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Houston’s Leading Black Information Source

Volume 83 | Number 12

JANUARY 23, 2014 |FREE



MARC MORIAL speaks out on school discipline

payday loans

P4 SPORTS LOVIE SMITH lands head coaching position

H Page 6

P10 FEATURE SHIRLEY SHERROD talks about tarnished reputation

Quanell X wants answers Houston activist Quanell X is asking questions about the death of an unarmed Black man shot and killed by an off-duty HPD officer. See why he says the shooting of Jordan Baker “doesn’t make any sense.” Hear what HPD Chief Charles McClelland has to say about “deadly force.” H Page 2

Lupita Nyong’o gets nominated Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o continues to win acclaim for her role as Patsey, a slave in “12 Years a Slave.” She recently received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress. What other Black stars were nominated for Hollywood’s highest honors? Who was snubbed? H Page 5 • Serving the Houston area for over 80 years






Family, activist seek answers in killing


Defender News Services

he family of Jordan Baker is looking for answers to questions about his death. Baker, a 26-year-old unarmed Black man, was killed by an off-duty HPD officer on Jan. 16 at a strip center on West Little York. “I am just waiting for justice to be served,” said Baker’s mother, Janet. “I’m looking to the most-high God.” Members of the Baker family were joined by activist Quanell X at a prayer vigil and press conference. “[Jordan] is only guilty of two things – being a young

African-American male wearing a hoodie at night,” Quanell X said. He said the off-duty officer, J. Castro, “wants everybody to believe that Jordan rushed him unarmed, with no weapon in his hand…It doesn’t make any sense at all.” According to HPD, Castro was in uniform and working an extra job in the strip center, which had hired off-duty officers to provide extra security due to recent robberies. “The officer attempted to stop a suspicious male (Baker) in the parking lot,” HPD said. “A brief struggle and foot chase ensued. At some point, Baker stopped fleeing and, while reaching into his waistband, charged at the of-

ficer. Officer Castro, fearing for his life, discharged his duty weapon one time, striking Baker.” HPD Chief Charles McClelland said, “Any police officer’s decision and justification to use deadly force is not absolute on whether the suspect is armed with a weapon. There is no federal, state law or police training that requires a suspect to be armed. The justification to use deadly force is based on the officer’s perception given the specific circumstances surrounding the incident.” The case will be investigated by the HPD Homicide and Internal Affairs Divisions and the Harris County District Attorney’s Office.

HISD students receive laptops

Students work with their new laptops at Kashmere High School.

Defender News Services

More than 18,000 HISD students are receiving laptops this month as part of an initiative that will eventually give every high school student a computer. The initiative, called PowerUp, not only will offer students 24-hour access to a laptop and a variety of software, but to digital-age instruction designed to transform teaching and learning inside and outside the classroom. “PowerUp is not about the device,” said Superintendent Terry Grier. “This is about creating anytime-anywhere learning for our students so they can have the world at their fingertips. We want to make sure they learn the skills that complement technology so they aren’t replaced by technology.” Students at 11 schools in phase one of the project are receiving laptops, and teachers have spent an entire semester learning how to use the device and a variety of digital resources to make their instruction more engaging, interactive, and student-centered.

“I am excited, and my students are excited,” said Madison High School teacher Shannon Smith. “I have already started using more technology and web tools in my classroom for instruction, and now I will be able to take it to the next level. Many of my students can’t afford a computer, so this is really going to equalize the playing field at Madison and at many HISD schools.” Each laptop is pre-loaded with district-approved filtering software that blocks keyword content and inappropriate

websites, including some social media sites, while in use at school, home, and anywhere that has Internet access. Before students are issued their laptop, they are required to take a digital citizenship class that reviews the district’s policy on the proper use of technology and electronic services. Both parents and students also must also sign a laptop loan/acceptable use agreement and pay an annual $25 non-refundable security deposit. In addition to Madison, schools in phase one of the initiative are Austin, Bellaire, Chavez, the Energy Institute, Kashmere, Lee, Sam Houston, Sharpstown, Young Men’s College Preparatory Academy and Young Women’s College Preparatory Academy.

localbriefs NAVIGATORS WHO HELP TEXANS sign up for health plans as part of the Affordable Care Act now must complete 20 extra hours of training. The Texas Department of Insurance recently issued the ruling, which does not apply to certified application counselors who did not receive a federal grant or to insurance agents. “These rules will help ensure Texans have confidence that anyone registered as a navigator has passed appropriate background checks and received the training they need to safeguard a consumer’s most sensitive and personal information,” said Commissioner of Insurance Julia Rathgeber. Earlier, members of the Texas Democratic congressional delegation asked

Attorney General Eric Holder to initiate legal proceedings seeking to prevent the Department of Insurance “from imposing arbitrary and discriminatory restrictions on navigators for health insurance exchanges.” Delegation members included Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and Congressmen Al Green and Gene Green……..A COALITION is joining forces to spread the word about the Affordable Care Act to the AfricanAmerican, Latino and LGBT communities. The coalition is comprised of the Texas League of Young Voters Education Fund, Texas Organizing Project and Lesbian Health Initiative. Christina Sanders, state director of the Young Voters

Education Fund, said health insurance is important for those who are forced to visit an emergency room for illnesses that could be prevented or treated. “Having access to the resources to see a primary care physician or family doctor is essential,” she said……..THE STATE is getting a new medical school. The Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin is scheduled to accept its first class in 2016. The purpose of the school is to improve health in Travis County and throughout the country by training new physicians, providing treatment in a new teaching hospital and conducting research to expand knowledge of medicine and medical technology. • Serving the Houston area for over 80 years


national CBC faces tough battles in 113th Congress



AFRO Staff

n a Congress likely to be steeped in the politics of this year’s midterm elections, the Congressional Black Caucus said it will continue to fight for issues important to communities of color. “We all know that 2013 was one of the least productive years in the history of the Congress,” said CBC Chair Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio). “Yet, the Congressional Black Caucus diligently worked on a number of issues and was successful in influencing policies that benefitted our communities Congressman James Clyburn and that would, but for us, be dis- Congresswoman Marcia Fudge regarded or completely ignored.” thored by Lee that would create and implement a plan Many of the priorities on 30’ approach to be included in other parts of our budget to cut poverty in half within 10 years. It will continue the CBC’s 2014 agenda reflect ongoing concerns so that we can tackle poverty at the community level.” to lobby for bills that create more high-earning jobs. from 2013 – reducing poverty and closing the income Attempts to create income equality must also Deputy Minority Leader James Clyburn (D-S.C.) inequality gap, the challenges facing historically Black address education, and, for the Black community, said the CBC will also continue to support the Affordcolleges and universities and increasing diversity in HBCUs play an integral role. But the recent recession able Care Act, Medicare and Medicaid. The latter were judicial nominations. and changes in federal policy – such as new eligibility key contributors to the gains made by the War on Poverty criteria for Parent PLUS loans and a 5.1 percent cut in Poverty continues to be a scourge in Black comlaunched by President Lyndon Johnson a half-century munities. Almost 10 million African- Americans, HBCU budgets due to sequestration – are endangering ago, he said. including four in 10 Black children, live in poverty. those higher education institutions. Another key initiative on the CBC’s “War on PovAlmost 12 percent of African- Americans are unemIn 2011, the U.S. Department of Education made erty” will be its advocacy for the “10-20-30” initiative, ployed. the underwriting standards for these popular loans more which would require that at least 10 percent of federDue to the CBC’s persistent efforts on reducing stringent and implemented those changes without input ally appropriated money be spent in those communities poverty, however, the issue has “gained momentum from or explanation to HBCUs. Within one year, Parent where 20 percent or more the population has been locked Plus loan denials skyrocketed by 50 percent for parents on Capitol Hill,” said Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), below the poverty level for at least 30 years. who heads the CBC’s Poverty and the Economy Task with students at HBCUs, Fudge said. “We believe we have come upon a formula that can Force. According to the Association for Public and Landbe used in our budget to direct resources to communities The CBC will continue to advocate for an inGrant Universities, 14,616 students at HBCUs learned irrespective of the color or ethnicity of the people that creased federal minimum wage. It will continue to their parents had been denied Parent PLUS loans in live there,” Clyburn said. “We are asking for that ’10-20- fall 2012. garner support for the Half in Ten Act, legislation au-

Obama’s marijuana comments stir debate VOLUME 83 • NUMBER 11 JANUARY 23, 2014 Publisher Print Editor Marilyn Marshall Sonceria Messiah-Jiles Art Director Advertising/Client Relations Tony Fernandez-Davila Selma Dodson Tyler People Editor Strategic Alliance Manager Yvette Chargois Clyde Jiles Sports Editors Multimedia Manager Max Edison Tiffany Williams Darrell K. Ardison Online Editor Contributing Writer ReShonda Billingsley Cierra Duncan The Defender newspaper is published by the Houston Defender Inc. Company (713-663-6996.. The Defender is audited by Certified Audited Circulation. (CAC). For subscription, send $60-1 year to: Defender, P.O. Box 8005, Houston TX 77288. Payment must accompany subscription request. All material covered by 2012 copyright. (No material herein may be reproduced without the written permission of the publisher).

Defender News Services

President Obama’s published comments about marijuana are generating debate. In an interview with the New Yorker, Obama spoke about his past drug use, said marijuana was no more dangerous than alcohol, talked about racial disparities in arrests and discussed new laws legalizing marijuana. “As has been well documented, I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life. I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol,” Obama said.

Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, is glad Obama spoke out. “What’s most important about President Obama’s comments is that he called the new laws in Colorado and Washington ‘important.’ This really puts the wind in the sails of the movement to end marijuana prohibition both around the country and abroad,” Nadelmann said. Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson disagreed. “The negative effects of marijuana use on a developing brain can be permanent, and our President is recklessly giving what amounts to parental permission to our most impressionable citizens to break the law,” she said. • Serving the Houston area for over 80 years




Reforming outdated school discipline policies By Marc H. Morial NNPA Columnist


ecently, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Education Secretary Arne Duncan came to Baltimore’s historic Frederick Douglass High School to announce a comprehensive set of guidelines to tackle the problem of “zero tolerance” disciplinary policies in our schools. As the National Urban League and others have been pointing out for years, students of color and students with disabilities receive disproportionately more and markedly harsher punishments for the same misbehaviors as other students. This obviously discriminatory treatment is not only denyAdam Zyglis, The Buffalo News ing an education to thousands of minority students, it is funnelFirst, do more to create the positive school climates ing too many of them into the that can help prevent and change inappropriate behaviors. criminal justice system and feeding the school-to-prison Second, ensure that clear, concise and consistent expipeline. pectations are in place to prevent and address misbehavior. According to data collected by the Department of And third, schools must understand their civil rights Education’s Office for Civil Rights, African-American obligations and strive to ensure fairness and equity for all students without disabilities are more than three times as students. likely as their white peers without disabilities to be exThe administration is distributing a resource packpelled or suspended. age to schools and targeting grant money to train teachers The New York Times, in its Sunday editorial, called and staff in ways to improve student behavior and school the treatment of disabled students “a national disgrace.” climate. The Times cites a finding by the Center for Civil Rights We applaud this action and believe the elimination of raRemedies at the University of California that “in ten states, cially skewed zero tolerance policies must be an indispensable including California, Connecticut, Delaware and Illinois, part of any future discussion of education reform. A growing more than a quarter of Black students with disabilities were number of school districts and schools, including Baltimore’s suspended in the 2009-10 school year.” The National Urban League has long stood with parents Frederick Douglass High, have already begun to reform their approach to discipline and are seeing positive results. and others who have challenged so-called “zero-tolerance” Suspensions have dropped 46 percent at Frederick Doupolicies that have unfairly targeted students of color and glass since 2007. More schools should follow their lead. As done more harm than good in many public schools. Attorney General Holder said, “Too often, so-called zero-tolerIn fact, in a 2007 essay in the National Urban League’s ance policies – however well-intentioned…disrupt the learning “State of Black America,” Children’s Defense Fund process and can have significant and lasting negative effects on President Marian Wright Edelman wrote: “The growth in school expulsions and suspensions contributes to increasing the long-term well-being of our young people – increasing their likelihood of future contact with juvenile and criminal justice numbers of children and teens entering the prison pipeline. systems.” Discouraged teens who are suspended or expelled are more We cannot afford to keep putting our kids at risk or wastlikely than their peers to drop out of school altogether.” To respond to this challenge, the Obama administration ing their potential and jeopardizing the future of our nation with this misguided policy. guidelines direct educators to take three deliberate actions.

HISD should be commended for initiative


omething great is happening at HISD this month. More than 18,000 students are receiving laptops as part of the district’s PowerUp initiative. The initiative is an important first step in a brighter future for our children, yet there is more work to be done. Our world is rapidly changing, and technology is the driver of the workforce. All students must be technologically competent to survive. This is especially true in a district such as HISD, where “minorities” comprise the majority. HISD is the largest school district in Texas and the seventh largest district in the United States. The district’s ethnic makeup is 61.8 percent Hispanic, 25.8 percent AfricanAmerican, 3.3 percent Asian and 8 percent Anglo. These are the students who will one day run our government and teach our grandchildren and great-grandchildren. These are the students who will become doctors, lawyers, electricians, journalists, scientists and plumbers – the list of possible career paths goes on and on. Regardless of what today’s HISD students want to accomplish, they will need excellent computer skills to do it. Initiatives such as PowerUp help close the digital divide by giving students of color 24-7 access to computers. As HISD Superintendent Terry Grier said, the initiative is not about the device, but about “anytime-anywhere” learning so students can have the world “at their fingertips.” We commend HISD for the PowerUp initiative, and look forward to hearing about more programs that will level the playing field for our students. • Serving the Houston area for over 80 years




Oscar nominations

bittersweet for Black films By ZENITHA PRINCE Special to the AFRO


ith the recent announcement of this year’s Oscar nominations, “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” and Oprah Winfrey’s acclaimed performance in the film were once again snubbed – as with the Golden Globes and the Producers Guild – receiving zero nominations. But for “12 Years a Slave,” the nominations firmly entrenched its status as one of the year’s best films. The pre-Civil War slavery tale garnered nine Oscar nominations, just one short of this year’s industry favorites “American Hustle” and “Gravity,” which led with 10 nods each. Based on the 1853 memoir of Solomon Northup, a free Black man who was kidnapped and subjected to 12 years of brutal servitude, “12 Years a Slave” was nominated in five of the major categories: Best Picture, Best Actor (Chiwetel Ejiofor), Best Director (Steve McQueen), Best supporting Actress (Lupita Nyong’o) and Best Supporting Actor (Michael Fassbender). The picture will also compete in the Best Adapted Screenplay (John Ridley), Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing

and Best Production Design categories. Barkhad Abdi was another of the Black actors to be recognized, gaining a nomination for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his part as a Somali pirate in “Captain Phillips,” which was based on the true story of the hijacking of the Maersk Alabama in 2009. The first-time actor of Somali descent is, perhaps, the rags-to-riches story of this year’s nominees. The former limousine driver from

Minneapolis said he went to audition for the role after seeing a casting call on television. The Nelson Mandela biopic “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” received a single nod – Best Original Song for U2’s “Ordinary Love” – in the major Oscar categories. “Happy,” Pharrell Williams’ tune from the movie “Despicable Me 2,” was also nominated for Best Original Song. The Oscars will be awarded March 2.

Barkhad Abdi

Lupita Nyong’o

Chiwetel Ejiofor

what’sup KEVIN HART and ICE CUBE ruled the box office with their new comedy “Ride Along.” It came in first place, earning $41.2 million. Hart portrays a security guard who joins his future brother-in-law (Cube) on patrol in order to prove himself worthy of marrying the officer’s sister. Hart said he was impressed by Cube’s professionalism during filming. “Once we got on set, we both had the same agenda, which was to knock this movie out the damn park and make sure we both bring our ‘A’ game,” Hart said. “It takes a true professional to allow somebody like myself to come in and have the opportunity to be funny and to do all those things, but Cube, he didn’t mind doing that.” The film’s other stars include LAURENCE FISHBURNE, JAY PHAROAH and TIKA SUMPTER. ……..FIRST LADY MICHELLE OBAMA enjoyed a memorable

50th birthday bash at the White House. The party lasted until 2 a.m., and guests included SAMUEL L. JACKSON, STEVIE WONDER, MARY J. BLIGE, ANGELA BASSETT, JENNIFER HUDSON, SMOKEY ROBINSON and MAGIC JOHNSON. BEYONCÉ and JOHN LEGEND entertained the crowd. SASHA & MALIA OBAMA reportedly watched Beyoncé’s performance in awe……..WILL SMITH will be the first guest on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” which premieres Feb. 17 on NBC. Fallon takes over for JAY LENO, who is leaving after 22 years on the air. Smith remains one of Hollywood’s biggest box office stars. His next film is titled “Focus,” and he plays a professional con artist who takes a young, attractive woman under his wing……...Olympic gold medalist GABRIELLE

“GABBY” DOUGLAS will work as a special correspondent for “Inside Edition” at the Super Bowl. The show’s executive producer said Douglas is “full of energy, charming, smart and likable.” The gymnast plans to defend her title in 2016 at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics…….. TARAJI P. HENSON will appear on the California stage for three weeks. She portrays a newspaper reporter in “Above the Fold” at the Pasadena Playhouse. Henson starred as Detective Joss Carter on CBS’ “Person of Interest” until her character was killed off in November……..ALICIA KEYS honored Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday with the release of an unheard track called “Power.” She wrote the song in 2007 following the death of her grandmother. “This is one of my favorite unreleased songs,” she said. “I was looking for my power. This song says it all.” • Serving the Houston area for over 80 years




payday loans


very strong opponents with a lot of money and influence and should be applauded for doing the right ocal consumers who thing anyway,” Ellis said. obtain payday loans will “...Last session I, along with soon benefit from an members from both sides of the ordinance passed by the political aisle, opposed an omniHouston City Council. bus statewide bill because it was The ordinance places certain restrictoo weak due to industry influence. tions on payday loans and auto title Plus, it would have prevented lenders, and goes into effect in July Houston from passing just such a 2014 with the city’s new budget year. strong ordinance that would truly Payday loans are short-term, protect our constituents. Mayor Annise Parker Trustee Wanda Adams State Sen. Rodney Ellis high interest, small-dollar loans that “Next session, I plan on are usually due by the borrower’s introducing thoughtful legislation fourth largest city from predatory lending pracnext payday. They are offered without credit that will actually protect Texans and preserve local tice,” said Bob Jackson, director of AARP Texas. checks. Payday loans are often set up to be paid control,” Ellis said. “With the adoption of this ordinance, Houston off in one payment but interest only payments, or In addition to the AARP, the payday loan orbecomes a leader in fighting abusive practices that dinance received support from such organizations “rollovers,” are not unusual. trap good people into a cycle of debt.” Nationwide, payday stores tend to be clusas Covenant Community Capital, Christian Life “I’m so proud to know we are taking a stand tered in minority communities and in states with Commission, Family Services of Greater Houston, in protecting our constituents throughout our significant African-American populations. High Neighborhood Centers, Inc., Skills for Living, community,” said former Councilmember Wanda interest rates can get consumers in financial Texas Appleseed, Texas Catholic Conference, Adams, who lobbied for payday loan regulatrouble. One Voice Texas and the United Way of Greater tions while in office. Adams is now a trustee with Mayor Annise Parker said Houston now joins Houston. HISD. other major Texas cities by limiting a loan’s size “My office received many calls from citizens and the number of times it can be refinanced. She who have used these companies as a last resort said passing the ordinance in Houston would send resource and end up owing five times their initial a message to Austin. There, legislators discussed loan amount,” Adams said. The problem is not but did not pass payday regulations in their last that many of these individuals do not want to pay three sessions. their loans back, but that the structure of these “Lenders deserve to make a profit on their alternative loan sources set them up for failure investments, but not by charging astronomical from the moment they sign their names on the interest rates to desperate consumers who have dotted line.” nowhere else to turn for emergency financial Adams added that payday loans offer a viable assistance,” Parker said. “The statewide model I option for those who need emergency cash. [recommended] achieves this balance.” “Without the services provided by alternaUnder the current law, there is no limit to the fees that payday lenders can charge or on the num- tive loan sources, many citizens and seniors could ber of times they can charge high-fees on the same go without medicine, food, and utilities,” Adams said. “These services provide a loan loan. Fees on these loans can be a percentage of the loan amount or, depending on the lender, based option for those who aren’t able to go to a traditional loan sources. on increments of money borrowed. For example, Payday and auto title loan compaa $30 fee for every $100 borrowed. The borrower nies not only provide second chance is charged additional fees every time the loan is lending services to the residents of extended. Houston, they also add to the city’s As a result, borrowers are trapped in a cycle revenue. There is definitely a need for their of debt that makes it very difficult for them to services, but it was my goal to ensure that the fully repay the loan. consumers utilizing these services are not taken The payday ordinance has received support advantage of.” from political officials and organizations from State Sen. Rodney Ellis commended Parker across Texas. and the City Council for passing the ordinance. “We applaud Mayor Parker for her leadership “Mayor Parker and councilmembers faced in working to protect the citizens of the nation’s By CIERRA DUNCAN Defender



He loans an ind sumer servic Q. What A. you an loan in time. T tional If • Serving th



Frequently asked questions

ere are frequently asked questions about payday from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, dependent federal agency that regulates conr protection in the area of financial products and ces. . I am having trouble repaying my payday loan. can I do? . One option is to ask your lender if it will give n extended payment plan that lets you repay the n smaller installments over a longer period of This option might be free or will carry an addifee. you still have trouble making payments, or are not given the option of an extended payment plan, you might want to speak with a credit counselor in your area or

contact a legal aid attorney to discuss your options. Q. How can I stop a payday lender from electronically taking money out of my account? A. If you think that your payday lender is withdrawing more money from your checking account than you authorized, you should tell your bank or credit union that you are having trouble with “unauthorized transfers.” Federal law requires the bank or credit union to take steps to stop that problem after you give them proper notice. To stop one or more of a series of payments you actually authorized, give your bank or credit union oral or written notice at least three business days before the transfer is scheduled. The bank or credit union might require written confirmation of oral notice. They might charge fees for a stop payment. If you want to completely cancel your authoriza-

tion, follow instructions in the initial authorization that describe how to tell the payday lender to stop. Inform your bank or credit union that any further transfers are “unauthorized” and you want them treated that way. Q. Is applying for a payday loan online safe? A. Any time you give out sensitive information on the Internet there are risks. If you apply for payday loans online, you could be increasing that risk. Many websites that advertise payday loans are not lenders. They are “lead generators,” which make money primarily by finding customers for lenders. Look for phrases such as “matching you with lenders” or “connecting you with a network of participating lenders” as an indication that you are on a lead generator’s site. For more information visit or call (855) 411-2372.

About the ordinance • Requires payday loan and auto title loan businesses to register with the city annually. • Limits payday loans to 20 percent of the borrower’s gross monthly income. • Limits auto title loans to 3 percent of the borrower’s gross annual income or 70 percent of the vehicle’s value. • Limits single payment loans will be limited to three “rollovers.” • Installment loans will have no more than four installments. • Each installment, refinance, or rollover payment must reduce the total principal owed by at least 25 percent. • Loan agreements must be written in the borrower’s preferred language. Every business must have agreements in Spanish and English. If the consumer cannot read, the agreement must be read to them in its entirety. • Requires contact information for nonprofits offering financial literacy and cash assistance programs. Source: City of Houston

he Houston area for over 80 years

If you have a complaint… In Texas, the Office of Consumer Credit Customer Assistance (OCCC) helps customers who have experienced misrepresentation, fraud, and deceptive practices on the part of payday lenders and other finance-related businesses. Located in Austin, it assists consumers in resolving complaints or questions about an OCCC represented business. It provides information about certain credit transactions, which helps consumers understand the terms and contracts and their legal rights. Consumers who have complaints can call the toll free help-line at 800538-1579. The helpline is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Once a complaint is submitted, the OCCC will forward it to the company in question and attempt to get a response that best resolves the issue. For more information contact



Blacks and glaucoma: Know the facts Defender News Services

January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month, and AfricanAmericans are urged to be aware of the sight-stealing disease. Here are five things to know from the Glaucoma Research Foundation, a national non-profit organization dedicated to finding a cure for the disease. An estimated 2.7 million people in the United States over age 40 have glaucoma. It is called “the sneak thief of sight” since there are no symptoms and once vision is lost, it’s permanent. As much as 40 percent of vision can be lost without a person noticing. Glaucoma is a group of diseases that can damage the eye’s optic nerve and result in vision loss and blindness. It occurs when the normal fluid pressure inside the eyes slowly rises. Recent findings now show that glaucoma can occur with normal eye pressure. Glaucoma is six to eight times more common in African-


2 3

Americans than Anglos and is the leading cause of blindness among African-Americans. The reasons for the higher rate of glaucoma and subsequent blindness are still unknown. However, research shows that African Americans are genetically more at risk for glaucoma, making early detection and treatment all the more important. Other high-risk groups include people of Asian and Hispanic descent, people over 60, family members of those already diagnosed, diabetics, and people who are severely nearsighted. There is no cure for glaucoma. However, medication or surgery can slow or prevent further vision loss. The appropriate treatment depends upon the type of glaucoma among other factors. The best way to protect your sight from glaucoma is to get a comprehensive eye examination. Then, if you have glaucoma, treatment can begin immediately. For more information visit

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Project LEAP 2014

Project LEAP (Learning, Empowerment, Advocacy, Participation) is a free comprehensive 17 week advocacy training program for HIV affected or infected individuals. The purpose of Project LEAP is to train people to become active participants on local HIV/AIDS planning bodies.

Classes are on Wednesdays  April 23 - August 13, 2014 10:00am-2:00pm -or- 5:30pm-9:30pm A brief application & interview are required Application Deadline: Friday, February 21st at 5:00 p.m. If you have questions about the program or would like to request an application please contact Diane Beck at 713 572-3724 or Or apply online: RYAN WHITE PLANNING COUNCIL OFFICE OF SUPPORT

2223 West Loop South, Suite 240; Houston, TX 77027 Phone 713 572-3724 Fax 713 572-3724 TTY 713-572-2813


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Black MBAs name new president NBMBAA.” “I am humbled by the vote of confidence, leadership and support from the board,” Tyson said. “Collectively, and supported by a phenomenal staff, we have established a clear direction from a strategic plan guided with focus toward member-centricity, innovative programming, stakeholder engagement and scholarship.” Tyson has served in sales, marketing, operations and distribution positions within ExxonMobil with responsibilities for Europe, Asia, Latin America, Africa and the USA. Prior to his recent retirement after 35 years, Tyson led the Global Aviation business for ExxonMobil based in Brussels, Belgium. Tyson earned a B.S. in economics and business from Lane College and an MBA from Ohio State University. He attended the Brookings Institute and the International Management Development School in Switzerland and served as an economic intern with the U.S. Department of State in Senegal. Founded in 1970, NBMBAA has more than 30,000 members, along with 47 chapters and 27 collegiate chapters. Its mission is to lead in the creation of economic and intellectual wealth for African-Americans.

Defender News Services


he National Black MBA Association announced the appointment of Jesse J. Tyson as president and CEO. Tyson previously served as interim leader of the organization. “When the board made the decision to bring Jesse on as interim in January 2013, we believed his experience and leadership would sustain us during a transitional period as we searched for a new CEO, and our intuition was right,” said Audrey Dillard Hines, chairman of the NBMBAA board of directors. “However admittedly, Jesse exceeded our expectations in the organizational advancements and outcomes of last year,” Hines said. “Jesse has proven to be not only a visionary, but a results-driven executor. “We look forward to his continued leadership with our ongoing efforts of operational excellence, innovative programming, member engagement and customized product solutions at the

Jesse J. Tyson

“When the board made the decision to bring Jesse on as interim in January 2013, we believed his experience and leadership would sustain us during a transitional period as we searched for a new CEO, and our intuition was right.”


NAACP report card gives banks ‘C’ average Defender News Services

A recently released NAACP report card on the banking industry graded the five nation’s largest banks, and the highest grade achieved was a C+. The lowest received was a D+. “Opportunities & Diversity Report Card: Consumer Banking Industry” graded the banks on three main criteria: workforce and job advancement, contracting and procurement, and small dollar products. The grades received were: 1. Bank of America, C+ 2. Citibank, C+ 3. JPMorgan Chase, C 4. Wells Fargo, C 5. US Bank, D+ Details in the report highlight key areas where the banking industry can improve to ensure their workforce, leadership and suppliers adequately reflect the demographics of the United States. Lorraine Miller, NAACP interim president and CEO, said the organization would like to play a role in helping to achieve diversity. “The banking industry will add nearly 1 million jobs with a living wage and wealth generating opportunities over the next decade, and more people of color are graduating with degrees in accounting, finance, IT, MBAs than ever before,” Miller said. “We look forward to working with leading banks in strengthening their diversity and inclusion efforts and connecting more members of our communities to these opportunities.” The report card, which is based on 2011 data, reveals top management positions remain firmly dominated by white employees, despite the development of programs to increase diversity and inclusion and dramatic increases in the number of minority college graduates entering the workforce over the past 20 years.

Information submitted by banks during the survey period indicates that they continue to struggle with diversification in their supplier purchasing – 1.6 percent of the supplier budget is the most any bank spent on African-American suppliers and 5.3 percent is the most any bank spent on firms owned by people of color. The release of the report card comes months before a new federal rule requires banks to set “metrics” and “percentages” for diversifying their workforces and supplier pools. The federal rule will also advise banks on how to collect data detailing how much they spend on minority- and women-owned businesses. “Both this report card and the federal rule are major steps in encouraging the banking industry to strengthen job creation and wealthbuilding opportunities for minorities,” said Leonard James, NAACP board member and economic development chair. The five banks surveyed and other leading banks will be invited to participate in an Opportunity & Diversity Summit in the next few months to discuss industry strategies for diversity and inclusion moving forward. The banking industry report card is the second in a series on corporate diversity and inclusion. “This thorough and accurate report could apply to many other industries as it illustrates the nation’s slowly evolving progress on race,” said Gary Bledsoe, NAACP board member and president of the Texas NAACP. “However, we are pleased to acknowledge that four of the five institutions have adopted the NAACP’s Fair Lending Principles and have committed to work with us to ensure further progress.” To view the entire report visit

Invitation for Bids Balfour Beatty Infrastructure, Inc. is soliciting bids for subcontractors and vendors for construction of the following control no. 0500-03-573. on IH 45 at IH 610S, bid date is February 5, 2014. Quotations may be mailed to Balfour Beatty Infrastructure, Inc., 1701 Directors Blvd, Suite 1010, Austin, Texas 78744 or faxed to (512) 707-0798 or emailed to DBE/HUB contractors are encouraged to submit bids. Plans and specifications are available to be reviewed at TxDOT Plans On-line: E.O.E. For information contact Brian Ficzeri at (512) 707-0797.

HOUSTON INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT NOTICE TO PROPOSERS The Houston Independent School District located in the Hattie Mae White Educational Support Center at 4400 West 18 th Street Houston, Texas 77092 will accept proposals, until the stated date and time deadlines, in the Board Services Office, Level C1

Project 14-01-01 – RFP/Evaluator for the Magnet Schools Assistance Program (MSAP) Grant with a deadline of 10:00 AM; February 5, 2014. A pre-proposal conference will be held on January 29, 2014 at 10:00 AM in room 2NE32 at Hattie Mae White Educational Support Center.

Project 14-01-03 – Project Title: RFI – Online Courseware For High School Credit – with a deadline of 3:00 p.m. February 5, 2014. No Pre-Proposal Conference will be held for this project.

Project 14-01-05 – RFP/Title II, Part A Professional Development Services for Private Non-Profit School Teachers and Administrators with a deadline of 2:00 PM; February 5, 2014. A pre-proposal conference will be held on January 28, 2014 at 10:00 AM in room 2NE32 at Hattie Mae White Educational Support Center.

Project 14-01-06 – RFP/Title I, Part A, Supplemental Instructional Services for Eligible Private Non-Profit School Students with a deadline of 3:00 PM; February 5, 2014. A pre-proposal conference will be held on January 28, 2014 at 1:00 PM in room 2NE32 at Hattie Mae White Educational Support Center.

Proposals are available on the HISD web-site at The District reserves the right to reject any or all proposals, or, to accept the proposal that is most advantageous to the District. The District sells obsolete assets on-line at




NFL promotes diversity with head coach hires


By MAX EDISON Defender

hat a difference a year makes in the NFL. This time last year there were eight head coach openings and none were filled by minority candidates, resulting in widespread discussion about whether policies in place to enhance minority hiring were still effective. This year, two of seven vacancies have been filled by African-American candidates. Lovie Smith has been hired to coach the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Jim Caldwell to guide the fortunes of the Detroit Lions. The position with the Cleveland Browns is still vacant. The Fritz Pollard Alliance (FPA), the advocacy group that works with the NFL to promote diversity and equality of job opportunities in the front office, coaching and scouting staffs, came under fire after no minorities were hired in 2013. The NFL mandates that at least one minority candidate be interviewed for an opening under the Rooney Rule. Some felt the teams were compromising the program by conducting “sham” interviews, speaking with candidates they had no intention of hiring. Still, FPA chairman John Wooten steadfastly adhered to the league’s process. “I haven’t seen one interview situation this year where I felt it was just an interview for the sake of compliance with the rule,” Wooten said. “I don’t have that feeling about any interview that has happened this year. I’ve always said there are plenty of good candidates out there.” “We believe so strongly in the process, that it’s the right way to do it,” Wooten continued. “We want the owners to only interview a candidate if it’s someone they would really be willing to hire. “We don’t want it to just be compliance with the rule. We want there to be true interest. We felt that the league did an outstanding job of communicating that to the owners and the people doing the hiring.” In an effort to strengthen the awareness of candidates, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell reintroduced a career development symposium that was held last spring. The symposium featured representatives from all 32 teams with minority and non-minority coaching as well as general manager candidates. As coaches move from team to team, the coordinator ranks, the level where most head coaches are promoted from, continue to swell. Former Ravens defensive back coach Teryl Austin will travel to Detroit to become the Lions defensive coordinator. George Edwards, Dolphin linebacker coach, joins Mike Zimmers’ Vikings staff as their new defensive coordinator. Former head coaches Romeo Cren-

Jim Caldwell (center), new Detroit Lions coach, joins GM Martin Mayhew (left) and president Tom Lewand.

Lovie Smith is the new coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

nell (Texans) and Leslie Frazier (Buccaneers) will work as defensive coordinators. In Cincinnati, Hue Jackson, the former Raider head coach, has been promoted from running backs coach to offensive coordinator. In Tampa and Detroit, the franchises are pleased with their selections. “We searched for a man who would not only command respect among his players, but stand tall as a symbol for our team in this community,” said Tampa co-chair Bryan Glazer. “It was easy, not because we knew Lovie from his previous time here, but because he fit our criteria perfectly.” Detroit Lions President Tom Lewand had praise for Jim Caldwell. “He fits our profile to a tee,” Lewand said. “When I talk about things like leadership, experience, sound football philosophy, intelligence, communications skills, integrity, accountability, discipline, time in and time out those were the terms used when we talked to people about Jim Caldwell.” The Dolphins and Bucs still have general manager positions to fill and the opportunity to place a minority candidate still exists. “We still have the process with the general managers in Tampa and Miami,” Wooten said. “I think they’re going to come up with some outstanding people to run their ball club.” • Serving the Houston area for over 80 years Manvel’s Turner not resting on her laurels

in tonight’s game she shot a three-pointer. When she gets to Notre Dame, she’s going to be a hard matchup for anybody. “Her improvement from last year is apparent in the anvel five-star post Brianna Turner has way that she trusts her teammates,” Harris said. “In her heard all the conjecture. With three overall game, her ball-handling has gotten better. She was Division I signees in the lineup, the Lady a great player last year, but she’s a national elite player this Mavericks are the odds-on favorite to year.” win the Region III-5A crown and adWhile Manvel has dominated the likes of Pearlvance to the girls’ state basketball tournament in Austin. and, Pasadena Memorial, Alvin, South Houston, Dobie, While compiling eight consecutive victories in District Pasadena and Sam Rayburn in District 22-5A, the Lady 22-5A, Manvel has outscored opponents by an average Mavericks have held their own against in-state powers such of more than 59 points a game and will steamroll into the as Duncanville, Mansfield Summit, The Woodlands, North playoffs. Shore, DeSoto and Plano West. With the 6-foot-3 Turner (committed to Notre “We’ve played one Dame) combined of the hardest schedules with Rangie Bessard in the state of Texas,” (Minnesota) and JorHarris said. “We realize to find out things many people don’t know about Brianna Turner. dan Hosey (Texas), that this could be our Manvel’s top three best chance to win a state is beyond peer in the greater Houston area and easily championship and we’re going after it.” ranks among the best in Texas. Turner adds that the goal of winning a state title Manvel won 25 of its first 27 games to open the 2013keeps the team driven even when the competition level 14 season, including a 56-50 loss to two-time defending doesn’t quite measure up. Class 5A state champion Duncanville in Pasadena when “It doesn’t matter if we’re leading by 40 points they led by 14 at halftime. or by 10 points, we want to go hard all the time,” she said. The other loss came during the Christmas break to “We were good last year, but this is probably our best Chicago’s Whitney Young High School (63-33) in the chance to get to state.” semifinals of the Sandra Meadows Classic in Duncanville. Turner believes that high expectations have also spawned realizations. “We came into the season with a goal of winning a state championship,” Turner said. “We don’t let the blowouts go to our head. We just got blown out ourselves a couple of weeks ago in Duncanville. “We’re good but we’re not unbeatable,” Turner said. Brianna Turner of Manvel “We’re not thinking of ourselves as the best just yet. We’ve High School is one of got a long way to go.” the premiere basketball players in the country. Yet Manvel’s pieces are definitely in place and head coach Bryan Harris knows it begins with his talented leader in the post. In an 81-49 victory over Pearland recently, Bessard led the way with 20 points while Turner and Hosey chipped in with 18 and 15 points, respectively. Through 27 games, Turner is leading the team in scoring at just under 20 points per contest. “She’s the best player in the country,” Harris said. “The things that she can do on the court prove her versatility. Brianna can play the post, she can play either guard position and By Darrell K. Ardison Defender





sportsbriefs Harvey plays in bowl game Nick Harvey of Fort Bend Travis High School played on the winning West squad in the recent U.S. Army All-American Bowl in the San Antonio Alamodome. A Texas A&M University commit, Harvey played defensive back and was noted as a “talented athlete whose leadership and teamwork qualities have made him a standout.” Harvey is listed as a Scout. com four-star prospect and the No. 5 rated safety in the nation. The U.S. Army All-American Bowl, also known as the East versus West showdown, celebrates the premiere high school football all-star game in the country. The game has helped launch the careers of Andrew Luck, C.J. Spiller, Percy Harvin, Jamaal Charles and other college and NFL stars. More than 90 top high school football players were selected nationally to play in the game.

Manvel boys edge Pearland Manvel remained unbeaten in District 22-5A with a 50-41 home victory over Pearland. The Manvel win avenged a loss to Pearland during a holiday tournament in December. Point guard D’Eriq King scored a game-high 13 points and the Mavericks took control of the game with a 10-3 run to open the third quarter. Manvel (20-4 and 6-0) switched its defenses by employing man-to-man, a 2-3 zone, a full-court press and a corner trap. Pearland (18-6 and 5-1) overcame an 11-point deficit in the second half and pulled within three points with less than a minute to play but missed two three-point shots. “They can have the Lion’s Club Tournament title,” said Manvel head coach Greg Devers. “We want the two W’s in district.”

UT’s Strong names staff Recently hired University of Texas football coach Charlie Strong has wasted little time assembling his staff and it is a model for diversity. Former Texas defensive standout Vance Bedford comes with Strong from Louisville to coordinate the defense. Joe Wickline will serve as offensive coordinator. Rounding out the staff are: Bruce Chambers, tight ends; Brian Jean-Mary, linebackers; Les Koenning, receivers; Tommie Robinson, running backs; Chris Rumph assistant head coach/D-line; Chris Vaughn, defensive backs; Shawn Watson, assistant head coach/QBs; and Pat Moorer, strength coach. Of the 10 assistant coaches, seven are African-American. Hook ‘em!

Astros re-sign Castro The Houston Astros recently came to terms with one of their cornerstone young stars, All-Star catcher Jason Castro, a California native. Castro, 26, was among the top offensive catchers in Major League Baseball last season, hitting .276 with 18 home runs and 56 RBIs before landing on the disabled list Sept. 13 after having a cyst removed from his knee. His on-base percentage was .350, with a slugging average of .485. He was named to the American League All-Star team and was a two-time AL Player of the Week award-winner. The former Stanford star was picked 10th overall in the 2008 draft and made his big league debut with the Astros in 2010, appearing in 67 games. Astros manager Bo Porter said last month Castro would be his primary No. 3-hole hitter this year. • Serving the Houston area for over 80 years



Sherrod worked to restore her reputation By KAM WILLIAMS Special to the Defender


hirley Sherrod is best known as the African-American government official fired in 2010 by the Obama administration for allegedly making racist remarks about a white farmer. However, a rightwing blogger had edited a video of her remarks to create that false impression. Shortly after being dismissed as the Georgia USDA state director of Rural Development, she was cleared by the administration and President Obama apologized to her. She decided to not return and wrote a book, “The Courage to Hope: How I Stood Up to the Politics of Fear.” She is currently a leader of the Southwest Georgia Project, an organization that works primarily with female farmers. In addition, she and her husband Charles work with New Communities, an agricultural cooperative modeled after the Israeli Kibbutz concept. Here, Sherrod talks about the tarnishing and restoration of her reputation. KW: What’s it like to come out of a “political lynching” and live to tell about it? SS: I can tell you that while I was in that situation, especially the first few days, you’re thinking that everyone in the country is believing something about you that is not true: that you’re a racist and that you refused to help a white farmer. It was a very bad place to be for someone like me who has devoted her life to working for change and

for fairness for everyone. It was one thing for me to try to defend myself, and quite another to then have a white farmer step forward to say what I’d done for him. It makes you know that when you’ve done the right thing, you just don’t have to worry or even think about how you tell the story, because the truth will ultimately come out. KW: Where do you find fulfillment and purpose in your life? SS: I love helping other people. When I made that commitment to stay in the South, to work for change, it meant devoting my life to working for and helping others. I feel good when I know that I’ve saved someone’s farm, or helped a family to get a home or access to credit. KW: How do you feel about the Obama administration today? SS: I’ve remained a supporter of the Obama administration, even at the height of my ordeal. There’s a lot that he could do differently, but so much of what he’s tried to do has been blocked by the Republican officeholders. I think that he could have been a much better president with more support. So, I’m still supportive of him

“I’ve remained a supporter of the Obama administration, even at the height of my ordeal.”

Shirley Sherrod

Houston Defender: January 23, 2014  

Houston's Leading Black Information Source.

Houston Defender: January 23, 2014  

Houston's Leading Black Information Source.