Greene County AVFD names Ronald Kent Smith Fire Fighter of the Year

 

 

 

 

AVFD President, Hodges Smith, presents Fire Fighter of the Year Award to Ronald Kent Smith. Mr. Luther ‘Nat’ Winn, with his wife Mrs. Annie Winn, holds Presidential Award presented to him. Shown with Winn are Union Mayor James Gaines; Forkland Mayor Charlie McAlpine; Eutaw Mayor Raymond Steele and Alabama State Senator Bobby Singleton. Other Fire Fighter Honorees of 2018 included: Mr. Harper Smith, Knoxville Fire Department; Mr. John A. Hill, Springfield Fire Department; Mr. Allen Turner, Jr., Tishabee Fire Department; Mrs. Severe Strode, Lower Gainesville Road Fire Department; Mrs. Brenda Hardy, Clinton Fire Department and Ronald Kent Smith, Greene County Coroner.

 

Ronald Kent Smith, Greene County Coroner and volunteer fire fighter was honored as Fire Fighter of the Year at the 6th Annual Volunteer Fire Fighters Award Banquet held Friday, October 12, 2018 at the Eutaw Civic Center. Smith has been employed by the Greene County Emergency Medical Service for 17 years and has served as a volunteer fire fighter for 17 years. Other honorees for 2018 included: Evangelist Brenda Hardy who serves as president of the Clinton Volunteer Fire Department, which was organized in 2011; Mr. John A. Hill who has served as a member of the Springfield Volunteer Fire Department since 1994; Mr. Harper Smith who serves with the Knoxville Fire Department; Mrs. Severe Strode who has been a fire fighter with the Lower Gainesville Road Volunteer Fire Department since 1991; and Commissioner Allen Turner, Jr.who has been a member of the Tishabee Volunteer Fire Department since 1995. A special recognition, the Presidential Award, was given to Mr. Luther ‘Nat” Winn, II, for his continuing support of the Greene County Association of Volunteer Fire Departments. Alabama State Senator Bobby Singleton gave remarks and encouraged voters to go to the polls on November 6. Mr. Hodges Smith, President of the Association, brought greetings; Mrs. Geraldine Walton was Mistress of Order for the Awards Banquet; A representative from each fire department also brought greetings; Ms. Felecia Smith was soloist; Mr. Marvin Turner & Impluze Band rendered musical selections.

Ms. Willie E. Austin led the Memorial Tribute to deceased fire fighters. Dinner was served and entertainment was provided by D.J. Birdman of Eutaw.

Newswire: CBCF Phoenix Awards Dinner revives political titans of Black America

By Hamil R. Harris

Rev. William Barber, keynote speaker and Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. and his wife, Jacqueline, receives the Phoenix Award for Lifetime Achievement from CBCF Board Chair Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas); U. S. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and U. S. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill) PHOTO: Roy Lewis/Trice Edney News Wire

 

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – The Congressional Black Caucus Annual Legislative Conference concluded with the 48th Annual Phoenix Awards Saturday night. But, before the night ended, the event felt more like a political revival meeting where the titans of Black America challenged to pick up the baton of service and sacrifice. “So this is not the time for us to not know who we are,” preached the Rev. William Barber, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign, in his keynote speech to the applauding audience of thousands. “James Baldwin said it like this: We made the world and we are the ones who are going to have to make it over. We don’t belong to a people who shrink back when times get tough. America needs a conscious. We need it in the streets. We need it in the Congress. We need it at the ballot box!” At the end of his speech, Barber responded to the oft-heard use of the word, “socialism” in describing the beliefs of politicians and rights leaders who believe in helping the poor. He said, “If caring for people is socialism than the constitution is a socialist document…Jesus was a socialist…If caring for people is socialism then bailing out businesses is wreckless social behavior. We must be the conscious of this nation otherwise the soul of this nation will be fatally wounded…Our vision must be bigger than Trump, our vision must be to save this nation.” Recalling the rolls of historic civil rights patriots, Barber concluded, “Fannie Lou hammer is not coming back…Martin is not coming back….Malcolm is not coming back….It’s our time.” The dinner, themed “The Dream Demands,” was hosted by actress /producer Vivica A. Fox and actor/activist Lamman Rucker who narrated the program that honored Civil Rights veterans, the icons of Black America and the new members of Congress who are people of color. The glitzy, black-tie event, held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, is the political equivalent to the Oscars with the political, civic and social stars of the Black community. But the dinner was transformed into church with Rev. Barber’s speech, titled “Knowing Who We Are In Times Like These.” Barber began with advice on Black America’s response to President Donald Trump. He said, “Whatever Donald Trump’s mental status, don’t just focus on him. America has never had the ability to talk about racism and White supremacy.” Reflecting on Dr. Martin Luther Kings’s April 3, 1968 “I Have Been to the Mountain Top” speech that took place in Memphis on the eve of the assassination, Barber said many people focus on the hoop and not the “gravy,” in what King said. “Dr. King looked at the sickness of our society and he said nothing would be more tragic than to turn back now.” Early in the program, the Caucus had a video tribute to some of the icons of Black America who died in the last year. The list included: former Congressman Ronald Dellums, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, Winnie Mandela, Rev. Wyatt T. Walker, Roger Wilson, Joe Jackson, Journalist Les Payne, Ebony Magazine Editor Lerone Bennett and Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul. Speaking of Dellums, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Ca.) told the gathering, “Ron embodied service. He was a former Marine, a psychiatric social worker. He loved the CBC with all of his heart.” The Awards included: Georgia Gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, former minority leader (Georgia House of Representatives) received the Adam Clayton Powell Award for her “groundbreaking accomplishments as a legislator at the local and national levels.” Bryan Stevenson, lawyer, social justice activist, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, and a clinical professor at New York University School of Law received the ALC Co-Chair’s Award. Lee Porter, executive director of the Fair Housing Council, received the ALC Co-Chair’s Award for her “exemplary leadership in community advocacy.” Aretha Franklin received the John R. Lewis Award of Courage for setting the highest standard of dedication, ability and creativity. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) and Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Mi.) honored Franklin and the niece and nephew of the Queen of Soul accepted the award. Lewis said “Aretha Franklin was one of a kind, without her the Civil Rights movement would have been a bird without wings.” Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr. and his wife, Jacqueline, received the CBCF Chair’s Lifetime Achievement Award. During the Jackson presentation, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) said “I don’t care how many times we have done it before, we are going to honor him again and again because he deserves it.” Rep. Shelia Jackson, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, said “For me, Rev. Jackson and Sister Jackson are American and International Heroes.” Rep. Bobby Rush said, “Thank you Rev. Jackson for saving my life.” Rush added that had it not been for Jackson running for President in 1984 and 1988, there would not have been a Chicago Mayor Harold Washington nor a President Barack Obama. Jackson told the audience “Our best days are ahead,” and “Let nothing break your spirit.” Mrs. Jackson offered practical advice that included, “Leave room in your life for God to manage all of your shortcomings.” \

Newswire : African critics see dark side to China’s ‘charitable’ development loans

China’s President Xi Jinping with Uganda’s President Paul. Kagame

2Sept. 10, 2018 (GIN) – There are two sides to every coin and two widely opposing views on China’s offer of generous loans and grants to African countries announced at the recent Forum on China-Africa Cooperation forum in Beijing. At the confab, with representatives from 53 of 54 African countries, sky-high numbers were bandied about. Chinese President Xi Jinping announced $60 billion in funds for eight initiatives over the next three years, in areas ranging from industrial promotion, infrastructure construction and scholarships for young Africans. Such a financial package has many high-profile defenders on the continent, including the head of the African Development Bank, Akinwumi Adesina. “A lot of people get nervous about China but I am not. I think China is Africa’s friend,” he told the BBC. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa dismissed the view of a “new colonialism taking hold in Africa while Rwandan President Paul Kagame called talk of “debt traps” as attempts to discourage African-Chinese interactions. But several African economists, media pundits and civil society see red flags ahead. “The time has come for African leaders to critically interrogate their relationship with China,” an editorial in Kenya’s Daily Nation said Monday. “What are the benefits in this relationship? Is China unfairly exploiting Africa like the others before it?” “This debt acquired from China comes with huge business opportunities for Chinese companies, particularly construction companies that have turned the whole of Africa into a construction site for rails, roads, electricity dams, stadia, commercial buildings and so on,” said Kampala-based economist Ramathan Ggoobi, speaking to the BBC. In Uganda, a 21 year mining concession to the Guangzhou Dongsong Energy Company produced only 92 job slots so far and the threat of displacement of 12,000 residents from 14 villages. This week in Zambia, the government was forced to refute published reports of the possible Chinese takeover of Kenneth Kaunda International Airport and the power utility ZESCO for unpaid debts. It is increasingly common in countries like Angola, Mozambique or Ghana, which benefit from Chinese loans for infrastructure, to see Chinese trucks and workers who would otherwise be unemployed in China now working in Africa on Chinese projects. “If African countries are not careful, the debt they have to China is going to be the equivalent or even more than the debt that they have to industrialized countries and to the World Bank,” said William Gumede, University of the Witwatersrand professor and chair of the Democracy Works Foundation in South Africa. The next Summit will be organized by Senegal in 2021.

Newswire : Decades-old case revives African demand for stolen lands

Chagos protestors Sept. 3, 2018 (GIN) – When colonial powers redrew borders in Africa and picked choice lands for themselves and less desirable land for everyone else, some of those deals remained through this century. Few were undone. This week, a case before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) will decide if colonial deals that redrew African borders can be declared illegal and, if so, if islands taken by the United Kingdom from the nation of Mauritius can be rejoined to Mauritius as before. Mauritius says it was illegally stripped by Britain of the Chagos Islands, now home to a major U.S. air base. The British decision to separate Mauritius from the archipelago in 1965 was a bargaining chip that forced Mauritius to choose – accept the deal or never obtain independence. The deal was in breach of UN resolution 1514, passed in 1960, which specifically banned the breakup of colonies before independence, according to the Mauritian government arguing before the UN-backed court which specializes in territorial and border disputes between states. The four-day session will hear from representatives of 22 countries in a dispute over the rights of exiled islanders to return. The United States has leased the Chagos Islands’ biggest island, Diego Garcia, since 1966 and has built an air base there, while the entire population of around 1,500 people was forced to leave. Although ICJ opinions are not binding, they carry weight under international law. Arguing for Mauritius is elder statesman Anerood Jugnauth, 88, who served for nearly 30 years during four stints as prime minister or president of Mauritius from 1982-2017. “The choice we were faced with was no choice at all: it was independence with detachment (of the Chagos archipelago) or no independence with detachment anyway,” Jugnauth told the 14-judge panel. Olivier Bancoult, leader of the “Chagos Refugees Group said “What we are asking for our right to live on our island as sons of the soil.” UK solicitor general Robert Buckland accepted that the removal of the Chagossians and their treatment thereafter “was shameful and wrong and Britain deeply regrets that fact.” Still, he claims, in 1982, a treaty was signed between the countries that reached “full and final settlement” of Mauritian claims to the archipelago. That deal has since been recognized by the European court of human rights. No date has been set for a decision.

Newswire:  Criticism of Rev. Jasper Williams follow his remarks at Aretha Franklin’s funeral

By: Lauren Victoria Burke, NNPA

Rev. Jasper Williams and Aretha Franklin

Saying his subject was “Aretha the Queen of Soul,” Rev. Jasper Williams of the Salem Bible Church in Atlanta gave the audience gathered for Aretha Franklin’s funeral a few unexpected memories laced with political commentary. Though he began simply, referring to the history of soul music and gospel, his talk became political as he Williams appeared towards the end of the ten-hour service. Rev. Williams was one of over three dozen speakers at Franklin’s lengthy Detroit home going ceremony. Rev. Williams referenced black-on-black crime, said single mothers are incapable of raising sons alone and proclaimed that black America has lost its soul and it’s “now time for black America to come back home.” “Where is your soul, black man?” he asked the audience at one point. “As I look in your house, there are no fathers in the home no more. Where is your soul?” “Seventy percent of our households are led by our precious, proud, fine black women. But as proud, beautiful and fine as our black women are, one thing a black woman cannot do. A black woman cannot raise a black boy to be a man. She can’t do that. She can’t do that,” Rev. Williams said. “It amazes me how it is that when the police kills one of us, we’re ready to protest march, destroy innocent property,” he said. “We’re ready to loot, steal whatever we want. …But when we kill 100 of us, nobody says anything. Nobody does anything,” he went on. “There was a time when we as a race had a thriving economy. I remember we had our own little grocery stores. We had our own little hotels. They weren’t big and fancy, but they were ours. As bad as the days as Jim Crow and segregation were … it forced us to each other instead of forcing us on each other. We quickly come to realize that as a people, all we really have is one another,” Rev. Williams said during his 40-minute eulogy to Franklin. Social media quickly blew up after Rev. Williams spoke in response. Legendary singer Stevie Wonder proclaimed the phrase “black lives do matter,” as he turned in the direction of Rev. Williams after the minister left the stage. Singer Gladys Knight’s performance was also viewed as a moment that brought the ceremony back from Williams’ political speech. “Black Mothers been raising Black boys for years!! We’re Still are raising proud, accomplished and aware Black man!! I should have known! Rest of this eulogy has been a conservative Black confusion rant!” wrote attorney Barbara Arwine from her twitter feed during the speech. “Folks, he can’t see, but Stevie Wonder can hear. And he is offering a rebuke to the eulogy. Don’t think for a second, he isn’t! And the folks in the room heard it,” wrote journalist Roland Martin, who attended the service. “Reverend Jasper Williams plantation style speech at #ArethaFranklinFuneral is a prime example why there is a total disconnect between young Black people and the older Black church crowd. All that cowardly “you’s gots to do better” talk ain’t fooling these kids,” offered anti-racism strategist Tariq Nasheed on twitter. Before Rev. Williams spoke, Smokey Robinson, Shirley Ceasar, Jennifer Hudson, Chaka Khan, Jennifer Lewis and Ron Isley performed among many others.Rev. William Barbour and Rev. Jesse Jackson also delivered remarks. “Aretha was in her very own special category,” said founder of Arista Records Clive Davis. “Her voice will be impacting others literally for centuries to come,” Davis added. A second tribute to Franklin and her music is planned at Madison Square Garden this fall. After her funeral, it was revealed by the family that Aretha Franklin had not left a will and there may be future conflicts over the handling and disposition of her estate.

Newswire :Trump’s ongoing scandals mask a radical agenda that hurts everyday people

NEWS ANALYSIS

By Rev. Jesse Jackson

 (TriceEdneyWire.com) – Trump’s serial scandals — Stormy Daniels, the Russia investigation, the Paul Manafort verdict, the Cohen guilty plea, the juvenile tweets — fill the headlines. Beneath the noise, however, Trump’s appointees and the Republican Congress are relentlessly pursuing a radical right-wing agenda that is gutting basic protections for workers, consumers and the environment. This is often characterized as Trump’s fixation on erasing everything Obama, but it goes far beyond that. Trump’s administration and Congress are not only rolling back President Obama’s policies, but weakening the advances of the Great Society, the Civil Rights Movement, and even pillars of the New Deal. Consider: Eviscerating the Voting Rights Act The Department of Justice has essentially abandoned enforcement of voting rights. The signal was sent when DOJ lawyers withdrew from the Texas voter-ID case in which the Obama Justice Department was co-counsel, arguing that the Texas act was intentionally designed to discriminate against people of color. Combined with the Supreme Court’s right-wing gang of five weakening the act in Shelby County v. Holder, there is now a virtual vacuum of voting rights enforcement. Savaging Enforcement of Civil Rights While Attorney General Jeff Sessions has dramatically weakened enforcement of basic civil rights in the Justice Department, the same is true across the government. The Labor Department disbanded its civil rights division. The Department of Education gutted the budget of its Office of Civil Rights. The Environmental Protection Agency targeted the Environmental Justice program for elimination. For immigrants, basic civil rights have been trampled — from the travel-ban orders affecting predominantly Muslim countries, upending the DACA program for the young people who were born here and know no other country, to the grotesque policy that separated children from their parents at the border. Under Sessions, the Justice Department has also essentially abandoned what was a bipartisan effort to bring about criminal justice reform, with Sessions ordering a review of the consent decrees that were addressing systematic racial discrimination and police brutality. Climate Change Denial Trump famously has announced he will pull the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement, while his appointees have sought to scrub any mention of climate change from government websites. EPA Director Andrew Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist, replaced the Obama administration Clean Power Plan that limited the release of greenhouse gases from power plants. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has abandoned efforts to end the 30-year ripoff of government by fossil fuel companies mining public lands. At a time when even the Pentagon recognizes climate change as real and present threat to national security, the Trump administration remains in denial. Undermining Public Education Under Betsy DeVos, the Department of Education has become the vessel of for-profit plunder. Her budgets seek to use public funds for private school vouchers. Stunningly, the DOE is pushing plans to make it harder for students to repay their college debts, ending or weakening various plans to limit the burden. Now DeVos is jettisoning rules that require for-profit colleges to provide an education that actually prepares graduates for decent jobs, opening the door for rip-offs like Trump’s own notorious university. Savaging Worker Rights In one of his first votes, Trump’s Supreme Court pick Neil Gorsuch provided the determining vote in the Janus decision that weakened the ability of public employees to organize and bargain collectively. Trump’s Labor Department repealed the Fair Pay and Safe Workplace Rule that required companies with federal contracts to disclose and correct labor and safety violations. It also announced it would not defend Obama’s order that increased the number of employees eligible for overtime pay, effectively depriving tens of thousands of workers of a raise. Tax Cuts for the Rich, Cuts in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security for the Rest Trump’s one main legislative victory — the Republican tax cut — lavishes its benefits on the rich and the corporations. Trump and Republicans are using the deficits they created to push for deep cuts in Medicaid, Medicare and — watch for it if they survive the November election — Social Security. Trump’s budgets call for deep cuts in virtually every program for the vulnerable, including food stamps, affordable housing and more. We can’t allow ourselves to be distracted by the circus which is the Trump presidency. Under the chaos, Trump’s appointees and the Republican Congress are pursuing a radical and very destructive agenda. These measures are incredibly unpopular, or would be if Americans knew about them. They are done by executive order, by administrative rulings, by judicial decisions, by budget cuts. Their effect is masked by the good economy. But they are incredibly destructive, systematically making America more unequal, undermining equal justice under law and elevating corporate rights over worker rights. They must be exposed and stopped. The elections this fall will be the first chance to curb this misrule.

ANSC to hold Fall Convention in Montgomery on September 22; increasing Black voter turnout in November is major focus

The Alabama New South Coalition will be holding its Fall Convention on Saturday, September 22, 2018 at the Maggie Street Center in Montgomery, Alabama. The theme of the convention is “Lift every vote; Make our voices sing!” “Our goal is to increase Black voter registration, education, organization and enthusiasm leading up to the November 6 General Election. We want to see a statewide turnout that exceeds the turnout in last December’s Special Election for Doug Jones to elect progressive candidates around the state,” said John Zippert, President of ANSC. “We are encouraging all Alabama residents who will turn 18 before the November election to register to vote by October 22, 2018 which is the deadline – 15 days before the election. We are especially interested in helping the thousands of Alabama residents, who previously were incarcerated for a crime, unless it involves ‘moral turpitude’ to restore their voting rights before the October deadline,” said Shelley Fearson, ANSC Staff Secretary.

Alabama passed a law in 2017, which lists 43 categories of crimes that involve moral turpitude, so it is easier to determine if a previously incarcerated person can get their voting rights restored said Fearson. “ If you need help in registering or restoring your rights contact our ANSC State Office in Montgomery, Alabama at 334-262- 0933,” stated Ferason. “We will have workshops at our Fall Convention to discuss all aspects of the voting process and encouraging more people to participate in grassroots canvasing and campaigning. Speakers include people who were elected to office and others who participated in last year’s ‘Vote-or-Die Campaign’ to gain insight into how best to increase turnout,” said Zippert. ANSC will recess its Fall Convention, to hold a candidate endorsement session by the Alabama New South Alliance (ANSA) its sister organization that endorses candidates. The ANSA will endorse candidates for statewide, Congressional and multi-district positions. Candidates for statewide office have been invited to attend this statewide screening. Statewide Democratic candidates like Walt Maddox for Governor, Will Boyd for Lieutenant Governor, Joe Siegelman for Attorney General, Heather Milam for Secretary of State, Miranda K. Joseph for State Auditor, Bob Vance Jr. for Alabama State Supreme Court Chief Justice and others will be present to seek endorsement for the November 6 General Election. “We must be awoke, excited and involved in this election. We need to canvass our neighborhoods and communities. We need to put the word out about this election on social media. We must talk to our relatives, friends and neighbors about the importance of turning out to vote in this critical election. Every vote counts and every vote should be cast in November,” said Faya Rose Toure, Selma activist and Vote-or-Die campaign leader.

GC Association of Volunteer Fire Fighters sponsors training at Clinton meeting

Shown above Jimmie Rice, Marstine Rice, Brenda Hardy, Scott Hardy, Richard Phillips, Hattie Phillips, Gloria Ingram, Mary E. Otieno, James l. Otieno, James Edwards, Sr. displaying Clinton’s latest fire truck.

The family of the late Pauline Hughes of the Clinton VF Department received a resolution in her honor. Shown l to r: Napoleon Hughes, Brenda Hardy, Hodges Smith, President of the AVFD, Johnny Hughes, Carl Hughes, Napoleon Hughes, Jr. and Scott Hardy.

The Greene County Association of Volunteer Fire Fighters Departments (AVFD) held its monthly meeting, Monday, August , 2018 at the Clinton Fire Station. Hodges Smith, President of the Greene County AVFD, emphasized the important of training and completing certification. This was followed by a training led by James Otieno of the Clinton VFD. The training session focused on protecting the first responder emphasizing the following: points of entering, securing the site as well as a escape route working as a team, being aware of hazardous material, time distance for the first responder and being aware of your surrounding. Jena Fire Department reported two members have completed the EMA course. Two VF Stations have new trucks including a 1995 Pierce 1750 /1000 rural Pumper Fire Truck for the Boligee Fire Department and Clinton Fire Station purchased a 1989 Simon Deluxe pumper.

E911 Director Iris Sermon reported a total of 93 incidents occurred during July – August. The family of the late Pauline Hughes of the Clinton VF Department received a resolution in her honor. The Greene County Association of Volunteer Firefighters consists of 14 departments including Boligee, Clinton, Dollarhide, Eutaw, Forkland, Jena, Knoxville, Lower Gainesville Road, Mantua /Lewiston, Springfield, Stream Plant, Tishabee, Union, and West Greene. The next meeting will be held September 18, 2018 at the Dollarhide Fire Station. The Greene County Fire Fighters encourage everyone to participate. If interested in becoming a volunteer fire fighter you can contact Hodges Smith AVFD president.

‘BlacKkKlansman’ delivers critical and powerful message

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Contributor

Director Spike Lee talks with Denzell Washington, Jr. actor in film.

Even though “BlacKkKlansman” is set in the 1970s, the themes in the film are just as relevant today as they were back then, Anita Bennett, the managing editor and creator of Urban Hollywood 411, told NNPA Newswire. “We have a president who constantly attacks Black athletes, newscasters and politicians, and white nationalists marching in the streets,” she said.

“The racial climate in this country is toxic, [so] if Spike Lee can open just one person’s eyes to the systematic racism that African Americans face every day, then he accomplished what he set out to do,” Bennett said. The longtime entertainment journalist joined a chorus of other experts who noted that Lee’s latest film continues to receive positive reviews, with critics and fans alike celebrating it for sparking a much-needed conversation about the current political climate and the complex relationship between law enforcement and the Black community. Several critics and actors told NNPA Newswire that Lee has deftly used his platform to expose systemic injustice while advocating for African-Americans and other minorities. Bennett said it’s important that the Black Press continues to spotlight films like “BlacKkKlansman,” “Sorry to Bother You,” and “Blindspotting.” “The Black Press champions and helps spread the word about films from African-American directors and writers, as well as movies that focus on issues important to the black community,” Bennett said. “The Black Press – and I’m not talking about gossip websites – but industry-focused outlets like EUR Web, Blackfilm.com, and Urban Hollywood 411, write stories about these films and post interviews with the people behind him. We talk about the movies on social media and encourage Black audiences to go see them,” Bennett said. Actor, director and film producer Shiek Mahmud-Bey said the Black Press enables filmmakers like himself, Tyler Perry and Spike Lee, to remain relevant and provides a platform to tell the untold stories that are meaningful to African-Americans. “It’s a one-hand-washes-the-other thing,” said Mahmud-Bey, the CEO of 25th Frame Films. “Only the Black Press can tell our story the way it needs to be told and only Black filmmakers can put that story in perspective and deliver it to a wide audience on screen,” he said. “BlacKkKlansman” earned about $11 million during its opening weekend, making it Lee’s third best box office debut. Based on a true story, the film tells of undercover Black detective, Ron Stallworth, who manages to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan. It has earned positive reviews from audiences and critics with an A-rating on CinemaScore and a 97 percent “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes. “Spike Lee has always been socially consciously aware as a filmmaker, going back to ‘Do The Right Thing,’” said actress turned film critic, Carla Renata, who’s known for her website, “The Curvy Film Critic.” “As a filmmaker he uses the art of dialogue, the lens and his actor’s performances to illustrate his point of view on any given subject allowing the film to do the talking for him,” Renata said. “Given that ‘BlacKkKlansman’ is adapted from Ron Stallworth’s novel, Lee amplifies this former detective’s experience and puts his spin on it as only a Spike Lee Joint can do. ‘BlacKkKlansman,’ along with ‘Blindspotting’ and ‘Sorry To Bother You’ are the perfect films for the perfect climate that have infiltrated hate and Neo-Nazi behavior into our daily existence via our current administration,” said Renata, a graduate of the Howard University School of Communications. She added: “It’s no coincidence the film was dedicated and released on the anniversary of the Charlottesville attack and rally where Heather Hoyer was mowed down like a dog and murdered. It’s also no coincidence that the last image you see is the American flag fading to Black and White turned upside down. Perfect image analogy for where we are as a society.” Renata said also that she believes Black Hollywood has a love/hate relationship with Black Press. Most artists, actors, studios, publicists and films reach out to the Black Press at the start in order to get that word of mouth buzz happening, she said. “Once the artist, actor or film has been accepted by mainstream media, their marketing/publicity teams abandon the same Black media that helped them gain acceptance in some of those arenas,” Renata said. “We are almost treated like the ‘black sheep’ of the family that no one likes to talk about or acknowledge.  It’s sad…but true,” she said. Diarah N’Daw-Spech, the co-founder of ArtMattan Productions and the annual African Diaspora International Film Festival, said a number of Black filmmakers have used films to make social commentaries directly tied to serious issues in their communities. She cited Senegalese filmmaker Ousmane Sembene whose film, “Molade,” served to denounce the mistreatment of women in his native country, particularly the practice of sexual mutilation, N’Daw-Spech said. “Film is a powerful social media and a powerful source and tool for change. It is important for filmmakers in general and Black filmmakers in particular to realize and use their power through their film making the way Spike Lee and Ousmane Sembene do and did it,” she said. N’Daw-Spech said the Black Press has always been a “natural ally” to Black filmmakers. “Black Hollywood is one of the important platforms available to Black talent. Black Hollywood can use its influence to tell meaningful stories the way Spike Lee does it. When it does, the Black Press should support and celebrate it,” she said. While “BlacKkKlansman” isn’t perfect, it’s insightful, timely and entertaining, Bennett concluded. “The movie raises some important issues about racism, police brutality and stereotypes in classic Hollywood films like D.W. Griffith’s ‘The Birth of a Nation,’” she said. “Spike Lee touches on a lot of hot-button issues, but he smartly sprinkles the film with humor, so that it’s not too heavy-handed. Can we talk about the ending of the film? It’s powerful, heartbreaking and will make you leave the theater thinking. I’ve encouraged everyone I know to go see this important film,” Bennett said.

Federation honors memory of Ralph Paige at 51st Annual Meeting

Pictured above are members of the Paige family including wife Bernice, children Bernard and Kenyatta, and grandchildren on stage with Federation Executive Director, Cornelius Blanding and members of the organization’s Board of Directors. Cornelius Blanding discusses plans for cooperative development curriculum with President Quentin Ross of Alabama State University. The Rural Coalition presents a certificate to the Federation for its 50th anniversary. L to R Shirley Blakley, Chair of Federation Board, Lorette Picciano, Rural Coalition, John Zippert, Rural Coalition Board, Darnella Burkett Winston, Rural Coalition Board, Cornelius Blanding, Federation Executive Director.

The Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund honored the memory of its longtime Executive Director, Ralph Paige, who served for thirty yeas from 1985-2015. He was awarded its Estelle Witherspoon Lifetime Achievement Award on Thursday night in Birmingham at the beginning of the organization’s 51st Annual Meeting. Several speakers at the Witherspoon Award banquet celebrated Ralph Paige’s 46 years of work and service to the movement for Black farmers, land and cooperative development that symbolized the work of the Federation. Paige died recently at the age of 74. The Federation’s Board of Directors met Thursday in Birmingham to review the program direction and finances of the organization. Two Roundtables one on Cooperative Development and one on Land Retention were also held in Birmingham. Quentin Ross, President of Alabama State University in Montgomery spoke at the Cooperative Roundtable of working with the Federation on developing a cooperative education curriculum for the students at ASU including internships with Federation member cooperatives and credit unions. The Federation has developed and is in the process of implementing a similar program with Tuskegee University. On Friday and Saturday the site of the meeting shifted to the Federation’s Rural Training and Research Center, near Epes, in Sumter County, Alabama. Friday’s program began with a panel of USDA program experts who both presented about their programs and answered questions from the audience of farmers and landowners. There was a lively interchange of views between USDA officials and their farmer stakeholders on issues of agricultural tariffs, program eligibility, focusing resources on new and beginning farmers and other relevant issues. State Senator Hank Sanders of Selma was the lunchtime speaker and among other remarks, he introduced his daughter, Malika Sanders Fortier, who is running to fill his position as State Senator for District 24 in the November 6 General Election. Several members of Federation related cooperatives gave five-minute testimonials on their experience working with the Federation and how it helped to improve their family income and quality of life. There were more educational workshops, demonstration farm and forestry tours and a fish fry, food tasting, auction and entertainment to close out the Friday activities. The program on Saturday began with a Prayer Breakfast at which Rev. Wendell Paris, a past staff member, spoke to the importance of the work of the Federation and the “sacred ground” that the Federation’s training center was built upon. A business meeting, report from the Board and Cornelius Blanding, Executive Director, state caucus discussions on program needs and direction, and the awarding of five $1,000 scholarships to high school graduates for their first year of college rounded out the program.