NNPA President, Chavis, Launches New Public Broadcasting Show Chronicling Black Lives

Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

With a soulful sound completed by thumping bass and a picturesque view of the wind blowing the American flag over the White House, civil rights icon and National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., kicked off a brand-new public television show called “The Chavis Chronicles.”

Chavis, a student and disciple of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and a member of the famous Wilmington 10 civil rights group, began his new show on Sunday, Oct. 4, featuring Major Neil Franklin, the executive director of the Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP) and House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC).

Sporting a dark blue suit with a slick necktie and with his NNPA lapel pin for his millions of television viewers, Chavis chronicled the current Black Lives Matter movement, police brutality, the battle for equality, and health disparities in his debut.

The program counts as an extension of his duties as NNPA president, one which provides heightened and needed exposure for the more than 200 publishers of the Black Press of America.

“It’s crystal clear that there’s a great disparity in the value of Black lives, and not just in this country,” Franklin declared during the broadcast.

“This is a global issue, and we’ve gotten to a point now where action needs to occur, and it’s everyone’s responsibility to close that gap.”

Clyburn spoke of the future of American democracy, particularly as it pertains to those enduring poverty.

“If you think about the world in which we live and who and what makes up the world, you’ve got to be shortsighted if you don’t know that the future growth and development of this country will be determined by how well we are able to diversify the leadership of this country and how well we are able to diversity the resources of this country,” Clyburn stated.

The program fills a massive void for African Americans on public broadcasting stations that opened after the departure of Tavis Smiley. The Chavis Chronicles is seen as a combination of “Meet the Press” and “Fareed Zakaria GPS,” but with an urban American flare.

Chavis goes beyond the headlines to offer profound insights on matters that impact the public.

Co-produced by Chavis and series creator Clara Wilkerson, The Chavis Chronicles focuses on contemporary reviews and analysis of leaders and innovators of African descent in America and throughout the Diaspora.

According to Wilkerson, Chavis promises lively discussions about “the life-journeys, issues, and historical and social-changing moments of freedom fighters whose genius, courage, and commitments have helped to improve the quality of life for all in the United States and throughout the world in affirmation of the oneness of humanity.”

“Last fall, I had a premonition that America was on the verge of mass social unrest,” Wilkerson stated.  “The constant police brutality videos on the news showing blacks suffering and dying at the hands of law enforcement was akin to seeing kindling wood pile up. It would only take one spark to ignite a flame.”

Wilkerson continued:

“As we all know the death of George Floyd started this firestorm of protest that continues worldwide.  Yet at that time it was just an intuition, but I knew we would need Dr. Chavis’s voice and his leadership as a civil rights icon. That’s why I created The Chavis Chronicles.

“I’ve produced long format documentaries for Public TV for 25 years. I believed Public Television would be an excellent forum for this type of thought-provoking programming.

“I was thrilled when Dr. Chavis agreed to host and collaborate on the series and now we are contracted to provided 52 episodes. It’s a major undertaking, but I am grateful to have the opportunity to bring this TV series to a mass audience with Dr. Chavis.”

American Public Television has ordered 48, one-hour episodes of the Chavis Chronicles which airs in more than 100 cities.

Melody McKinley and Tracie Caldwell serve as senior producers, and Tom Knier, Omar Teitelbaum, and Elie Mosseri also share editing duties.

“We have chronicled in-depth, our voices, our dreams, our pains, our aspirations, our struggles, and our challenges, opportunities, and our commitment to ensure freedom, justice and equality for all,” Chavis declared on air following the initial broadcast.

“Whether it’s Black lives matter, calls for action, and racial justice, health disparities, or income inequities, we’ll be here to report and share freedom’s constant struggle.”

Briefly: Ice Cube Faces Backlash After Meeting with Trump Administration; Taraji P. Henson to Host and Produce Podcast Series…

Ice Cube Faces Backlash After Meeting with Trump Administration 

Rapper-turned-actor Ice Cube is facing criticism after it was revealed that he met with the Trump administration to discuss their plan to address Black issues in America. The 51-year-old allegedly met with Trump’s team to discuss the Platinum Plan, the Trump administration’s proposal to directly impact Black Americans which includes making Juneteenth a national holiday and defining lynching as a national hate crime. After news of his involvement prompted criticism on social media, Ice Cube made a statement on Twitter.

“Facts: I put out the CWBA. Both parties contacted me. Dems said we’ll address the CWBA after the election. Trump campaign made some adjustments to their plan after talking to us about the CWBA,” he tweeted, regarding his “Contract with Black America.”

He continued, “Black progress is a bipartisan issue. When we created the Contract with Black America we expected to talk to both sides of the isle.  Talking truth to power is part of the process.”

The rapper also revealed that “the powers that be” cancelled his Cuomo Prime Time interview on CNN following the news, saying, “it seems they can’t handle the truth.”

                                                               

Taraji P. Henson to Host and Produce Podcast Series About Harlem Music Scene

Actress Taraji P. Henson has partnered with Universal Music Group (UMG) and Wondery to develop a podcast series about a group of teenagers in the Harlem music scene. Henson will host and produce the six-part podcast. 

Titled, “Jacked: Rise of the New Jack Swing,” the series will focus on the teenagers’ complex relationship and feature interviews from band members, managers and music from the UMG catalogue. It will also dive into the tumultuous history of the “New Jack Swing” sound that gave us songs like Bobby Brown’s “My Prerogative” and “Poison” by Bell Biv DeVoe.

The series will premiere November 17 on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, the Wondery app and other podcast platforms.

State Offers New Rape, Assault Protections for Health Care Workers

Quinci LeGardye | California Black Media  

 California is expanding aid and protections to health care workers as the COVID-19 pandemic continues through two new laws and an executive order. 

Late last month, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order that orders new actions on health care in response to the pandemic. 

The order allows public health officials working to mitigate COVID-19 pandemic to participate in the Secretary of State’s address-confidentiality program, known as the Safe at Home program.  

The Safe at Home program provides substitute addresses for groups that need protection against harassment or violence, including sexual assault and domestic violence victims. Multiple public health officials have reported receiving death threats, including Los Angeles County Health Director Barbara Ferrer and Santa Clara County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody. 

“Our public health officers have all too often faced targeted harassment and stalking,” said Secretary of State Alex Padilla. This “program can help provide more peace of mind to the public health officials who have been on the frontlines of California’s COVID-19 response.” 

The order also authorizes the Department of Managed Health Care to gather data to assess the impacts of the pandemic on health care providers and health care service plans. 

Gov. Newsom also recently signed two bills, AB 2537 and SB 275, that would increase the amount of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health care workers.  

Assemblymember Freddie Rodriguez (D-Pomona) introduced AB 2537. The law requires hospitals to stockpile a three-month supply of PPE by April 2021. 

“We are currently experiencing something we haven’t before, and healthcare workers are at the frontlines of it all. While dealing with this pandemic, the last thing our workers should be worried about is whether or not, they will be protected from exposure. We must protect those providing care so that they too can continue to do their work,” said Rodriguez. 

SB 275 mandates the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to establish a 90-day PPE stockpile for health care and other essential workers within one year. It also requires major health care employers, such as hospitals, nursing homes and dialysis clinics, to build an additional 45-day stockpile of PPE by 2023 or later. 

Under SB 275, essential workers will receive PPE from the CDPH stockpile include school workers, childcare providers, in-home support providers, and any workers who provide services directly supporting patient care. SB 275 was sponsored by the Service Employees International Union California. 

“One of the hard-learned lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic is the need for a well-managed supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) to keep California’s healthcare workforce and other essential workers safe. SB 275 creates a reliable supply of PPE to ensure healthcare workers, essential workers, and the public at large are protected during the next health emergency,” said SB 275 author Sen. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento). 

Black Educators Reject Trump, call on Biden to Embrace Obama Era Education Policies

Dr. Margaret Fortune, Fortune Education

There was a point in that messy first presidential debate when Black folks were spectators as three old White men — Donald Trump, Joe Biden and the moderator, Chris Wallace — talked about African Americans in a discussion of race in America from a White perspective.  What was on full display at that moment was how Black Americans can be completely side-lined in a dialogue about our own future.  How would a conversation on race in America that White men centered on law enforcement and White supremacy be different if it had been led by Blacks? 

In answer to Chris Wallace’s question, “Do you believe that there is a separate but unequal system of justice for Blacks in this country?” Joe Biden responded, “Yes there is systemic injustice in this country in education, in work, and in law enforcement and the way in which it is enforced.”  We agree.  To be clear, those of us who want to end Donald Trump’s reign of terror are voting for Joe Biden to be the next President of the United States.  But that does not mean Biden gets a free pass when it comes to issues of Black concern. 

Amid the systemic injustices perpetrated against Blacks in this country, Joe Biden listed America’s inequitable education system first. Yet, Biden has embraced a traditional view of public education without critique or nuance to garner the support of America’s largest teachers’ unions — American Federation of Teachers and National Education Association.  Despite Blacks being undereducated and over-policed in our nation’s schools, he has walked away from Barack Obama’s education agenda that increased education funding while challenging the status quo to improve. Obama understood the urgency of Black parents who couldn’t wait for the system to right itself and expanded options for our children within the public school system, including high quality public charter schools. 

Nearly 90 percent of Black Democratic primary voters’ support expanding access to more public school options, including charter schools. Has Biden stepped over Black voters to ingratiate himself with White progressives?  Is that trade off worth it? Biden doesn’t have much room for error.  The parents of 3.3 million charter school children could make a difference in swing states with razor-thin margins if they turn out for Biden.

It is imperative for Biden to speak directly to the interests of Black communities.  It wouldn’t take much for him to signal that “his” Democratic Party is a big enough tent for educators on both sides of the divide to come together for this crucial election. After all, as Biden said, he is the Democratic Party.

Black people have always had to fight for what we need to survive in this country. The rules aren’t created with us in mind to ensure that we have the tools to build a life in pursuit of the happiness promised to all Americans under the Constitution.  Our hope is that Biden will build and improve on the Obama-Biden legacy of investing in an ecosystem of high-quality public school options for students and families to receive the education they deserve. 

EDITOR’S NOTE: This op-ed was co-authored by the following education leaders: Dr. Margaret Fortune, CEO, Fortune School, California; Dr. Steve Perry, Founder and CEO, Capital Preparatory School, Connecticut/New York; Dr. Howard Fuller, Professor Emeritus, Marquette University, Wisconsin; David Hardy, Founder, Boys Latin School of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Rev. Alfred Cockfield, Founder and Executive Director, Lamad Academy Charter School.

BLM Co-Founder Signs Multi-Year Deal with Warner Bros.

Staff

Co-founder and Executive Director of the Black Lives Matter Movement Patrisse Cullors has landed a T.V. production deal with Warner Bros. Television Group. The activist will focus on creating original programming that uplifts Black voices on streaming services, cable and five broadcast networks.

“Black voices, especially Black voices who have been historically marginalized, are important and integral to today’s storytelling,” said Cullors. “Our perspective and amplification is necessary and vital to helping shape a new narrative for our families and communities. I am committed to uplifting these stories in my new creative role with the Warner Bros. family. As a long time, community organizer and social justice activist, I believe that my work behind the camera will be an extension of the work I’ve been doing for the last 20 years. I look forward to amplifying the talent and voices of other Black creatives through my work.”

The multi-year, wide-ranging overall deal will allow Cullors to produce live-action scripted dramas and comedies, longform or event series, unscripted docuseries, animated programming for co-viewing among kids, young adults and families as well as original digital content.

Cullors, who started Black Lives Matter alongside Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi back in 2013, has since become one of the most prominent activists at the forefront of the now global movement. For her work in the movement, she was recognized in TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2020 list and TIME Magazine’s 2020 list of the 100 Women of the Year.

Cullors is also the founder of the Los Angeles–based grassroots organization Dignity and Power Now. 

She now plans to bring the fight for criminal justice reform and racial justice to the creative media world by amplifying Black voices and creating content within the framework of Black Lives Matter. Warner Bros. also stated that they will work to provide more opportunities for Black producers, writers and other creatives.

L.A. County Gets $60 Million for Affordable Housing

Staff

Gov. Gavin Newsom recently announced that L.A. County is set to receive $60 million to purchase eight motels that will be converted into affordable apartments. With a combined 631 rooms, the apartments will come with supportive services and rent subsidies that will be funded through the county’s Measure H – a tax with the intent to end homelessness – as well as state and federal resources. 

The initiative will be done though Homekey, California’s $600 million program to purchase and rehabilitate housing, which include hotels, motels, vacant apartment buildings and other properties with the intention of converting them into permanent, long-term housing for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness.

“Behind every allocation we make for Homekey is the story of a Californian who will no longer have to sleep in a tent, in a car or on the street,” said Governor Newsom. “The partnerships with local leaders and their innovative approaches to homeless solutions are inspiring. From helping victims of domestic violence, to LGBTQ youth, to seniors, we’ve seen bold proposals that help a cross section of Californians struggling to find permanent housing.”

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who championed Measure H, believes that this is an important and crucial step to assist residents who are concerned about living sustainably in the city.

“I applaud Governor Newsom for his unwavering leadership and investing much needed resources to combat this crisis within a crisis – homelessness amid a pandemic,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, whose district will have three Homekey sites. “Project Roomkey enabled LA County to bring 4,000 vulnerable people indoors in just months – an unprecedented accomplishment that protected their health and that of the larger community while simultaneously providing a lifeline to struggling businesses.

Of the $600 million designated to Homekey, $550 million will be provided to cities and counties by California’s direct allocation of the federal Coronavirus Aid Relief Funds. 

“We are ready for the next phase, Homekey. We have eight motels lined up to be converted into affordable apartments with services, a key component of our COVID-19 recovery rehousing plan,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas.

Newsom also announced a partnership with Enterprise Community Partners, a nonprofit that was created to develop affordable housing. Through this partnership, Newsom will distribute $45 million in funding – $20 million from Blue Shield of California and $25 million from Kaiser Permanente – to assist operating subsidies for Homekey projects. 

Over 100 Clergy Join Operation Unity to Fight Police Brutality

Staff

      Over 100 local clergy and members of the church community will gather at the steps of five city’s City Halls on Oct. 22 to push local politicians for tangible and effective legislation against police brutality in a day of prayer and meetings they’re calling “Operation Unity”.

      “We don’t want them to say it to us privately anymore. We want them to actually enter into an agreement that says, as long as you’re in a place of power, you’re going to work with clergy and community to make sure we move forward in accountability between community and law enforcement,” explained Pastor Michael J. Fisher of Greater Zion Church Family and organizer of Operation Unity.

      The “operation” comes on the heels of a summer of protest, where thousands of racial-justice protests occurred across the United States largely after the killing of George Floyd in May. One report from the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED) estimated from May 26 through Aug. 22, about 7,750 protests took place in 2,400 locations across all 50 states and D.C.

      For Fisher, Operation Unity is a way for communities fighting for justice to come together, especially within the black church community.

      “Black Lives Matter does things together. The LGBTQ+ community, they do it all together. The Latino nationality, they kind of move together. When it comes to the black church, we don’t,” he believes. “If we’re going to have a voice in this, we’re going to have to do it together…It’s all about unity. It’s all about us having one sound, one band, one message.”

      As much as the day is about showing a united front, the group is also ready for a solid response from elected officials promising legislation that will hold law enforcement accountable. Outside, participants will gather at the steps of City Hall at the five chosen cities to pray and sing while pastors will meet inside with city leaders to discuss and sign the “Declaration of Interdependence.” Those cities are, Long Beach (at 8 a.m.), Compton (at 9:30a.m), Inglewood (11 a.m.), South/East LA (12:30 p.m.) and Downtown LA (2 p.m.).

      This document is a pledge that promises that city leaders will formulate the legislation the community is asking for.

      “We’re really not coming to sing another song, right?” Fisher added.

      Fisher also recognizes that politicians may be more willing to work with clergy than they might be with Black Lives Matter activists who have been demanding similar action. Operation Unity is recognizing that leverage and platform and utilizing it.

      “Operation Unity is important in reestablishing the narrative that the movement for social justice was always birthed from the church, specifically the black church, the black clergy. And so this moment is reclaiming that narrative because a lot of people think that the church is dead when it comes to social justice, but we’re still yet alive.”

Petition to Halt Sale of Baldwin Hill Plaza to New York Developers

Stephen Oduntan, Staff

We’ve seen this movie before.

Back in April, when CIM Group announced it had signed a purchase and sale agreement to acquire the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza community residents thwarted the proposed plans to turn the shopping center into a massive luxury mixed-use complex.

Now there’s a sequel of sorts to these events nearly six months after Crenshaw Subway Coalition launched an online petition calling on the community to halt the sale of the retail shopping mall to the Mid-Wilshire-based CIM Group.

Earlier this month, the current owners of the mall selected New York real estate companies LIVWRK and DFH Partners to acquire the 40-acre property. And a response was swift. The Crenshaw Subway Coalition launched another online petition calling on the community to stop the sale of the retail shopping mall to the developers with ties to Donald J. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who specializes in high-end commercial real estate.

“We don’t need a bunch of Trump towers on Crenshaw. It’s more expensive to build developments over six stories with a concrete base which ultimately means the less affordable those properties become,” said Damien Goodman, founder of the Crenshaw Subway Coalition.

Asher Abehsera, the founder of LIVWRK, said he will talk to local residents before deciding on a makeover plan. “A project of this scale affords a mix of uses,” he says.

Nonetheless, opponents say that a large-scale real estate development of this magnitude increasingly result in longtime resident migration and gentrified induced-displacement. But this reflects national trends, says Goodman, and these kinds of aggressive methods have been used to displace poorer tenants in Black and Hispanic Los Angeles communities. He pointed to how developers erected the Cumulus Skyscraper at the corner of La Cienega and Jefferson Boulevard. 

“We challenged that project,” he said.

 “But now the project has gone up and it’s not yet occupied we learned that the rates for that tower is $5,300 a month which is like three mortgages in our community. We know these rent prices are an intentional effort to price those of us who’ve held down South Central, South Los Angeles, Baldwin Hills, and the Crenshaw area for such a long time.”

Displacement of long-time residents has “created a musical chair effect where low-income tenants get displaced at the convenience of the rich folks,” said Jose Lopez, an anti-displacement activist who lives in the surrounding community directly adjacent to the Cumulus Skyscraper. “I don’t want to have to go live all the way in Lancaster.”

Abehsera said he named his company LIVWRK, a shortening of “live-work,” because he believes neighborhoods thrive best when they are home to commercial and residential uses that engage people day and night. His comments have done little to convince president of the Baptist Ministers Conference of Southern California, Pastor K.W. Tulloss who said, “CIM Group put their costumes on early before Halloween and came in as LIVWRK.”

The real estate developer critics say that minority teams that submitted bids for the Baldwin Hills project offered more money to build the mall but were rejected in favor of LIVWRK who offered significantly less.

“We’ve been told to pull ourself up by our bootstraps. Well we’ve got some boots and we’re willing to pull ourselves up. We want to make it abundantly clear and let them know that we have one position, one voice, and one message, and that is: ‘No, don’t sell the mall,” said Baba Akili of Black Lives Matter and one of many activists who’ve teamed up with Goodman’s Crenshaw Subway Coalition.

The sale is expected to close before the end of the year.

Republicans Set Up Unofficial Ballot Drop-Off Locations Around California

Christal Mims, Staff

The California Republican Party (GOP) is being accused of installing unofficial ballot drop-off locations in a move that state officials are calling illegal. Metal boxes with signs claiming to be “official ballot drop-off” locations have popped up in areas near churches, gyms, political party offices, guns stores and other places around Southern California. The California Secretary of State has received reports about the unauthorized ballot drop boxes in Los Angeles, Fresno and Orange counties.

“Operating unofficial ballot drop boxes — especially those misrepresented as official drop boxes — is not just misleading to voters, it’s a violation of state law,” said California Secretary of State Alex Padilla. “My office is coordinating with local officials to address the multiple reports of unauthorized ballot drop boxes. Californians should only use official ballot drop boxes that have been deployed and secured by their county elections office.”

Implementing unofficial ballot boxes could be a felony that would result in a two-to-four-year prison sentence.

The GOP has been taking to social media to encourage voters to drop off their ballots at the unofficial locations, with one regional director for the party taking to Twitter to prompt voters to contact him for information on where they can drop off their ballot.

The party defended their actions on Twitter, defining their drop-off locations as “safe.”

“If a congregation/business or other group provides the option to its parishioners/associates/ or colleagues to drop off their ballot in a safe location, with people they trust, rather than handing it over to a stranger who knocks on their door — what is wrong with that?” the California GOP tweeted in response to someone calling them “untrustworthy.”

The GOP also referred to “ballot harvesting” a controversial, legalized practice passed by Democrats as justification for the unofficial locations. Ballot harvesting allows campaign volunteers to collect ballots door-to-door and return them to be counted on behalf of voters in some states.

“This procedure has been in place since 2016 — not sure why people are all of a sudden surprised,” the California GOP tweeted.

Still, state officials are encouraging voters to only drop off their ballots at official county drop boxes.

“Official county drop boxes are built with specific security protections, and ballots are retrieved only by designated county personnel. If you do have questions about voting, go to official, reliable sources of information—your county elections office or the Secretary of State’s office,” said Orange County Registrar Neal Kelley.

Overweight Individuals at Higher Risk of COVID-19 Contraction, according to CDC

Dianne Lugo, Staff Writer

Newly expanded guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now suggest that three-quarters of Americans are likely at increased risk of contracting a severe case COVID-19. 

In June, the CDC had advised that obese Americans, those with a body-mass index of 30 or above, were more likely to face severe COVID-19 complications. Now, the CDC is warning that overweight people – not just obese people—should also be cautious.

While 40 percent of Americans are obese, another 32 percent are overweight (defined as a BMI between 25 and 29.9) explained the CDC.

One study published in July focusing on 500 COVID-19 patients in the United Kingdom found that after adjusting for other risk factors, patients who were overweight or obese (43 percent and 27 percent, respectively were more likely to need mechanical breathing assistance or were more likely to die.

“This greatly expands the risk to a pretty big chunk of the U.S. population,” Barry M. Popkin, a professor of nutrition at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, told the New York Times.

Popkin recently reviewed 75 studies which concluded that obese people were twice as likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19, compared to people who were overweight or of normal weight. Obese people were also twice as likely to wind up in intensive care, concluded the review.

The expanded warning is especially concerning for minorities, who continue to be disproportionately affected by obesity. According to the CDC, Black people have the highest age-adjusted prevalence of obesity, followed by Hispanics, both communities who have already been disproportionately impacted by the virus. 


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