Newswire: African American entrepreneurs head SPAC in $126.5 Million IPO to acquire Black-owned firms

Shawn Rochester and Robin Watkins

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent


Shawn Rochester, who authored the spellbinding book “The Black Tax: The Cost of Being Black in America,” and Robin Watkins, a highly regarded financial and operations accountant, have made Wall Street history.
And the two are poised to break through more barriers in the financial world. Their latest venture, Minority Equality Opportunities Acquisitions Inc. (MEOA), has raised $126.5 million they’ve earmarked to help minority businesses and enterprises grow and prosper through mergers and acquisitions.
“It’s amazing to be a part of this,” Watkins, a Drexel University graduate, stated. While Rochester serves as CEO of MEOA, Watkins counts as the company’s CFO.
“I come from a family of entrepreneurs,” Watkins remarked during an appearance on PBS-TV and PBS-World’s The Chavis Chronicles with National Newspapers Publishers Association (NNPA) President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr.
The interview took place inside the new state-of-the-art NNPA television studios in Washington, D.C.
Because her grandfather owned a trucking company and café in Lawrenceville, Virginia, and her father and other family members were entrepreneurs, Watkins leaped at this latest opportunity.
MEOA raised the money after its initial public offering in August and now counts as the first special purpose acquisition company – or SPAC – headed by African Americans.
“We are trading now on the Nasdaq under MEOAU,” Rochester, who earned a master’s degree in Business Administration from The University of Chicago Booth School of Business with a focus in Accounting, Finance, and Entrepreneurship.
MEOA will target MBEs and Black-owned businesses nationwide. “We’re really a blank check company that’s funded through an IPO,” Watkins remarked.
“The funds are held in trust to acquire another company. In this case, we are looking at minority business enterprises to take them public through our IPO. We are the only SPAC that is targeting minority business enterprises.”
According to financial experts, SPACs generally have two years to complete an acquisition. If they fail, the company must return the money raised to its investors.
For Rochester and Watkins, failure isn’t an option. Rochester said they are looking at companies with enterprise values between $250 million and $500 million with recurring and predictable revenues. The criteria include having a history of being able to generate sustainable free-cash-flow.
“There is unprecedented demand for diverse suppliers, but many minority firms don’t have the resources to meet the demand,” Rochester said. “That’s where MEOA, and the decades of combined experience that our team has in operations, strategy, business development, and acquisitions enter the picture for the right business, to help accelerate growth,” he continued.
Further demonstrating a commitment to racial equity and economic inclusion, MEOA engaged the Industrial Bank of Washington, one of the country’s preeminent Black-owned institutions, for its working capital banking needs during the SPAC and IPO process.
The company’s directors are majority-minority including, Dr. Julianne Malveaux, MIT economist and Dean, College of Ethnic Studies, Cal State Los Angeles, Mr. Ronald Busby, Sr., President and CEO, US Black Chamber, Inc., and Mr. Patrick Linehan, Partner, Steptoe & Johnson.
“The mission and purpose of MEOA will help to catapult minority enterprise in this country,” Rochester asserted. “As a SPAC, we have the opportunity to not only help drive significant change and unleash superior performance but to also signal to the broader marketplace that there is tremendous value in companies and teams that have long been ignored.”

Newswire : After 13 Years, Black and Missing Foundation still searching for tens of thousands of People of Color

Natalie and Derrica Wilson (left) founded the Black & Missing Foundation to raise awareness about people of color who have disappeared./ Allison Keyes / WAMU

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire

It’s been 13 years since Natalie Wilson and her sister-in-law Derrica Wilson founded the Black and Missing Foundation to help bring attention and closure to the ever-growing number of cases in minority communities.
As incomplete and cringe-worthy, the number of the missing – one count suggests that of the more than 600,000 individuals currently reported missing, more than 200,000 are individuals of color – Wilson forges ahead.
The recent case of the disappearance and death of Gabbi Petito, who was white and blone, has focused more attention on the missing people of color, including indigenous people, who go missing every year without similar press attention.
She does so, even 13 years and some success stories later, emotionally.
“We’ve come a long way,” Wilson declared during a recent visit to the new, state-of-the-art National Newspaper Publishers Association’s (NNPA) television studios in Washington, D.C.
During a conversation with NNPA President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., Wilson punctuated the need for the Black and Missing Foundation with the story of Phoenix Coldena young African American woman who went in 2011 missing near St. Louis, Missouri.
“I called every media outlet, and no one covered that story,” Wilson recalled. “Finally, an assignment editor got tired of me calling and asked me to send Colden’s profile.”
In her interview with Dr. Chavis, which will air on PBS-TV and PBS-World as a special on The Chavis Chronicles, Wilson reflected on how the news media and even law enforcement fail to highlight missing people of color – notably missing Black girls.
“I’m so grateful for the Black Press,” Wilson remarked. “They have used their platform to showcase [these stories]. Media coverage is important. It could speed up the recovery and add pressure on law enforcement to add resources to these cases, and that’s vital.”
Wilson proclaimed that laws are needed to protect children, particularly victims of sex trafficking. She said she had witnessed young boys and girls arrested after becoming sex trafficking victims. “They need rehabilitation,” she exclaimed.
Wilson recalled a case in Virginia of a young Black woman who went missing.
“She was too old for an Amber Alert and too young for a Silver Alert,” Wilson stated. Ashanti Billie, 19, was kidnapped while heading to work in 2017. Authorities recovered her body 11 days later in North Carolina.
Because she didn’t qualify for either an Amber or Silver alert – which notifies the public about missing children and senior citizens – family and authorities lost precious time.
Virginia has now enacted The Ashanti Alert, which bridges the age gap. “This needs to be on the national level because so many of our missing are slipping under the radar,” Wilson stated.
She pointed out that since the beginning of the pandemic, there’s been an uptick in sex trafficking, and children are more exposed to online predators than ever before.
“They are tapping into our children,” Wilson said.
“There was a young lady who went missing. She was a gamer, and she was talking to a man online. So, when she went missing, her family was so surprised that she was talking to someone online.”
Wilson continued:
“You’ve got to be nosey with your children. Have them sit in an open area so you can see what’s going on. Create a fictitious account and see if you can befriend your child online and share information to save their lives. Unfortunately, once they go missing, we don’t have any intelligence to help save them.”
For more information about the Black and Missing Foundation, visit http://www.bamfi.org.

Newswire: Secretary Fudge, HUD convened African American officials to discuss the housing investments in President Biden’s Build Back Better plan

HUD Secretary, Marcia Fudge

WASHINGTON, D.C.— U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia L. Fudge convened a virtual roundtable discussion with over 90 mayors, state legislators, county commissioners, and local municipal leaders on the housing investments and racial equity opportunities that would be created through President Biden’s Build Back Better plan.

The mayors and state and local elected leaders make up the executive teams and memberships of the National League of Cities- National Black Caucus for Local Elected Officials, National Organization of Black County Officials, African American Mayors Association, and National Black Conference of State Legislators.

Speakers included Georgia State Rep. and President of the National Black Conference of State Legislators Billy Mitchell, African American Mayors Association President and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, Harris County Commissioner and National Organization of Black County Officials President Rodney Ellis, and Akron City Councilman and National League of Cities- National Black Caucus for Elected Officials President Russell C. Neal, Jr.

Secretary Fudge underscored the Biden-Harris Administration’s Build Back Better plan and its investments in housing construction and rehabilitation, economic development, and community revitalization.

She noted that even before the pandemic, nearly 11 million households spent more than half their incomes on rent – and that people of color represent a disproportionate number of these households.

Secretary Fudge reiterated President Biden’s commitment to addressing the affordable housing crisis through the Build Back Better plan, which calls for historic investments in our nation’s housing.

Further, the group discussed how the federal government will continue to work with local officials to protect renters through quickly delivering assistance to stop evictions during the pandemic.

The local officials raised their priorities to ensure communities of color receive investments to build more affordable housing and break down barriers that drive up costs.

Judge John H. England, Jr. receives SCLC’s Drum Major for Justice Lifetime Achievement Award

Judge England and his grandson Christopher John England, Jr.

Shown above: Rev. Ricky McKinney, Tuscaloosa Municipal Court Judge; Judge England; State Rep. Chris England; Donna Foster; and State Senator Bobby Singleton.

 

On the grounds of the Tuscaloosa County Courthouse where he served as Tuscaloosa County Circuit Judge before his retirement earlier this year, Judge John H. England, Jr. was presented the Drum Major for Justice Lifetime Achievement Award by the Tuscaloosa County Chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Sunday, June 27, 2021. The Plaque was presented by SCLC Chapter President, Rev. James Williams and England’s son State Representative Christopher John England, Sr. Of all the presenters at the ceremony, Judge England’s seemingly greatest pride fell upon his grandson Christopher John England, Jr., who read his grandfather’s biographical sketch. England’s Pastor, the Rev. Anderson T. Graves, II, of Bailey Tabernacle C.M.E. Church in Tuscaloosa, was the keynote speaker. In lifting England’s undergraduate studies in Chemistry at Tuskegee University, Rev. Graves noted that a key feature of scientific equations is balance, and attributed that same characteristic of balance to Judge’s England life of service and contributions toward the wellbeing of others. Each presenter lauded England as a living legend and a trailblazer for his contributions to civil rights and generally for securing and protecting human rights. Representative Chris England delivered warm platitudes toward his Dad, also noting that the elder was known for embarrassing him as well as many others. Chris clarified that in that scenario of embarrassment, “…there was always a lesson and today I am very grateful for that.” The ceremony for Judge England included Donna Foster as Mistress of Ceremony; Welcome by Commissioner Reginald Murray (Tuscaloosa County District 4); Song by Reuben Harris, Jr. A reception followed at The Willie Clyde and Kay Rice Jones Education Building at Bailey Tabernacle C.M.E. Church. Judge H. England, Jr., who proudly claims his birthplace in the Alabama Black Belt, was born in Perry County (Uniontown) and attended public schools in Birmingham, AL.  He is a 1969 graduate of Tuskegee Institute (University) with a BS Degree in Chemistry. In 1999, Tuskegee bestowed him with an Honorary Doctor of Law Degree.   England served two years in the U.S. Army as a Military Policeman and later graduated from the University of Alabama Law School in 1974, and began his law practice. He and SCLC President, Charles Steele, were the first African Americans elected to the Tuscaloosa City Council in 1985.  England served two terms and was Chairman of the Finance and Community Development Committee.  When he was appointed to the Tuscaloosa County Circuit Court in 1993 by Governor Jim Folsom, England became the first African American to hold a county-wide political office.  He was re-elected to a full term in that office in 1994, where he served until he was appointed to the Alabama Supreme Court by Governor Don Siegelman in 1999, the third African American to hold such a seat. England returned to the Circuit Court of Tuscaloosa County in 2001 and served continuously through his current retirement. Judge England currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the University of Alabama and in 2019 was the first African American to have a dormitory on the University’s campus named for him (John H. England, Jr. Hall). He takes a father’s pride and joy in the fact that he is the first African American UA Law School graduate to witness his three children graduate from the UA Law School: John H. England, III, U.S. is a Magistrate Judge for the Northern District in Alabama, April England Albright, is a Civil Rights Attorney in Atlanta and Chris England is an Alabama State Representative and Chairman of the Alabama Democratic Party.

Newswire: President Biden announces first nominees for Board to Review Civil Rights Era Cold Cases

Poster for three murdered Civil Rights Workers in Mississippi

By Stacy M. Brown NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

Fourteen years ago, thesent the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice a list of 74 cold cases involving African Americans allegedly murdered in racially motivated circumstances by White people between 1952 and 1968. Most of the crimes took place in Mississippi, which contained nearly half of the 74 cases. Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee all made up the rest. All went cold, and the victims’ families never received justice. Today, a new path to justice has opened to crack these cold cases. On Friday, June 11, President Joe Biden announced the first set of nominees for the Civil Rights Cold Case Records Review Board. The panel would have the power to declassify government files and subpoena new testimony that could reopen cases and reveal publicly why many racially motivated lynchings and killings of Black people were never adequately investigated. “The White House hopes that the Senate moves quickly to [confirm] these nominees,” an administration official told the National Newspaper Publishers Association. “The Board was established with nearly unanimous bipartisan support in 2019,” the official noted. President Biden’s nominees are: • Clayborne Carson has devoted most of his professional life to the study of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the movements Dr. King inspired. Since receiving his doctorate from UCLA in 1975, Dr. Carson has taught at Stanford University as the Martin Luther King, Jr., Centennial Professor of History (Emeritus). • Gabrielle M. Dudley, an Instruction Archivist at the Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library at Emory University. In this role, she partners with faculty and other instructors to develop courses and archives research assignments for undergraduate and graduate students. • Hank Klibanoff, a veteran journalist who won a Pulitzer Prize in History in 2007 for a book he co-wrote about the news coverage of the civil rights struggle in the South. Klibanoff is the creator and host of Buried Truths, a narrative history podcast produced by WABE (NPR) in Atlanta. • Margaret Burnham has served as a state court judge (appointed by Governor Michael Dukakis, 1977), civil rights lawyer, and human rights commissioner. A graduate of Tougaloo College in Jackson, Mississippi, and the University of Pennsylvania Law School, Burnham has been on the Northeastern University faculty since 2002. She was named to the 2016 class of Andrew Carnegie Fellows, an honor recognizing a select group of scholars for their significant work in the social sciences and humanities. The panel could consider cases like the three civil rights workers in Mississippi – James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner – killed by the Ku Klux Klan in June 1964. Two months later, the activists’ bodies were riddled with bullets, burned, and buried in a dam in Neshoba County. The “Mississippi Burning” case has largely gone unsolved and primarily unpunished. In 2005, Edgar Ray Killen was convicted of three counts of manslaughter and sentenced to 60 years in prison, but authorities closed the case and put an end to hopes of prosecuting others involved. In Lowndes County, Alabama, there is the case of 18-year-old Rogers Hamilton. On a brisk night in October 1957, two white men arrived at Rogers’ home, summoned him outside, and put him in a truck. His mother, Beatrice Hamilton, trailed the truck on a dusty road and watched in horror as they pulled Rogers out of the vehicle and shot him in the head. When she notified the sheriff, he told her she didn’t see what she “thought she saw” and closed the case. “No one cared, except his extended family, now scattered from Chicago to New York,” John Fleming, an editor at the Center for Sustainable Journalism, wrote in a 2011 column. “The case remains open, though the reality is that this case will never be prosecuted,” Fleming decided. “Though the family wants justice, even if it means getting the local district attorney to indict a dead deputy, what’s equally important to them is the fact that the story of a long-dead [man] in faraway Alabama has finally been told.”

Commission dismisses Hank Sanders as county attorney after 25+ years of service; hires white Birmingham law firm

Attorney Mark Parnell
Senator Hank Sanders

At its regular meeting, held Monday, April 12, 2021, the Greene County Commission selected a new attorney to serve as its legal representative. Attorney Mark Parnell, of Parnell and Thompson of Birmingham, was hired on the vote of three commissioners, Chairperson Roshanda Summerville, Commissioners Cory Cockrell and Allen Turner, Jr. At the opening of the commission’s meeting, before the printed agenda was voted on, Commissioner Corey Cockrell stated he had two items to add to the agenda: Building storm shelters with bingo funds; and Hiring an Attorney. The item on hiring an attorney had not been discussed at the previous work session. The agenda was adopted with the additions. Following a lengthly executive session, the commission acted on the original items on the agenda and approved the added item concerning building storm shelters with bingo funds. No additional information was presented regarding the storm shelters. The final item on the agenda related to hiring an attorney. Chairperson Summerville called for a vote on Candidate 1 (the candidate’s name was not stated). Commissioner Cockrell offered a motion to approved Candidate 1; Turner seconded the motion and Summerville voted with Cockrell and Turner. The chair declared that Candidate 1 was selected, then called for a motion to adjourn the meeting. Two other candidates the commission had considered, Attorney Hank Sanders and Attorney Prince Chestnut, were not presented for a vote. Reportedly, the Commission Chairperson selected a committee to interview applicants for the attorney’s position. Seemingly, this committee was composed of Chairperson Summerville, Commissioner Cockrell, and staff Brenda Burke. Burke later acknowledge that the extent of her role was to prepare the advertisements and set up the interviews for Mark Parnell and Prince Chestnut. CFO Macaroy Underwood was invited to sit in when the applicants were interviewed. Senator Hank Sanders stated that he did submit an application but did not receive a notice regarding an interview. According to Sanders, following the commission’s work session on Wednesday, April 7, he was asked to come to the commission’s office to discuss a financial matter with Underwood, Summerville and Cockrell. Sanders said that at the close of that meeting, Commissioner Cockrell asked him to discuss his “strong points.” At no point during the commission’s meeting or immediately following the meeting, did the commission offer any additional information to the public regarding the change in attorneys. When Chairperson Summerville was asked, following Monday’s meeting, who was Candidate 1, she deferred to Ms. Brenda Burke, who responded that she did not know. Burke indicated she had nothing to do with this. Commissioner Turner was asked who was Candidate 1, and he referred this to the Chairperson. Ms. Summerville was cautioned that this was public information and she had an obligation to tell the community who had just been hired as the Commission’s attorney. At that point, Ms. Summerville revealed the name of Attorney Mark Parnell. In separate follow-up discussions with Commissioners Smith, Brown and Turner, all three emphatically stated that they did not know Attorney Parnell, had never met him or spoken with him. Smith and Brown did not vote to hire Parnell, but Turner did. In later attempts to seek further comments from the Commission Chairperson, she only replied with no comment, and with the statement, “You must ask this of the whole commission.” In its September, 14, 2020 meeting, the Greene County Commission, through an added on agenda item, agreed to advertise for an attorney. At that time Commission Chairperson Allen Turner, Jr. stated that the current attorney, Senator Hank Sanders, was serving without a contract. He stated the contract had expired. At that same meeting, Commissioner Lester Brown offered a motion to provide a contract for the attorney and this was adopted. Brown stated at that time that his motion was intended to replace the agenda item to advertise for an attorney. Chairman Turner disagreed. Nothing else was made known about an attorney’s search until the April 12, 2021 commission meeting. At press time, Brenda Burke submitted the following statement: After completing the process, the Greene County Commission hired Parnell and Thompson as legal counsel.  Chairman Summerville stated: “Our decision is in the best interest of Greene County and the residents we serve.  We would like to thank Attorney Sanders for his years of service.” Other Business of the Commission The Commission acted on the following items: Adopted the Division C Regional Hazard Mitigation Plan. *Approved $15,000 for new control panel for jail lights from Capital Improvement. *Ratified $6,412 for new computer for Probate Judge’s Office from Capital Improvement. *Approved Amended lease agreement for the Greene County Sheriff Department. *Adopted the resolution regarding the Citizen Participation Plan (CDBG Grant). Adopted the resolution for Fair Housing (CDBG Grant) *Adopted resolutions regarding Standards of Conduct, Procurement Methods, Minimizing Displacement and Section 504 Transition Plan (CDBG Grant). *Authorize the Engineer to order three dump trucks and bodies, totaling $462,603. *Approved proposal from JM Wood Auction for the sale of existing dump trucks in June with a guarantee net of $457,560 and declare trucks as surplus. *Approved proposal from Jackson Security for camera surveillance equipment in area near old shop at cost of $13,313.75. *Approved proposal from Premier Electric to provide power for surveillance equipment in area near old shop at cost of $2,140. *Approved bid from ST Bunn for resurfacing and striping of CR 133 from 131 to the interstate 20/59 for cost of $268,526. *Approved proposal for Dynamic Civil Solution, Inc. for Hydrologic and Hydraulic Study for Miller Road, for 2020 FEMA Storm Event at cost of $11,250. *Approved proposal for Dynamic Civil Solution, Inc. for Hydrologic and Hydraulic Study for CR 97 for 2020 FEM A Storm Event at cost of $11,250. *Approved Brandy Eubanks as District 3 PARA Board Member. *Approved Gavin Edgars as District 2 E 9-11 Board Member. *Approved financial report and payment of claims as presented by CFO, Mac Underwood. Underwood reported the following claims paid in March 2021: Accounts Payable – $267,120.14; Payroll Transfer – $230.052.50; Fiduciary – $195,910.29 totaling $693,082.93. Electronic claims paid totaled $75,093.69. Underwood reported the following bank totals; Citizen Trust Bank – $4,486,650; Merchant & Farmers Bank – $3,551,307.69; Bond Sinking Funds – $1,085,793; Bank of New York – $715,920.40.

Newswire: Keeping the legacy of legendary Supremes star Mary Wilson alive

Mary Wilson

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

Mary Wilson was a friend to the Black Press of America, a neighbor to the world, and the radiance she exuded never seem to fade. At 76, the Supremes legend is gone too soon.
Wilson died suddenly late Monday, Feb. 8, at her home just outside of Las Vegas.
“I was extremely shocked and saddened to hear of the passing of a major member of the Motown family, Mary Wilson of the Supremes,” Motown founder Berry Gordy wrote in a statement emailed to NNPA Newswire.
Gordy emphasized, “The Supremes were always known as the ‘sweethearts of Motown.’ Mary, along with Diana Ross and Florence Ballard, came to Motown in the early 1960s. After an unprecedented string of number one hits, television and nightclub bookings, they opened doors for themselves, the other Motown acts, and many, many others.”
“I was always proud of Mary,” Berry Gordy concluded.  “She was quite a star in her own right and continued to work hard to boost the legacy of the Supremes over the years. Mary Wilson was extremely special to me. She was a trailblazer, a diva, and will be deeply missed.”
Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) President and CEO, affirmed, “On behalf of NNPA Chair Karen Cater Richards and all of the 230 African American NNPA member publishers across the United States and the Caribbean, we pause solemnly today to pay tribute and our profound respects to the living memory, legacy and cultural genius of our beloved Mary Wilson. She loved and supported the Black Press of America, and we will always love and keep Mary Wilson’s transformative spirit in our hearts as the NNPA continues to publish truth to power in America and throughout the world.”
In a 2020 interview on the Black Press of America’s “Fiyah!” livestream program, Wilson talked about her life and career and her long pursuit of having Florence Ballard memorialized with a United States Postal Service stamp.“People forget that Florence Ballard not only gave us our name, but she formed the group,” Wilson revealed on “Fiyah!”

“It was really Flo who formed us, and I want people to know that. I am putting together a program to get Florence Ballard a U.S. stamp, hopefully, so I want people to send their request and say something about Florence. All those hits were Florence, so when you listening to [The Supremes], it’s about Flo, so I want people who listen to those songs that bring back memories, think about Flo.”
A singer, best-selling author, motivational speaker, businesswoman, former U.S. Cultural Ambassador, mother, and grandmother, the legendary Mary Wilson made great strides on her inevitable journey to greatness.
As an original/founding member of The Supremes, she changed the face of popular music to become a trendsetter who broke down social, racial, and gender barriers, which all started with the wild success of their first number one song.
Formed in Detroit as The Primettes in 1959, The Supremes were Motown’s most successful act of the 1960s, scoring 12 No. 1 singles.
They also continue to reign as America’s most successful vocal group to date. Their influence not only carries on in contemporary R&B, soul, and pop, but they also helped pave the way for Black artists’ mainstream success across all genres.
Mary achieved an unprecedented 12 No.1 hits, with 5 of them being consecutive from 1964-1965. Those songs are “Where Did Our Love Go,” “Baby Love”, “Come See About Me,” “Stop! In the Name of Love,” and “Back in My Arms Again,” according to Billboard Magazine.
In 2018, Billboard celebrated the 60th anniversary of Motown with a list of “The Hot 100’s Top Artists of All Time”, where The Supremes ranked at No. 16 and remain the No. 1 female recording group of all time.
Jan. 21, 2021, marked the 60th anniversary of the day The Supremes signed with Motown in 1961. This year, Mary kicked off the celebration of the 60th anniversary of The Supremes.
“With the same passion as she did singing with the original Supremes as well as with her solo career, the world-renowned performer was an advocate for social and economic challenges in the United States and abroad,” Wilson’s longtime publicist and friend, Jay Schwartz, said.
“Ms. Wilson used her fame and flair to promote a diversity of humanitarian efforts, including ending hunger, raising HIV/AIDS awareness, and encouraging world peace. Mary was working on getting a U.S. postage stamp of her fellow bandmate and original Supreme Florence Ballard who passed away in 1976,” Schwartz said.
In 2018, Mary’s longtime fight for the passage of the Music Modernization Act (MMA) came to fruition when it was signed into law on Oct. 11.
The law modernized copyright-related issues for new music and audio recordings due to new forms of technology like digital streaming, which did not protect music recorded before Feb. 15, 1972, according to Schwartz.
Her tireless advocacy for this legislation included trips to Washington D.C. to personally meet with Congress members to advocate for legacy artists gaining fair compensation when their songs are played on digital radio stations, Schwartz continued.
“I think that The Supremes had a lot to do with the awakening of the world in terms of what blackness was,” Wilson said in her 2020 NNPA interview. “The whole world was watching Black people in a way they’d never seen.”

Greenetrack Charities schedule scholarship awards to GCH graduates in postsecondary programs

Arlexia Davis
Shelton State
Community
College
Willie Davis
Shelton State
Community
College
Kyla Davis
Shelton State
Community
College
Elouise Edwards
Shelton State
Community
College
LaTaursa Jones Jr.
Alabama State
University
Sharlisa Taylor Shelton State Community
College
Quantayia Williams Alabama A& M University

Greenetrack, Inc, through its sponsoring charities, has committed a $1000 scholarship award to each Greene County High School 2020 graduate who is enrolled in a postsecondary educational program. The scholarship awards will be administered to a group of graduates monthly. This month’s recipients include Elouise Edwards, Arlexia Davis, Willie Davis, Kyla Davis, LaTaursa Jones, Jr., Sharlisa Taylor Quantiayia Williams JaQuez Hutton and Nigel Speights.
The non-profit charities operating electronic bingo at Greenetrack in Eutaw, AL, E-911 Communication Services, the Greene County Volunteer Fire Fighters Association, and Woman to Woman, Inc., provided charitable contributions, for the month of September, to a variety of local organizations, all benefitting Greene County residents.
According to Luther Winn, Greenetrack CEO, Greenetrack charities operating electronic bingo at Greenetrack are following the rules set forth by Sheriff Jonathan Benison but they have decided to provide the funds directly rather than through the Sheriff’s office.
A total of $71,100 dollars was divided and given to the following charities:
Greene County Board of Education ($13,500); Greene County Hospital ($7,500); Greene County Commission ($24,000); City of Eutaw ($4,500); City of Union ($3,000); City of Boligee ($3,000); City of Forkland ($3,000); and High School Graduates College Scholarships ($9,000).
The following non-profit groups received $300: Greene County Nursing Home, SCORE, Greene County Golf Course, James C. Pool Memorial Library, Greene County Foster & Adoptive Parents Association, PARA, Greene County Housing Authority Youth Involvement, Children’s Policy Council, Reach, Greene County DHR, Greene County Volunteer Fire Fighters Association, and the Society of Folk Arts and Culture.

Commissioner Turner places item on agenda to advertise for legal representation

The Greene County Commission held its regular monthly meeting Monday, September 14, 2020 at 3:30 pm. Prior to any action taken on the agenda, Commissioner Lester Brown raised concerns about item 11 on the agenda which had not been proposed and discussed in the commission’s work session held the previous Wednesday. Agenda Item 11 called for advertising for legal representation for the commission.
In the course of the discussion, it was revealed that only Commissioner Roshanda Summerville had received a call, prior to the meeting, from Commission Chairperson Allen Turner, Jr. informing her that item 11 would be on the agenda. Commissioner Corey Cockrell stated that he had not been told the item would be on the agenda, but he could recall other instances when items, not discussed in a work session were placed on the following agenda.
According to Commissioner Brown, the Commission’s Policies and Procedures require that there must be a unanimous decision by the commission before an item can be added to the agenda. This can be substantiated by statements contained in the Commission’s Rules of Order document:
Rules of Procedure, Section V
Order of Business
“A. There shall be an official agenda for every meeting of the Commission, including special and emergency meetings. …The agenda for the regularly scheduled meetings shall identify the items to be considered and determine the order of business to be conducted at the meeting.
…The agenda shall be established prior to each meeting under procedures to be adopted by the County Commission.
J. Any departure from the order of business set forth in the official agenda shall be made only upon affirmative vote of all the members of the Commission present at the meeting.
L. Additions to the agenda shall only be made by affirmative vote of all the members of the Commission present at the meeting.”Both Commissioners Lester Brown and Tennyson Smith stated that Turner had disrespected them in placing an item on the agenda without contacting them for their input.
The agenda was eventually approved with three votes.
Following an executive session, the commission approved all the items on the agenda, with little clarity as to how item 11 would be executed. According to Commissioner Lester Brown, he offered a motion to put a contract in place with the commission’s current legal representative, Attorney Hank Sanders. “My motion was to replace what was presented in Item 11, with a contract for the attorney” Brown stated. Brown’s motion was approved, however, a spokesperson in the commission’s office stated that the commission agreed to put a contract in place and advertise for legal representation.
Commissioner Turner stated in a later conversation that the commission voted to approve Agenda Item 11 to advertise for legal representative and include providing a contract. “Our current attorney is not under contract with the commission. He can show up or not show up. His contract expired years ago and was not dealt with,” he said. Turner also acknowledged that Attorney Sanders was not notified that the commission intended to advertise for legal representation.
When asked if he had someone in mind to bring in as legal counsel for the commission, Turner responded: “ That is something the commission will decide.”
Other actions taken by the commission included the following:
Approved the 2019-2020 School Resource Officers (SRO) Contract. Reportedly, the commission had not received the 2019-2020 contract from the Sheriff’s office during that school term.
Approved the Errors Report as presented by Revenue Commissioner’s office.
Approved the transfer of 2014 Dodge Ram truck from Road Department to Maintenance Department.
*Approved agreement with Terracon for aquifer testing at landfill for cost of #3,500.
Approved option to close unused landfill at cost of $30,245.
Approved renewing CIMS agreement for period of October 1, 2020 – September 30, 2021.
Approved engineering soliciting proposals for bridge replacement for STR#30032-265, bridge on County Road 60.
Approved ratifying removal of a tree on a building at Robert Brown Middle School.
With the county’s fiscal year ending, September 30, the finance department reported the budget balances for the various departments. As of September, the commission had 8% of budget remaining; Circuit Court Judge had 19%; District Judge had 19%; Circuit Clerk had 9%; District Attorney had 5%; Court Reported had 3%; Probate Judge had1%;Appraisal Office had 29%; Revenue Commission had 6%; Elections had -7%; Board of Registrars had 8%; Maintenance had 0%; Sheriff had 0%; Jail had 9%; EMA had 8%;Coroner had 41%; Youth Services had 0%; E911 had 0%; Library had 27%; and Board of Education had 0

GCHS gets military-grade medical tent for COVID-19 patients

Shown above Dr. Marcia Pugh, Greene County Health System CEO, Bob Wilson, Jr., President of Andrew Development Company, Inc., Shelia  Smith, President of the TSPSL. and Greene County Sheriff Jonathan Benison, (not pictured) Billy McFarland, TSPSL, Treasurer, inspecting the setup of the military-grade medical tent, donated by Wilson’s Company. The medical tent is an extension of the Emergency Department of the GCHS consisting of 6 rooms for patients, a procedure room, and a laundry room on back of the facility. This new set up will be utilized to help with COVID-19 crises. It allows the staff to isolate the Covid patients coming in for care.