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

Entrepreneurs Andrew Colom and David Alade Work to Rebuild Detroit One House at a Time

Andrew Colom (l) and David Alade (r) [photo via Century Partners]

article by Rochelle Riley via Essence.com

Andrew Colom, 33, and David Alade, 29, ditched jobs in real estate and banking to start Century Partners, a development firm aimed at revitalizing neighborhoods in the Motor City. The duo also uses the biz to help Detroit’s Black residents build wealth.

What inspired you both to move to Detroit?

Andrew Colom: About five years ago, when I was a real estate developer in Mississippi, I was raking leaves in front of a house before showing it. I was listening to an audio book, Arc of Justice, about Ossian Sweet (a Black Detroit home owner acquitted of murder after he defended his new home against a White mob in 1925). I was thinking about the stories of people who were struggling during the Great Migration, and it sort of inspired me. So I took a trip up here about four years ago and drove around and fell in love with it. I went to David and said, “Detroit is where it’s at. We’ve got to invest.” He said, “You’re crazy.”

David Alade: As a banker at Credit Suisse in New York City, I covered the Big Three auto companies—Ford, GM and Chrysler. All I ever heard was negative stuff about Detroit. Andrew’s talking about artists and potential, and all I’m hearing is crime and violence and abandonment and bankrupt auto companies. About two years ago, I started thinking that it wasn’t my dream to stay in banking. I’ve seen so much inequity in the world, and it’s all tied to wealth disparity. And whatever I wanted to do next, I knew it had to be somewhere in that area.

How does Century Partners tackle wealth disparity?

Colom: We buy historic, abandoned homes and let neighbors invest in the rehabilitation of those homes and recoup their investment from the fund consisting of rent paid by new neighbors. Investors can also sell their homes to Century for cash and inclusion in the investment pool.

Why was it important for Black residents to be involved financially in the rehabilitation process?

Colom: Detroit is a city where there was such high African-American ownership of homes. That got us thinking about bringing neighborhoods back.

Alade: Mrs. Cox, a Black woman who has lived here for 50 years, will talk to you for hours upon hours about the history of Detroit. Within the context of White flight from the neighborhoods, we have a chance to reinvigorate diversity. Ultimately, we can help bring wealth back to the communities that deserve it the most. People who stuck with Detroit through the depths of crisis are really looking forward to seeing how it looks on the other side when home values go up and neighborhoods are vibrant again and abandonment is gone.

Colom: We want to make the Atkinson Historic District, a historically Black neighborhood that has been dormant, active again. They used neighborhood associations to keep Blacks out. What if we use neighborhood associations to build Black wealth?

To read rest of article, go to: http://www.essence.com/2016/08/16/rebuilding-detroit-century-partners-andrew-colom-david-alade