Tag: Michigan

BHM: “Ain’t I A Woman?” The Life and Legacy of Abolitionist and Activist Sojourner Truth

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

It’s February 1st, which means it is now officially Black History Month! Although we here at Good Black News celebrate the achievements of Black people every day of the year, it is always lovely when the rest of the U.S. joins in to do the same for at least 28 of them. So, for #BHM2019, GBN will be highlighting the achievements of black women, past and present, who have and are paving the way to a better future.

Sojourner Truth Google Doodle (via google.com)

And what better person to start with than today’s Google Doogle, abolitionist and women’s rights activist Sojourner Truth, who, with “Ain’t I A Woman?” gave one of the most powerful and unforgettable American speeches of all time on what we now call intersectionality?

In 2014, Sojourner Truth was included in Smithsonian Magazine’s list of the “100 Most Significant Americans of All Time” – yet the majority of Americans don’t know who she was, what she did, or they confuse her with Harriett Tubman.

Born Isabella (“Bell”) Baumfree circa 1797, Truth was born into slavery in Swartekill, Ulster County, New York, but escaped with her infant daughter to freedom in 1826. After going to court to recover her son, in 1828 she became the first black woman to win such a case against a white man.

She gave herself the name Sojourner Truth in 1843 after she became convinced that God had called her to leave the city and go into the countryside “testifying the hope that was in her.” Her best-known speech was delivered extemporaneously, in 1851, at the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio.

The speech became widely known during the Civil War by the title Ain’t I a Woman?,” a variation of the original speech re-written by someone else using a stereotypical Southern dialect. Truth was from New York and grew up speaking Dutch as her first language, and had a Dutch accent. During the Civil War, Truth helped recruit black troops for the Union Army; after the war, she tried unsuccessfully to secure land grants from the federal government for former slaves.  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sojourner_Truth)

There are a lot of other events and details in Truth’s life, of course, including collaboration with Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, President Abraham Lincoln and varied suffragists and women’s groups – Truth was known for her persuasive speeches against slavery as well as sexism – she even once defiantly opened her top and showed her breasts during a speech when she was accused of being a man.  

But what is remarkable and often not mentioned is that she is likely the first black woman in the U.S. to attain national fame (she sold photos and autographs of herself at events to make money “I sell the shadow to support the substance”) and the first to have her voice heard in America. It is also rather ironic that many of the records of her speeches were written by white men, and thus often altered to their perception of a black, female, former slave.

Some would quote that she had 13 children who were sold away from her (she had 5 and raised most of them) or say she was raving when she was calm. Truth’s was a 19th-century case of what is all too familiar today – media distortion by the dominant culture trying to make sense of “the other”- and in her instance, white men trying to process the experiences and truths of black women.

However, Truth was self-possessed – she claimed her ownership of herself by renaming herself and writing her own Narrative in 1850. Truth traveled and spoke to hostile, indifferent and embracing crowds, fought for women’s rights and black women’s right to vote, fought for land grants and reparations for former slaves, prison reform and the end of capital punishment.

Truth was in her 80s when she died at her home in Battle Creek, Michigan. In 1999, a 12-foot high monument was built in Battle Creek to honor her. The calendar of saints of the Episcopal Church remembers Truth annually, and the Lutheran Church calendar of saints remembers her on the same day as Harriet Tubman. 

In 2009, Truth became the first black woman honored with a bust in the U.S. Capitol.

Nancy Pelosi, Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton honoring Sojourner Truth as her likeness is added to U.S. Capitol (photo via sfgate.com)

To learn more about Truth, you can read her autobiography The Narrative of Sojourner Truth, the biography Sojourner Truth: A Life, A Symbol by Nell Irvin Painter, and for children, Who Was Sojourner Truth?  or My Name is Truth: The Life of Sojourner Truth written by Ann Turner and illustrated by James Ransome.

To watch a mini-biography on Truth on biography.com, go to: http://www.biography.com/video/sojourner-truth-mini-biography-11191875531

Obama Headlines Rally in Support of Michigan Democrats

(photo by Callie Teitelbaum)

by Callie Teitelbaum

Former President Barack Obama spoke at a rally for the Michigan Democrats at Cass Tech High School in Detroit on October 27th. Thousands of people gathered outside Cass Tech waiting for the doors to open at 5:00 P.M.

The rally was held in support of the Michigan Democrats running for federal and local office in the midterm elections and emphasized the importance of voting on November 6th.

Obama was welcomed on stage by Debbie Stabenow, who is running for re-election to the U.S. senate, and the Cass Tech band at 8:00 P.M. Obama spoke about the importance of voting in the midterms.

“The main reason I am here is to make sure that all of you vote in what I believe might be the most important election of our lifetime,” Obama said. “The stakes in this election are really high. The consequences of sitting on the sidelines in this election are dangerous and profound because America is at a crossroads right now…the character of our country is on the ballot.”

Obama stated in his speech that politicians often try to scare, distract, and place voter rules on citizens to prevent them from voting. He mentioned examples of Americans being distracted in 2014 with the threat of Ebola, in 2016 with Hillary Clinton’s emails, and how “the most important thing” in this election is “a bunch of impoverished refugees a thousand miles away,” Obama said. He concluded that the American people must no longer fall for these diversions.

Obama enumerated upon what he said were lies of politicians, specifically, Republican candidates who are running campaigns in support of the the Affordable Care Act and protecting insurance for people with pre-existing conditions, despite their previous attempts to continuously overturn that law.

“What we have not seen before in our public life is politicians just blatantly, repeatedly, boldly, shamelessly, lie,” Obama said.

Obama endorsed Stabenow, saying she is the person who will protect healthcare for people with pre-existing conditions along with Elissa Slotkin, who took leave from CIA to take care of her mom, and is now the Democratic nominee for Michigan’s 8th congressional district.

Obama drew attention to the current administration who he claims continuously caters to America’s elite and how that must change. He endorsed voting on Proposal 2 and further condemned deceit by politicians. “When words stop meaning anything, when truth doesn’t matter, when people can just make up things, then democracy, it doesn’t work,” Obama said.

Obama later stated, “The only check on bad behavior is you and your vote.”

Obama made sure to list the vast number of issues that will take time to fix and said that while one election will not change everything, it is a start.“ The biggest threat to our democracy is indifference,” Obama said.

Prior to Obama’s speech, a variety of political figures spoke to either endorse candidates or campaign for their own nomination. The main political issues discussed included healthcare, public school education, women’s rights, and ending gerrymandering in the state of Michigan.

Continue reading “Obama Headlines Rally in Support of Michigan Democrats”

New $5 Million Program Via Non-Profit Company, Capital Impact Partners, Helps Black Developers Rebuild Detroit

Developer Cliff Brown and Melinda Clemons from Capital Impact Partners. (Image: Courtesy of Capital Impact Partners)

by Jeffrey McKinney via blackenterprise.com

African American real estate developers in Detroit will get financing and training opportunities to grow their businesses courtesy of a $5 million program being offered by Capital Impact Partners. JPMorgan Chase & Co. is investing $500,000 into Capital Impact Partner’s Equitable Development Initiative to increase the number of minority developers in Detroit.

The pilot program is part of a larger move to encourage small diverse developers to work on larger products and give them the resources to be successful. The two-year initiative will allow black developers to take part in Detroit’s economic recovery by providing them flexible capital, one-on-one mentorships with local experts, and formalized training to support real estate companies they own and operate.

Capital Impact Partners is an Arlington, Virginia-based nonprofit community development financial institution that offers loans, grants, and other financial services to underserved U.S. cities. It also has offices in Detroit and Oakland. The program is geared to spur the development of small-and mid-sized mixed-use, multifamily residential projects in the city’s mixed-use corridors.

Capital Impact Partners stated in a news release that of the $152 million loaned in Detroit between 2006 and 2015, projects led by minority developers received only 10% of the financing. Detroit has nearly 50,000 minority-owned small businesses, making it the nation’s fourth-largest city for minority entrepreneurship.

Melinda Clemons, Detroit Market Lead at Capital Impact Partners, says stumbling blocks for African American real estate developers are experience, knowledge of upcoming developments, and access to financing. She says Capital Impact Partners is in the process of raising $5 million to support the program. “We’re trying to remove the barriers that have hindered African American developers in Detroit from participating in the city’s revitalization.”

Officials hope the Detroit initiative will mirror successful efforts in other areas. “We’ve seen success in the implementation of similar type programs in other cities like Milwaukee and Los Angeles and are confident this new effort will ensure that the brick-and-mortar development component of Detroit’s economic growth continues to be inclusive,” Clemons said in a press release.

To be eligible, program participants must be developers of color from the Detroit area with some real estate development experience. Developers planning to build a 6 to 20 residential unit, multifamily or mixed-use development in Detroit’s targeted redevelopment areas will be given priority. Developers that don’t have a planned project will also be considered for the program. Participants will get help in several areas, including project budgeting, real estate finance, project and contractor management, legal services, and community engagement.Applications must be completed by the end of November.

For more details and where to apply visit: www.capitalimpact.org/focus/place-based-revitalization/detroit-program/equitable-development-initiative.

To read full article, go to: New $5 Million Program Helps Black Developers Rebuild Detroit – Black Enterprise

Bruno Mars Donates $1M from Michigan Concert Proceeds to Flint Water Crisis

Recording artist Bruno Mars (photo via hollywoodreporter.com)

via hollywoodreporter.com

Bruno Mars is donating $1 million from his Michigan concert to aid those affected by the Flint water crisis. Mars told the audience Saturday at his show in Auburn Hills that he and tour promoter Live Nation are redirecting funds from the concert to The Community Foundation of Greater Flint, a charity.

In 2014, Flint switched water sources and failed to add corrosion-reducing phosphates, allowing lead from old pipes to leach into the water. Mars says in a statement that “as people, especially as Americans, we need to stand together to make sure something like this never happens in any community ever again.”

To read more, go to: Bruno Mars Donates $1M to Flint Water Crisis | Hollywood Reporter

Aretha Franklin Honored with Aretha Franklin Way in Hometown of Detroit

Aretha Franklin wipes away tears as she has street dedicated to her in hometown of Detroit (photo via huffingtonpost.com)

by Jenna Amatulli via huffingtonpost.com

Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, was honored with a street named after her in Detroit this week.

A portion of Madison Avenue ― beginning at the corner of Brush Street outside of the Detroit City Music Hall for the Performing Arts ― is now called Aretha Franklin Way.

Franklin was near-speechless during the unveiling ceremony:

The 75 year-old songstress later spoke on the stage at the Music Hall on Thursday evening, thanking the city of Detroit for always supporting her and joking about needing some Kleenex.

“Thank you again for this resplendent and magnificent honor of this street, Aretha’s Way. I want to see it every time I come down here, I’m going to dance down it!” she said.

Source: Aretha Franklin Overcome With Emotion After Street Named After Her In Detroit | HuffPost

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

HEALTH: Detroit Gets $9 Million Grant for Historic Study of Black Cancer Survivors to Develop Preventative and Treatment Strategies

Volunteer Bester King, a cancer survivor, at the Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit on Wednesday, March 8, 2017. (Photo: Kathleen Galligan/Detroit Free Press)

article by , Detroit Free Press Columnist via freep.com

Bester King remembers the moment his doctor told him he had prostate cancer. The Detroit native, who grew up in the North End, was 61, had just retired two years earlier and had known the pain of the disease’s prowess. Both his parents had died of cancer.

“I wasn’t afraid. I don’t think I was in shock or anything,” said King, now 77. “I remember feeling a calmness. My dad had prostate cancer and passed two days before his 65th birthday. But that made me more aware of prostate cancer, so it helped save my life. I started getting checkups a lot sooner than I would have. My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer and lived to 95.”

King, who later also developed bladder cancer — and whose doctor also had both cancers — talks easily and forthrightly about his experiences. He hopes to recount those same experiences to researchers if chosen to participate in an unprecedented new project.

The Karmanos Cancer Institute and the Wayne State University School of Medicine just received a five-year grant to begin the nation’s largest-ever study of African-American cancer survivors — men and women — to examine why black people have a higher incidence of, and death from, cancer than other races.

The National Cancer Institute wants to use the study to develop national strategies to prevent and combat cancer in African Americans. The study, funded by a $9 million grant, will include 5,560 cancer survivors and 2,780 family members from Wayne, Oakland and Macomb County. It will allow researchers, through survivor’s words and analysis of biological specimens, to analyze the disease’s progression and recurrence and to examine the quality of life and mortality of black patients.

Participants are being chosen randomly and confidentially from the Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results, or SEER database, a collection of cancer incidence, mortality, survival and treatment information. The death rate for African Americans outpaces whites in all four major categories of cancer — colorectal, female breast, lung, prostate. The death rate for prostate cancer, for instance, was 35.9 per 100,000 black metro Detroit residents dying in 2011-13 compared with 17.1 per 100,000 white metro Detroit residents dying during the same period. The death rate for lung cancer was 56.3 per 100,000 black metro Detroit residents compared with 48.6 per 100,000 white metro Detroit residents.

“This study is critical to ensuring that underserved populations in Detroit and around the country benefit from new approaches for cancer diagnosis, treatment, and prevention,” Dr. M. Roy Wilson, president of Wayne State University, said in a statement. “Focusing on the complex factors that generate disparities in cancer among underserved populations, such as African Americans, will lead to better treatments and improved approaches to cancer care for all Americans.”

To read full article, go to: Metro Detroit gets grant for historic study of black cancer survivors

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

Music Legend Stevie Wonder Honored With Detroit Street in His Name

Stevie Wonder (photo via blackamericaweb.com)
Stevie Wonder Avenue (photo via blackamericaweb.com)

DETROIT (AP) — A Detroit roadway has been renamed for Motown legend Stevie Wonder. The award-winning singer and songwriter attended a Wednesday ceremony to honor him, alongside hundreds of people including Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and U.S. Rep. John Conyers.

Applause broke out when the sign for “Stevie Wonder Ave” was unveiled along Milwaukee Avenue, two blocks from the site of Wonder’s first home in the city.

Wonder moved to Detroit from Saginaw, Michigan as a child and signed with Motown Records when he was only 11 years-old.  His first recordings were done under the moniker “Little Stevie Wonder.”

To read original article, go to: Stevie Wonder Honored With Detroit Street In His Name | Black America Web

Magic Johnson Pledges $250,000 to Aid Flint, MI Schools, Inspires Kids at Local Holiday Event (VIDEO)

Magic Johnson took part Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016 in the Holiday Hope event at Flint Northwestern High School. The Lansing native spoke with children about the importance of education and chasing their dreams before helping to give out food, clothing, and toys to families as part of a partnership between the Magic Johnson Foundation and UnitedHealthcare Community Plan. (Photo via Roberto Acosta | racosta1@mlive.com)
Magic Johnson took part Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016 in the Holiday Hope event at Flint Northwestern High School. The Lansing native spoke with children about the importance of education and chasing their dreams before helping to give out food, clothing, and toys to families as part of a partnership between the Magic Johnson Foundation and UnitedHealthcare Community Plan. (Photo via Roberto Acosta | racosta1@mlive.com)

article by Roberto Acosta via mlive.com

FLINT, MI — Earvin “Magic” Johnson helped load up meals in the back of vehicles lined up outside Flint Northwestern High School on a snow Saturday morning, but he also delivered an assist to Flint children ahead of the giveaway.

In the Vehicle City for the Holiday Hope Flint event that provided meals, clothes, and toys to families, the NBA Hall-of-Famer told kids seated in the gymnasium to chase their dreams.

“We want you to understand dream big. Get your education and you’ll be able to do anything in life you want to do,” he said. “I was once just like you. A little kid from Lansing, Michigan right down the street. I grew up poor, but I didn’t have poor dreams.”

Johnson stressed to children “Nobody defines who you are going to be but you, but you must get a good education so it starts in school.”

He pledged $250,000 toward Flint Community schools during a September visit that will be used to establish three walk-in clinics within the district and athletic facility improvements and told people he would return to the community.

The NBA Hall of Famer returned to the Flint-area on Friday night for a fundraising event titled “An Evening with Magic Johnson” at the Holiday Inn Gateway Centre.

SodexoMagic, Johnson’s food service company, was approved for a $3.36 million contract with the school district in June. The company also holds a contract with the Saginaw School District.

 To read more, go to: http://www.mlive.com/news/flint/index.ssf/2016/11/magic_johnson_tells_flint_chil.html