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Houston’s Leading Black Information Source

Volume 83 | Number 6


Bank robbery

NATIONAL PRESIDENT OBAMA relaunches healthcare campaign


P3 HS ZONE JUSTIN PHILLIPS plays defense for Pearland

Recruiting Black men H PAGE 8



Amber Riley scores victory

Spencer Tillman produces show


“Glee” co-star Amber Riley has encouraging words for fullfigured women after winning the “Dancing With the Stars” competition. What is her message to women “of all sizes?” Why does she believe the sky is the limit?

Sports fans know Spencer Tillman as a broadcaster and former Oilers running back. He’s also executive producer of the Lombardi Award broadcast, which honors the country’s top collegiate lineman. Learn the show’s Houston connection.



State Sen. Rodney Ellis and Licia Green Ellis at celebration of public service • Serving the Houston area for over 80 years





Houston expected to add nearly 70,000 jobs


Defender News Services

he Greater Houston Partnership released its annual jobs forecast, and predicted that the Houston metro area will create 69,800 jobs in 2014. The number is less than the 78,000 jobs the area is predicted to gain by the end of 2013. The 2014 Houston Employment Forecast was presented by Patrick Jankowski, GHP vice president of research. Jankowski said that employment will grow in all sectors, with professional and business services, education and health services, trade, transportation and utilities and construction turning in the strongest performances. Energy and manufac¬turing will grow but at slower paces. Jankowski said several factors will drive job growth in 2014 – “the ramp-up in construction at area chemical plants, the backlog of projects at local engineering firms, growing con¬sumer confidence, and sustained population and income growth. “A pick-up in U.S. economic growth would further stimulate Houston’s economy,” he said. Though the report calls for a slowdown in job growth, it said that expectation shouldn’t cause grave concern. “Houston couldn’t maintain the pace of the previous three years indefinitely,” the forecast said. “Like a runner who finds his or her stride, Houston will find its stride in ’14. The year will bring a more sustainable pace of growth – one that still has Houston outperforming the nation.” Forecast for employment sectors include: Energy – The industry has enjoyed exceptional success in recent years and is expected to add 5,600 jobs in 2014. Construction – Houston is in the midst of a construction boom. There is now a labor shortage and the limited availabil-

ity of skilled workers may constrain jobs growth. The sector is expected to add 6,100 jobs. Manufacturing – Houston is one of only two major metro areas (the other is Seattle) that can boast it has more manufacturing jobs now than prior to the recession. The Partnership’s forecast calls for 4,200 jobs. Retail trade – The Internet continues to cut into sales of brick-and-mortar retailers but sales should remain strong for the foreseeable future. The forecast calls for the retail sector to add 5,700 jobs. Financial activities – The recession ended in 2009 and the finance industry has yet to return to its pre-recession employment level. The sector should experience moderate growth in 2014, with 1,000 jobs expected to be added. Real estate – Internet resources now allow tenants and buyers to pre-screen properties before meeting with brokers and in some cases bypass brokers altogether. Nevertheless, the forecast calls for the sector to add 900 jobs. Health care & social assistance – Three population groups help drive health care employment – babies, the elderly and newcomers. The Partnership forecasts this sector to add 7,900 jobs.

Early voting underway for Dec. 14 runoff Early voting has started for the Saturday, Dec. 14 runoff and will continue through Tuesday, Dec. 10. The runoff election will decide five positions on the Houston City Council and three positions on the Houston Community College System Board of Trustees. All early voting locations will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., except Sunday, Dec. 8, when early voting will be from 1 to 6 p.m. There are 22 early voting locations available throughout the Houston area. The candidates vying for City Council are: District A – Helena Brown and Brenda Stardig District D – Dwight Boykins and Georgia Provost District I – Robert Gallegos and Graci Garces At-Large Position 2 – Andrew Burks and David Robinson At-Large Position 3 – Michael Kubosh vs. Roy Morales The candidates running for HCC trustee are: District 1 – Zeph Capo and Yolanda Navarro Flores District 3 – Herlinda Garcia and Adriana Tamez District 5 – Robert Glaser and Phil Kunetka Texas law requires voters to present photo IDs when voting in person. Approved IDs include: • Texas driver’s license issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) • Texas election identification certificate issued by DPS • Texas personal identification card issued by DPS • Texas concealed handgun license issued by DPS • U.S. military identification card containing the person’s photograph • U.S. citizenship certificate containing the person’s photograph • U.S. passport For information on polling locations call 713-755-6411 or visit

HCC Northeast offers hair weaving, braiding The Houston Community College Northeast cosmetology department has expanded its program to offer a certificate course in hair weaving and braiding at the Northline Campus, located at 8001 Fulton Road. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the workforce will see a 14 percent increase in the demand for cosmetologists by 2020. The 16-week program is designed to prepare students for employment as a licensed hair weaver/braider. No prior experience is needed. Students will learn the basic elements of design, weaving, braiding, sizing, removal and texture, as well as growth and health of virgin hair. Participants must be 17 years of age and attend an

enrollment session prior to enrollment into the program. At the enrollment session, participants will have the opportunity to meet with instructors, view the facility and learn about the details of the program and additional requirements. Students in the cosmetology program will receive an opportunity to participate in community service, hair shows, conferences and career fairs. Classes are offered during the day for full-time students and evenings for part-time participants. Registration for the spring semester is in progress. Classes begin Jan. 13. For more information visit or call 713.718.8300.

Students receive cosmetology training at Houston Community College. • Serving the Houston area for over 80 years



U.S.briefs CIVIL RIGHTS LEADERS recently met with representatives of New York retail establishments to address racial profiling in the industry. Marc Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League, and Rev. Al Sharpton, founder and president of the National Action Network, were among those meeting with such companies as Neiman-Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom, Banana Republic and Old Navy. “Today’s meeting of national civil rights leaders, community activists and key retailers was a vital step in the right direction of ending any profiling that occurs in the retail industry – whether via policy or in practice,” Morial said. Trayon Christian, a Black man from Queens, filed a lawsuit against retailer Barneys and the NYPD claiming he was racially profiled while buying a $349 designer belt…….. AN IN-DEPTH STUDY by the ACLU of people serving life without parole for nonviolent offenses in the United States found that at least 3,278 prisoners fit the category in federal and state prisons. Of the prisoners, 79 percent were convicted of nonviolent, drug-related crimes such as possession or distribution, and 20 percent of nonviolent property crimes like theft. “The punishments these people received are grotesquely out of proportion to the crimes they committed,” said Jennifer Turner, an ACLU researcher and author of the report. “In a humane society, we can hold people accountable for drug and property crimes without throwing away the key.” The ACLU estimates that of the 3,278 serving life without parole for nonviolent offenses, 65 percent are Black, 18 percent are white and 16 percent are Latino…….. DETROIT is officially bankrupt. A judge recently ruled that the city is eligible for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection, allowing city officials to negotiate in court with bondholders, pension funds, unions and other stakeholders. The city’s debts are estimated to run as high as $18 billion.


New Obama campaign promotes healthcare act


Defender News Services

resident Barack Obama launched a campaign to promote the benefits of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which has sputtered since its Oct. 1 rollout. Over the next few weeks, the White House, the Democratic National Committee and the political group Organizing for Action will emphasize how the law helps Americans. The administration has received two months of criticism about the Obamacare website, healthcare. gov. During a speech at the White House, Obama discussed the benefits of the ACA and the fight to provide affordable healthcare. “We took up the fight because we believe that, in America, nobody should have to worry about going broke just because somebody in their family or they get sick,” he said. “We believe that nobody should have to choose between putting food on their kids’ table or taking them to see a doctor.” Obama said the administration’s focus had to shift to fixing the website so Americans could buy insurance from the new marketplaces. “Today, the website is working well for the vast majority of users,” he said. “More problems may pop up, as they always do when you’re launching something new.

And when they do, we’ll fix those, too.” “But what we also know is that after just the first month, despite all the problems in the rollout, about half a million people across the country are poised to gain health care coverage through marketplaces and Medicaid beginning on January 1st – some for the very first time.” Under the ACA, consumers must be enrolled in a healthcare plan by Dec. 23 to be on insurers’ rolls by Jan. 1. Open enrollment ends on March 31. Those seeking insurance can apply online, over the phone, in person or complete a paper application and mail it in. Critics, led by conservative Republicans, are determined to dismantle the ACA. “It’s not just a broken website; this bill is fundamentally flawed,” said House Speaker John Boehner. “When you look at Obamacare, what you see is a government-centered health care delivery system.” Obama said the bottom line is that the ACA is working. “People want the financial stability of health insurance,” he said. “And we’re going to keep on working to fix whatever problems come up in any startup, any launch of a project this big that has an impact on one-sixth of our economy.”

Fisk University fights for accreditation VOLUME 83 • NUMBER 6 DECEMBER 5, 2013 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).

NNPA News Service

Historic Fisk University in Nashville is on the list of struggling HBCUs. Fisk President Dr. H. James Williams and a team of top administrators will visit Atlanta this month to make the institution’s final pitch to the powerful Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

(SACSCOC) for a clean bill of health on its accreditation. Loss of accreditation would cost Fisk millions of dollars in income and could precipitate a decline of the institution. Founded in 1866, Fisk is the oldest institution of higher education in Nashville and will celebrate its sesquicentennial in 2016. When colleges or universities have lost their SACSCOC

endorsements in the past, the actions have triggered a rapid demise of institutions and sometimes closure, as in the case of Morris Brown College in Atlanta and St. Paul’s College in Virginia. A decade ago, Barber-Scotia College, in North Carolina saw SACSCOC remove its accreditation largely over governance and oversight issues. The private liberal arts • Serving the Houston area for over 80 years

Continued on Page 11




Amber Riley

scores victory for curvy women

Defender News Services

Glee” co-star Amber Riley made television history by becoming the first African-American woman and first full-figured woman to win ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” competition. Riley, who partnered with the show’s five-time winner Derek Hough, talked about breaking barriers during her winner’s speech. “I want to let women of all sizes out there know you can do whatever you put your mind to!” she said. “It doesn’t matter what size, what color you are – you can do whatever, whatever, whatever you put your mind to!” Riley, 27, is best known for portraying Mercedes Jones on “Glee,” the Fox Network teen musical about a high school glee club. She is noticeably slimmer since competing on “Dancing With the Stars,” and prior to winning, said she had to deal with remarks about her weight. “There were a couple of comments like, ‘She danced well for her size,’ “ Riley told In Touch. “I don’t want people to think that. I just want to dance well. I don’t think it should be an anomaly for a person my size to be able to dance or have confidence. Everybody should have confidence.” She added that she had no desire to become pencilthin. “I kept telling Derek, ‘If I lose my butt and my hips, you’re outta here,’ “ she said. Riley shared her dancing experiences by blogging for, and talked about support she received from her family.

“As soon as I finished my last dance, I looked over and my mother was boo-hooing!” she said. “I ran over and gave her a big hug and after the win, my whole entire family just went bananas. “They were so loud. They were cheering, jumping up and down, and everybody was crying. I just went and gave everybody a hug and thanked them for their support through the entire journey.” Riley was born in Los Angeles and started singing soon after she learned to talk. “I was actually 2 years old when mother discovered how much I loved music and how easy it was for me to pick up the songs that she would sing,” she recalled. “My first performance was at a park. I just remember singing and a lot of clapping at the end, but I was only 4 at the time.” She later took vocal lessons and sang in the choir in school. At age 17 she auditioned for “American Idol” but didn’t make it past the first round. She landed a minor role on a comedy pilot for the WB titled “St. Sass.” The pilot was never picked up, but Riley made a memorable impression on one of the show’s writers, who went on to create “Glee.” Now that Riley has won the “Dancing With the Stars” mirror ball trophy, she plans to keep dancing, and said it is part of her life. “It’s a new love that I’ve found,” she said. “It’s a new, creative way to express myself and it’s amazing exercise. And, it’s a whole lot of fun, so I’m definitely going to be dancing.”

Amber Riley and her partner Derek Hough win season 17 of “Dancing With the Stars.”

what’sup BEYONCÉ returns to Houston on Tuesday, Dec. 10, as part of her “Mrs. Carter Show World Tour.” The tour concludes Dec. 22 in Brooklyn. Beyoncé’s popularity continues to soar. This year, she was the most searched person on the online search engine Bing. KIM KARDASHIAN, who topped the 2012 list, came in second. RIHANNA took third place and PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA came in at No. 10……..“Oldboy,” the new film by SPIKE LEE starring SAMUEL L. JACKSON, experienced a poor showing at the box office. The film earned just $1.25 million in its first five days of release. It is a remake of a 2003 film, and tells the story of a man trying to find out why he was kidnapped and locked into solitary confinement for 20 years without reason. It costs about $30 million to make……..“12 Years a

Slave” is nominated for seven Spirit Awards, which honor independent film. Nominees include CHIWETEL EJOFER, Best Actor; LUPITA NYONG’O, Best Supporting Actress, and STEVE MCQUEEN, Best Director. The awards will be presented the day before the Oscars in March………TYLER PERRY returns as Madea in “A Madea Christmas,” which comes to theaters on Dec. 13. In the film, Madea gets coaxed into helping a friend who wants to pay her daughter a surprise visit in the country for Christmas, but the biggest surprise is what they find when they arrive. As the town prepares for its annual Christmas jubilee, new secrets are revealed and old relationships are tested. ANNA MARIA HORSFORD is one of the co-stars……..HALLE BERRY is executive producer of an upcoming History Channel miniseries about

North African general Hannibal Barca. The story begins in 264 BC. “Hannibal was not only the greatest African general to ever live, he may have been the greatest general, period. His story is an intricate and captivating ride and I’m thrilled to get this project off the ground with our partners at History,” Berry said……..The Houston dance company EARTHEN VESSELS presents its final performances of the season with the production “Amahl and the Night Visitors.” It takes place Dec. 14-15 at 1:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. at Houston Ballet Center for Dance, 601 Preston St. The performances will be a celebration of the company’s 16-year history. Its founder and artistic director is SANDRA ORGAN SOLIS, a former soloist with the Houston Ballet. Tickets range from $10 to $18. Visit or call 713-701-7798. • Serving the Houston area for over 80 years


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Kasi Lemmons

directs ‘Black Nativity’ movie By KAM WILLIAMS Special to the Defender

A proven talent as an actress, writer and director, Kasi Lemmons continues to tantalize creatively with her thoughtprovoking body of work. Her work as an actress includes roles in “Silence of the Lambs,” “School Daze,” “Hard Target,” “Fear of a Black Hat” and “Candyman.” Her directorial debut, “Eve’s Bayou,” was the highestgrossing independent film of 1997. The film won the Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature and received seven NAACP Image Award nominations, including Best Picture. Her sophomore offering, “The Caveman’s Valentine,” opened the 2002 Sundance Film Festival to audience and critical acclaim. And, in 2008, she received an NAACP Image Award for directing “Talk to Me.” Here, she talks about her adaptation of the Langston Hughes play “Black Nativity,” which stars Jennifer Hudson, Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, Mary J. Blige, Nas, Tyrese, and her husband, Vondie Curtis-Hall. KW: What a powerful film. I don’t remember ever seeing a musical that had the audience weeping after the first song. Continued on Page 7

Kasi Lemmons

Houston needs fair lending practices. Families in Houston are going bankrupt due to unfair and out of control fees from payday and auto title lenders. But, there is something we can do about it. Houston can pass an ordinance to limit fees on short-term loans.

Call 1-888-633-3650 to tell your city council member to support Mayor Parker’s payday and auto title lending ordinance. @ AARPTX Paid for by AARP ... Continued from page 6 KL: Yeah, well, that’s Jennifer Hudson. She’s incredible. KW: How daunting a task is it to adapt a Langston Hughes stage classic to the screen? KL: It was very daunting. One of my foolish qualities is to jump boldly, and then think about it later. It was daunting, but I also felt honored, and took the opportunity very seriously. I wanted to pay homage to someone who was such an important literary figure in my life. I think Langston Hughes would be proud of the picture, yet it’s a contemporary story about a family living in Harlem. I named the lead character Langston, put a little bit of poetry in there, and some Langston Hughes quotes, and, of course, his stage play, “Black Nativity.” KW: Your husband Vondie and Forest Whitaker are also directors. Did that ever pose a problem on the set? KL: No, they both came as actors. They came to play, and that’s what we did. However, I did occasionally ask each of them for their advice as fellow filmmakers, because their opinions mattered to me. KW: In a movie with so many stars, you took a big chance by casting an unknown, Jacob Latimore, in such a pivotal role. How did you come to cast him as Langston? KL: I knew that there was a good chance that I would end up with a newcomer in that role. I love working with young artists. Jacob was the first kid that I auditioned. After he walked out, I turned to my husband and said, “I think that’s the kid. I don’t know if I have to look any further. He’s the one!” He’s a real star. KW: What message do you think people will take away from the film? KL: I think the movie has a very clear message. It’s about a family in crisis facing some of the very familiar struggles we face in our communities. It’s really about love, redemption, forgiveness, faith and family, the things that have gotten us through so many hard times, and that continue to get us through them. When times are hard, we need each other. That’s what the movie’s about. And you’ll leave the theater inspired and ready to enjoy your family. KW: Are you going to bless us with your next film soon? KL: I would like to. Honestly, I do spend most of my time between films trying to get the next one made. KW: Do you think the fact that this has been a banner year for Black films will make it easier for African-American directors to find funding? KL: Yes, because the films are performing, and Hollywood is all about the money. KW: If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be? KL: That my family would be happy, and safe and well. KW: What advice do you have for anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?


“I think the movie has a very clear message. It’s about a family in crisis facing some of the very familiar struggles we face in our communities.”

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KL: Persevere. It’s important that you keep your dream alive, because you’re going to encounter a lot of obstacles, and no one is going to dream big for you. You have to have the fortitude and the resilience to stick with your own dreams. That can be hard. The stars of “Black Nativity” include (l. to r.) Jacob Latimore, Angela Bassett, Jennifer Hudson and Forest Whitaker.

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Countdown to Chris tmas






Bank robb

Black men recru



n recent years, violent bank robberies have become a cause of concern. According to the FBI, 112 bank robberies have taken place in Houston since Jan. 1, 2013, and an alarming 82 percent were committed by African-Americans. During a two-month period, 27 African-American men were sent or sentenced to federal prison for their roles in the robberies. “The FBI is concerned about the level of violence,” said Assistant Special Agent in Charge Carlos Barrón. “We’ve seen an uptake in it in the last four months. These are not just ‘note jobs’ anymore, they are getting violent. There are groups of individuals committing these robberies opposed to a lone person walking into a bank.” Almost half of this year’s robberies were “takeover” bank robberies. They are typically committed by two or more individuals who are usually armed and wearing dark clothes to conceal their identities. “They will literally take over the bank for a certain period of time during a robbery,” said FBI Special Agent Shauna Dunlap. “The chances of violence are much higher when a weapon is being displayed or pointed.” Both Barrón and Dunlap said that bank robberies have become more organized in the recent years. Older individuals will often recruit younger males to participate in committing robberies through the promise of “fast money.” “This organized recruitment is something different that we have ever

seen before,” Bar als looking up to Dunlap said lated” into comm misconception t One group, grocery stores. several layers of abandon the stol “There are munity that they Barrón said. “It


According and get away w individuals to c and then go bac One group bank robberies robberies from Reginald M last robbery and or nearly 44yea of bank robbery

Young Bl

Community activist De is concerned about the pligh males and their increased in crime. For this reason, he o Forward,” a citywide initiat ping violence, increasing ec ment and fighting for justic community. He also hosts an annua mit, which encourages parti smart choices. Muhammad talked abo community involvement ca issue of crime. Defender: Why should nity be concerned about th Muhammad: The parti Black community needs to about is that the overwhelm individuals going to jail for Houston are African-Ameri • Serving th


bery trap

uited for crimes

rrón said. “I think there must be some sense of these individuo these people for some reason and believing them.” d new recruits are oftentimes “groomed” and “manipumitting violent crimes. Barrón agreed and said it is a that criminals are an unorganized group of men. , for example, exclusively robbed banks located inside The robberies were extensively planned and included f lookouts. The robbers would typically steal a car, and olen car after the robbery. e individuals deliberately identifying those in the comy believe would be susceptible to being a part of a group,” t doesn’t matter how violent the group has been.”

ent efforts

to Dunlap, when new recruits commit nonviolent crimes with it they gain confidence. They then recruit more commit more crimes. “They get the taste for the crime ck and recruit more people,” she said. p of men recently sent to prison for committing armed in Houston planned and executed between 20-30 bank 2007-2011. Mosley, 37, shot an off-duty officer during the group’s d received the longest prison sentence of 525 months, ars. He was also convicted of conspiracy, three counts y and discharging a firearm during commission of a

violent crime. Two men in their twenties were each convicted of one count of conspiracy and will serve the next five years of their lives in federal prison. Dunlap said many recruits assume that because they are not directly involved in robbing a bank they will get a lesser punishment and can possibly avoid federal prison time. However, this is not the case. Anyone involved in committing a federal crime, such as a bank robbery, will be charged in a federal court. “If you have any role in the crime, you will do federal time,” Dunlap said. “You are charged the exact same way. “Federal time is not like state prison where you can get time off for good behavior. You are going to do most of your federal sentence.” Dunlap said robbers do not inform new recruits of the dire consequences associated with committing federal crimes. She says they offer a “low-risk, high-reward” scenario, offering the recruits large sums of money without mentioning the consequences. “It does not pay to commit a bank robbery,” Barrón said. “The amount of money that you will get in the robbery is probably less than the amount of time that you will do in prison.” “Eventually, you are going to get caught,” he continued. “The FBI will investigate these crimes. We will find these individuals and they are going to go to jail for life.” “The risks are too high,” Dunlap said. “There is no turning back once you make that one wrong choice.”

lack men need mentors, opportunities

eric Muhammad ht of young Black nvolvement in organized “Project tive geared at stopconomic developce within the Black

al Black Male Sumicipants to make

out how increased an help solve the

d the Black commuhe bank robberies? icular issue the be concerned ming majority of the r bank robberies in ican males. There

is a “dark” type of mentorship going on in our community where you have older Black males recruiting younger Black males to commit crimes rather than recruiting them to do something positive. Defender: What does the seriousness of the crime say about problems in the Black community? Muhammad: There is a saying that says “extreme conditions sometimes cause extreme measures.” The behavior that you see in our young people is an adequate reflection of our condition. Our condition is so bad that people think that they have to result to that which is not even humane in order to survive or succeed. Defender: What can the community do to help lead young Black men down the right path? Muhammad: Special attention needs to be paid to the plight of the Black male because

he Houston area for over 80 years

that is where the need is greatest. We have to start giving back to the Black male in our community by way of mentorship. We have to make sure there are enough programs that are specifically designed to enlighten the Black male and create opportunities and options for the Black male. We have to get ahead of the problem because too often, the problem doesn’t come to our attention until it’s too late. Defender: What should young Black men who are desperate for money do if they feel there is no other alternative but crime? Muhammad: What you should do to make money is first identify your gift or talent. Then you have to find a way to turn that into a profitable business. Start small, be patient until it grows. It is better that you go after the finer things in life using your gifts and talents and having the patience to build up your business than to go into a lifestyle where you have to constantly look over your shoulder.


27 charged with


According to the FBI, 27 African-American men were charged federally with bank robberies in a period of two months. A crew of 16 men comprised a sophisticated criminal organization responsible for at least 22 bank robberies in Harris and Brazoria Counties: Roderick Beagle, 41 Jeremy Benton, 22 Samuel Bonner, 42 Michael Duncan, 21 Gregory Ferguson, 21 Edward Johnson, 29 Raymond Johnson, 32 Derrick Paley, 35 John Scott, 32 Larry Smith, 37 Kelvin Thomas, 23 Carl Turner, 27 Arlington Wilkes, 23 Michael Wilson, 26 Wydell Johnson, 20 (state charges) Vincent McWright, 19 (state charges) A different crew of 11 men planned and executed at least 18 robberies of banks inside grocery stores in Harris and Fort Bend Counties: Hakim Ahmad, 31 Calvin Gray, 34 Alonzo Harris, 37 David Holmes, 35 (convicted, sentence pending) Joel Jackson, 33 Shelton McGowen, 25 Reginald Mosley, 37 Anthony Nowlin, 24 Patrick Simmons, 29 Marcus Tarpley, 32 Derrick Williams, 28

Facts & figures The most recent national FBI statistics show that in 2011, robbers walked away with more than $38 million from federally insured banks, credit unions, savings and loan associations and armored trucks. In one in five cases, the money was recovered. • There were a total of 5,086 robberies, burglaries, and larcenies involving 6,088 perpetrators. • Of perpetrators who could be identified, 2,378 were Black males and 166 were Black females, compared with 2,478 white males and 220 white females. There were 415 Hispanic males and 26 Hispanic females. The rest were categorized as “other” or unknown. • The states with the highest number of bank robberies were California (687), New York (339), Texas (294), Ohio (242) and Florida (214).



business Entrepreneurship booms for Black women

By JAZELLE HUNT NNPA Washington Correspondent


heryl Lofton had never intended to be a small business owner. Her grandfather, J.C. Lofton, was the first African-American to own a tailoring school in Washington, D.C. She spent her summers working with him, learning the craft. When her grandfather became ill, she found herself spending more time on the business and less time sewing and attending to financial matters. “The day I opened the doors to the new building was the day he died,” she recalls. “I was the first college-educated person in my family, and I went so I wouldn’t have to join the family business. But my conscience wouldn’t let me let the business go under. At the time, no one else in the family was interested or able.” Today, it’s her name on the doors. However accidental, Lofton is part of a national trend. Since 1997, the number of African-American woman-owned businesses has skyrocketed by more than 250 percent. Today, there are more than 1.1 million Black womanowned businesses in existence, with an estimated $44.9 billion in revenue for 2013, according to a report commissioned by American Express OPEN, which analyzed Census data. “While firms owned by women of color are smaller than non-minority womenowned businesses both in terms of average employment and revenues, their growth in number and economic clout is generally far outpacing that of all women-owned firms,” the report explains. Most of the businesses are one-woman

shows. According to the National Women’s Business Council, 96.5 percent of Black woman-owned firms are non-employer status. The small remaining employer businesses owned by Black women provided 272,000 jobs this year. New York, Georgia, and Texas are home to the highest number of Black womenowned businesses.

starting a business, the resources are out there. The federal Minority Business Development Agency offers help with everything from expansion tips to loan and grant information. Such organizations also exist at the state and local level in many instances. Lofton has some advice for Black women considering going into business for

themselves. “Be dedicated to what you do, and work hard every day to grow your business,” she said, adding the importance of mutual support among women business-owners. “Women are everywhere now. I think we’ve gotten a lot more respect by stepping out. They know we can do it, and we will do it.”

Striving to succeed

“Women of color haven’t had as much access to mobility in the corporate world. Even though there’s this sense that diversity is important you just haven’t seen it reflected,” says Farah Ahmad, policy analyst at the Center for American Progress. “There’s this urge for businesswomen of color to start their own businesses and have professional and career success in that way.” Entrepreneurship carries its own obstacles for Black women, especially those in maledominated fields. “Qualifying for loans is much more difficult as an AfricanAmerican,” Lofton said. “The same credit score that’s okay for other folks is not okay for us. I’m both female and Black, that’s like a double whammy.” The trend in womendriven business has not gone unnoticed. The Small Business Administration offers more than 100 centers where women can get training on starting and growing small businesses. “What’s interesting is that the sheer number of businesses has been really large, but the number of employees and revenue has been really low,” Ahmad explains. “It’s the exact type of entrepreneurship the government says drives our economy, and there needs to be a look at investing in these businesses.” For Black women who are interested in

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Fisk university... Continued from page 3

college, which had an enrollment of 1,000 students at the time, has since seen a steady decline in its finances and enrollment. Today it has an enrollment of 50 students. For college and universities across the South, accreditation by SACSCOC is the yardstick used by the federal government in determining whether an institution is eligible to receive federal student aid funds. SACSCOC has had Fisk on probation or warning status for four years, registering numerous concerns during the tenure of past president Hazel O’Leary about the institution’s financial viability, governance and leadership. The university’s well-regarded academic programs have not been called into question. Over the years, there has been puzzlement in the higher education community over why Fisk had failed to clear its name, despite Fisk President Dr. H. James the specifics in Williams says the university has to prove it’s financially each the SACS viable. report. Williams, recruited last winter from his post as dean of the College of Business at Grand Valley State University in Michigan, has spent much of his time at Fisk working to help the institution present itself in a better light than it has in previous years. “In the final analysis, what SACSCOC wants us to show is we are financially viable,” Williams said. “In the past couple of years we had deficits and had to make the case of why we had deficits,” Williams said. “This time, we’ve finished the 2012-13 year in the black, exceeded our fundraising goals for 2012 and 2013…and have made a number of fundamental changes in how we handle our financial affairs. Plus our enrollment is up in the last two years,” he said referring to Fisk’s 645 students. “All eyes are on SACSSOC,” said Johnny C. Taylor, president and CEO of the Washington-based Thurgood Marshall College Fund, which raises millions of dollars each year to support minorities attending HBCU’s. “It’s the most important thing facing these institutions.”

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Frequently asked questions

about the flu


lu season has started and it pays to know the facts about the illness. In the United States each year, 5 percent to 20 percent of the population gets the flu and more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from seasonal flu-related complications. Here are frequently asked questions and answers from the Centers for Disease Control. Q. What is the flu? A. The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. Q. What are the symptoms? A. Symptoms can include fever or feeling feverish, chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches or fatigue. Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults. Q. How does the flu spread? A. The main way that influenza viruses are thought to spread is from person to person in respira-

tory droplets of coughs and sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Less often, a person might also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth or nose. The time from when a person is exposed to flu virus to when symptoms begin is about one to four days, with an average of about 2 days.

Q. How can I avoid getting the flu? A. The single best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated each year. Flu vaccines cause antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination. These antibodies provide protection against infection with the viruses that are in the vaccine. There also are antiviral drugs that can be used to treat and prevent the flu. Good health habits such as covering your cough and washing your hands often can help stop the spread of germs and prevent respiratory illnesses. Stay away from sick people and stay home if sick. Wash hands with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub. Linens, eating utensils, and dishes belonging to those who are sick should not be shared without washing thoroughly first. Eating utensils can be washed either in a dishwasher or by hand with water and soap and do not need to be cleaned separately. Further, frequently touched surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected at home, work and school, especially if someone is ill. For more information on the flu visit



here is unfinished business to take care on Saturday, Dec. 14. We must elect five City Councilmembers and three Houston Community College trustees in the runoff. Voter turnout is traditionally low in runoffs. We learned in the Nov. 5 general election how important every vote is. Longtime HCC Trustee Bruce Austin was defeated by just 26 votes, and there are accusations that his white opponent, Dave Wilson, deceived voters by leading them to believe he was Black. Considering the projected low turnout, your vote will have more value. The candidates we are voting for on Dec. 14 are vying for key positions. City Councilmembers have the power to impact street and sidewalk repair; water, sewer and garbage fees; dilapidated house removal; neighborhood upgrades likes ditches, street lights, and a whole lot more. The HCC Board of the Trustees is the official governing body of a system with more than 75,000 students. Trustees will determine whether we have the courses necessary to produce a skilled workforce for Houston industries, the cost of tuition and the distribution of contracts resulting from the HCC bond election .Given the importance of these positions, we should turn out in record numbers and vote for the most qualified candidates. Visit the candidates’ websites to find out more about them and their plans if elected. To find the nearest polling place, log onto or call (713) 755-6965. At the polls, an acceptable photo ID is required. Vote in the Dec. 14 runoff. Every vote counts.

Preventable hunger in our

land of plenty



hile many American families gathered around the Thanksgiving table, one group was left out of the celebration – the nearly 49 million Americans, including nearly 16 million children, living in households struggling to afford the food they need. These families didn’t have the luxury of choosing between apple or pumpkin pie this holiday season. They continue to face choices about paying for groceries or rent, heat, electricity, medicine or clothing for their children as they do each month – choices no family should have to make in our nation with the largest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the world. Congress will be choosing how many of these desperate families and children in need to cut from life-giving and life-sustaining federal nutrition programs. In the middle of this season of gratitude for plenty, Congress has put the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, often called food stamps) on the chopping block while leaving largely intact subsidies for rich farmers and even some non-farmers. With the decision deadline just weeks away, Congress is working to bridge the gap between two dramatically different Farm Bill proposals that both include unjust funding cuts for SNAP. The Senate bill cuts $4 billion from SNAP over 10 years while the House bill slashes more than $40 billion – denying food to as many as 6 million people, including children, seniors, and veterans. The House proposal would also drop 210,000 children from school meals and cost our economy 55,000 jobs in the first year alone. Any agreed upon Farm Bill cuts to the already meager SNAP food benefits will come on top of the $11 billion cut over the next three years that already began on Nov. 1 and affected every single SNAP recipient. This recent cut was equivalent to a week’s worth of meals for a 9-year-old. SNAP benefits now average a mere $1.40 per person per meal. Imagine preparing your family Thanksgiving meal on that budget. SNAP lifted 2.2 million children out of poverty in 2012 and provided benefits to more than 46 million Americans on average every month, including more David Fitzsimmons, The Arizona Star

Dec. 14 runoff: Every vote counts


than 22 million, or more than one in four, children. SNAP was a life saver for millions of families in need during the recent recession and still sluggish recovery. Nearly three-quarters of SNAP households are families with children. Any additional cuts will take desperately needed food away from many vulnerable children and adults. At a time when child poverty remains at a record high, and when three-quarters of our nation’s teachers report students who routinely show up to school hungry and half report hunger to be a serious problem in their classrooms, what kind of political leaders could for one minute consider cutting children’s food assistance while protecting subsidies for rich farmers? Hunger and malnutrition have devastating consequences for children and have been linked to low birth weight and birth defects, obesity, mental and physical health problems, and poorer educational outcomes. SNAP cushions these threats and yields a strong return on investment. Children who benefit from SNAP are less likely to be in poor health, experience fewer hospitalizations, and are less likely to have developmental and growth delays than those with similar incomes denied the program. A recent study found that needy children who received food assistance before age five were in better health as adults. Adults who care and have common and economic sense would strengthen and not cut this critical lifeline for children. Though Thanksgiving Day has passed, it is not too late for those of us blessed with enough or too much food to show our gratitude for living in a wealthy country where we can take action, and urge our political leaders to put hungry children before rich farmers. • Serving the Houston area for over 80 years





Lombardi Award gives back through program


By MAX EDISON Defender

he late Vince Lombardi’s name symbolizes the essence of excellence in team sports. The iconic former Green Bay Packer head coach turned that city into Titletown USA by winning five NFL championships, including the first two Super Bowls. For 44 years the Rotary Club of Houston has given an award in Lombardi’s name to the nation’s top collegiate lineman. The proceeds from the award and associated activities benefit cancer research and children who cannot afford treatment to fight the disease that claimed the life of Coach Lombardi. Held in Houston annually, the award presentation has grown significantly over the years and now has become a major television event shown in prime time under the vision of Houston’s Spencer Tillman. The 2013 Rotary Lombardi Award presentation will be held Wednesday, Dec. 11 at the Wortham Center. The finalists are: Anthony Barr, senior LB, UCLA; Aaron Donald, senior DT, Pittsburgh; C.J. Mosley, senior LB, Alabama, and Michael Sam, senior DE, Missouri. Tillman, the veteran college football analyst for CBS, has also taken on the role of executive producer for the Lombardi Award broadcast. He has partnered the Awards with Lift Up America, a non-profit organization, and their Ambassadors of Compassion (AOC) Leadership Program as a way to capitalize on the principles of Lombardi in a way that serves local communities. The AOC program was created to equip youth with resiliency and the personal leadership skills to navigate and succeed through life’s inevitable challenges. It partners the wisdom and expertise learned by leaders and influencers from around the world with designated youth, 14 and older, for an eight-week and 12-week program designed to teach the critical life principles that every person should know and incorporate into their life in order to reach their full potential. “Nothing significant happens without effective leadership,” Tillman said. “Ambassadors of Compassion builds leaders. That’s why I’m involved.” The program has garnered sponsor support from Deloitte & Touche, Interstate Batteries, AMG, Texan owner Bob McNair and Nike, to name a few. “Our sponsors will be underwriting the cost to put these programs in our local

Anthony Barr

Aaron Donald

schools,” Tillman said. “They’re giving back to the community the infrastructure, the information and financial resources necessary to teach these skill sets. “You just don’t acquire this through osmosis. We’ve had success rolling out the program on the west coast and in Ohio in the Midwest. Expect these programs to be coming to Houston very soon, within the calendar year.” Lombardi played his college football at Fordham University in the late ‘30s. At that time Fordham was a collegiate football powerhouse and their line, which he was a member, was known as the famed Seven Blocks of Granite. The Lombardi Award, coupled with the AOC, has based the foundation of their outreach on seven basic principles comparable to the Blocks of Granite: business, education, government, science, media, spirituality and sports, arts and entertainment.

Spencer Tillman

C.J. Mosley

Michael Sam

Vince Lombardi • Serving the Houston area for over 80 years

| Phillips puts the ‘P’ in passion for Pearland “We do a lot of studying on film,” Phillips said. “I adjust to my keys and drop back to the correct depth to get a good read on the play. Our earland head football coach Tony Heath defense stepped up and made big plays at key times was looking for some sign of life. in the game. I was excited for our defense. Through the opening 12 minutes of Pearland held the high-powered Lamar attack the Oilers’ Class 5A Division I regional to its lowest point total (13) of the season. Lamar semifinal matchup against Lamar, the was a 5A Division I state finalist in 2012. Oilers appeared star-struck at times. Redskins’ “You have to get turnovers in a game like quarterback Darrell Colbert scored on a draw play this,” Phillips said. “We played against Lamar my to give Lamar a 7-0 first-quarter advantage and sophomore year and they were able to move the barely missed on a TD pass to Shelby Walker to ball. Turnovers will change things for you and begin the second stanza. help build up your momentum. We needed that Then the physicality and passion that Heath today.” had been looking for came to the surface in the Pearland (12-1) advances to face once-beaten form of linebacker Cy-Fair in the Justin Phillips. On the Region III-5A Divivery next play, Phillips sion I championship to find out Coach Tony Heath’s thoughts on playoff games. intercepted a Colbert game on Dec. 7 at pass to swing the moMercer Stadium. mentum in Pearland’s favor. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. Moments later, Pearland quarterback Connor “We know that we’re going to Heath connected on two long passes to wide reface a bigger challenge each week,” ceiver Carter Jefferson, the latter a 25-yard TD Phillips said. “We didn’t respond reception to tie the game, and the Oilers went on well earlier in the season against to score 21 unanswered points in a 21-13 victory Manvel. But we’re doing better each over Lamar at Mercer Stadium. week in the playoffs. Show“Justin plays sideline ing up well in a big to sideline and he’s our game like this was leader on the field,” said great.” Heath, who guided PearHeath is lookland to a 16-0 record ing forward to and the 5A Division I Phillips exemplistate title with a 28-24 fying the passion victory over Euless Trinity and physicality in 2010. “He doesn’t talk his Oilers will need much, but our kids play by for another week and his actions. hopefully beyond. “When we have “What can I say [Phillips] playing as about Justin that hasn’t physical as he does and already been said,” with the passion that he Heath said. “Oklahas, it just breeds off to homa State is going the other kids,” Heath to get one heck of a said. football player when Phillips, a 6-foot, this is all done with. 210-pound senior But we’re not finished linebacker who with him yet.” recorded an interception in a playoff triumph over Fort Pearland linebacker Justin Phillips is a proven Bend Austin a team leader. week earlier, says timely plays don’t happen by accident.






sportsbriefs The Woodlands best in nation Girls’ volleyball is played at an elite level at The Woodlands High School in Conroe ISD. The Highlanders’ varsity squad was so dominant that while compiling an undefeated 45-0 record, they never went the maximum five sets in a match and swept all but three of their opponents. In the state semifinals against Houston-area power Clear Falls (3-1), the Highlanders dropped a game to snap a 55-game winning streak that dated back to Sept. 17. San Antonio Churchill didn’t have such good fortune in the Class 5A state championship match as The Woodlands swept to a victory at the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland. Along with being the top-ranked 5A team in Texas all season and winning the gold medal at the state tournament, The Woodlands also won a national title in the Xcellent 25 rankings. Highlanders’ head coach Leslie Madison received the normal team effort with Courtney Eckenrode, Courtney Quinn, Madison McDaniel and Morgan Eason leading the way. Eckenrode was named the championship match Most Valuable Player. The varsity, junior varsity and two freshmen teams at The Woodlands combined for an overall record of 118-0 this season.

Bellville’s quest ends Bellville’s bid for a 10th state championship volleyball title came to an end in the Class 3A state finals as the 41-8 Brahmans lost to Decatur. Making their first trip to the state tournament, the 41-7 Eagles combined efficient defense and front-line play to commit only 13 hitting errors to 27 for Bellville.

Sumlin agrees to extension

Texas A&M University reached an agreement on a new six-year contract extension for head football coach Kevin Sumlin. Reports say Sumlin’s new $5 million-per-year deal guarantees he will coach the Aggies until the school has completed and played in its $450 million renovation of Kyle Field, which is set to open in 2015. This is the second new contract Sumlin has received in 11 months. After being hired before the 2012 season, Sumlin signed a new deal on Jan. 1 that paid him a base salary of $3.1 million per season. That deal was set to expire after the 2017 season. The new deal, if Sumlin coaches through it, would keep the 49-year-old in College Station through the 2019 season.

Bagwell, Biggio on HOF Ballot Astros legends Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio will be featured again on the 2014 Major League Baseball Hall of Fame ballot. Biggio debuted on the ballot last year and received 68.2 percent of the votes, the most of any eligible player in 2013. A player needs 75 percent of the votes for election. Bagwell has made significant strides in his three previous years on the ballot, registering 41.7 percent of the votes in 2011, 56.0 percent in 2012 and 59.6 percent last year. “There is no question that both Craig and Jeff deserve to be in the Hall of Fame,” said Astros President of Business Operations Reid Ryan. “They were in the elite class of players of their era.” • Serving the Houston area for over 80 years



For Event Coverage...visit


DECADES…..His career began in November, 1983 TOP TEENS OF AMERICA…..The Humble when he was elected to the Houston City Council Intercontinental Chapter Top Teens of America and his journey took him to the Texas Senate in held its 28th annual Blue and Silver Presentation early 1990. State Sen. Ellis has earned praised as a Ball and chose the theme, “A Night Under the leader on economic development, Stars.” The event is sponsored education, civil rights, responsible by Top Ladies of Distinction, Join Yvette Chargois environmental policy, tax cuts Inc. - Humble Intercontinental Events of the Week for the middle class, and criminal Chapter and provides opportunities More photos on justice issues, having passed over for wholesome development of See Events on KTRK Ch.13’s Crossroads 600 bills. He is the founder of youth through activities that will with Melanie Lawson Sunday Morning @ 11 a.m. the Texas Legislative Internship enhance educational, social, oral, Program, the largest program of its spiritual, cultural and economic type in the state. Three former participants of the development. During the event, the royal court program are currently members of the Texas House presented several graduating top teens and crowned of Representatives. To help him celebrate 30 years the 2013-2014 Mr. and Miss Top Teen. This year’s of public service, a reception was held in his honor winners are Jaire Harris and Marquelle Christian. Many thanks to Shwanda Warner, chapter president; at the Rice Lofts. Spotted at the event were his wife Licia, his sister Dr. Melody Ellis and friends Jackie Barbara Fields, advisor; Pamela Levine, gala Martin, Jodie Jiles, Rayanne Darensbourg, Randy chair, and all chapter officers and steering committee Woods, John Witson, Leonard Spearman, Willie members for a fabulous event. Congratulations!........ Lee Gay, Evelyn Dabney, Billie Taylor and Kenny RODNEY ELLIS CELEBRATES THREE

Barbara Fields, Pamela Levine and Artis Petterway

Top Teens Jaire Harris and Marquelle Christian

Rayanne Darensbourg, Jodie Jiles and Jackie Martin

Mayor Annise Parker and Ester and Port Commissioner Theldon R. Branch III

State Sen. Rodney and Licia Green Ellis

Friedman, to name a few. Continue success!...... NEW PORT COMMISSIONER ….. Theldon R. Branch was appointed to position 3 on the Port of Houston Authority board. He is currently a managing partner at Dufy Houston, a global travel retailer with operations in 45 countries. Theldon’s list of accolades span more than two decades, including an appointment by Mayor Annise Parker as first chairman of the Rebuild Houston Oversight Committee and 25 years of service to our country in the finance and intelligence division of the U.S Army Reserve. He is a founding member of Across the Track PAC, the strongest African-American business PAC in Houston, and serves as chairman of the TexStars Foundation. A fabulous reception honoring him was held at the Westin Downtown, and included his wife Ester, Keith Watson Wade, Jeri Brooks, Thomas Jones, Dr. Edward Patton, Judge Dwight Jefferson, Darryl Carter and Anthony Hall. Continued success to you also!.....From Chag’s Place to your place, have a blessed week!

Wondy Weston, Shwanda Warner, Barbara Smith and Pamela Johnson

Dr. Melody Ellis, Willie Lee Gay and Evelyn Dabney

Commissioner Branch and Cydonii and State Rep. Borris Miles

Levi Benton, Felix Chevalier and Terence Fontaine • Serving the Houston area for over 80 years

Houston Defender: December 05, 2013  

Houston's Leading Black Information Source

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