Family in New Jersey Wins $429 Million Lottery, Uses Money to Fight Poverty

The Smith Family (photo via thegrio.com)

via thegrio.com

Last year, the Smith family in Trenton, New Jersey, won the $429 million Powerball lottery, and they planned to use all that money to help fight poverty. Pearlie Mae Smith and her seven children meant what they said at a press conference when they promised to give that money back to their community.

“It was like affirmation from God because we each have dreams that we want to fulfill in this life, and do for our community and do for each other and for our families and we have been funded to do that,” Smith’s daughter Valerie Arthur said last year when the family won about $25 million apiece after taxes when they decided to take their winnings in a lump sum.

They used the money to pay off bills and student loans before they put it back into their community with the Smith Family Foundation. “We want to fund programs that directly affect systems of poverty so we can help change the systems or change the dynamics that are causing people to be in poverty,” Harold Smith told NJ.com. “Rather than just helping them find food or give away food, we can make it so they now have the ability to obtain employment, get their proper education in order to be able to go out and get their own food.”

The foundation will work with the city in order to provide both long- and short-term grants for Trenton.

Source: Family wins $429 million lottery, aims to use money to fight poverty | theGrio

63 Year-Old Duvinson Jeanty Receives College Degree Alongside 27 Year-Old Son Benjamin

Benjamin Jeanty (l) and Duvinson Jeanty (r) [image via huffingtonpost.com]

by Zahara Hill via huffpost.com

At your typical graduation, parents are somewhere beaming in the audience as their kid switches their tassel to the left. But last Friday, 63-year-old Duvinson Jeanty was right alongside his son receiving a bachelor’s degree of his own. Duvinson and his 27-year-old son Benjamin both graduated from William Paterson University in New Jersey and are the first in their family to receive college degrees. Duvinson, a Haitian immigrant, retired from his 25-year stint as a New Jersey Transit bus driver in 2013 to become a full-time student at the university. “It’s always been my dream, my goal to finish college,” Duvinson told CBS New York.

Like Duvinson, Benjamin didn’t take the straight and narrow path in his pursuit of higher education. After a year at Rutgers University in 2008, he left the school and began working in the fast food industry. Three years later, he realized he wanted to pursue something he felt was more purposeful.

“I starting making good money, and making money is cool, but how am I serving the community? How am I helping others?” Benjamin told Fox News.

Part of the inspiration for Benjamin’s change of heart came from witnessing how passionate his dad was about obtaining an education.

Instead of returning to Rutgers to pursue psychology, Benjamin enrolled at William Paterson, where his dad was already studying finance.

“He was my biggest cheerleader and inspiration,” Benjamin told InsideEdition.com. “There were some times I’d come home from work or class late and I’d see him studying and it would encourage me. Seeing him walk across the stage and get his diploma was indescribable.”

To read original article, go to: 63-Year-Old Father Receives College Degree With His Son | HuffPost

17 Year-Old Ifeoma White-Thorpe Accepted to All 8 Ivy League Colleges

Ifeoma White-Thorpe from Morris Hills High School in Rockaway, New Jersey, was accepted into all eight Ivy League colleges, plus Stanford. (CBS PHILLY)

article by Jennifer Earl via cbsnews.com

Many college-bound high school seniors will have difficult decisions to make as summer approaches, but few can compare to the choice facing New Jersey teen Ifeoma White-Thorpe – she was accepted to all eight Ivy League colleges.  White-Thorpe, 17, from Morris Hills High School in Rockaway, New Jersey, was accepted into Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Cornell, Princeton, Brown, Dartmouth, and the University of Pennsylvania. And that’s not all. White-Thorpe was accepted into Stanford University, too.

At first, she was solely focused on Harvard — the first school to officially give her the green light. But acceptance letters from other prestigious schools across the country soon flooded her mailbox, and now she’s back to square one. “I got into Harvard Early Action, so I was like I’ll just go there. And then I got into all the others and now I don’t know where I want to go,” White-Thorpe told CBS Philly on Tuesday.

The teenager already has quite an impressive list of accomplishments. She’s student government president, ranks high in her advanced placement courses and is a talented poet and writer. She recently won first place in the National Liberty Museum’s Selma Speech & Essay Contest.“Education is essential for change, and I aspire to be that change,” White-Thorpe said after winning a $5,000 prize in the national essay contest.

White-Thorpe says she wants to major in global healthy policy, and plans to look into what programs each school offers in her field. But that’s not the only factor that will help make her decision. It will likely come down to whichever university provides the best financial aid package, she said.

Source: 17-year-old New Jersey teen accepted into all 8 Ivy League schools – CBS News

Grade School Basketball Players in New Jersey Forfeit Season Rather Than Ban Girls from Team (VIDEO)

(photo via YouTube)

article via nytlive.nytimes.com

A Catholic Youth Organization basketball team in New Jersey voted to forfeit the season so they could keep two female players on the team. As NJ.com reports, the league’s director told the St. John’s Chargers that they were not allowed to play as a co-ed team, that their record would be wiped because girls had played “illegally,” and that they would be prohibited from playing the final two games of the season if the female players remained on board.

Jim Goodness, a spokesperson for the archdiocese of Newark, told NJ.com that the “rules specifically state the teams should be boys or girls only.”Parents and coaches decided to let the children vote on how they would proceed. When asked if they wanted to “play the game without the two young ladies on the team,” or “stay as a team as you have all year,” all eleven players voted to keep the girls on the team and forfeit the season.

To see video of vote, click below:

Assistant coach Keisha Martel, whose daughter plays with the Chargers, reiterated the consequences of their decision. “It doesn’t matter!” one boy replied.

To read more, go to: Grade-school basketball players forfeit season rather than ban girls from team – Women in the World in Association with The New York Times – WITW

New Jersey Educator Naseed Gifted Launches STEM Comic Book, “P.B. Soldier”

Naseed Gifted (photo via blackenterprise.com)

article by Samara Lynn via blackenterprise.com

Nat Cummings is a talented computer hacker using his skills to pay his college tuition. A covert operative, he is well-versed in hacking, hand-to-hand combat, blade combat, and stealth.All is well with Nat until he is listed as a
n International Terror Threat,­ Code Red.

The newly formed government/paramilitary organization called The Establishment gives him a simple choice, either work with them to become a highly trained assassin or be terminated. Nat is the protagonist of a new science fiction comic book series, P.B. Soldier. The series not only promises an exciting story of an African American antihero, but it is designed to teach STEM skills.

P.B. Soldier is the brainchild of PBS Media, an independent comic book publisher founded by Naseed Gifted.

Gifted is not only the comic’s writer and creator he is a long-time math teacher, was an engineer, and is currently an administrator for the Pre-Academy division of the New Jersey Public Schools system.

Today, PBS Media is launching a Kickstarter campaign to raise $8,500 for the production of episode 3.0, the sixth installment of a 13 book arc. Funds will go toward payment to line artist and colorist Abel Garcia, and the actual production of the book, including printing and distribution.

A portion of proceeds will go to the Central High School Pre­Engineering Academy in Newark, New Jersey, where Gifted has taught and led for the past 13 years.

To read full article, go to: New Jersey Educator Launches STEM Comic Book

R.I.P. Parliament-Funkadelic Co-Founder and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Bernie Worrell

Bernie Worrell: Parliament-Funkadelic Co-Founder Dies

Parliament-Funkadelic Co-Founder Bernie Worrell (GREGORY PACE/BEI/BEI/SHUTTERSTOCK)

article by Andrew Barker via Variety.com

Bernie Worrell, the keyboardist, songwriter and synthesizer pioneer who served as co-founder of Parliament-Funkadelic with George Clinton, and was also a key Talking Heads collaborator, died on Friday after a battle with cancer, according to his Facebook page. He was 72.

Diagnosed with stage four lung cancer in January, Worrell was the guest of honor at a massive benefit concert last April, with the likes of George Clinton, Questlove, David Byrne and Meryl Streep performing and paying tribute. In mid-June, however, his wife Judie Worrell announced his health had taken a turn, writing, “Bernie is now heading ‘Home.’”

As a member of Parliament-Funkadelic, Worrell’s synth playing provided the funk innovators with some of their most distinctive and immediately recognizable elements, which subsequently became signature sounds of the more futuristic strains of R&B, and the bedrock of hip-hop’s West Coast “g-funk” wave, with Dr. Dre in particular sampling Worrell’s music continuously.

From the gurgling, staccato Minimoog bassline of “Flash Light” to the whiny, minor-key synth lines on “P. Funk (Wants to Get Funked Up),” Worrell introduced a wealth of completely new elements into pop music’s sonic vocabulary. Former bandmate Bootsy Collins described Worrell as “the Jimi Hendrix of the keyboards,” while Talking Heads frontman Byrne once noted, “Bernie changed the way I think about music, and the way I think about life.”

Born George Bernard Worrell in New Jersey, Worrell began playing piano at age three, and performed with the Washington Symphony Orchestra at age 10. He attended Julliard and the New England Conservatory of Music, and met up with fellow New Jersey native George Clinton while playing in bar bands. He followed Clinton to Detroit, where Funkadelic rewrote the rules of black popular music several times over throughout the 1970s.

Worrell only appeared on a single track of Funkadelic’s 1970 self-titled debut, but he featured heavily on follow-up “Free Your Mind…And Your Ass Will Follow,” and by the time of 1971’s psych-rock freak-out masterpiece “Maggot Brain,” he was firmly ensconced in the lineup, even singing lead on single “Hit It and Quit It.”

Worrell’s role as a keyboardist, songwriter and arranger grew throughout the decade as Funkadelic and Parliament – during the ‘70s, the two groups consisted of the same core members – evolved into a more radio-friendly, dance-oriented outfit, alongside former James Brown bassist Collins, who arrived in 1972. Thanks to his grasp of classical music composition, as well as his ceaseless curiosity in exploring state-of-the-art synthesizer technology, Worrell was essential in imposing structure and melodic order onto the group’s more freewheeling experimentations.

Parliament’s “Mothership Connection” elevated the collective’s profile substantially in 1975, reaching No. 4 on the R&B album chart and becoming the first P-Funk album to go platinum. The group’s popularity peaked with Funkadelic’s “One Nation Under a Groove,” which topped the R&B chart for six straight weeks in 1978, while Parliament’s “Motor Booty Affair” and Funkadelic’s “Uncle Jam Wants You” both reached No. 2 in the months that followed. The P-Funk staples co-written by Worrell in this period include “Mothership Connection (Star Child),” “Aqua Boogie (A Psychoalphadiscobetabioaquadaloop)” and “Flash Light,” which still stands as perhaps the group’s most widely played and influential single track.

Worrell recorded a solo album in 1978 – “All the Woo in the World,” produced by Clinton – and recorded with Collins for his splinter group Bootsy’s Rubber Band, whose 1977 album “Ahh…the Name is Bootsy, Baby!” is a particularly essential funk collection. But as loose and sprawling as the P-Funk universe could be, the spine of the group began to splinter at the end of the ‘70s, and Worrell officially left in 1981.

Shortly after his departure, Worrell was recruited by Jerry Harrison, guitarist for the art-rock/New Wave group Talking Heads, whom Worrell had never heard. Though he found their earlier music “stiff,” Worrell joined the group as a session musician, contributing synthesizers to 1983 album “Speaking in Tongues,” which would go on to become the Heads’ highest-charting release. He toured with the group for years, and his importance to their live sound is made abundantly clear in the Jonathan Demme-directed 1984 concert film, “Stop Making Sense.”

During the ‘80s, Worrell also recorded with Keith Richards, Fela Kuti, and Jack Bruce, and after the breakup of Talking Heads, he released a spate of solo albums in the early-‘90s. (1991’s “Funk of Ages” is the clear standout.) He continued to record and tour throughout the following decades, with groups the Bernie Worrell Orchestra and Bernie Worrell’s Woo Warriors, and as part of the supergroup Black Jack Johnson alongside rapper Mos Def. Worrell was the subject of Philip Di Fiore’s 2005 documentary, “Stranger: Bernie Worrell on Earth,” and he had a role as a member of Meryl Streep’s bar band in Demme’s 2015 feature “Ricki and the Flash.”

Worrell was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Parliament-Funkadelic in 1997, and performed with the reunited Talking Heads during the group’s induction in 2002. Earlier this year, he was given an honorary doctorate from his alma mater, the New England Conservatory of Music.

R.I.P. Grammy Award Winning Soul Artist Billy Paul

Billy Paul At BAM R&B Festival

Billy Paul (Source: Jack Vartoogian/Getty Images / Getty)

article by Kellee Terrell via hellobeautiful.com

On Sunday morning, Philadelphia-born soul singer Billy Paul passed away in New Jersey home after battling cancer, his manager Beverly Gay confirmed to NBC 10 Philadelphia. Paul was 81.

On the “Me and Mrs. Jones” singer’s website, the following message was posted:

We regret to announce with a heavy heart that Billy has passed away today at home after a serious medical condition.  We would like to extend our most sincere condolences to his wife Blanche and family for their loss, as they and the world grieves the loss of another musical icon that helped pioneered today’s R&B music. Billy will be truly missed.

Born in 1934, Paul started singing at 11 years-old and early on his career, he performed at several clubs and college campuses with several music legends, including Charlie “Bird” Parker, Nina Simone, Miles Davis and Roberta Flack, NBC 10 wrote. Serving in the army with Elvis Presley, in 1968 Paul released his debut album “Feelin’ Good at the Cadillac Club.”

One of his most popular songs, “Me and Mrs. Jones” debuted in 1972 helping him become a household name and a constant on record players across the country. That song reached number one of the Billboard charts and earned him a Grammy award. Overall, during his amazing career, Paul released a total of 15 albums.