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

Queen Latifah and Jill Scott to Star in Lifetime’s Flint Water Crisis Movie “Flint”

Queen Latifah / Jill Scott (photo via madamenoire.com)

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to Deadline.com, Queen Latifah and Jill Scott have signed on to the Lifetime TV movie about the Flint Water crisis.

Latifah will executive produce the project, reuniting with “The Wiz Live” and “Steel Magnolias” producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron. “Steel Magnolias” was the network’s third-most-watched original telecast ever. Latifah will also portray a resident of Flint fighting to expose the poisoning of the community.

The script is inspired by the Time magazine cover story, “The Toxic Tap,” which “follows the story of three women from Flint who sought justice following the wrongdoing committed against the residents of the city who were unknowingly drinking and using lead-laden water.  Their actions inspired a national movement for safe drinking…”

Jill Scott is to play a real-life activist.

To read more, go to: https://deadline.com/2017/04/queen-latifah-betsy-brandt-jill-scott-marin-ireland-star-flint-lifetime-water-crisis-movie-1202069713/

Rapper Big Sean Makes Hefty Donation to Aid With Ongoing Flint Water Crisis

bigseancrowdriseheader

Big Sean (image via seanandersonfoundation.org)

article by KC Orcutt via bet.com

Big Sean is wasting no time this new year, and is currently busy readying his forthcoming album, I Decided.

On top of promoting the project, the G.O.O.D. Music recording artist also made time for something else that is important to him: showing love to where he came from and giving back how he can. The Michigan native recently stopped by The Daily Show to discuss why he chose to donate money to the Flint water crisis.

During the interview, Big Sean revealed that through his foundation, he has been able to raise roughly $100,000 to help assist the people of Flint, Michigan.

“I just know it’s not even close to being over,” the rapper shares with host Trevor Noah. “In that situation, I feel like, it’s not a natural disaster. It’s something that should’ve been prevented and could’ve been prevented, so it’s just disgusting to think about the damages that these families and even kids have to go through with the lead poisoning.”

On top of the Flint water crisis being an ongoing problem since roughly April 2014, when reports first shed light on the catastrophic reality that the drinking water had been contaminated by lead, the rapper also revealed just how close to home the issue hits, explaining that his own mother had been personally affected. “It was very hard for her to deal with, but she was able, through holistic care and homeopathic remedies, was able to reverse a lot of the effects of lead poisoning,” Big Sean says.

On top of donating financially, the rapper also is giving back to the community, by way of featuring the Flint Chosen Choir in his music, incorporating the local choir on his single “Bigger Than Me.”

To read full article, go to: http://www.bet.com/music/2017/01/25/big-sean-makes-a-hefty-donation-to-the-flint-water-crisis.html

Harvard Sociologist William Julius Wilson Leads $10 Million Study of Racial Inequality at Hutchins Center for African and African-American Research

Hutchins Center at Harvard (photo via newsone.com)

Hutchins Center for African & African American Research at Harvard (photo via newsone.com)

article via cnbc.com

U.S. policymakers need comprehensive, unbiased research if they are to adequately address America’s racial inequality, Harvard sociologist William Julius Wilson told CNBC on Thursday.

William Julius Wilson (photo via sociology.fas.harvard.edu)

William Julius Wilson (photo via sociology.fas.harvard.edu)

Wilson’s call for research follows two years of political unrest that have swept the nation following controversies, such as the fatal police shooting of black motorist Philando Castile in Minnesota and the Flint, Michigan water crisis.

“People have been exposed to multiple and reinforcing hardships — racial hardships and economic hardships,” Wilson told “Squawk Box.”“What we hope to do is to analyze these problems at once.”

Wilson is currently leading “Multidimensional Inequality in the 21st Century: the Project on Race and Cumulative Adversity,” a study of poverty, crime, housing and homelessness funded by a $10 million grant from the Hutchins Family Foundation.

“Our goal is to provide information to policymakers who want to make good decisions,” said Wilson. “If they have the information, we can decide how to attack the problem.”

Glenn Hutchins, chairman of North Island — the investment firm that manages his personal wealth — is also the benefactor of Harvard’s Hutchins Center for African & African American Research.

Hutchins echoed Wilson comments, telling CNBC in the same interview: “We have the opportunity to do non-ideological, evidence-based policy making.”

The study would provide direction amid the country’s tumultuous political climate, said Hutchins, a former Bill Clinton advisor and co-founder of technology investment powerhouse Silver Lake Partners.

Hutchins hopes his family foundation’s grant will ensure that Wilson and his colleagues can “create the type of policies that can pragmatically get at this complex problem.”

To see video and read more, go to: http://www.cnbc.com/2016/10/06/new-10-million-harvard-study-to-investigate-racial-hardships.html

Janelle Monae, Jesse Williams, Ava DuVernay, Ryan Coogler to Headline #JUSTICEFORFLINT Benefit on Feb. 28

Ava DuVernay and Ryan Coogler in Hollywood on Dec. 14, 2015. (Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images for Disney)

article by Jaimie Etkin via buzzfeed.com

On Feb. 28, comedian Hannibal BuressCreed director and co-writer Ryan Coogler, singer Janelle MonaeGrey’s Anatomy star Jesse WilliamsSelma director Ava DuVernay, and other entertainment notables will be joining forces onstage for a free event in Flint, Michigan, BuzzFeed News can exclusively reveal. The Buress-hosted gathering, dubbed #JUSTICEFORFLINT, is open to the public and presented by Blackout for Human Rights, an activist collective founded by Coogler which is devoted to addressing human rights violations in the U.S.

For almost two years, Flint’s residents — many of whom are black and impoverished — have been subjected to massive lead and bacterial contamination in Genesee County’s water supply, and forced to avoid tap water.

#JUSTICEFORFLINT will take place at the Whiting Auditorium (1241 E. Kearsley St.) on Sunday, Feb. 28 at 5:30 p.m. ET to raise both awareness and funds for those affected by the water crisis. It will also be live-streamed via revolt.tv, and donations will be collected at the event and via text. Along with all the star power, organizers have also invited members of the Flint community to share their stories with the audience.

“With the #JUSTICEFORFLINT benefit event we will give a voice to the members of the community who were the victims of the choices of people in power who are paid to protect them, as well as provide them with a night of entertainment, unity, and emotional healing,” Ryan Coogler told BuzzFeed News in a statement. “Through the live stream we will also give a chance for people around the world to participate, and to donate funds to programs for Flint’s youth.”

Though the event does coincide with the Academy Awards — which largely snubbed Creed in nominations and did the same with DuVernay’s Selma last year  Coogler said Feb. 28 was chosen because it fell on the final weekend of Black History Month, and that the date overlap was a coincidence.

The idea for #JUSTICEFORFLINT emerged at Blackout’s last event #MLKNOW held on Martin Luther King Day (Jan. 28), which took place at Riverside Church in Harlem and drew more than 2,200 attendees and nearly half a million views online.

To read the full article, go to: http://www.buzzfeed.com/jaimieetkin/ryan-coogler-justice-for-flint-event?utm_term=.yt20eLa7#.wo7RP0QW

Beyoncé Announces The Formation World Tour; Launches Initiative to Help Flint Water Crisis

Beyonce Dancers for NOW 020816

Beyoncé mid-slay with dancers at yesterday’s Super Bowl Halftime Show (photo via colorlines.com)

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (follow @lakinhutcherson)

Something tells me we will soon have to invent a new way to say “slay,” because if the boss moves perpetrated in the last two days by Beyoncé have shown us anything, they’ve shown us she has every intention of erecting on top of the foundation she laid with 2013’s “Beyoncé” an impenetrable Fortress of Slayage where the word will soon retire itself (because really, where else has it to go?).

To recap, not only did Queen Bey the day before the Super Bowl drop her “Formation” video – which the internet is still feverishly and giddily unpacking – she performed it at halftime, paid homage to the Black Panthers in the Bay Area on their 50th anniversary during the 50th Super Bowl, paid homage to Malcolm X with her squad’s literal formation, and then claimed the commercial space right after halftime to announce her Formation World Tour, which kicks off April 27 in Miami.  Phew!  No wonder “slay” is ready for a permanent vacation.

According to usatoday.com, the Formation World Tour will be hitting cities nationwide including Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Boston, and Philadelphia. It ends June 12 in Hershey, Penn., before a string of European dates get underway June 28. Tickets go on sale beginning Tuesday for American Express and Beyhive fan club members, and to the general public starting Feb. 16. [Tour dates listed below.]

Beyoncé last toured the USA with her husband, rapper Jay Z, on the six-week On the Run Tour in summer 2014, which was filmed for a HBO special. The Formation World Tour is her first solo jaunt since the Mrs. Carter Show World Tour in 2013. Continue reading

Pusha T Quietly Donated Semi-Truckfulls of Water to Flint Residents

Pusha T (photo via bet.com)

by Paul Meara via bet.com

Many in hip hop have done their part in donating bottled water to victims of the Flint crisis, but for their efforts they understandably make it news for PR purposes. Pusha T decided to donate, except he was trying to escape the publicity.

According to MLive, The G.O.O.D. Music President recently sent two unsuspecting drivers from his hometown of Norfolk, Virginia to Flint with a pair of semi-trucks loaded with 2,000 cases of water to assist those in need of clean water in the Michigan town.

“I knew who was bringing water but I didn’t know who was actually shipping it,” said W.I. James, who was at the helm of one of the semis traveling 830 miles. “All I know is that it was donated.”

Lakeesha Atkinson, member of the philanthropic Partners in the Community, unveiled that Pusha didn’t want anyone to know he was behind the donation. “He’s very humble,” she explained. “He doesn’t do anything for recognition or for the spotlight.”

It took three days to unload and distribute the water as those in charge on the ground decided to bring the water directly to residents rather than simply have a community pick-up point.

To read more, go to: http://www.bet.com/news/national/2016/02/01/pusha-t-quietly-donated-semi-truckfulls-of-water-to-flint-reside.html