Category: Organizations

A New Generation of African-American-Owned Bookstores; Numbers No Longer in Decline

Mahogany Books opens in Washington D.C. (photo via publishersweekly.com)

by Alex Green via publishersweekly.com

When Troy Johnson began tracking the number of black-owned bookstores in the U.S. in 1999, there were more than 325. By 2014, that number had dwindled to 54, a decline of 83%.

“They were closing left and right, and the major ones were struggling,” said Johnson, who runs the African American Literature Book Club, an online book database. Today, Johnson estimates, there are at least 108 black-owned independent stores, a number of which have opened in the past six months, marking a substantial reversal. “Last year was the first year I added more stores to the list than I took away,” he noted.

The surge in black-owned indie bookstores is notable at a time when both bookselling and publishing are wrestling with issues of workforce diversity.

Ramunda and Derrick Young, wife-and-husband owners of the newly opened MahoganyBooks, looked for a physical location for years, but a wave of gentrification in Washington, D.C., left them with few promising options. That changed in early 2017, when they found a location in the Anacostia Arts Center, in the historically African-American neighborhood of Anacostia in Southeast D.C. Ramunda, a former general books manager of the Howard University Bookstore, said opening a store was a logical step toward diversifying the couple’s business after having run a books website serving predominately African-American readers for a decade.

MahoganyBooks opened in February and is the first bookstore in Anacostia in 20 years. The 500-sq.-ft. store has an adjacent events space for large readings. With tablets for readers to locate books online while they browse, the store fulfills the couple’s vision of “a bookstore 2.0,” Derrick said.

“Bookstore 2.0” is shorthand for the Youngs’ effort to integrate the physical store and the long-standing digital operation, creating independent sources of revenue that stand alone but point to one another. In-store technology points to the website, and the website now points to the physical store’s events. “We thought, if there were another big crazy economic downturn, how would we prepare ourselves so that we would have multiple streams of income?” Derrick said.

Opening the bookstore is also a homecoming. Derrick’s grandmother lived in Anacostia when he was a child, and he frequented the neighborhood’s black-owned bookstores. He later worked at the black-owned Karibu booksellers with Ramunda. Speaking about himself and Ramunda, he paid tribute to those earlier stores: “We were both kind of nurtured in that way. We both made an effort to be mentored and to understand the experience that readers want when they come into a bookstore.”

When forensic anthropology professor Christina Benton opened Janco Books in Las Vegas in October 2017, readers asked if she would model her store after Native Son, a neighborhood African-American specialty bookstore that closed in 2008. Benton expanded the store’s African-American section, but she said her interest is in catering to as broad a community as possible. “It’s a general bookstore owned by an African-American person,” she said. With a selection of new and used books, Janco caters most of all to families that homeschool in the area. “They buy the most, because they need to have the resources,” Benton said.

In Brooklyn’s rapidly gentrifying Crown Heights neighborhood, a general bookstore is as far from what Afro-Latina owner Kalima Desuze and her Caribbean husband, Ryan Cameron, wanted to open when they launched the Afro-feminist Cafe Con Libros in late December. Desuze, a retired U.S. Army JAG corps member with master’s degrees in social work and public administration, grew up in Prospect Place and credits her trajectory in life to reading feminist African and African-American authors.

“A lot of the reason why I opened up the store is because feminism has not always been the province of women of color,” Desuze said. “Part of my challenge as a black woman, calling my bookstore a feminist bookstore, is that some black women do not identify with the word feminism. But if they took the time to explore they would discover that they are already living it.”

To read more, go to: https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/bookselling/article/76545-a-new-generation-of-african-american-owned-bookstores.html

Sacramento Kings Teaming Up with BLM and Local Group in Response to Stephon Clark Tragedy

(photo via washingtonexaminer.com)

by Jazzi Johnson via thegrio.com

A week after pledging to be a vocal player in awareness efforts surrounding the police shooting death of Stephon Clark, the Sacramento Kings announced they are teaming upwith Black Lives Matter and local activist organization Build. Black. Coalition to respond to activist demand for support for the community and the grass roots.

The new initiative aims “to support the education of young people and to provide the workforce preparation and economic development efforts” according to a statement from the Kings. The multi-year project is intended at spurring “deep investment” into the Sacramento community, beginning with an education fund for Clark’s children.

Sacramento mayor Darrell Steinberg praised the team’s efforts in a statement: “It is clear to me and I know the Kings that there remains a huge gulf between the exciting Sacramento renaissance and the daily struggles experienced by so many in our communities, especially communities of color.

“The Kings actions are a real step towards addressing those underlying issues and connecting the excitement and vitality in downtown to our neighborhoods, which is exactly what motivated me to run for mayor,” Steinberg said.

The Kings will also co-sponsor a forum to hear community voices on the shooting incident Friday night called “Kings and Queens Rise: A Youth Voice Forum for Healing.”

Response from owner

Last week, Kings owner Vivek Ranadivé made a public statement about Stephon Clark’s death following protests that blocked game attendees from entering their Golden 1 Center stadium space.

He vowed that the NBA franchise would not be acting as if business is usual and “are going to work really hard to bring everybody together to make the world a better place, starting with our own community,” he said. “[We’re] going to work really hard to prevent this kind of a tragedy from happening again.” 

Just three days later, the Kings’ themselves, sported T-shirts on the court that called for “accountability” by the police department and memorialized Clark’s name. Additionally, players from the Kings and their opponents that day, the Boston Celtics, joined together in a PSA about the tragedies of police violence.

READ MORE: Sacramento BLM activist vows to fight back for Stephon Clark

 “These tragedies have to stop,” “There must be accountability,” “We will not stick to sports,” and “We will not shut up and dribble,” were a few of the sentiments expressed.

Flames fanned

Tensions in Sacramento continue to rise as protests for justice in the death of Stephon Clark increase citywide and nationally. California’s Department of Justice is conducting an independent investigation, and civil rights attorney Ben Crump is now representing the family, but the frustrations of African Americans in the city continue to simmer.

On Tuesday, Stephon’s brother Stevante Clark appeared at the specially-convened City Council meeting and loudly voiced his love for his brother and fellow protesters, as well as his criticism of to the mayor — whom he boldly faced within an inch of separation — and the media’s coverage.

A funeral for Clark was held Thursday. Clark, a Muslim, was set to be honored with a ghusl or Islamic ritual washing by revered Imam Omar Suleiman, but clerics were not able to perform the task because of the way the 20 bullets wounds he received mangled his body. 

Imam Omar Suleiman expressed frustration over the inability to perform the ritual on Twitter.

Meanwhile, California attorney general Xavier Becerra announced Tuesday that he was joining the investigation into Clark’s death. His office will oversee the probe and review the Sacramento Police Department’s policies and use of force training, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

Source: https://thegrio.com/2018/03/30/sacramento-kings-stephon-clark-community/

Salvation Army Opens Its 1st Nonprofit Grocery Store in Baltimore to Combat Food Deserts

The Salvation Army’s DMG Foods held its grand opening on Wednesday in the northeast Baltimore neighborhood of Abell. (photo via huffingtonpost.com)

by Nina Golgowski via huffingtonpost.com

The Salvation Army is adding healthy grocery shopping to its list of charitable endeavors.

The nonprofit opened its first full-service grocery store in Baltimore on Wednesday in what it hopes will be the first of many stores to help combat the nation’s number of “food deserts,” which are disadvantaged neighborhoods lacking stores that sell fresh meats and produce.

DMG Foods, which is named after the organization’s promise of “doing the most good,” opened in northeast Baltimore with the goal of providing local residents with nutritious, low-cost food as well as nutrition guidance, meal planning and job training. “If this works, Baltimore wants us to open two or three more stores,” Maj. Gene A. Hogg, the Salvation Army’s Central Maryland area commander, told HuffPost on Monday.

The store, which has an on-site butcher and deli, as well as prepared meals and salads by Maryland’s Food Bank, is in a former Salvation Army warehouse that was renovated to offer what Hogg described as “that upper-end grocery store experience” at affordable prices. Inside, it’s bright and spacious, he said, and it features food samplings, recipe ideas, cooking demonstrations and visits by guest chefs and city health department nutritionists.

Because it’s across the street from an elementary school, it also allows parents to pick up or drop off their children and shop for their family’s meals in the same trip, Hogg said. Previously, he said, people would have to travel more than a quarter of a mile to find a grocery store or market, which fits within the city’s definition of a food desert. The definition also includes more than 30% of the surrounding households having no vehicle access and the medium household income at or below 185% of the federal poverty level. “The idea is to strengthen the family table,” he said. “We want to do more than just sell groceries.”

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh attended the store’s opening ceremony to cut the ribbon. She encouraged the Salvation Army’s efforts. “This serves as a beacon for the rest of this community. If we can do this here, we can do this in other parts of the city,” she said, according to local station WJZ.

In addition to providing fresh food, the store will also offer a workforce development program that will help train prospective employees. It will also have special offers and discounts for those who are part of the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps.  Any money that is made from the operation will be donated to Catherine’s Cottage, a local facility run by the Salvation Army that offers support to human trafficking survivors, Hogg said. “What we’re trying to do is create an environment where the community feels welcome and where they’re engaging for the betterment of their community,” Hogg said.

The Baltimore store is considered the Salvation Army’s test site. It hopes to open more stores around the country if this one succeeds and there is eagerness among outside communities to get involved. Thus far, Hogg said, he’s received calls from around the world inquiring about their efforts.

“We think that we’re going to be successful, but you can’t make any judgment calls after four days of work.”

Source: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/salvation-army-opens-grocery-store_us_5aa6a6b7e4b087e5aaec85d4

Kennedy Center Creates Hip-Hop Culture Council with Q-Tip, Questlove, MC Lyte, Common and Others

via newsone.com

One of the nation’s most renowned performing arts institutions has taken a major step in recognizing hip-hop culture’s influence on society. The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. recently announced the creation of its hip-hop culture council.

The council was developed in efforts to bring more hip-hop-focused programming to the institution. Through an array of different events, hip-hop culture will be examined through the lens of workshops, film screenings, panels, and virtual programs. Rapper Q-Tip will spearhead the council which is made up of a collective of influential individuals that are connected to hip-hop. Amongst some of the individuals who will sit on the council are Questlove of The Roots, rapper Common, rapstress MC Lyte, producer Mimi Valdes, DJ Bobbito Garcia and Interactive One’s own Kierna Mayo. Rapper LL Cool J—who was honored by Kennedy Center last year—will also be a part of the council.

“We are thrilled to be collaborating with such an extraordinary group of icons, innovators, and contributors to the Culture,” said Simone Eccleston, Director of Hip Hop Culture and Contemporary Music at the Kennedy Center in a statement. “As we continue to build the complex ecosystem that supports this program, the Council becomes an integral piece in sustaining Hip Hop’s presence at the Center.” Events that are lined up include a screening of the film Wild Style and a live performance inspired by Ta-Nehisi CoatesBetween the World and Me.

The creation of the council comes at a time where many institutions are bringing hip-hop’s influence to the forefront. In November 2017, it was announced that the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. planned on creating an anthology to capture the essence of hip-hop history and highlight how its culture has left an indelible mark on the world. Check out Q-Tip’s introduction to the Kennedy Center’s hip-hop culture council below.

 

NBA Star Kevin Durant Invests $10 Million to Help Maryland Youth Get into and Graduate College

Kevin Durant (photo via kulturehub.com)

by Thomas Heath via washingtonpost.com

Kevin Durant knows about starting at the bottom rung. But he is blessed with a gift to play basketball, which is not just a paycheck, but a ticket to worlds with other possibilities. He has used that access to create business opportunities beyond the world of sports, such as in technology.

What I love about tech is, I love watching the world advance,” said the 29-year-old star of the Golden State Warriors, who invests through his Durant Company. “I love the connections of people on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter. I would look at it like [Cornelius] Vanderbilt, who built the railroad. He connected us. The next advancement connecting us to each other is social media. I want to be part of that.” His interest in technology connected him to Laurene Powell Jobs and has led to a new philanthropic venture.

Durant has committed $10 million and partnered with the Prince George’s public schools on a program called College Track, which was created more than 20 years ago in California by Powell Jobs and others. College Track helps disadvantaged kids — like Durant once was — attend college and get launched into life.

A Kevin Durant Charity Foundation rendering. Durant is launching a College Track chapter in his former Prince George’s County neighborhood. (Kevin Durant Charity Foundation)

Durant is dropping a life-ladder called the Durant Center smack in the middle of the Seat Pleasant, Md., area where he grew up. It isn’t an elevator. The 60 students in the initial group must climb the ladder themselves.

But it’s a path.

“I want them to see the world,” Durant said in a phone interview this month. “I want them to see where people are from and see that there are things outside their world. I don’t know exactly or at what pace that they will get it, but there is a world outside that they need to see.”

Durant’s $10 million will seed construction and operating expenses of a local chapter of College Track, which is scheduled to open this year.

“This hits home, because it’s right in the neighborhood where me and my buddies lived,” said the 6-foot-11 “small” forward.

College Track is a 10-year program that provides the basic infrastructure — tutoring, test preparation, picking a college that is a “fit” and how to get financial aid — that kids from less-advantaged families often don’t have.

“These are all the things that middle-class families deliver if your parents went to college,” said Elissa Salas, College Track’s chief executive. “If your parents didn’t go to college, we fill that gap.”

Continue reading “NBA Star Kevin Durant Invests $10 Million to Help Maryland Youth Get into and Graduate College”

Black Construction Companies Working on $350 Million Obama Presidential Center

Michelle Obama Barack Obama theGrio.com
(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

via thegrio.com

Now that Barack Obama is out of the White House, he’s making a statement on support for Black businesses with a huge deal for the Obama Presidential Center.

The OPC is set to cost about $350 million, and an alliance of minority firms is set to get a large chunk of that. Powers & Sons Construction, UJAMAA Construction, Brown & Momen, and Safeway Construction, all part of the Presidential Partners consortium, have all come together as part of the Lakeside Alliance working on the presidential center, according to Black Enterprise.

The minority companies will be getting a 51% stake, while Turner Company, which is one of the nation’s largest construction companies, will have a 49% stake. It’s a historic move, not just because of the companies involved but because most minority firms will be hired on as subcontractors and not given majority stakes like this.

“The Obama Foundation believes in creating opportunities for diverse and local businesses and building pathways to meaningful jobs for minorities and other underrepresented populations,” said David Simas, CEO of the Obama Foundation.

“The development of the Obama Presidential Center gives us an opportunity to make a major, unprecedented impact on the South Side in terms of hiring talented, local businesses and individuals. We look forward to working with Lakeside Alliance to achieve our goals, set new benchmarks and make the Obama Presidential Center a landmark that our neighbors can be proud of.”

It’s a big win not just for the companies but the communities, because the alliance of minority companies has promised that they will be employing minority workers and people who live in the surrounding area for the massive project. That way, the companies will be giving back to the community and the presidential center will be a boon to Chicago’s South and West sides.

Ground will be broken for the project later on this year.

Professor and Poet Elizabeth Alexander Named President of Mellon Foundation

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Elizabeth Alexander (photo via elizabethalexander.net)

by Robin Pogebrin via nytimes.com

Elizabeth Alexander, whose memoir was a finalist in 2016 for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award and who wrote and recited an original poem at Barack Obama’s 2009 inaugural, will be the next president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the country’s largest humanities philanthropy.

“All of the things that I’ve cared about my whole life and worked toward my whole life Mellon does,” said Ms. Alexander in a telephone interview, citing areas like higher education and scholarship, arts and cultural heritage, and diversity.

She added that “arts and humanities are not the most protected entities right now.”

Ms. Alexander succeeds Earl Lewis, who has served since 2013. She will start in March, becoming the foundation’s first female president.

“She has deep experience in cultivating partnerships that extend and amplify creative vision,” Danielle Allen, the foundation’s chairwoman, said in a statement, adding that Ms. Alexander “brings an artist’s forward-looking energy to institutional purpose.”

Ms. Alexander, who has written six books of poetry and two essay collections, was most recently a humanities professor in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. Before that, she served as the director of creativity and free expression at the Ford Foundation, where she helped design Agnes Gund’s $100 million Art for Justice Fund.

“This appointment is a milestone in the history of American philanthropy,” said Darren Walker, the president of the Ford Foundation. “It’s the combination of being both rooted in the arts and grounded in the humanities and understanding philanthropy that is going to make her a success.”

Ms. Alexander has also worked closely with the Poetry Center at Smith College; the nonprofit Cave Canem, which trains aspiring poets; and Yale University, where she spent 15 years on the faculty and helped rebuild the African-American Studies department.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/07/arts/design/mellon-foundation-president-elizabeth-alexander.html

Baltimore Launches Office of African American Male Engagement to Keep Black Men Out of Prison

Photo of Philadelphia’s Mayor’s Office of Black Male Engagement Team from 2016, on which Baltimore’s new program is modeled. (via mayorsofficeofblackmaleengagement.wordpress.com)

by Nigel Roberts via newsone.com

Next week, Baltimore is expected to open the Office of African American Male Engagement to reduce the Black male incarceration rate, at a time when the city’s homicide rate is sky high–setting a record per capita rate in 2017. This program will hopefully save lives and end the cycle of incarceration.

“We want to save lives. The reason the office is important is because too many Black men are either the perpetrators of crime or victims of it. It is about saving lives,” said Andrey Bundley, who’s leaving his position as safety director for Baltimore City Public Schools to lead the new office, according to the Baltimore Sun.

Mayor Catherine Pugh opens the new office on Feb. 12. Modeled on a similar program in Philadelphia, the Baltimore initiative focuses on providing mentoring and a range of services for boys and men. It will connect to existing mentoring programs and includes a focus on men returning home from prison.

This effort is much needed. Baltimore was one of the most dangerous cities in America in 2017, setting a new per-capita homicide record of 343 killings. The police arrested tens of thousands of African-American males last year. And in many cases, once these young men were caught in the criminal justice system, many of them become repeat offenders. It was estimated in 2015 that 73 percent of former inmates in Baltimore City re-offend within three years.

The program seeks to create a support network, Bundley said. “We need that kind of space for individuals who don’t have a father or who have come out of prison or who are going through the process of getting a job,” he added, noting that scores of young Black men in the city lack families that can help them readjust and stay out of trouble after incarceration.

To read full article, go to: https://newsone.com/3772849/baltimores-mayor-launches-program-to-reduce-black-male-incarceration/

Black Lives Matter Activist Hawk Newsome Calls Out ‘White Privilege’ of Post-Super Bowl Property Damage

White men and women in green and and black and white and grey clothing stand over grey and yellow traffic pole on grey sidewalk in front of grey buildings and black night sky
People break a traffic light while celebrating the Philadelphia Eagles’ victory in Super Bowl LII game against the New England Patriots on February 4, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo: Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images)

by Sameer Rao via colorlines.com

Tens of thousands of Philadelphia sports fans flooded the city’s streets on February 4 to celebrate the hometown Eagles’ 41-33 win over the returning champion New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII. According to U.S. News and World Report, many fans’ belligerence led to various instances of property damage, including a collapsed Ritz-Carlton Hotel awning, an overturned car, destroyed traffic poles and two reportedly stolen police horses.

Photos detailing this destruction on Getty Images and Twitter largely show white male perpetrators. The Philadelphia Police Department has not yet released a final arrest tally for the vandalism, but Ajennah Amir, a spokesperson for the the mayor’s office, told CNN of just three arrests. Black Lives Matter of Greater New York president Hawk Newsome called out the department’s treatment of these people—as compared to the aggressive policing of Black protesters at actions against police violence—in an interview with Newsweek.

“Somehow, it seems there’s a line drawn in the sand where destruction of property because of a sports victory is okay and acceptable in America,” Newsome explained. “However, if you have people who are fighting for their most basic human right, the right to live, they will be condemned.”

Newsome pointed out city officials’ seeming reluctance to condemn the property damage, including police sergeant Brian Geer’s tweet telling people to simply “go home”:

Newsome told Newsweek that this response was “a glaring example of White privilege.”

“You can riot if you’re White and your team wins, but if you’re Black and being killed, you can’t speak out,” he added.

Newesome also contrasted the situation in Philadelphia with the Baltimore Uprising, when Black city residents demonstrated following the death of Freddie Gray in police custody. Newsweek says those actions led to 34 arrests. “I can’t condemn them and neither can anyone else, especially not the media, especially not politicians when they condone people who are just drunk and destroying property because their team won,” Newsome said.

Source: https://www.colorlines.com/articles/black-lives-matter-activist-calls-out-white-privilege-post-super-bowl-property-damage

#MeToo Founder Tarana Burke to Publish Memoir “Where The Light Enters” via Simon & Schuster

National CARES Mentoring Movement's Third Annual For The Love Of Our Children Gala
Tarana Burke attends the National CARES Mentoring Movement’s third annual For The Love Of Our Children Gala on January 29, 2018 in New York City. (Photo: Bennett Raglin/Getty Images)

by Sameer Rao via colorlines.com

Tarana Burke first launched the #MeToo campaign in 2007 to build solidarity and healing power among Black girls and women who survived sexual assault. Nearly 11 years later, the organizer and activist will chronicle her and the movement’s journey in a memoir.

The Associated Press (The AP) reported today (February 2) that Burke is working with writer and fellow activist asha bandele on the upcoming book, titled “Where the Light Enters.” Simon & Schuster will publish it next year through 37 Ink, its imprint that previously released books by Issa Rae and Dr. Willie Parker.

Burke told The AP that the memoir will address her own “ordinary, extraordinary journey from victim to survivor to thriver,” as well as the evolution of the movement.

“The book will also help readers understand the often overlooked historical connections of the role sexual violence plays in communities of color, specifically Black communities, even today, while exploring ways the same communities have been both complicit and resilient,” Burke added. “More than anything, this memoir will provide survivors across the spectrum of sexual abuse a road map for healing that helps them understand that the ‘me too’ movement is more about triumph than trauma, and that our wounds, though they may never fully heal, can also be the key to our survival.”

via #MeToo Founder Tarana Burke Writes Memoir, ‘Where the Light Enters’ | Colorlines

The Good Things Black People Do, Give and Receive All Over The World
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