ARCHIVE for Week of 12/16/2016
Ms Ellen M. James Closes out 25 Years As A GRCC Trustee
The Grand Rapids Times
The Grand Rapids Community College Board of Trustees recognized Ms. Ellen James, Monday December 12, 2016, for her 25 years of service as a member of the college board. City Commissioner Joseph Jones and NAACP President Cle Jackson recognized her for her service to the community. On the following evening, Mayor Rosalynn Bliss honored Ms. Ellen James with a proclamation of recognition at the City's Commission meeting. Ms. James is shown with Mayor Bliss and several individuals from some of the organizations she has been affiliated as a volunteer through the years: CRG, Kent County Black Elected Officials, The Grand Rapids Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, the GR Community Relations Commission and Concerned Citizens Council.
Josh Ware Running Back Coach At FSU
An Open Letter To The Community
The Grand Rapids Times
Editor's Note: This week, her colleagues that serve as members of the Grand Rapids Community College Board of Trustees, along with members of the Grand Rapids City Commission and representatives from community groups thanked Ms Ellen James for her long-tenured service as a member of the college's board. She expresses her gratitude to the community — citizens that repeatedly elected her to a board seat on during the past 25 years.
It is with pride, and a bit of sadness, that I express my heartfelt thanks to the citizens of Grand Rapids and in other parts of Kent County that elected me to serve several consecutive terms as a member of the Grand Rapids Community College Board of Trustees over the past 25 years.
My time of service on GRCC's Board has been extremely rewarding.
I have witnessed so many of our citizens achieve their academic goals and have watched our city thrive as graduates have gone out and contributed significantly to the economic vitality of our community.
Reflecting on my work as a trustee, I am very proud of the effort put into ensuring the Open Access mission of Grand Rapids Community College, as well as the work that was done to continuously advance the Diversity mission of the college. These missions go hand in hand as we work to ensure that everyone in our community has not only the ability, but also the opportunity to pursue post - secondary and higher education.
It is critically important that OUR community is able to see themselves at Grand Rapids Community. In my time on the Board of Trustees, I have worked diligently to ensure that our friends and neighbors, and the children of our friends and neighbors, see people of color working and succeeding at all levels at GRCC. My goal has always been to ensure that the workforce demographics at GRCC reflect the demographics of our community. We have but surely improved in this focus.
As a founding GRCC trustee, I participated in the presidential search process for hiring Dr. Juan Olivarez GRCC's eighth and first Hispanic president; Dr. Steven Ender as the ninth; and most recently, Dr. Bill Pink, GRCC's tenth and, first African American president.
In between, I was also able to work with two amazing interim presidents, Dr. Patricia Pulliam and Dr. Anne Mulder.
I would be remiss if I didn't highlight the phenomenal Board of Trustee colleagues that I have worked with over the years. I learned so much from each and every one of them and am blessed to have had them as partners in this important work.
In addition, I am also blessed to have been able to work with those in the GRCC family.
Know that there is no better community college in the country than GRCC, and that can only be attributed to the work that this group of people do on a daily basis.
I am also blessed to have worked with Dick Calkins — the president that led the charge to redistrict GRJC.
Founded in 1914 as Grand Rapids Junior College and as a part of the Grand Rapids Public School District, following a vote of the citizens, the college split from the Grand Rapids Public Schools, expanding its boundaries and tax - base to take on a different identity as Grand Rapids Community College. President Calkins led the charge. There is not a single accomplishment that the college has made to date that would have been without his vision and dedication to our community.
So much has been accomplished in 25 years, but there is still so much more to do. I ask that our community continues to look to the GRCC Board of Trustees' ensuring that our voice is heard and the Open Access and Diversity missions are continually advanced. Grand Rapids Community College is the best hope we have for ensuring equity in West Michigan.
Again, as I step aside, I thank you for trusting me to be the voice of our community as a member of the board for the past 25 years. I am humbled by your confidence in me. I plan to stay connected to the college, and I respectfully ask that you do the same.
Bus Ride, Essay Contest Honor Rosa Parks' Bold Stand
The Grand Rapids Times
Grand Rapids — On the 61st anniversary of the day that Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat, the Community Relations Commission Rosa Parks Sculpture Committee in Grand Rapids commemorated Mrs. Parks' stand by hosting a symbolic bus ride.
The ride took place on Friday, December 9, 2016, from City Hall to the Rapid Central Station where the Education Committee announced winners of its middle and high school essay contest at a press conference.
Contestants reflected on the "world changers" that came before them, including Rosa Parks. The contestants' work expressed how students will work across generations to affect changes in the world.
The Committee received essay entries from 322 middle school (6-8 grade), 125 high school, (9-10 grade) and 235 (11-12 grade) public and private school students in the greater Grand Rapids area.
A panel of community members judged essays with the following prizes being offered for each group: 1st Place - $500, 2nd Place - $300, 3rd Place - $200, Honorable Mention- $50.
Young Bankers Club Class Of 2016 Graduates GRPS Students
The Grand Rapids Times
Grand Rapids – For ten weeks, a group of students from schools across the Grand Rapids Public School District learned more about the importance of a good education, finances, and personal responsibility.
The 52 participants in the Young Bankers Club attended fun - filled, hands - on sessions that ended with a graduation ceremony, Wednesday, December 7, 2016.
"The Young Bankers Club is just one of the signature programs aimed at increasing financial literacy at various life stages," said community and economic development manager for Fifth Third Bank Patrick Lonergan.
Fifth Third Bank sponsors the club in partnership with Camp Fire West Michigan 4C, a provider of the Grand Rapids Public School's Loop Program.
The sponsoring partners say youth are benefitting in a variety of ways — academically, socially, emotionally and culturally — as they learn about business and banking.
"The more education we offer at a younger age, the better chance they have of becoming financially empowered as adults," Lonergan said.
Students in this year's class were from four schools: Burton, Cesar Chavez, Congress and Kent Hills Elementary Schools.
It is the fourth class of Young Bankers to graduate.
Fifth Third Bank employees are the mentors of the program.
The classes are held inside Grand Rapids Public School classrooms as part of the school district's LOOP after - school programming.
They heard from several guest speakers including Fifth Third Bank President Tom Welch; Bridget Cheney, Executive Director of Pre - K Elementary and K - 8 Instructional Support for Grand Rapids Public Schools; and special guest, City of Grand Rapids Mayor Roslynn Bliss.
"Students were excited, reflective and very inquisitive in their responses and questions to Fifth Third Bank President, Tom Welch and Mayor Bliss," said Pam Bland, Program Director - OST & Volunteer Services Camp Fire West Michigan 4C.
"We look forward to continuing with Young Banker's Club in the upcoming years," Bland said.
Racists Blast Black Santa
The Grand Rapids Times
Joy to the world, peace on earth, goodwill to men; these are sentiments of the Christmas Season, aren't they? Santa bringing joy to every girl and boy with the presents he brings, his jolly laughter, big belly under that bright red suit, and his white skin!
This is the only way many in America see old St. Nick; he is a white man, plain and simple no debate. When Mall of America hired retired army veteran, Larry Jefferson as their Santa, the online trolls went crazy, why? Because Mr. Jefferson is black!
A black man portraying a so - called white American iconic figure, is just too much for some white people to accept.
The Twitter world and Facebook were exploding with this "blasphemy" of Santa Claus being black. Did Mall of America lose their minds?
Not all white people jumped on this racist bandwagon; many on social media came to Larry Jefferson's defense in saying there was nothing wrong with a black man playing Santa.
For all the racist people who wrote hurtful, racist things about Mr. Jefferson for being a Black Santa, Santa Claus is not real people, ok?
Three years ago, Megyn Kelly showed insensitivity toward a black female blogger who was recalling her childhood.
The blogger was recalling how as a child she was somewhat confused about Santa being white since no white people lived where she lived. Megyn Kelly, on her show, "The Kelly File", said, "Santa is white and Jesus is white too."
This was her attempt at humor and basically making light of a moment in this black woman's childhood that was troubling for her. Ms. Kelly later admitted that Jesus MAY NOT have been white, you think?
America is such a contradiction on so many levels, she preaches freedom for all, but denies it for some. She says justice is blind, but she must be peeking from underneath that blindfold because there is a double standard being used.
The character of the man is what's supposed to be how you judge a man, not the color of his skin. But here we are, in soon to be 2017, still having these same old problems and concerns about race in America. Santa Claus — some people want to make Santa a racial issue? A fictitious character meant to give children joy, what's next, the Easter Bunny has to only be white too?
While the majority of the people in the Mall of America area have no problem with Larry Jefferson being a black Santa, it's the cowards online predominately. I call them cowards because they don't have the courage to tell the man to his face how they feel, so they hide behind a keyboard and a mouse. Real brave! Mr. Jefferson says, "The people in Minnesota have been fantastic."
During this time of year, you would think love for your fellow man and unity for our nation would come to the forefront.
What this opposition to a Black Santa thing tells me is that it doesn't matter what the season is or how well meaning the intentions are. Race matters, even in things that are not real like a children's fictitious character.
The concept of America is beautiful, but the reality is ugly if you are black. Because of our skin color, we will never overcome the stigma of slavery, of being thought of as inferior, a sub - human species. You disagree?
Many make the argument that all ethnic groups when first coming to America, experienced some form of discrimination.
That is true. Italians were discriminated against when first they came to America as were the Polish, Irish, etc.
What makes these European emigrants discrimination different from the discrimination the African suffered is this.
First, The African didn't come through Ellis Island; he was stolen from his native land to provide free labor in building this new country.
Second, Europeans were not enslaved because of their skin color where to be black meant to be a slave and to be a slave meant you were black!
Fast forward to today, and you still have some white people hanging on to those old ideas and feelings about black people. Seeing black skin to some whites, immediately conjures up certain feelings and opinions today just like it did 400 years ago.
Seeing black faces depicting white societal figures, even if they're not real, pushes the envelope too far for some white people, just like a black President did!
As we get into the Christmas Season with the hope of peace on earth and good will to men, are you dreaming of a white Christmas? Ho, Ho, Ho!
What Surely Tainted Our Election? Voter Suppression
The Grand Rapids Times
The CIA conclusion that the Russians intervened in our elections in order to help elect Donald Trump has sent Washington into one of its fabled tizzies.
President Barack Obama has ordered an intelligence agency report before he leaves office. Democrats and responsible Republicans are calling for congressional investigations.
Pundits are arguing the Russians — combined with FBI Director James Comey's outrageous interventions — cost Hillary Clinton the election.
In response, President - elect Trump is tweeting furiously about voter fraud, peddling lies about millions of illegal immigrants voting and many other things to distract from the escalating scandal.
Left out of this brouhaha is the systematic and purposeful voter suppression that certainly cost Clinton the election.
The Russians didn't do it. It was done by right - wing partisan state officials eager to suppress the vote of people of color, the young and the working poor.
These efforts were open, systematic and widespread. And this domestic hacking at our elections was far more destructive than the hacking Russia is said to have done.
This was the first presidential election since the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act. According to the Brennan Center, 14 states passed voter suppression laws that were in effect for the first time in November, including swing states like Ohio and Wisconsin.
The steps taken to suppress the vote aren't secret: new requirements of voter ID that discriminate against the poor, the elderly and disproportionately people of color:
Restrictions on use of college ID to impede student voting; Closing registration weeks before Election Day; Limiting early voting days, closing on Sundays; Holding Election Day on a workday with limited hours for voting, making it difficult for those with inflexible hours to get to the polls; Shutting down or moving polling places to confuse voters and force them to wait in long lines; Purging voters from the polling lists, leaving them to cast provisional ballots at best; Prohibiting felons who have paid their debt to society from ever recovering the right to vote, disproportionately impacting African - American men.
There is little doubt that these measures worked, and cost Clinton the election.
In Wisconsin, for example, Trump's margin of victory was 27,000. A record 300,000 registered voters lacked the newly required ID, contributing to the lowest turnout in 20 years. Turnout was down by more than 50,000 in Milwaukee where 70 percent of the state's African - American population lives.
In North Carolina, black turnout was down 16 percent in the first week of early voting, in part because there were 158 fewer polling places in the 40 counties with large numbers of black voters.
The targeting was intentional, with Republican officials celebrating the effects. The decision by the right - wing gang of five on the Supreme Court in the Shelby case effectively subverted the victory of the civil rights movement at Selma.
If Russians hacked the Democratic National Committee's and the Clinton campaign's emails to influence the election, it should be investigated.
In an election decided by 80,000 votes in three states, it might have made a difference (as almost anything could in an election that close). But what is clear is that Russian hacking was not nearly as effective as the partisan systematic suppression of the vote. And that effort is continuing.
Republicans in Missouri took control and moved to institute new voting ID restrictions for the next election. In Wisconsin, Republicans announced plans for new restrictions on early voting.
Why aren't Democrats railing about voter suppression and demanding congressional investigation and action? Why haven't university presidents and civil rights lawyers joined in a national commission to detail the suppression and demand a strengthening of the Voting Rights Act?
Why aren't pundits pounding on this, outing the state officials and legislators who did it and exposing the right - wing apparatus that orchestrated it?
Is it because Russian interference is more exotic? Is it because neither party thinks suppression of the votes of people of color and the young is an unacceptable outrage?
I urge President Obama to launch an investigation and report on voter suppression to be released before he leaves office.
President - elect Donald Trump says he wants to be the president of all Americans.
If so, he should lead an effort to end voter suppression and to revive the Voting Rights Act. Democratic leaders say they want the party to build a broad majority coalition across lines of race. If so, they should be demanding an investigation of voter suppression and filibustering to force revival of the Voting Rights Act.
Inside the beltway, voter suppression isn't hot. Republicans peddle the myth of voter fraud.
Democrats cry foul on Russian interference. Neither party will focus on the biggest scandal of all: the fact that partisans in states across the country acted purposefully to suppress the right to vote of targeted groups of citizens.
We didn't win the right to vote from politicians. Citizens had to march and protest, bleed and die to win that right. We can't count on politicians to defend the right to vote — they, after all, are elected under the distorted rules we have.
Citizens of conscience must move to end voter suppression and clean up our elections.
Keep up with Rev. Jackson and the work of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition at www.rainbowpush.org.
Christmas At Joy Road
The Grand Rapids Times
Dear God, Lord Jesus, Holy Spirit,
Thank you for your love, mercy and protection as this nation and other nations, push on, even in the midst of storms and fires that destroy life and land. There are thousands of people who are not in lines to buy Christmas gifts but to save their lives, to find freedom, a piece of bread — little children who are slaughtered by gun shots, no Mama or Daddy to be found and families pushing carts filled with their dead family members!
In America, the world is different.
We fight battles to see what political party is best or we fight our neighbor, whose hand is on the same 60 - inch television screen that we had our hands on first!
This battle could end in bloodshed. Who is strong enough to let go and yield not to temptation to fight over plastic and glass on sale for $199.00?
There is hunger in America.
Every child may not get a gift or a hot turkey dinner; some senior citizens may have to split their meals three ways.
Most old soldiers still feel forgotten unless we give, help or bring joy to them.
Many homeless, young and old, peering into windows of the missions and the Salvation Army, are seeking shelter from the wind you hear blowing and from the deep snow banks, causing separation between neighbors.
Could your neighbors use a portion of your hot chicken soup with noodles and vegetables soaking in yellow broth?
God will show you how to deliver to the poor; for he specializes in making a way! He needs our help!
Dear Readers, it is a pleasure to write to you every week. I hope all is well on this 12/14/16 day in our town of Grand Rapids, Michigan.
I know that some of your loved ones have been called home to be with God. I see your tears and feel your pain. Please, if you can, call their names out and perhaps a funny story and know that God is still in the house!!
Come with me now as we return to our story, Christmas at Joy Road.
Mandy Jarvis, was with us last week and explained how she donated baskets every year.
There were some bad remarks made about the baskets last year. Complaints of outdated and left over food. It wasn't us Dear Readers; we all brought great food baskets to the apartment house on Joy Road.
We are now awaiting approval of the food baskets by Major Johnson, who lives on the first floor and has a big stick in his hand.
Dear Readers, where did Mandy Jarvis go? It's time to open the baskets!
Then we heard Major Johnson say, 'Open the three baskets now and they better be good or never come back here again!'
"Look Dear Readers, all three families who live here are looking at us. I am so nervous!
Listen to the one lady yelling out, 'I don't like Christmas. I refuse to give my little money to people when I have so little for myself. Times are hard and the church tells us to give. Too bad, I can't and I won't!
Now may I have my basket? I have other things to do besides waiting on a handout!!'
Dear Readers, I don't know where Mandy Jarvis went!
Oh no, Major Johnson is beginning to open the first basket and he has a very suspicious look on his face.
Dear Readers, stay calm!
When Major Johnson begins to pull the paper off of the first items, we see a big fat goose; potatoes; corn and, my oh my, a large caramel cake! Major gives the basket to the family who lives on the second floor.
They are so happy as they lug the basket up the stairs.
The second basket was better than the first basket. It had a large turkey, a fat ham, yams, white potatoes, greens and two large cakes. Major pushed that basket into his apartment.
The only basket left was for the lady who did not like Christmas.
Major opened the basket and it was almost empty except for a small bottle of oil and a small bag of meal. There was a note in the basket that read, I wish you a happy Christmas. I don't have much, but here is all that I have and I give it with joy!!
The hallway became quiet!
Major Johnson said, 'Thank you," and went into his apartment and closed the door.
The lady who did not like Christmas was reading the note from the basket as tears ran down her face."
Let us go, Dear Readers, and treasure the joy in our hearts!!
Keep reading the GRT!