Newswire : Serena Williams builds schools in Jamaica, Africa

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior Correspondent

Serena Williams

While many deep-pocketed philanthropists and celebrities will write checks to support worthy causes, Tennis megastar Serena Williams routinely goes the extra mile.
In a recently released video, Williams donned a pair of jeans, workboats, a hardhat and went to work on Salt Marsh Elementary School in Trelawny Parish, Jamaica.
Williams, who has won a total of 39 Tennis Grand Slams – including Doubles titles, has also built grade schools in Uganda, Kenya, and Zimbabwe.
Williams built the Marsh Elementary through a partnership with the nonprofit Helping Hands Jamaica, while the schools in Africa were in conjunction with Build Africa.
It’s part of the mission of Williams’ Serena Williams Fund and her other charitable efforts, which include the Serena Williams Venture, where the tennis champion seeks to boost the bottom line of individual companies.
“In 2014, I launched Serena Ventures with the mission of giving opportunities to founders across an array of industries. Serena Ventures invests in companies that embrace diverse leadership, individual empowerment, creativity, and opportunity,” Williams said in a statement posted on her organization’s website.
“Serena Ventures focuses on early-stage companies and allowing them to be heard. As we grow, we hope to mentor young founders and take burgeoning entrepreneurs to the next level,” she stated.
“Serena Ventures extends relationships, encourages collaboration among portfolio companies, and expands partnership opportunities across my vast network. Similar to many of the companies we have invested in, we are just getting started and are hoping to make a difference.”
Also, according to Charity Buzz, the Serena Williams Fund was established to promote equity; through education, gender, race, disability, or anything else that stands in the way of someone achieving their goals and living their best possible life.
“The mission of this charity is to help the individuals or communities affected by to violence, and [to ensure] equal access to education,” Williams stated.
Knowing the value of creating strong partnerships with organizations with expertise in their fields, Williams counts as a Unicef Goodwill Ambassador. She has partnered with organizations such as Beyond the Boroughs Scholarship Fund, The Equal Justice Initiative, The Caliber Foundation, and Build Africa Schools.
Jessica Curney of Borgen Magazine reported that before each of her matches, Williams reads and writes affirmations out loud from her diary about wanting to help people, kids, and work in Africa.
“Through the Serena Williams Fund, Williams dedicates her off-season time improving access to education by building schools in underprivileged areas of the world,” Gurney reported.
“She has done extraordinary tasks using her own resources and through partnerships with the Serena Williams Fund and other foundations dedicated to providing and improving education for those in difficult conditions or developing countries. Her active role has notably left a mark on those who have had their lives changed significantly through this act of kindness.”

Newswire : Three Baltimore men exonerated after nearly four decades in prison

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior Correspondent

Three men – Alfred Chestnut, Ransom Watkins
And Andrew Stewart were exonerated

Alfred Chestnut, Ransom Watkins and Andrew Stewart were released and exonerated after spending 36 years in prison for a crime they didn’t commit.
The men were teenagers when they received a life sentence in 1984 after being convicted of murdering 14-year-old DeWitt Duckett in Baltimore.
“Everyone involved in this case — school officials, police, prosecutors, jurors, the media, and the community — rushed to judgment and allowed their tunnel vision to obscure obvious problems with the evidence,” said Shawn Armbrust, executive director of the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project, which represents Watkins.
“This case should be a lesson to everyone that the search for quick answers can lead to tragic results,” Armbrust stated.
DeWitt reportedly was shot in the neck following a dispute over a jacket as he walked to class at Harlem Park Junior High School in Baltimore.
Marilyn Mosby, the Baltimore City State’s Attorney, reopened the case earlier this year because of lingering questions and recent revelations of corruption in the city’s police department that allegedly stretched back for decades.
Chestnut also sent a query to the city’s Conviction Integrity Unit, which the Washington Post said included exculpatory evidence that he uncovered in 2018.
An assistant prosecutor who worked on the case in 1984 reportedly said that prosecutors had no reports at the time that would have cast doubt on the guilt of the three men.
Following their conviction, court records were sealed, and it wasn’t until a year ago, that Chestnut had successfully obtained the related documents through a freedom of information request.
According to the District Attorney’s office, the police records revealed that several witnesses told authorities that the person responsible was an 18-year-old who immediately fled the scene and dumped his weapon.
Instead, the Baltimore police focused their investigation on Chestnut, Watkins, and Stewart. The alleged shooter was fatally shot in 2002.
“On behalf of the criminal justice system, and I’m sure this means very little to you, gentlemen, I’m going to apologize,” Circuit Court Judge Charles Peters told the men at a hearing on Monday, November 25.
Peters said the men are entirely exonerated.

Statue of Rosa Parks unveiled in Montgomery, Alabama on 64th, anniversary of her arrest, which started the Montgomery Bus Boycott

By Frederick H. Lowe, BlackmansStreet.Today

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey and Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed unveil statue of Rosa Parks; and Aurelia Browder poses with statue of Rosa Parks
Sunday, December 1 was Rosa Parks Day in Montgomery, Alabama.

The city of Montgomery and Alabama, where the capitol is based, unveiled a life-size bronze statue of Parks who sparked the 381-day Montgomery bus boycott, one of the seminal events in civil rights history. The boycott, started by black women, broke the back of segregation on Montgomery’s city buses, which were owned by a Chicago company. Parks, a seamstress and an early civil rights activist involved the case of the Scottsboro Boys, refused to give up her seat to a white man and move to back of the back of the bus where seats and standing room were set aside for blacks as was the law at the time. Parks said in a number of interviews she was angry about what happened to Emmett Till, a 14-year-old Chicago teenager, who was spending the summer in Money, Mississippi, when two white men beat him to death on August 24, 1955, for offending a white woman. Decades later, the woman, Carolyn Bryant, admitted she lied about the circumstances that led to Till’s brutal murder.
The City of Montgomery dedicated a statue of Parks on Montgomery Plaza near the stop where she caught the bus that would drive her into history and unemployment. She caught the bus on November 26, 1955 and the boycott began on December 1.
“To stand here today as Montgomery’s mayor where Mrs. Rosa Park stood defiant against systemic injustice infecting our community speaks to the magnitude of this moment and the progress achieved in our city,” said Steven Reed, Montgomery’s first black mayor. Montgomery had been the capital of the Confederacy for about a year during the Civil War.
Montgomery County artist Clydetta Fulmer built the statue, which also contains four historic markers honoring the plaintiffs in the landmark Browder v. Gayle case. A three-judge federal panel ruled on June 5, 1956, that the enforced segregation of black and white passengers on motor buses operating in the City of Montgomery violated the Constitution and laws of the United States. Aurelia Browder, Susie McDonald, Mary Louise Smith and Jeanette Reese were plaintiffs in the case. Freddie Gray, Alabama’s only black attorney at the time, filed the lawsuit. The statue doesn’t honor E.D. Nixon, a Pullman Porter and president of the local chapter of the NAACP, who bailed Parks out of jail. The statue also doesn’t honor Jo Anne Robinson, an English professor at Alabama State College, now Alabama State University, who came up with the idea of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, according to the book “The Thunder of Angels: The Montgomery Bus Boycott and the People Who Broke the Back of Jim Crow,” by Donnie Williams and Wayne Greenhaw. The boycott was supposed to last one day, but it was so successful, it continued for nearly 400 days. The boycott put Parks and a 25-year-old Martin Luther King Jr. into the history books. King later led the boycott.
After the boycott, no one would hire Parks or her husband, Raymond, a barber, who also had been active in the Scottsboro Boys case. The couple moved to Detroit, and Michigan Congressman John Conyers gave her a job.
Parks died October 24, 2005. She was 92.

Star Academy holds open house event for parents and community

L to R Back Row: Ms. Tonya Chestnut, Liaison between NOLA (the sponsor of Star Academy) and RBMS; Mr. Leo Branch, School Board Member; Dr. Carol P. Zippert, School Board President; Dr. Corey Jones, Superintendent; Ms. Shawnta Owens, Principal RBMS; Ms. Brittney Harris, Assist. Principal RBMS; Mr. Kevin McKinney, Administrator with NOLA. The young people are students at RBMS.

On Thursday, November 21, 2019, the Greene County School System held an open house for the Star Academy which serves 7th and 8th grade students at Robert Brown Middle School. Shortly after he assumed the job of School Superintendent, Dr. Corey Jones was successful in securing a $900,000 grant to implement the Star Academy Program, which serves at-risk students, students with academic challenges and students who need to learn through alternative learning styles.
Greene County was one of two school systems in Alabama that received this At-Risk Discretionary Grant from the Alabama Department of Education this academic year.
 The Star Academy, a school within a school, employs standards-based curriculum in Science, Mathematics, English, and Social Studies. Students navigate through a rigorous progression of varied instructional methods incorporating hands-on, real-world learning experiences, individualized instruction, team instruction, and personal development.
The program re-engages students who may have experienced personal, academic, or social challenges in their lives. It provides these students with an opportunity to recapture a sense of purpose, regain their self-esteem, and succeed academically. The program can accommodate up to 80 7th and 8th graders.
The school system provides the faculty and the facility.  The Star Academy, through the grant resources, provides the curriculum design; facilities layout, including classroom furnishings; computers and other related classroom materials and support; staff development; on site coordination and support.
The Star Academy provides on going training for participating teachers and administrators, and continuous information and updates for parents.

Annual Industry Appreciation luncheon provides information on workforce training and the 2020 Census

Kinya Isaac standing speaking about Census 2020 and Scarlet Pearce, Demoplis Career Center seated both spoke at GCIDA Annual Business and Industry Appreciation Luncheon.

The Greene County Industrial Development Authority (GCIDA) held its Annual Business and Industry Appreciation luncheon, last Wednesday, November 20, 2019 at Ruby’s Restaurant in Eutaw.
Phillis Belcher, GCIDA Executive Director said, “We hold this annual event to honor our existing industries and major employers in Greene County. The GCIDA sees its mission as serving existing business to improve their operations and helping to attract and develop new industries and businesses to start operations in our area.”
The crowd of about 40 people heard from two valuable luncheon speakers who brought relevant information on topics of interest to business and community leaders.Scarlet Pearce of the Demopolis Career Center, which is part of the national and state Department of Labor, spoke of opportunities provided by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), the nation’s workforce training legislation.
“Employers can seeking on-the-job training support, workforce training positions, apprenticeship opportunities by contacting the Alabama Career Center. We are in Workforce Region 3, which covers much of the Alabama Black Belt area. We have a budget of $6 million dollars annually for workforce development initiatives,” said Pearce.
“People looking for work or education and training to upgrade their work skills should visit the Career Center at 1074 Bailey Drive in Demopolis, Alabama, to get information, advice and assistance in seeking employment,” said Pearce.
Kinya Isaac, regional representative for the 2020 U. S. Census in Greene, Sumter and Pickens counties, spoke about the upcoming U. S. Census to be held 0n April 1, 2020. “We need to be sure to count every single person in the Census. The population count by the Census will determine allocation of many Federal and state resources. The Census will also be used to reapportion voters in Congressional and Legislative Districts for the coming decade. Alabama could possibly loose one of its seven Congressional seats if all the people are not counted in this upcoming Census,” said Isaac.
Issac pointed out that sections of Greene County are shown on the Census map as having an under-count in the 2010 Census. “We need to be sure to count everyone, especially people who live in these areas for the 2020 Census. Any assistance that businesses and industries can provide would help Greene County overall,” said Isaac.
Danny Cooper, Chair of the GCIDA thanked people for attending the luncheon and encouraged them to seek assistance from the GCIDA when they needed help in starting or expanding their businesses. The GCIDA office is located on the Thomas Gilmore Courthouse Square, in a building across from City Hall. The phone number is 205-372-9769.

Newswire : Harriet movie features a model of courage for today

By Dr. Barbara Reynolds

Poster of Harriet movie

( – For a nation built on truth, abolitionist, freedom fighter, ex-slave Harriet Tubman should have the acclaim of a Paul Revere, or Patrick Henry whose courageous lines “Give me Liberty or Give me Death” guided the American Revolution.
Tubman, whose battle cry was to ‘’live free or die” and revolt, guided another revolution. It was to end slavery which changed the color, content and character of America today.
Finally, through the newly released epic movie Harriet, this revolutionary warrior,born into slavery in 1822 in Dorchester County, Md., has emerged from the back alley of history to take her rightful place as a larger than life action figure, a true American hero. Unlike the heroes spun from Marvel comic strips or the Terminator franchise, Harriet Tubman is not, fake, fantasy or make believe although her expansive accomplishments are more real than can
be imagined.
Don’t think you are going to see the serene, sedate elderly Harriet of our textbooks. This is the Harriet of her youth, jaunting up rocky cliffs, jumping off bridges and even shooting a White slave owner with her pistol.
Through the skillful talent of British-born actress, Cynthia Erivo, the film – to be released Nov. 1 – features Tubman not only as yesterday’s heroine, but as a model of courage for today. Risking certain death if captured, often with a pistol in her waistband, she escaped from bondage on Maryland’s Eastern shore and returned often in disguise to rescue more than 70 family and fellow slaves. She became a leader in the anti-slavery Underground Railroad, the women’s suffrage movement in her long standing struggle against systemic gender and racial inequality.
During the Civil War, she served as a nurse, scout and spy for the Union army and became the first woman to lead an armed expedition in the war guiding the raid at Combahee Ferry, which liberated more than 700 slaves. Unfortunately her heroism did not guard her from racism as she was originally denied the pension benefits granted to White soldiers.
In heart-aching detail the movie does not sanitize the horror of slavery; nor does it gloss over the power of God in her life. Scenes of blood-soaked whips, scarred backs of enslaved men and women, screaming children torn from their families to be sold by Whites trading them as if they were dispensing sows from a pig pen – It’s all there. But there is another story that shines through, one of Black love, Black loyalty and a determination of the enslaved to live free or die and the eventual embrace of the long awaited freedom. It’s all there.
In the movie, we see Harriet after learning she is to be sold South, which rumors say is more brutal than the plantations on Maryland’s Eastern shore, leave her family and the love of her life, her husband John Tubman, traveling 100 miles alone to freedom in Philadelphia through the aid of the Underground Railroad.
Though the term railroad might prompt visions of nice cushy seats, this railroad Harriet traveled was a harsh pathway through snake-filled marshes, woods, and deep rivers. Often, the flight of this woman known to some as the SHEMOSES was made even more treacherous as armed posses with baying hounds chased her to collect the rewards for her capture. But they never caught her. She once boasted that her railroad never ran off track and she never lost a passenger.
In the movie she declared she had only the North Star and we see her on her knees looking up to the heavens in deep communication with the God she depended upon to shield her from her enemies.
My favorite scene is when the only choice for a band of freeing slaves was to either turn back or cross a treacherous river. While her family cowered, frozen on the riverbank for fear of following her and drowning, she lifted her pistol above her head wading in the deep water as she prayed aloud. Slowly the waters receded; as her feet touched dry land her family members jumped in and crossed over as well.
The two -hour epic directed by filmmaker Kasi Lemmons who also wrote and directed Eve’s Bayou, sends the audience away with an inspirational song, entitled, “Stand up”, co-written by Joshuah Campbell and the film’s leading lady Erivo.
The song sets just the right tone for Harriet enthusiasts to continue
celebrating Harriet. President Obama had selected her to become the first person of color to be represented on any of the nation’s currency, replacing Andrew Jackson on the new $20 bill. Not surprisingly in June 2019 the Trump administration has delayed the launch.
Nevertheless, in Maryland Harriet enthusiasts have other ways to celebrate her. Painted on the side wall of the Harriet Tubman Museum & Education Center in downtown Cambridge, Maryland—just a few miles from where Tubman grew up, is a 14’ X 28’ mural featuring Tubman offering an outstretched hand.
In March 2017, the Maryland Park Service and Maryland government opened the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park & Visitor Center in the heart of the Choptank River Region where Harriet grew up. It’s a 17-acre facility that has already been visited by nearly 200,000 guests from all 50 states and over 60 countries. In her honor the Service has also established the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park in Auburn, NY.
Tubman is the only U.S. woman to be honored by the Service with two

Newswire: Stephen Miller, White House adviser on immigration policy, sent racist and white supremacist emails, once served as communications director for Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions

By: Asawin Suebsaeng, White House Reporter for The Daily Beast

The Southern Poverty Law Center’s blog Hatewatch, recently exposed a trove of leaked emails showing how Stephen Miller spent years peddling vile white nationalist conspiracies and spreading xenophobic propaganda to justify violent immigration policy.
In these emails, Miller trafficked stories from white nationalist websites promoting violent conspiracy theories, including everything from eugenics to “white genocide.” He panicked about confederate monuments being taken down in the wake of Dylann Roof’s murderous rampage killing nine parishoners in the Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. And he praised a racist immigration plan from 1924 that was backed by Adolf Hitler.
Stephen Miller is the mastermind of Donald Trump’s policy of family separation. As the architect of Donald Trump’s immigration policy, Miller built a system to keep people who do not look like him out of the U.S.
President Donald Trump’s senior policy adviser didn’t need any reassurances from his boss or his colleagues that his job was safe. Practically everyone in the building already knew it. “Stephen is not going anywhere,” a senior White House official said on Tuesday afternoon, shortly after the story started going viral. “The president has his back.”
Since then, six other senior Trump administration officials with knowledge of Miller’s standing with the president and top staffers have all individually told The Daily Beast that the story did not endanger Miller’s position, or change Trump’s favorable view of him. Two of them literally laughed at the mere suggestion that the Hatewatch exposé could have toppled or hobbled the top Trump adviser.
Katie McHugh, a disgraced former Breitbart staffer who provided Hatewatch with the trove of emails, told the blog that Miller had personally flagged for her in July 2015 an American Renaissance “article about crime statistics and race.” American Renaissance is a white-supremacist website beloved by fascists and alt-right adherents. McHugh added, “I responded in the affirmative because I had read it. Many of us [on the far-right] had read it. I remember being struck by the way he called it ‘AmRen,’ the nickname.”
The Hatewatch story—and a follow-up, published last week—may have depicted, in graphic detail, the depths of Miller’s racist intellectual pedigree. The leaked emails between Miller and the pro-Trump website Breitbart show just how aggressively he was using his former position—while working in the office of then-Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL)—to promote the genre of extremist, far-right agitprop that Team Trump will sometimes officially disavow. Still, the extent of Miller’s views and xenophobia have been on full public display for years now. Just look at his record and trail of policymaking in the Trump era.
Since 2015, Miller has been instrumental in the honing of Trump’s anti-immigration fervor and racist rhetoric into actual policy. In the summer of that year, Trump’s presidential campaign put out a much-touted immigration policy “white paper,” which was released after receiving months of criticism that the campaign was all bluster and hadn’t detailed any real policies. As The Daily Beast previously reported, Miller was the principal author behind the white paper—even though he hadn’t formally joined the campaign yet.
In the years since, Miller has been a main driver, if not the architect, behind some of President Trump’s most brutal policies and proposals, including the “Muslim ban” and the separation of immigrant families. Miller routinely advocates for dramatically cutting legal immigration, as well as imposing lower and lower caps on the number of refugees Washington will allow into the country.
He pushed for a purge of top administration officials and fellow immigration hawks deemed insufficiently hardline. And toward the end of Trump’s first year in office, Miller successfully operated behind the scenes to kill a deal that the president had tentatively struck with Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill to shield DREAMers from deportation.
In his past, working as a communications staffer for Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, he was widely known as a prominent source, ideological fellow traveler, and—as some would joke—“assignment editor” for conservative media outlets opposing the Obama-era momentum toward bipartisan immigration reform. The Obama years, of course, closed out without the passage of a comprehensive immigration reform law, in large part due to politicians, operatives, and activists like Miller.
Several Democratic leaders, Senators and House members have called for Stephen Miller’s resignation or dismissal for his openly racist comments and problematic advice on immigration policies.
Progressive organizations in Alabama are planning to confront former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, now that he is running to reclaim his Senate seat, for employing Stephen Miller and recommending him for service in the Trump White House.

Newswire: ‘Big John’ Williams, Lowndes County Sheriff, shot to death by white police officer’s son, while responding to a community disturbance

Reports from: the Grio and

Sheriff ‘Big John’ Williams of Lowndes County, Alabama

A white teen is in custody following the death of popular Black Alabama sheriff, who was killed in the line of duty on Saturday night in Hayneville, Alabama, the county seat of Lowndes County, Alabama.
“He was a wonderful man,” ALEA Trooper Sgt. Steve Jarrett said during a Saturday night press conference. “Everybody in law enforcement knew him. If you ever met him, you’d never forget him. He worked 24/7 and was an outstanding sheriff.”
ALEA Secretary Hal Taylor also spoke to the media calling Williams, “a man you’ll ever find. He always had a kind word for everyone,” Wade said. “It’s just heartbreaking.”
Following a three-hour manhunt, 18-year-old William Chase Johnson returned to the scene to surrender to police. AL reports that Johnson is from Montgomery and the son of a law enforcement officer; he also has a criminal history that includes his August charge for being in possession of brass knuckles and being a minor in possession of alcohol. Those charges were later dismissed.
Law enforcement, court and even state officials mourned the loss of Williams, including Alabama Governor Kay Ivey who took to Twitter to express her condolences.
“I’m saddened to hear about Sheriff ‘Big John’ Williams, who was tragically killed this evening in the line of duty. Through his service to our country in the USMC and his many years working in law enforcement, he dedicated his life to keeping other people safe,’’ she wrote. “He will be remembered as a consummate professional and pillar of his community. I offer my prayers and deepest sympathies to his family and the men and women of the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Department.”
According to AL, Williams was also known as the officer that arrested Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin, formerly known as H Rap Brown during his time as a leader in the Black Power Movement of the 1960s, in 2000. Al-Amin was later convicted in the fatal shooting death of an Atlanta police officer.

Newswire: Congressional Black Caucus members visit U.S.-Mexico Border: Mistreatment of Black immigrants is another ‘stain on America’

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior Correspondent

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus, Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) (center), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) (fourth from left), and Congresswoman Yvette Clarke (D-NY) (far left), along with local Congressman, Rep. Juan Vargas (second from left), visited a shelter for African asylum-seekers in Tijuana November 22, 2019. Attorney Nana Gyamfi, the executive director of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (far right), joined the group at the border. (Photo: Screen capture KPBS / YouTube)

Chairwoman Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) led a delegation of Congressional Black Caucus members to the U.S.-Mexico border on Friday in San Ysidro, California, where they said they witnessed first-hand the deplorable treatment and plight of Black immigrants.
Bass, Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA), and Congresswoman Yvette Clarke (D-NY), each said they wanted to examine the treatment – and call attention to the mistreatment – of African immigrants at the border, including the October 1 death of 37-year-old Cameroon immigrant Nebane Abienwi.
Attorney Nana Gyamfi, the executive director of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, joined the group at the border.
“It was a very frustrating experience today,” Bass said from the border during an exclusive conference call with publishers, editors, and writers for the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), the trade association that represents the newspaper and media companies that comprise the Black Press of America.
“We crossed the border into Tijuana, Mexico, and we met with a group of Black immigrants from Cameroon, Sierra Leone, and other African countries. Some who have made unbelievable journeys,” Bass stated.
The CBC Chair and her colleagues blasted the Trump administration and its policies toward immigrants, particularly those from countries that consist predominately of people of color.
Bass described the sobering plight of a Black migrant from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. “The first child separated from her mother was from a family from the Democratic Republic of Congo. The child was sent to Illinois while the mother, who spoke French, was detained at the border,” Bass stated.
“This happens as our country grapples with [a president] who makes it clear that he welcomes immigrants from places like Norway, but not ‘sh-thole’ countries. He’s breaking the law. International law states that if you are from a country that’s experiencing distress, you can request asylum. Trump has done everything he can to block that and to make the United States not compliant with international law,” Bass noted.
In the case of Abienwi, the Cameroonian died in the custody of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement after experiencing a hypertensive event at the Otay Mesa Detention Center in San Diego.
Reportedly, he was unresponsive and appeared paralyzed on his left side when he arrived at the hospital. After undergoing treatment for a brain hemorrhage, Bass said Abienwi was taken off life support against his family’s wishes and died. Doctors listed his official cause of death as brain death due to a brain hemorrhage.
“Thousands of African and Caribbean immigrants who immigrate to the United States of America are treated as if they are invisible,” Bass stated. “Many arrived in South America and then walked north, all to be dehumanized and mistreated at our southern border. We [went] to the border to hear what they have been through. They are an important piece of this story,” Bass said.
In a statement, officials at ICE said they’re still in the process of reviewing Abienwi’s death. According to various published reports, the Department of Homeland Security records had revealed that Abienwi applied for admission into the country at the San Ysidro Port of Entry without proper paperwork on September 5. He was taken into custody by ICE on September 19, 2019. Bass said his death remains a mystery and is cause for concern.
CBC members also pointed to a recent Pew Research Center study that revealed that there are more than 4.2 million Black immigrants in the United States, with Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America making positive contributions to the United States.
However, those immigrants are at a higher risk for arrest, detention, and abuse because of racial profiling and racial bias, according to the Pew report. “We need to shed some light on what is taking place here as it relates to Black immigrants from the Caribbean and Africa,” stated Lee, the chair and majority leader of the House Task Force on Poverty, Income Inequality, and Opportunity.
“They came here fleeing from violence in their own countries, getting to a place where they thought they could be treated humanely,” Lee stated. “It’s been the opposite. They are dehumanized, treated in a racist fashion, and then stuck at a border town.
“I hope the Black community understands that this is another example of Trump’s racist policies to make America White again. We see that every step of the way in this process. “Black America has to rise up. This has got to stop.” Lee added that she’s putting out a call to Black professionals, be it psychiatrists, social workers, and others that their help is needed to help people of color at the border.
Clarke, the chair of the House Task Force on Immigration for the CBC, said it’s tough to fathom what Black immigrants face at the border. “These people are resilient, they have gone through quite a few things in their homeland that drove them to try and get to the land of the free and the home of the brave,” Clarke stated.
“We have to speak for them. They don’t have a voice. These are people who will be persecuted if they return to their homeland where there is genocide, other hardships, and violence,” she stated. “We have to be their voices. The Trump policies are totally illegal.”
Gyamfi, of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, said she was moved by what she witnessed. “You can look in their eyes. They had a sense that finally, they’re looking at people who look like us, and who actually care,” Gyamfi stated.

Zippert & Cockrell elected Board President and Vice President ; Greene County Schools – two on failing list; System earns C grade

Dr. Carol P. Zippert President and Kashaya Cockrell Vice President of the Greene County School Board

At its monthly meeting, November 18, 2019, the Greene County Board of Education conducted its annual re-organization and selected Dr. Carol P. Zippert as Board President. Ms. Kashaya Cockrell was selected as Vice President. Zippert was the only nominee for President. Kashaya Cockrell and William Morgan were nominated for Vice President, however, Morgan withdrew his name. The elected officers serve a one year term, but may be eligible for re-election. The superintendent serves as the official secretary for the school board. Board Attorney Hank Sanders presided over the election process.
In his report to the board, Superintendent Dr. Corey Jones presented the school system’s scores from the process mandated by the Alabama Accountability Act, originally passed by the state legislature in 2013.
Although the Greene County School system earned an overall C (70%) grade on the state’s report card, two schools still remain on the state’s “failing” school list, Robert Brown Middle School and Greene County High School.
Eutaw Primary School received a score of 85 which is two points above the previous year’s score. Greene High County School received a score of 68, which is nine points above the previous year’s score, and has demonstrated considerable improvement. Robert Brown Middle School received a score or 61, which is 5 points below the previous year’s score.
According to the Alabama Accountability Act (AAA), amended, Failing Schools include those whose test scores were in the bottom 6% in the previous year. Students are tested in reading and math in grades 3-8 and 10 with the Aspire Assessment and the Alabama Alternate Assessment. By state law today, the failing list is a competition, pitting public schools against one another to stay off of the bottom. That means, by law, there will always be dozens of “failing” public schools across Alabama.
Superintendent Dr. Corey Jones explained that there are several factors which are considered in evaluating a particular school. These include the state’s standardized assessment scores; student attendance; graduation rate and academic growth. He stated that while the AAA “failing” list is based solely on test scores, the report card grade considers other factors like academic growth, the percentage of students missing more than 15 days of school, and measures of college and career readiness among others.
See following chart:
Schools with a Grade 12
Academic Achievement – 20%; Academic Growth – 25%; Graduation Rate – 30%; College and Career Readiness – 10%; Progress in English Language Proficiency – 5%; Chronic Absenteeism – 10%;
Schools without a Grade 12
Academic Achievement – 40%; Academic Growth – 40%; Progress in English Language Proficiency – 5%; Chronic Absenteeism – 15%;
As a component of his report, Dr. Jones introduced a presentation by Todd Smith of Schneider Electric in which Smith gave an overview of a Capital Recovery & Reinvestment Program for Greene County Schools. The company has conducted a series of surveys to determine where, with particular innovative upgrades and repairs in the areas of energy uses, telecommunications and related capital improvements, the school system would save over $100,000 annually. The district-wide improvements would include replacing large HVAC equipment; upgrade all interior and exterior lights to LED technology; district-wide building automation system; smart metering to provide real time energy data; and centralized web-enabled irrigation system at the high school.
This was a first preliminary presentation by Schneider Electric and no decision was made by the board.
The board acted on the following personnel items recommended by the superintendent.
Approved the resignation of William Wilkins, Bus Driver, Department of Transportation, effective October 24, 2019.
Approved the retirement Regina Harmon, Teacher, Robert Brown Middle School, effective October 1, 2019.
Approved the Catastrophic Leave request of Josef Stancer, Band Director, Greene County High School, effective November 8, 2019.
•Approved the Supplemental pay raise, Ms. Vanessa Bryant, Football and Basketball Cheerleader Sponsor, Robert Brown Middle School.
The board approved the following administrative items recommended by the superintendent:
Field trip Eutaw Primary School to attend Tennessee Aquarium and I-Max Theatre in Chattanooga Tennessee, April 17, 2020.
Contract between Greene County Board and File Wave (USA) Software Support.
ADS Security contract for update camera’s at Bus Shop.
Contract between Robert Brown Middle School and West Central Officials Association of Livingston Alabama.
Contract between Greene County High School and West Central Officials Association of Livingston Alabama.