fourth-grade class in 2013. And we started our fifth-grade class in 2014. My assistant is a full-time volunteer. Her name is Rosa Edwards. She is a retired physical education specialist who retired from the Virginia Beach Public Schools system.”

Black churches, in other words, have obviously tackled the crisis in education by providing an increasing number of opportunities.

Lula Rogers, a retired Portsmouth City Schools educator and a lifetime member of the historic First Baptist-Bute Street, paused to consider how things have changed.

“If I compared the educational programs today to the ones that existed in the church when I was a child, I would say first of all that we did not have a lot of people with versatile educational training,” said Rogers, who also serves as the historian at the historic First Baptist-Bute Street.”

Rogers added, “We didn’t have anyone to offer tutoring classes. And although we had an evening service,” she said referring to the recently launched youth-only worship service that meets on Sunday evenings. “When I was growing up, the evening worship service was for adults only. Now we have an evening service that is only for our youth. Now we also have children’s church.”

Rogers continued to compare and contrast the past and the future. “In the past, children had to sit in the pews with their parents. Now, the children participate in our weekly worship service on Sunday. They recite Bible passages they have memorized. The pastor talks to them. Then, they go to a classroom in the back of the church and have their own lesson. We also have started a special group for tots. Before, if you had a baby on your shoulder during service – well, that’s the way things were – sometimes they cried during service. But that has changed. Our pastor said he likes to hear crying babies because it is a sign of growth. Now we have a special program for tots.”

◆◆◆

But the new educational opportunities did not come out of thin air, “We did a survey with the congregation about five years ago and found that our congregation wants to offer holistic educational programs,” said Bruce Williams, who heads A. Bruce Williams and Associates, a local public relations firm. He has been a member of First Baptist for over 15 years.

The congregants used the results from the survey to compile a five-year plan. Among other things, the survey showed congregants should develop new programs for those ages 20-35. Soon, the church launched its Youth and Millennials campus in an adjacent building, in addition to providing a weekly alternative worship service that meets each Sunday at 6 p.m. The effort also includes social media instruction, intergenerational interaction opportunities, pizza parties, social events, and streaming video services.

“Teaching the three R’s (reading, writing and arithmetic) is still a priority, “Williams explained. “But we’ve expanded so that we now offer educational programs to six generations. For example, we offer prostate cancer seminars, a counseling center, a cancer survivor ministry, exercise classes, and even programs on HIV-AIDs. We also have a financial seminar that started this summer to help people get out of debt.”

Williams pointed to other ongoing efforts, “We also feed the homeless (about 25-200) people very Saturday at noon. We are also offering showers. And we have provided employment for some who were homeless. Every day we grow, change and try to extend our reach and the array of ways we can worship that includes all six generations we strive to serve. It ain’t easy.”
Amanda Murray added, “There are times that we just do what we do because we love the Lord and this is what He told us to do.”

By Rosaland Tyler
Associate Editor

Part One: Black History Month – Forbidden To Read As Slaves
Part Three: Black History Month – Shortage of Black Teachers Leads Men to Mentor Boys

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