Grammy Award-winning hip hop artist, actor and Atlanta native T.I. was honored at the Georgia State Capitol last Friday.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Democratic State Senator Donzella James sponsored a resolution applauding T.I. (née Clifford Joseph Harris, Jr.), for spearheading several non-profit organizations, including Harris Community Works, which works with the disadvantaged, and For The Love of Our Fathers, which aids people with Alzheimer’s and dementia.
T.I. is also credited for mentoring youth at local area schools in his hometown, hosting Thanksgiving turkey drives and delivering Christmas presents to families in need throughout Atlanta. He also started a real estate company called Buy Back The Block to help rebuild his old neighborhood in the Center Hill section of Atlanta.
Buamah’s mother Danielle, says the book sparked from an idea she had to help her son fortify his own vocabulary. “I developed the character of Kayla when Nicholas was younger to help teach him expanded vocabulary,” she said in a statement. “After being praised by his first-grade teacher for using the word ‘collaborate’ during his first week of school, I asked Nicholas what he thought about writing a book to help his friends expand their vocabularies. He thought it was a great idea, as long as one of the main characters could be a male figure, and that’s when he created Kyle.”
Buamah had his first-ever book signing in December at Barnes & Noble in Atlanta suburb Snellville. “He sold out in one hour and people kept coming in the store afterward, requesting a copy so much that Barnes & Nobles invited him back,” his mother told Black Enterprise.
Volume 2 of The Walking Dictionaries is scheduled to be released this summer. Buamah wants his book to be available in every elementary school library in the country. He also one day aspires to attend MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology and study to become a mechanical engineer.
Spelman College, the historically Black educational institution for women in Atlanta, has received a $30 million donation from trustee Ronda Stryker and her husband William Johnston, The gift is the largest from a living donor in the 137-year history of the college.
The gift will be used to help fund the construction of the Center for Innovation and the Arts on the Spelman campus. When completed the building will house all of the college’s arts programs – art, art history, curatorial studies, dance, digital media, documentary filmmaking, photography, music and theater – in a single building.
Stryker has been a member of the college’s board of trustees for more than 20 years. She currently serves as vice chair.
In making the donation, Stryker stated: “As former educators who believe strongly in social justice, Bill and I have great appreciation for how Spelman provides a superior education for students that encourages them to be global change agents. Spelman alumnae are leaders across every field imaginable, breaking new ground, while tackling some of the world’s most challenging issues from health disparities to the digital divide. We are thrilled to support a building that will encourage students to master technology, innovation and the arts.”
Stryker is a board member at Stryker Corporation, a medical equipment company and vice chair of Greenleaf Trust, an investment banking firm.
Shaquille O’Neal’s one big ole’ holly, jolly good guy who spent the day doing good and giving out backpacks to kids at Eagle’s Landing Middle School in Henry County Georgia last week, WSBTVreports.
Shaq-A-Claus shared the love and surprised the school with an unplanned visit. He greeted kids in the National Junior Beta Club and congratulated them on a job well done, said school district spokesman JD Hardin.
Then he attended a pep rally and spoke to students about making good life choices, before handing out some backpacks, Hardin said.
Shaq took to Twitter to thank his partners for teaming up with him.
Again.. I would like to Thank all my partners for their support with Shaq A Claus 2018 This will be an awesome event for the kids Merry Christmas pic.twitter.com/VwNANrHeQJ
Lucy McBath, the gun control and racial justice activist whose son was killed in a 2012 shooting, is now headed to Congress, after winning a razor-thin election decided Thursday morning.
Ms. McBath defeated the Republican incumbent Karen Handel, who only last year won a closely watched special election in the same Georgia district. Though Ms. Handel did not concede the race until Thursday morning, Ms. McBath, who is also a former Delta flight attendant, claimed victory in a statement released Wednesday. The Associated Press officially called the race for Ms. McBath on Thursday morning, with her lead at just under 3,000 votes.
“Six years ago I went from a Marietta mom to a mother on a mission,” she said, referencing her teenage son’s death. Jordan Davis, Ms. McBath’s son, was 17 when he was shot and killed by a white man at a gas station after refusing to turn down the volume of the rap music playing in his car. The man was later convicted of first-degree murder.
The win furthers the advantage in the House for Democrats, who could see more gains in several still-too-close-to-call races across the country. The district, once held by Newt Gingrich, was initially thought to have been out of reach for Democrats, but tightening polls in the campaign’s final weeks pushed the National Republican Campaign Committee, the House political arm, to run several new advertisements in the district in support of Ms. Handel.
“It is clear I came up a bit short Tuesday,” Ms. Handel said on Thursday morning. “Congratulations to Representative-Elect Lucy McBath and send her only good thoughts and much prayer for the journey that lies ahead for her.”
Ms. McBath was once thought to be a long-shot candidate even among members of her own party, and had even first planned to run for state or local office. Now, she will be the first nonwhite person to represent Georgia’s Sixth District, a section of the state overwhelmingly filled with white and affluent voters.
“At the end of the day, whatever you think about me; whatever happens or whatever I become in the future, I’ll still always be Jordan’s mom,” Ms. McBath said during a campaign event last month.
Her win defies conventional wisdom of how minority candidates must campaign in order to gain traction in districts predominately composed of white voters. While some had advised Ms. McBath to dilute the most explicit parts of her son’s murder, she believed it was integral to telling an authentic story about her life and experiences, she said.
During stump speeches on the trail, Ms. McBath would invoke the name of Trayvon Martin, the teenager killed in Florida whose death spurned legions of black activism. She also said, “I’m risking my son’s legacy for the people of this district.”
“What I’m doing today is still mothering his legacy,” Ms. McBath said last month. “I’m extending what I would do for my son to my community.”
According to the U.S Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Services, African-Americans are 20% more likely to experience psychological distress such as depression, suicide, PTSD and anxiety than their non-Hispanic white counterparts.
Meet Dr. Joy Bradford, a licensed psychologist based in Atlanta, Georgia and founder of Therapy for Black Girls. Passionate about changing the stigma surrounding mental health issues and therapy which often prevents black women from taking the step of seeing a therapist, Bradford aims to alleviate the process of seeking relief for mental health-related issues within the black community, by fostering a safe space to present mental health topics to black millennial women in a digestible way.
Previously a college counselor, Bradford leveraged her people person and problem solver skills to create the Therapy for Black Girls platform in 2014. The Therapy for Black Girls platform now reaches over 32,000 members with its blog, podcast, social media communities, and very own national therapist directory, that lists black women mental health providers nationally.
I spoke with Bradford about what inspired her to create Therapy for Black Girls, why there’s a stigma surrounding mental health in the black community and the challenges that isolate black women millennials from seeking mental health care.
Dominique Fluker: As a licensed psychologist, speaker and host of the popular mental health podcast, Therapy for Black Girls, share why you decided to create the online space dedicated to encouraging the mental wellness of black women and girls?
Dr. Joy Bradford: I created the space because I really wanted Black women to have a place to go to get information about mental health that felt relevant and accessible to them. I wanted to be able to share information about recognizing signs and symptoms of mental illness but also to have conversations about the kinds of things we can do to encourage mental wellness.
Fluker: How is the Therapy for Black Girls platform combating the stigma surrounding mental health issues and therapy for African-American women?
Bradford: I think it’s combating stigma because it is making topics that were once taboo, okay to be publicly discussed. I think that topics covered on the podcast have given people language for some of the things they may have been struggling with, and I think the directory has allowed scores of women to connect with mental health professionals across the country who are excited about providing high-quality care to them.
Fluker: What are the challenges that black women millennial face daily that might make them feel isolated from mental health care?
Bradford: I think that sometimes black millennial women worry that their issues are not “big” enough to go to therapy and so they don’t utilize the service. I also think that sadly a lot of black millennial women also don’t feel like providers will really get them and it feels really hard to go into space where you’re supposed to be very transparent but not able to be comfortable. Additionally, I think that the cost may be prohibitive for some people who may want to go to therapy. Even with insurance, it may be difficult to afford therapy, but without it, there can be a lot of hoops to jump through to find lower cost therapy that is a good fit.
Voting rights activists in Georgia say they will launch a petition drive in an effort to collect enough signatures of registered voters to block a proposal to close more than two-thirds of polling precincts in a predominantly black county ahead of this fall’s general election.
The plan to shutter the voting sites in Randolph County, a rural community about 2½ hours south of Atlanta, has been drawn dozens of local residents and progressive groups to two public hearings in recent days. The American Civil Liberties Union filed a formal protest with the county’s board of elections.
Brian Kemp, Georgia’s secretary of state, which oversees elections operations throughout the state, has issued a statement urging Randolph County officials to “abandon this effort.” Kemp also is the Republican nominee in one of the country’s most-watched gubernatorial contests. The Democratic nominee, Stacey Abrams, a former state legislator, is seeking to become the nation’s first black female governor.
The two-member county election board – a third member stepped down recently – has scheduled a vote for Friday on the proposal to shutter seven of the county’s nine polling places, citing problems including facilities in disrepair or inaccessible to persons with disabilities. But some activists are suspicious of the board’s motives, noting that Randolph County is 60 percent black and many residents have low incomes. The county, which covers 431 square miles, has no public transportation system.
All nine of the polling places were used for the May primaries and less than a month ago for statewide run-offs, in which Kemp, helped by an endorsement from President Donald Trump, beat Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle for the GOP nomination.
Local news outlets reported heated discussions at meetings on Thursday and Friday, with residents and activists alleging the move was aimed at suppressing turnout in the county, in which more than 55 percent of the voters are black and have backed Democratic candidates in statewide elections.
County officials and a consultant hired by local officials said the closures were necessary because the sites were not compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act and there was not time to fix them before the Nov. 6 general election. They also suggested that affected residents could vote by absentee ballot.
“You don’t solve problems of accessibility for people with disabilities by reducing access for people without disabilities,” said Andrea Young, executive director of the Georgia ACLU, which wrote a letter to the board stating that the closures would be a violation of the Voting Rights Act because it would have a negative effect on African-American voters. The group noted that African-Americans make up more than 96 percent of the voters at one of the polling places slated for closure.
Unsure if the board will be persuaded by the arguments for keeping the polling places open, some activists will try to stop the plan by using a state law that forbids the closure of voting sites if 20 percent of the registered voters in the affected precinct object to the change. The county currently has just over 4,000 registered voters.
Nse Ufot, executive director of the New Georgia Project, a voter registration and education group, said activists will begin collecting signatures Sunday, spreading the word at morning church services.
“We want to see to it that the hundreds of students we registered at Andrew College and the people we’ve registered in Randolph are able to exercise their sacred, fundamental right to vote,” Ufot said. The goal is to submit the petition before the board’s scheduled Friday vote.
A similar petition drive overturned a decision two years ago by elections officials in Macon-Bibb County to relocate a polling place from a school to the sheriff’s office.
“These polling place closures are part of a stark pattern that we are seeing across Georgia whereby officials are working to make it harder for African Americans and other minorities to vote,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “The more communities mobilize to turn out the vote, the harsher the voter suppression efforts undertaken by officials. We are prepared to use every tool in our arsenal to ensure that African American voters are able to have meaningful access to the polls this election cycle.”
McBath thanked her supporters early Wednesday morning, saying she was at a “loss for words.” “We deserve better representation in DC, and I intend to show the good people of #GA06 what a tough, determined mother can do,” she wrote on Twitter. “On to November.”
I am at a loss for words. Thank you to my supporters, friends & family. And I want to thank my dear Jordan, my rock & inspiration. We deserve better representation in DC, and I intend to show the good people of #GA06 what a tough, determined mother can do. On to November! pic.twitter.com/OqXCbw53cu
McBath, a national spokeswoman for gun control group Moms Demand Action, will now face a challenging race against incumbent Rep. Karen Handel (R-Ga.) in November’s general election. Handel famously beat Democrat Jon Ossoff in last year’s special election ― the most expensive U.S. House race in history, with more than $50 million spent on both bids.
McBath was spurred into activism by the 2012 death of her son, Jordan Davis, a black 17-year-old who was shot dead at a Florida gas station by a white man complaining about loud music. Initially planning to run for a state House seat, McBath decided to run for Congress after the February school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people, most of them teens.
“I knew that I could no longer sit on the sidelines,” McBath wrote on her campaign site, “while the politicians in the pocket of the gun manufacturing lobby decide the future of our gun laws.”
She said Wednesday that Jordan was her “rock & inspiration” through the race.
As a “Mother of the Movement” ― part of a group of women who’ve lost a child to gun violence or in police custody ― McBath advocates for “common sense gun violence prevention laws,” including background checks, raising the age for firearm purchases to 21 years old and fighting against “conceal carry” measures. The two-time breast cancer survivor is also pushing for more affordable health care and improving women’s access to health services.
She wants gun control reform for a very personal reason and decided to run for Congress with the hope of changing things herself.
Lucy McBath is set for a runoff election this coming Tuesday against Atlanta tech businessman Kevin Abel for the Democratic nomination in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District. McBath is a gun control activist and the mother of 17-year-old Jordan Davis, who was murdered in Jacksonville, Florida in 2012 when he was shot by Michael Dunn, a white man angered that he and his friends would not turn their music down.
Dunn, who attempted to claim the shooting was in self-defense because he felt “threatened” by the boys arguing back at him, was convicted of first-degree murder. “I didn’t understand how there were these kinds of tragedies happening all over the country,” McBath told CNN. “And why aren’t our legislators talking about it?”
Davis said she was inspired to run when she saw Donald Trump speak after February’s high school mass shooting in Parkland, Florida. She says she knew the president was lying when he implied he would challenge the NRA. “It’s just not enough to have the marches and the rallies and the speeches and the remarks, unless we have people who are willing to create the bills to make this a safer nation,” she told CNN.
After her son’s death, she retired from her job as a Delta Airlines flight attendant and became a national spokeswoman for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and Everytown for Gun Safety. She has testified before Congress, joined Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail in 2016, and was among the Mothers of the Movement who spoke at the 2016 Democratic National Convention.
McBath came in first in the primary race in front of Abel, a South Africa native who she will face in the runoff this Tuesday. McBath won 36 percent of the vote in the May primary, while Abel secured 30.5 percent of the votes cast. The runoff winner will challenge incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Karen Handel.
Abel claims that despite coming in second in the primary, he is the better candidate simply because he feels McBath “can’t beat Handel” in the bloody-red state of Georgia.
McBath is undeterred and unapologetic about her policy positions. “Yes, we are in a gun state,” says McBath. “And yes, we are in a red state. But I know people are sick and tired of being sick and tired. I know people now want change.”
The African Methodist Episcopal Church, the first independent Black denomination in the U.S., has teamed up with 19 Black-owned banks across the nation to form a partnership aimed at bettering financial vitality among Black Americans.
Bishop Reginald T. Jackson announced the new partnership at the 2018 Council of Bishops and General Board Meeting in Atlanta on June 26, pegging the initiative as an opportunity to “increase Black wealth,” business development and homeownership.
“This initiative will strengthen Black banks across the U.S. and increase their capacity to lend to small businesses, to secure mortgages, to provide personal lines of credit, and to offer other forms of credit to AME churches and our members,” said Jackson, president of the Council of AME Bishops. “This, of course, includes enabling members and their families to become homeowners.”
Jackson explained the partnership was inspired by an initiative formed in Washington, D.C. in 2015, called Black Wealth 2020, which he said “… is providing an economic blueprint for Black America.”
Through the initiative, faith leaders and bank presidents hope to increase deposits and loans with Black-owned banks; up the number of Black businesses from 2.6 million to 4 million; and grow Black homeownership to more than 50 percent nationwide, according to a press release.
Speaking to The Atlanta Voice, General Board Chair Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie said she believes the church-bank collaboration is especially important for African-American youth.
“We want to be able to teach fiscal responsibility before [students] get to high school,” she said. “[It’s important] to learn the value of saving, the value of investing.”
Michael Banks, former head of the National Bankers’ Association, said he sees the partnership as imperative in regards to growing Black homeownership.
“We are educating ourselves and not only teaching our people how to get a home but also how to stay there,” Banks told the newspaper. “We worry about gentrification, but we have more power than we realize. (It’s important) to (buy) a home, and hold on to a home, and then encourage all young people to do the same.”
With over 6,000 AME churches across the U.S., faith leaders say the partnership is a real opportunity to boost wealth among Black Americans if everyone takes part.