Black-Owned Business WT Stevens to Help Replace 18,000 Contaminated Pipes in Flint, MI

photo via huffpost.com

by Taryn Finley via huffpost.com

A black woman-owned construction company has been awarded a federally funded service contract to replace thousands of water pipes in Flint, Michigan. As part of a $97 million settlement to replace corroded pipes by 2020, the state has contracted WT Stevens Construction, which became a state-certified lead abatement specialty company in 2016, along with three other companies.

The companies will replace more than 18,000 pipes across the city, The Network Journal reported earlier this month. Rhonda Grayer, vice president of the family-owned company, told The HUB Flint that this contract is the “biggest project we’ve done.”

WT Stevens’ $10.9 million contract is the largest deal with the city for replacing service lines, according to MLive. It is responsible for addresses in Wards 3, 4, 8 and 9. The city allotted $25 million for the project in total. Grayer’s husband, Jeff Grayer, serves as the project manager. He told TNJ that about 800 waterlines have been replaces so far and he hopes to have 6,000 replaced by the end of 2017.

“Our company is usually the only African American-owned business to respond to request for proposals for various Flint city contracts even now after the court rulings related to the water crisis,” he said. “This is a major project that will ensure public safety and start rebuilding trust between the city and the community … something that has been missing awhile.” He said the goal is to “have all 18,000 lead-corroded residential pipes replaced by December 2019.”

The company has hired about 20 staff members, including ex-offenders and young people, and a video team to document the piping being replaced. Grayer said she’s following the example her late dad and founder of the company set for making a positive impact on the community. “I will tell you that it is really exciting and the most important part of it is the opportunity to employ people who may not have had other opportunities,” she told The HUB Flint.

To read full article, go to: Black-Owned Business To Help Replace 18,000 Contaminated Pipes In Flint | HuffPost

Outstanding 17 Year-Old High School Student Jahmir Smith Offered 33 Full-Ride Scholarships

Jahmir Smith (photo via huffingtonpost.com)

by Zahara Hall via huffpost.com

As a kid, high school junior Jahmir Smith never had a dream college. But for a number of universities, he’s their dream student. The 17-year-old North Carolina native has already been accepted into all eight Ivy League schools and has received 33 full-ride scholarship offers, according to ABC 11 Eyewitness News.

While Smith has a 4.43 GPA at Lee County High School and an impressive ACT score, as well as enough credits to graduate a year early, The News & Observer reported that he’s also constantly being contacted by college football recruiters for his athleticism, receiving hundreds of texts from Division I coaches. Smith, who started playing football in middle school, has a composite three-star rating out of five on the sports website 247sports.com.

Additionally, he was chosen as 2016’s News & Observer’s Metro Football pick after scoring 41 touchdowns and running 2,130 yards in one season. Smith told HuffPost that while he doesn’t plan on making a career out of football, he’s certainly willing to give the NFL a shot. “It’s fast money,” he said. “But I don’t want it as a career because it would take a toll on my body.”

He added that if he doesn’t make the NFL, he wants to explore the medical field, specifically anesthesiology. In whatever he pursues, Smith is aware he’ll face challenges because of his race. But that’s not stopping him in the least bit. “I know the odds are against me because of my skin tone and all, but I don’t really let it get to me,” he said. “I just stay to myself and try to help those around me. I’ve always understood since I was little that people would see me different.”

To read more, go to: Outstanding High School Junior Already Offered 33 Full-Ride Scholarships | HuffPost

African-American Female Political Leaders Demand DNC Invest in Their Leadership

(photo via dailykos.com)

by Sameer Rao via colorlines.com

The Democratic Party relies on Black women to be the most consistent and engaged progressive constituency, but rarely supports their political leadership. A group of 27 Black female political advocates and leaders released an open letter demanding that Democratic National Committee (DNC) chairman Tom Perez stop taking them for granted.”We have voted and organized our communities with little support or investment from the Democratic party for voter mobilization efforts,” reads the letter, which was published by NBC BLK yesterday (May 24).

“We have shown how Black women lead, yet the party’s leadership, from Washington to the state parties, have few or no Black women in leadership. More and more, Black women are running for office and winning elections—with scant support from Democratic Party infrastructure. Well, like civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer, who testified at the 1964 Democratic convention demanding Blacks have a seat and voice within the Party, we are ‘sick and tired of being sick and tired.'”

The letter’s signatories include elected officials like U.S. congress members Marcia Fudge and Joyce Beatty (both D-OH) alongside advocates like Women’s March co-chair Tamika Mallory and Higher Heights for America’s Glynda Carr and Kimberly Peeler-Allen. The group collectively recognizes electoral victories by senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) and state-level politicians that, despite their strategic importance, did not compel Black women’s inclusion in DNC leadership: Black women also made important progressive wins in Minnesota, where IIhan Omar became the first Somali-American Muslim elected to the state legislature; Kentucky, where Attica Scott became the first woman elected to the state legislature in 20 years; Cook County, Illinois, where Kim Foxx was elected state’s attorney; Orange County, Florida, [where Aramis Ayala became] the first Black state’s attorney in Florida’s history; the state of Texas, [which] elected its first woman SheriffZena Stephens; and Jefferson County, Alabama, [which] elected nine Black women to the judicial branch.

This February, in the DNC elections, we saw an increase in overall diversity within the officer ranks, but no increase in leadership representation of Black women. Since taking office, you have met with and listened to key constituencies. But you have yet to host a Black women leaders convening.”Organizing without the engagement of Black women will prove to be a losing strategy, and there is much too much at stake for the Democratic Party to ignore Black women,” the signers continue. “In the absence of our inclusion in discussions about the Party’s forward movement, we question whether the Party values our loyalty and takes our commitment seriously.”The letter ends with a call for Perez to meet with Black women leaders, which he has yet to publicly confirm or reject. Read the full letter on NBCnews.com.

Source: READ: Black Female Political Leaders Demand DNC Invest in Their Leadership | Colorlines

Black Lives Matter Movement Founders to Receive Sydney Peace Prize for 2017

Black Lives Matter founders (left to right) Opal Tometi, Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors. (Photo by Ben Baker/Redux)

by Elijah C. Watson via okayplayer.com

The Black Lives Matter movement will be awarded this year’s Sydney Peace Prize. The award, which Australia’s Sydney University has offered since 1998, normally goes to an individual peacemaker who promotes human rights and using nonviolence as a means of combating injustice, making the University’s choice of the Black Lives Matter movement as the award recipient unprecedented.

“This movement resonates around the globe and here in Australia, where we have become inured to the high incarceration rates and deaths in custody of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples,” Pat Dodson, the West Australian Laborer senator and the 2008 recipient of the Sydney Peace Prize, said in an interview. “It’s as if their lives do not matter.”

Founded by Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi, the Black Lives Matter movement came about following the death of Trayvon Martin and the acquittal of his killer, George Zimmerman. Since then, the organization has become a global crusader against injustice, especially following the election of Donald Trump as president.

The organization has also helped bailout black mothers from jail for Mother’s Day, as well as supported black-owned businesses across the country. “We’re not just about hitting the streets or direct action…it’s a humanizing project,” co-founder Cullors said. “We’re trying to re-imagine humanity and bring us to a place where we can decide how we want to be in relation to each other versus criminalizing our neighbors or being punitive towards them.”

To read more, go to: Black Lives Matter Founders To Receive Sydney Peace Prize Okayplayer

“Raised By Krump” Documentary by Director Maceo Scott Makes Worldwide Debut on Vimeo (VIDEO)

(courtesy vimeo.com)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

Raised By Krumpa 22-minute documentary film that explores the Compton/South Central, Los Angeles-born dance movement “Krumping,” and the lives of some of the area’s most influential and prolific dancers, is making its exclusive, worldwide debut as a #staffpickpremiere on Vimeo today, May 24th.

Raised by Krump blends the art of movement, music, and personal interviews together to tell the story of finding solace within an underground movement and the community that it creates. The film, directed by award winning filmmaker Maceo Frost, focuses on how Krumping has helped young people deal with the emotional issues that come with growing up in one of L.A.’s toughest neighborhoods — a place where showing emotion is often considered a sign of weakness.

Perhaps most notably depicted in David LaChappelle’s documentary Rize, Krumping came to be via Tommy the Clown, who invented the dance movement “Clowning” in response to the happy façade he depicted when performing as a clown at childrens’ parties. Clowning, and eventually Krumping, allowed the dancers to express the everyday struggles of living in their neighborhoods.

Raised by Krump shows the next evolution after Rize. In the film, the dancers explain that they are who they are today because of the dance movement. Instead of joining a gang or turning to violence, they turned to movement, dance, and self-expression, and passed this ability on to their children and others’ children, creating a more creatively-stimulated younger generation. Krumping founders Tight-Eyez and Marquisa “Miss Prissy” Gardner – who were also featured in Rize – are in this film as well. They are older, wiser, and have experienced the full impact that Krumping has had on their lives.

As Miss Prissy says in the documentary, “I think Krump symbolizes every piece of what we went through growing up in our neighborhoods, from being chased by gangbangers to being harassed by the police for just being who we are and what we are. It was about us going through the shit that we just couldn’t control anymore, and I feel that’s what birthed Krump.”

Or as Tight Eyez plainly puts it, “We make the ugly part of our lives beautiful. We make it good.”

Frost’s film is also visually arresting, featuring a mesmerizing ebb and flow of movement, almost forming a visual poem about Krumping.

Go to Vimeo.com/staffpicks picks to watch the film, or watch above.

Black Parents Sue Mississippi for ‘Inequitable’ Schools with Help of Southern Poverty Law Center

(photo via naacpms.org)

by thegrio.com

The Southern Poverty Law Center filed suit in federal court on Tuesday alleging that the poor performance of black students in Mississippi is the direct result of the state’s failure to live up to the terms of readmission to the Union at the end of the Civil War.

As part of the terms of readmission, Mississippi was required to create a “uniform system of free public schools” for all citizens, both black and white, in order to foster an environment of education that was necessary to democracy.“ Today, Mississippi schools are anything but uniform,” said Will Bardwell, a lawyer at the Southern Poverty Law Center.

“If you’re a kid in Mississippi, your chances of getting a good education depend largely on whether your school is mostly white or mostly black. That is not a uniform system.”

However, the state constitution changed several times until in 1890 it allowed only for “separate but equal” systems. According to the complaint, the constitution is now an “empty shell of the guarantee that Congress obligated Mississippi to preserve in 1870” and allows the state to severely underfund schools that serve African-American students.

To read more, go to: Black parents sue Mississippi for ‘inequitable’ schools | theGrio

Baltimore 7th Grader Cahree Myrick Wins National Chess Championship

National Chess Champion Cahree Myrick (photo via instagram)

by Devin Bartolotta via baltimore.cbslocal.com

Baltimore is now home to a national chess champion.  7th grader Cahree Myrick came out on top last week against hundreds of other students. He is the best in the country after taking home a mega-trophy from the U.S. Chess Federation’s National Tournament.

Chess is more than just a hobby for Roland Park Middle School’s  Myrick, who has worked very hard for this title. “I expected to do well, but I didn’t expect to win the whole thing,” Myrick said. The Roland Park team practices four days a week after school. Myrick’s coach even gives them homework to stay sharp. “They work hard during the school year and everybody wants to be on the team and wants to go, so we try to take as many as we can,” said teacher Annett Zimmer.

Four other students from Roland Park went to nationals. As a team, they placed 13th out of more than 40 teams. Roland Park Middle School has won the national title twice as a team. Cahree, whose been playing since 1st grade, says the strategy is his favorite part of the game.“I think [my favorite part it] practice and studying the board,” Myrick said. “Because in order to be successful, you need to know tactics, you need to know all of the rules.”

To read more and see video, go to: Checkmate: Baltimore 7th Grader Now National Chess Champion « CBS Baltimore

Also, this: https://theundefeated.com/allday/baltimore-kid-stunts-on-chess-tournament-in-nike-slides/