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April 25 – May 1, 2010 | FREE

Volume 79 Number 26


‘God Mother’ of the Civil Rights Movement


Former NAACP Executive Director mourned



By Pharoh Martin

WASHINGTON (NNPA) - Dr. Dorothy R. Height, the civil rights icon and living legend whose name has for decades been synonymous with quest for justice, died at the Howard University Hospital April 20th at the age of 98. “Michelle and I were deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Dorothy Height - the godmother of the Civil Rights Movement and a hero to so many Americans,” President Obama said in a statement. “Ever since she was denied entrance to college

WASHINGTON (NNPA) - The news of the death of former NAACP Executive Director and CEO Benjamin Hooks has reverberated to the very core of America’s civil rights and political leadership, according to statements that poured into the NNPA News Service recently. “Dr. Benjamin L. Hooks was among the greatest Americans of the 20th Century,” said NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous. “He was a giant of hope and humanity who, as executive director and CEO of the

★HEIGHT, Page 2

TSU student killed at local party

Mayor Annise Parker

First 100 days

By LaGloria Wheatfall DEFENDER

The Texas Southern University family continues to mourn an 18year-old student who was shot and killed at a recent off-campus party. Joshua McMackle was shot in the back and killed after a fight broke out in the 3700 block of Wheeler. Police say more than ten shots were Joshua fired. One of McMackle them hit the victim in the back. He collapsed in a nearby front yard and died a short time later at Memorial Hermann Hospital. Another victim was reportedly shot in the ankle but recovered and was sent home the next day. “It’s really sad that you can’t go to college and really enjoy ★TSU, Page 3

★HOOKS, Page 2

By Ron Reynolds DEFENDER

It has been just over 100 days since Annise Parker was elected the mayor of the Bayou City. Parker came in and immediately began making sweeping changes. The Defender sat and talked with her about the first 100 days, what she’s accomplished, and what lies ahead. Defender: What are the highlights of your first 100 days in office and were there any goals set that were not achieved? Mayor Parker: I didn’t set specific goals other than; I would do my best to name my department leaders as rapidly as possible. That I would establish transition teams to look at a number of areas in city government and have them report back to me. I would also make sure I would jumpstart some items that have been pending for a long time, such as the Dynamo stadium. Photo: Andray Stroud

Mayor Annise Parker addresses Imani School students on the topic “How city government operates.”

★MAYOR, Page 4


Black and beautiful Tasha By Kam Williams CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Tasha Smith and her identical twin, Sidra, were born on February 28, 1971 in Camden, New Jersey. Being raised by a single-mom in a crime and drug infested neighborhood proved to be almost too much of a hurdle for Tasha to overcome as her life spiraled down a self-destructive path marked by promiscuity, marijuana and cocaine addiction, chain-smoking and a stint as a stripper. Fortunately, she eventually embraced Christianity, cleaned up her act and moved to L.A. where she tried her hand at standup comedy before settling on an acting career. The versatile scene-stealer has since appeared in such movies as “Couples Retreat,” “The Longshots,” “Daddy’s Little Girls” and “Why Did I Get Married,” to name a few. When not working, Tasha gives back to the community, dividing her time between making motivational speeches and teaching actor’s workshops all across the country. Here, she

talks about reprising the role of Angela in “Why Did I Get Married Too,” as well as her new TV series, “My Black Is Beautiful,” a reality series premiering this month on BET. (Check local listings) Kam Williams: Hey Tasha, thanks for the time again. Tasha Smith: Hey, Kam Williams! [Shrieks] Whassup! How ya doing? KW: Very well, and you? TS: I am doing awesome! I was hoping to interview with you when I was in New York for the premiere [of “Why Did I Get Married Too”]. KW: This is probably better because I’m sure you were mobbed and I would have had to elbow my way just to get a few minutes one-on-one with you. TS: Hey, you can have as long as you need now. How’s that? KW: Tremendous, thanks. ★TASHA, Page 7

Click on Weekend



Harry C. Alford

Make Sunday Mornings Sweet

Marian Wright Edelman

HBO's Lily White World War

Tax deductions.

A Call for Education Equity

Water rates on the rise? DEFENDER NEWS SERVICE

Houstonians could soon find themselves shelling out more for their water bills, if some city officials get their way. Mayor Annise Parker and some council members support a hike ★WATER RATES, Page 7

Fired Metro attorney sues agency DEFENDER NEWS SERVICE

A woman who served as chief counsel for The Metropolitan Transit Authority is fighting back, after being fired from the embattled organization. Pauline Higgins alleges that she was fired in Feb. for refusing to allow agency employees to destroy 16 or 17 Pauline boxes of documents. Higgins Higgins has filed a lawsuit against Metro and its chief ★METRO, Page 4


APRIL 25 – MAY 1, 2010 | DEFENDER


commitment to what’s right in this country and to what’s witnessing for it. She was a great continued from page 1 leader.” because the incoming class had already met its The Rev. Jesse Jackson said Dr. Height’s quota of two African-American women, Dr. death means as much to the world as to Height devoted her life to those struggling for America. He said the news of her death had hit equality. She led the National Council of Negro the people of South Africa, where he was visitWomen for 40 years, and ing “like a shock wave. served as the only woman at Those who knew Dr. Height the highest level of the Civil knew a century of service. Rights Movement - witShe often said, ‘The blood nessing every march and that unites us was stronger milestone along the way,” than the water that divides the President said. “And us,’” he said. even in the final weeks of He reflected on how she her life – a time when anyknew and fought alongside one else would have other greats like Dr. King, enjoyed their well-earned Whitney Young, Malcolm rest – Dr. Height continued X, Adam Clayton Powell, her fight to make our nation WEB Dubois and Bayard a more open and inclusive Rustin. “What a rich life of place for people of every • 98 years old service,” Jackson said. race, gender, background “This is a great, great • President (4 decades), and faith.” loss,” said retired NAACP National Council of Negro Dr. Height, president Chairman Julian Bond. “In Women emerita and chair of the standing out for the rights of NCNW, had long suffered • Chair, Exec. committee, women, you just go down with a lung ailment despite Leadership Conf. on Civil the list and Dr. Height was her hectic speaking schedRights there. She will be missed ule. She became noticeably and missed and missed. • Past President, Delta ill March 18 while sitting in The Rev. Al Sharpton Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. the conference room of the described her as “a true headquarters of the National • Founder, Black Family giant of a lady. She taught Council of Negro Women Reunion Celebration America what real womantalking with her administrahood was. And all the way • Visiting professor, tive assistant, Christine to the end, she never left her University of Delhi, India Tony. Tony, who has travpost.” eled with Dr. Height for the Due to snow, Dr. Height past 25 years, told NNPA was unable to attend a meetthat she noticed that Dr. Height had become ing with President Obama, Sharpton and other short of breath and was not finishing her sen- civil rights leaders in February. tences. “She lectured me all the way to the door on Doctors at the Howard University Hospital what to say and how to say it,” Sharpton admitted her to the hospital that day despite her recalled. Then, she said, ‘You call me the protests that she desired to receive the esteemed minute you walk out of the White House’. She Lifetime Achievers Award slated to be given to was that kind of fighter. And she was always her that night from the National Newspaper there for the next generation.” Publishers Association Foundation. She Height did most of her work through the remained hospitalized ever since and died NCNW. But she also chaired the executive shortly after 3 a.m. April 20. committee of the Leadership Conference on Civil rights leaders who awoke to the news of Civil Rights, the largest Civil Rights organizaher death, reflected on her legacy like civil tion in the nation. She was also an active memrights royalty. “She was the Queen Mother of ber of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and the our whole civil rights movement,” said the Rev. YWCA. Joseph Lowery. “She was the great example of intelligence, industry adventure and daring and



Freedom for his work. He received the medal from President Bush in 2007. continued from page 1 Obama said, “As I was running for this NAACP, expanded the circle of opportuni- office, I had the honor of spending some ty in our nation for millions by greatly time with Dr. Hooks, and hearing about his accelerating the desegregation of our extraordinary place in our American largest corporations.” story.” Jealous described the Speaker of the House 85-year-old Dr. Hooks as Nancy Pelosi said that “simply the greatest livHooks helped shape the ing person to have served modern day civil rights as Executive Director and movement. CEO of the NAACP”. “With great patriotHooks was also a ism, he led the day-toBaptist minister, a day efforts to root out lawyer, an FCC commisdiscrimination and sioner, a businessman injustice and worked on and a judge. But he was behalf of equality and best known as a civil opportunity for all rights leader who resurAmericans for more rected the nation’s oldest than half of a century,” civil rights organization • 85 years old Pelosi said. “Dr. Hooks as its long-time executive had a remarkable career: • Ordained a Baptist director from 1977 to as a judge, an FCC minister in 1956 1992. Commissioner, and as a Under Hooks’ leader• Appointed to a five year minister. He was a man ship, the organization led term on the Federal of deep faith and bold the way of pressuring Communications convictions. He was Congress to pass the Commission (FCC) in 1972 also a man of action; in extension of such landhis calm yet determined • NAACP Executive Director mark legislation such the way, he worked so that from 1977 to 1992 (15 yrs) civil rights and voting our nation would live up rights bills. Also, • Received the Presidential to the aspirations of all NAACP’s membership Medal of Freedom in 2007 of its people.” base reportedly grew by Senate Majority • Inducted in the Civil Rights hundreds of thousands Leader Sen. Harry Reid Walk of Fame @ MLK Natl. during his tenure. (D-Nev.) said that Historic Site in 2008 “Dr. Hooks led this Hooks’ “contributions organization to new resonate within the heights, and we will continue to honor his African-American community but will legacy by fighting on, in his words with have a lasting impact on all Americans.” truth, justice and righteousness on our NAACP created the Benjamin L. Hooks side,” stated NAACP Chairman Roslyn M. Distinguished Service Award, which is Brock. “…He was a civil rights icon and awarded to persons who promote equal my mentor and personal friend. He taught opportunity through policies and prome to stand up for what I believe in; even grams. in the face of adversity, and that the strugNational Urban League President and gle for civil and human rights for all CEO Marc H. Morial said, “He cautioned Americans never ends.” us never to forget the struggles of our forPresident Obama called Hooks a “true bearers, and never to take for granted our trailblazer” who, as the first African- gains. He challenged us all to be our best, American to serve as a criminal court and in his memory we renew our commitjudge in Tennessee and to serve on the ment to social and economic justice and Federal Communications Commission, personal empowerment.” was awarded the Presidential Medal of



APRIL 25 – MAY 1, 2010 | DEFENDER


continued from page 1 college without thinking you’re going to die,” said TSU graduate Anthony Gillum. “I remember being one of those students at those parties just a couple months ago and feeling like I can’t have fun without fear of something bad about to happen.” The party was reported to have brought out over 200 people after being promoted as one of the official “after parties,” following TSU’s Annual Spring Fest. Community resident and Junior-English major, Janeth Hyacinth says, “My friend was at the party and I think it is pretty ridiculous that people still think it’s cool to walk around with guns…especially on the collegiate level. This guy was an honor student. He had so much potential but now he will never get a chance to use it.” Joshua McMackle graduated from Randolph-Macon Academy in Royal, Virginia, a military prep school, where he was said to be well known and very academically and socially involved. McMackle was a star basketball and football player and a member of his high school’s flight program, learning to fly a Cessna 152. McMackle received a scholarship to pursue his musical aspirations, majoring in music production in Texas Southern’s exclusive honor music program. According to a press release from Texas Southern University, President John M. Rudley states, “…We

wish that it were in the University’s power to protect all of our students wherever they may be, but it is just not humanly possible, particularly when they are away from campus. Nonetheless, we are reviewing our events policies and are continuing to increase our on-campus security procedures. Our highest priority is to create a community where our students can learn and excel in a secure environment.” Representatives from TSU say that the university did not sanction the party and that the investigation is being handled by the Houston Police Department. The school is offering counseling services at the TSU Counseling Center and Lanier East Dormitory. “My heart goes out to the family of this boy,” said Shari Bihms, a first-year student at TSU-Thurgood Marshall School of Law. “I can’t believe that something like this is still happening around such a positive environment. It could have been any of us and I think it was definitely a wrong place, wrong time type of situation. I hope this opens the eyes of not only students, but school officials, the Houston Police Department and the community, to help create a better and safer environment for us to get our education.” Police are still investigating and have yet to confirm any arrests. Investigators are urging anyone with information on this incident to contact HPD homicide at 713-308-3600 or Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.

Obama should appoint first Black woman for Supreme Court, Jurists say By Hazel Trice Edney NNPA WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT

WASHINGTON (NNPA) - President Barack Obama needs only to turn over in his bed to be reminded of all the Black women who are powerfully qualified to be U. S. Supreme Court justices. If First Lady Michelle Obama was not his wife, some legal scholars say she would be a clear and obvious candidate for the short list to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens. Yet, when Stevens announced his retirement April 9, not one Black woman immediately surfaced as a so-called “short-list” candidate despite the fact that no Black woman has ever served on the high court. This week, the name of former Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears began circulating as one that the President is seriously considering. The National Bar Association has put forth the name of Justice Ann Claire Williams, the first African-American ever appointed to the Seventh Circuit and the third Black woman ever to serve on any United States Court of Appeals. There are at least dozens of Black women across the U. S. who are equally qualified. “The NBA strongly urges President Obama to use this upcoming vacancy as an opportunity to further diversify the high court and to make it more reflective of the nation it serves,” the NBA said in a statement announcing its recommendation of Williams. The organization sent a letter to the President making their choice clear. According to widespread reports, President Obama has actually widened his search to include as many as 10 jurists from across the nation. “I think that President Obama has an enormous task and a wonderful opportunity to find a person with the combination of talents that will help solidify a great choice,” says Harvard Law Professor Charles Ogletree. “The fact of the matter is that you can look at profiles in Ebony

Anne Claire Williams

Leah Ward Sears

Magazine or some of the women in Jet or Essence Magazine or just look at the National Bar Association, which has a contingent of Black women judges and lawyers, to see some of the stars we have who are not well known to a large extent, but clearly have every one of the qualities and qualifications necessary for the job.” Ogletree declined to name some of those in his mind. But, Penn State constitutional scholar Mary Frances Berry, former chair of the U. S. Commission on Civil Rights, quickly ticked off several names of qualified Black women in addition to Sears. They included Elaine Jones, former director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and Jacqueline A. Berrien, chair of the U. S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Berry also agreed that Children’s Defense Fund President Marian Wright Edelman, a Yale Law School graduate and the first Black woman admitted to the Mississippi Bar, would make a great candidate. Lani Guinier, Harvard Law School’s first African-American tenured professor, is another name that Berry agreed could be considered. “I think that it would be a good thing if a Black woman could be appointed since there’s never been one,” said Berry. “Michelle, if she weren’t the President’s wife, is full of qualifications. And there are many qualified Black women.” Michelle Obama, a graduate of Harvard Law School like her husband, was actually his mentor in the Chicago law firm of

Sidley & Austin. Though it might be controversial, President Obama actually could appoint his wife to the court. That precedent was set when President John F. Kennedy, in 1961, appointed his brother, Bobby, to the position of U. S. attorney general. Asked to consider herself, Berry scoffed at the suggestion that she is also a qualified candidate for the high court. She said that she is “too old.” But, then she shot down her own argument by recalling that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was appointed by Clinton at the age of 64. As Stevens will retire at the end of the court session in late spring, Obama is now in the process of exploring the backgrounds and qualifications of prospective candidates. He will likely announce only one person who will then go under extreme scrutiny by the U. S. Senate Judiciary Committee before an up or down confirmation vote by the entire U. S. Senate. “We hope and expect President Obama would consider candidates from a variety of backgrounds, as he has indicated,” said John Payton, director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund. “Certainly, it would be wonderful to have an African-American — male or female — appointed to the Supreme Court. And, yes, it would be nice to hear more African—American women mentioned on the short list of candidates.” Regardless of the race or gender, Black jurists agree that there is certain criterion that is clearly necessary at this point to balance out the strong bent of conservatism still on the court – including Black Justice Clarence Thomas. “There is definitely need for someone who has a progressive sense about the role of the Supreme Court Justice and someone who has a sense that the Constitution has to serve everyone in the country,” Ogletree says.


APRIL 25 – MAY 1, 2010 | DEFENDER


continued from page 1 I have named many of my key department vacancies, the two that I have left, are assigning a judge to the municipal court and I will name that person April 21st. I knew I was going to need to find a fire chief. It’s a complicated problem and it’s going to take a little longer. My transition teams have all reported back and now I’m launching some new work groups to implement some of their recommendations. And then finally, this project that has been stalled that I have shaken loose, things like the Dynamo stadium. I’m very happy with what’s going on with that. Something that I didn’t expect, but has taken a large amount of my time, is dealing with NASA and the administration’s (President Obama) call for a major shutdown of a lot of the vital programs out at NASA. I ended up taking a trip to Washington and my office hosted a weekly conference call, as we tried to deal with that, which was something that was not in any of my plans. But we have been dealing with it. Defender: You are working very hard to name a fire chief. Can you talk about some of the qualities you are looking for and any rough estimate for when you will name a fire chief? Mayor Parker: I hope to have a fire chief in place by the end of May and that will be five months in. Chief Flanagan, the acting chief is doing an excellent job of leading the department right now. He certainly will be considered for the post, but I’m going to do a national search with the desire to find someone who can shake things up in the fire department, who is a respected, experienced firefighter, but who also understands this legacy organization has to become a modern, multi-cultural, multiethnic, multi-racial firefighting force. The challenge in hiring somebody within the department is that I think it would be very difficult for an insider to really be a change agent. There are a lot of good firefighters within the fire department and I want to reassure the public that we’re a safe city and our fire department does an outstanding job in keeping us safe, both from fire and also responding to emergency situations with the EMS system. What they don’t do quite as well, is handle some of their internal dynamics. Defender: Considering the projected shortfall, how do you plan to maintain services and cut spending at the same time? Mayor Parker: Well, that’s actually a significant challenge. When we talk about maintaining services, it may not be the level of services people are accustomed to, but there are certain core services that a city must provide and must provide at a very high level. So let’s address first, the water and sewer system. I am going to have to increase spending on the water and sewer system. That is an enterprise system, meaning it is entirely selffunded, so it doesn’t help me balance the budget. But, I am asking council to approve a significant rate increase for water and sewer so that core service is healthy for the long term with no diminishment of services. In the other areas of core services, police, fire, garbage pick-up, we are actually increasing our service on sanitation solid waste by rolling out our citywide expanded recycling program. We are not going to scrimp on public safety. We are going to have to put more officers on the streets. What we are looking at there, is civilianizing in the police department and looking at other options for deployment in the fire department. But I am asking both police and fire to look for savings. I think there are ways we could better manage overtime and I absolutely believe there are better ways we can make use of technology


continued from page 1 executive. The suit provides the most detailed account to date of Metro’s alleged effort to prevent disclosure of potentially damaging information, including documents sought in an open-records request by lawyer and former City Controller Lloyd Kelley. And it portrays Metro, under chief executive Frank Wilson’s leadership, as an agency where loyalists were rewarded with extra pension benefits while Higgins and others who sought to correct the agency’s problems were criticized, marginalized or fired. The suit names Metro and Wilson as defendants. The suit “involves cutthroat politics and cronyism at Metro” and seeks Higgins’ reinstatement, unspecified damages and recovery of her

Photo: Andray Stroud

Imani 8th grader Isaac Watson presents Mayor Annise Parker with his original drawing of Houston’s cityscape. Defender: Can you elaborate on your plan to fix the deficit without a tax hike? Mayor Parker: There are two different issues we need to be talking about. One, I took office in the middle of a fiscal year and had a minor budget gap to close by the end of June. (That was) one of the reasons I moved forward with the long-stalled Lakewood project. That was something else that has been kind of languishing and we were able to get it done. The budget that was passed last year had counted on the proceeds from the sale of Lakewood. But there are still some spending cuts that had to be implemented to round out this year’s budget. At the same time I’m talking about next year’s budget, next fiscal year, beginning July first, when we have a gap to cover - anywhere between $100 and $140 million. That’s a steep hill to climb and we are looking at a range of options to do that. When I present the budget at council, it will be balanced, as it is required by our charter. There will be some significant cuts that have to be made, but it will not include a tax increase. I can’t tell you at this moment all the things we will do to produce a balanced budget. But again, just as the library department rolled out a plan where there is selected reduction in library hours on a rotating basis citywide, some of our other departments may have to do that as well. The plan may or may not include furlough for city employees. All I can assure you is, we are managing the current budget and we are covering the minor gaps that come through the course of the year that I started the year with. Defender: What would be the circumstances for a property tax increase during your administration? Mayor Parker: My pledge was this first budget, I would hold a line. But I can imagine a number of scenarios that would at least prompt us to consider a property tax increase. Those would include a significant downgrade in our property tax revenues or a significant drop-off in our property tax revenue that it fell so low that it would prevent me from providing the basic services that the city needs. Or a similar sharp fall in sales tax revenue or even some unfunded mandate from the state or federal government. But my belief right now is that the citizens of Houston are suffering just as much as the city is from the current economy, and it should be my job to try to bring spending in line with revenue rather than revenue in line with spending. Defender: You were City Controller before Mayor, would you say you had a realistic view of the economic challenges the city faced, and what do you think the previous administration could have done, if anything to pre-

legal costs under the Texas Whistleblower Act. Higgins says that Wilson defamed her after her termination by making negative statements about her that he knew were untrue. Higgins joined Metro almost two years ago as head of its in-house legal department. The agency later released documents from her personnel file stating that Higgins belittled employees who worked under her and used Metro offices for meetings related to a celebrity golf tournament she sponsored. Her lawsuit says that Higgins’ efforts to bring Metro into compliance with state document-retention laws, and her resistance to email destruction policies ordered by Wilson that she maintained were unlawful, were the true reasons for her termination.

Two days before she was fired, the lawsuit states, Higgins met with Mayor Annise Parker and her deputy chief of staff, Adam Harris, and “expressly complained about Metro’s illegal document destruction.” The lawsuit cites this meeting in its reference to the state law protecting whistleblowers, noting that “Higgins made her report to Houston’s mayor, whom she believed in good faith was an appropriate law enforcement authority with the power to take some remedial action with respect to her complaint.” Parker has confirmed having met with Higgins that day but has not commented on what they discussed. Metro does not comment on pending litigation.

vent these challenges? Mayor Parker: The economic situation is very dynamic. Meaning, it has changed over time. I don’t second-guess the decisions of my predecessors. I face a very different economic climate and I’m adjusting to that. Some of these issues, looking at the budget gap for this year and next year, changed as recently as a week ago when we got new property tax estimates from the Harris County appraisal district. I will say I’ve been aggressive in trying to move some projects forward that have languished like Lakewood and like the Dynamo. But a lot of what I’m dealing with is simply things that are fluid in this very difficult economy. Defender: When you were Controller, what efforts did you make to prevent the economic challenges Houston now faces? Mayor Parker: Actually, I started working on the financial issues of the city long before I became controller. The fact that we have a rainy day fund in the city of Houston was because I worked with one of my council colleagues to create and fund the city’s rainy day fund, which is 20 million dollars. I aggressively spoke against the previous administra-

tion’s use of pension obligation bonds to meet current pension obligations. I did a lot of internal audits looking for potential efficiencies and financial savings, many of which have been implemented over the years. So, the city financial health is something I’ve focused on for a long time. Specifically in the controller’s office. This is a really terrible economy but on the other hand, we have the lowest interest rate environment we have had in generations. As a city, we aggressively refinanced every debt we could. Just as the same way that private individuals refinanced their home mortgage, we refinanced everything in sight just to lower our payment. Defender: Can you elaborate on your plan for more affordable housing? Mayor Parker: We are going to continue our commitment to affordable single-family housing. We had a minor glitch recently in our single-family program because of delays in the state level, causing us to have to put some things on ice for a while. But we still have a commitment to single-family home ownership. However, I intend to shift my housing department focus onto multi-family housings. We have a significant amount of multi-family already in the city. I don’t intend to build more, but I want to make sure we upgrade our housing stock and that we aggressively go after the really worst of the worst multi-family units that are havens for crimes and that drag down the value in surrounding neighborhoods. So it’s not an abandonment of any of the programs. We are doing a shift in focus. Defender: You gave the previous mayor a ‘D’ as it relates to minority contracts. Tell us how you have promoted minority contracts. Mayor Parker: Well, one of my transition team members was to specifically look at our MWBE (Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprise) program. I have taken their recommendation and we are preparing a set of internal changes and upgrades to the program, which I will be taking to the council committee very soon. The interesting thing to me was, my transition team said to me and I quote. ‘The MWBE and small business program are only as good as a mayor wants it to be’. I think the good news is I want it to be a really great program. But I also intend to leave it as a program that doesn’t depend on the good auspicious of the mayor.


APRIL 25 – MAY 1, 2010 | DEFENDER

Max Edison

on Sports

PV Reigns, Again Just when you thought the winning had ceased on “the Hill” after the Panthers were crowned “Kings of the Gridiron” in ‘09, guess again. Recently, the Prairie View A & M men’s tennis team completed a successful run through the 2010 SWAC Tennis Championships as they defeated Alcorn State 43 to capture the program’s 19th SWAC Championship and an automatic bid to the NCAA Division I Tennis Championships. Prairie View, which earned the third seed from the SWAC West, began its tournament run with back-toback victories over No. 2 Jackson State and No. 1 Arkansas-Pine Bluff to earn the right to play in the final round. The win marks Prairie View’s first SWAC Championship since 2005 and the second bid in school history to the NCAA Division I Tennis Championships. “I’ve never been through anything like this,” said head coach John Cochran of the team’s five-hour ordeal. “This championship means a lot to us as we worked hard all year long to get to this point. I’m especially happy for Jose (Garcia) and Kuda (Nyatoti) because they were a part of the team in 2008 that was ahead 3-1 in the title match only to lose at the end. Today’s win means redemption for them.” PV’s Kristen Powell was named the tournaments MVP and teammate Jose Garcia was named All-Tournament. Rounds 1 & 2 of the Division I Championship tournament begins May 14th


Texas Southern Softball, baseball, sitting on top of the conference standing By Max Edison DEFENDER


Tenesha Skrine helped the Lady Tigers garner a conference-best 12-2 record.

★EDISON, Page 6

on’t look now, but the Texas Southern University Tigers are ruling the SWAC roost in both softball and baseball. At press time, the softball team, coached by Worley Barker, is leading the conference’s Western Division with a conference best record of 12-2 (20-16 overall). Meanwhile the baseball team, under the direction of head coach Michael Robertson, is tied for first place with Southern and owns a 10-4 record (20-19 overall). The amazing thing about both teams is the relationship between the coaches, a friendship that dates 35 years. “Mike and I go back to when we were little boys playing baseball on the same team my daddy coached,” Barker shared. “He went to Forrest Brook and I finished from Smiley. We both attended Huston-Tillotson and were teammates Worley Barker on the baseball team there.” “Worley and I are like brothers,” Robertson gushed. “We’ve known each other forever. He’s a very smart guy, in the corporate world, as well as softball. I’m not surprised by his success, not at all.” In his seventh season in the dugout for the Lady Tigers, Coach Barker, who Michael gave up a successful career in the bankRobertson ing industry, has a youthful, versatile team that can play any style. The Lady Tigers are first in the conference in overall offensive production and rank fourth in fielding percentage. “We’re not a one dimensional team, we do a combination of things,” Coach Barker explained. “We have speed, so we can play a small game if the defense dictates it. We can put a bunt down when we need to, we can steal bases. We also have several kids in our line-up that swing the bat really well, with power and hit the long ball. We also pride ourselves in playing good defense.” Freshman first baseman Gianna Robinson (LaMarque) is amongst the conference leaders in almost every offen★TEXAS SOUTHERN, Page 6

Terrel Jones bats over .300, with at least 30 RBI.

Darrell Ardison

on H.S. Sports A group of all-stars assembled in the state of New York accomplished what no team in Texas, Hawaii or Alabama could do to Yates head boys basketball coach Greg Wise for nearly two years. The coach of the No. 1ranked team in the U.S. watched his East squad lose to the West 129-125 at Madison Square Garden in the Jordan Brand Classic. Several of the game’s top high school players, including Harrison Barnes, Jared Sullinger, Brandon Knight and C.J. Leslie, competed in the game. The East squad trailed by 19 points at halftime (75-56), yet closed to within two points with 18 seconds remaining in regulation. Josh Selby (Kansas) scored 21 points, Barnes (North Carolina) had 20 points and 15 rebounds and Tristan Thompson (Texas) added 19 for the West. Duke-bound Kyrie Irving led Wise’s team with a gamehigh 22 points. Sullinger (Ohio State) had 20 points and four blocked shots while Leslie chipped in with 19 points for the East. The West streaked out to a 43-28 advantage in the first half and added a 19-9 run to go up 66-43 with three minutes left in the opening half. Wise said he talked to his team about putting together a strong half in what would be there last half of high school ★ARDISON, Page 6

Westbury Lady Rebels on fast track to dominance By Darrell K. Ardison DEFENDER

You can’t blame the Westbury High School girls track team for being confident going into the district meet held at Barnett Stadium. In the meet’s final event (mile relay), Kathy Lenore (sophomore), Normaria Lane (junior), Tiara Cross (freshman) and Carina Bertran (senior) combined to do what they have done all during the 2010 high school track and field season. They earned another gold medal. These young student-athletes are currently representing a Westbury track program that has been to the mountaintop over the past two decades. State championships have been the norm, not the exception, and this Westbury girls’ squad want to leave their own indelible mark on the program’s legacy. They weren’t exactly satisfied with their winning time of four minutes, four seconds under blustery conditions on the Barnett track. They ran a season-best 3:44.00 at the prestigious Texas Relays two weeks earlier. Another stellar effort at the regional meet in Huntsville next week and they can return to Austin for a crowning performance. They were unanimous in voicing their confidence that the goal was within reach. “Our team is really good,” Lane said. “We work together and when you work hard together, you win

Westbury girls mile relay all brought home medals in open events. (Pictured L. to R.) Kathy Lenore, Normaria Lane, Tierra Cross, Carina Bertran. together. That’s basically what our philosophy is, to go out there and give it 100 percent every time just to show that Westbury is still here and we can run our best.” This Westbury girls’ squad admits to thinking about the program’s past excellence every time they begin a race. “When I graduate, I want to be known too,” Bertran said. “We think about our possible legacy

whenever we settle into the starting blocks. All four members of Westbury’s 4X400 (mile) relay also earned medals in open events ranging from the 800, 200 and 400. Coached by former Westbury state gold medallist Sherita Jackson in the hurdles, the Westbury girls expect to make speed work their emphasis leading into regionals as they attempt to

complete an undefeated season. “We’re going to do whatever we have to do in order to make this happen,” Lenore said. “That’s the beauty of working together as a team.” Clements remains unbeaten in 235A softball Rangers’ ace pitcher Liz Paul turned in another stellar perform★WESTBURY, Page 6



APRIL 25 – MAY 1, 2010 | DEFENDER

Texas Southern continued from page 5

sive category, including batting average, slugging pct., on base pct., and RBI. Her offensive fire power is matched by teammate, third baseman Tenesha Skrine (sophomore, Westfield). Freshman shortstop/pitcher Jessica Haynes (Northshore), outfielder April White (sophomore, Galveston), infielder Nicolette Anderson (freshman, Compton, Calif.) and freshman outfielder Shannon Colquitt (Compton, Calif.) have also been consistent offensive producers. Freshman pitcher Megan Serrano (Austin, Tx.) has been SWAC Pitcher of the Week twice. The scary thing about the Lady Tigers success is they only have two seniors on their current roster. “Ariel Arrendondo (Brownsville, Tx.), our senior catcher, is like a coach on the field. She’s been in the program for a while and she understands the game very well. The other senior, Ashley Ramirez (Austin H.S., Houston), has been a reliable arm for us throughout her career. “We’re actually a year ahead of schedule, despite the success we’ve had this year,” Barker reasoned. “We have about 21 kids that are freshmen and sophomores. I’m equally proud that 23 of our 26 players are from Texas. Texas is big on softball and we just want to get our share of the talent.” For the guys, you knew it was just a matter of time before skipper Mike Robertson put the Tigers at the top of the conference standings. Robertson enjoyed tremendous success while

Ray Hernandez is one of the top hitters in the nation.

Gianna Robinson led the Tigers to a 20-16 overall record. head coach at Prairie View and in his third year at the helm of the Tigers, he is realizing the fruit of his labor. In addition to being tied for the lead in their division, the team is ranked #2 in the nation in the Black College Baseball Poll. Coach Robertson has installed his signature brand of “small ball” and the team has responded favorably. “We play ‘small ball,’ which is based on speed. We recruit speed,” Coach Robertson explained. “That means we steal bases, we bunt to advance runners, we hit


continued from page 5 in Athens, Georgia, at the University of Georgia. More PV News The Panther Backers are presenting their 15th annual Prairie View A&M and Prairie View A&M Foundation Panther Backers Celebrity Golf Tournament on Monday, May 17, 2010 at Cypress Lakes Golf Club, 18700 Cypresswood Drive in Cypress, Texas. The annual fundraiser, through consistent support of former athletes, dedi-

cated alumni donors and friends, has provided scholarship opportunities for several young men and women over the years. In addition to providing those opportunities, the group will also focus on raising funds for the design and construction of a first-class multi-functional and multi-dimensional athletic complex on the campus of Prairie View A & M. Registration will begin at 8 a.m. with a four-man scramble shotgun start slated for 9 a.m. A silent auction will be held throughout the day in addition to an awards luncheon and raffle once every team completes its 18 holes.

continued from page 5 basketball. The East scored the first six points of the second half and Duncanville’s Perry Jones (Baylor) closed the deficit to 88-81 on a put-back basket. Irving scored 13 points in less than three minutes to bring his team within 127-125 with 23 seconds remaining. Irving

continued from page 5 ance. Paul registered 14 strikeouts and allowed only two hits to improve to 27-2 on the season as Clements came away with a 4-0 victory over Fort Bend Austin. Clements was expecting Austin ace Morgan Hawkins to start the game and were faced with a surprise. Austin sophomore Nikki Grenier toed the rubber and it took awhile for Clements to adjust in District 23-5A action. The Rangers led 1-0 following two innings when Brianna Sanchez scored on a Laura Heinerman bunt single. After that, Clements slowly got its offense rolling. In the bottom of the sixth inning, the Clements bats came alive. Elisa Nielser began the rally with a single to centerfield. Nicole Defee and Paul followed with singles to load the bases. Alexis Oliver drove in two runs with a double. Hannah Dowell capped the uprising with an infield single to plate the final run.

Sponsorship packages for the tournament range from $125 for a Panther Sponsor/single golfer to $5,000 for a Platinum Package. Prizes will be awarded for first, second and third place teams in addition to separate contests for putting, longest drive and closest to the pin. For more information, contact David Hall at (281) 932-4340 or Deno Robertson at (713) 417-4090. A registration form is available for download on the Prairie View A&M athletic web site at or

us,” Robertson said. Like Coach Barker, Robertson’s team boasts a large percentage of local talent. “About 85 percent of our team is from right here in the Houston area, which was one of the reasons I wanted to come to TSU, to take advantage of the rich, talented players in the area,” Coach Robertson said. “The athletic director (Charles McClelland) has been great, providing us with the resources we need to be successful. The administration has been extremely supportive. My staff is out-

Meggan Serrano standing. I think we have everything we need to be very successful.” Coaches with roots in the city, that have outstanding knowledge and passion for their respective games; sounds like the perfect recipe for success for years to come with Texas Southern Softball and Baseball.

CLASSIFIED OPEN-HOUSE STYLE PUBLIC MEETING Statewide Long-Range Transportation Plan 2035 The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, will host two series of open house-style public meetings for the development of the Statewide Long-Range Transportation Plan 2035. This plan will establish a framework for addressing the challenges of our aging infrastructure, urban densification, and a growing population through 2035. The plan will also address the need for improvements to all modes of transportation including roadways, pedestrian and bicycle facilities, transit, freight rail, passenger rail, airports, water ports, pipelines, and Intelligent Transportation Systems. The purpose of this first series of meetings is to present an overview of the project and to solicit comments and input to aid in the development of the plan. Information will be available for viewing at the meetings including exhibits and videos about the planning process. Representatives from TxDOT will be in attendance to discuss the development of the plan and answer questions. Forms will be provided for submitting written comments. The open-house style public meeting in this area will be held on May 6, 2010 from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at: TxDOT Houston District Headquarters 7600 Washington Ave. Houston, TX 77007 Information regarding additional meeting locations throughout the State can be found at; and typing key words “transportation plan 2035” in the search field or by calling the project’s toll-free information line at 1-888-5-TX-PLAN (1-888-589-7526). For those unable to attend the open-house style public meeting, written comments will be accepted on the project website at: or by email at: (, or by mail at: Peggy Thurin, P.E., Project Manager, Statewide Long-Range Transportation Plan 2035, 4544 Post Oak Place, Suite 224, Houston, Texas 77027. Persons with special communication or accommodation needs may call 713-802-5072. Requests should be made no later than three days prior to the meeting. Every reasonable effort will be made to accommodate needs.

HOUSTON INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT NOTICE TO PROPOSERS The Houston Independent School District located in the Hattie Mae White Educational Support Center at 4400 West 18th Street Houston, Texas 77092 will accept proposals, until the stated date and time deadlines, in the Board Services Office, Level C1 ‘ • Project 10-04-08 – School Reform Models – with a deadline of 2 P.M. May 12, 2010. The preproposal conference for this project will be in Room 2C01 at the above stated address on April 28, 2010 at 10 A.M. • Project 10-04-05 – Four Color Printing Press – with a deadline of 10 A.M. May 4, 2010. The pre-proposal conference for this project will not be required. • Project 10-04-07 – GRAPHIC DESIGN SERVICES – with a deadline of 10 A.M. MAY 12, 2010. The pre-proposal conference for this project will be in Room 2C10 at the above stated address on APRIL 26, 2010 at 10 A.M.



and run, the type of things we used to see Ricky Henderson do on the base pads. We get them on, we get the over and we get them in. It’s a very aggressive style of baseball offensively. “You also have to play great defense,” Robertson continued. “You have to have quality pitching and you’ve got to make the routine plays defensively. You want to get those 27 outs. Sometimes we have to make 2-3 runs stand up, so we can’t afford errors. It’s a very disciplined style of baseball and that’s what we emphasize to our players, dis-

cipline.” The Tigers rank in the top four in the conference in both team batting and team pitching. “We have five guys in the lineup batting over .300. Outfielder Ray Hernandez (sophomore, Spring Woods) is one of the top hitters not just in our conference, but in the nation. He’s among the conference leader in RBI and hits. Outfielder Terrel Jones (Jr., Tupelo, Ms.) is batting over.300 with at least 30 RBI. Outfielder Corbin Smith (freshman, Pearland) is hitting over .300 and is amongst the conference leaders in walks and runs scored, with a game that reminds me a lot of Michael Bourn. Our catcher, Andrew Garza (freshman, Houston, Davis) and outfielder Brandon Mikell (Jr. Los Angeles, Calif.) are also hitting over.300.” The pitching staff ranks among the very best in the SWAC. Dakota Laufenberg (Jr. Cinco Ranch), Adrian Losoya (Freshman Aldine) and Bryan Smith (Jr. CyCreek) rank among the top in the conference in most categories. “Overall I’m happy with our entire pitching staff. They’ve done a great job for

missed a shot with 12 seconds left that would have tied the game. Barnes and Irving were named the West and East squad Most Valuable Players. Wise was able to put the whole experience into perspective. “It was a first-class event from start to finish,” he said. “To be involved in it and to be the first coach from the Houston area was an honor.” Yates will go into next season on the wings of a 58-game winning streak.

The Rangers (28-4 overall and 15-0 in district play) finished with eight hits, including three bunt singles. “We have played a lot more of the short game this year because we don’t have the power hitting that we have had in the past,” said Clements head coach David McCorkle. “We had a good mix going tonight. “Fort Bend Austin gave us a different pitcher and I think it threw us off at first,” McCorkle said. “We eventually pulled it together, but it was a slow start.” While the Clements’ offense was slowly mounting momentum, Paul held down her end with another sparkling performance. “That is just what Liz has been doing all season,” McCorkle said. “She threw really well and kept them off the bases when we weren’t scoring. She really comes alive in those situations.” Clements will close out the regular season with matchups against Travis and Elkins. Fort Bend Austin falls to 19-10 and 96 with the loss. Austin, Kempner and Travis are vying for the final two playoff berths in 23-5A.

Hisd hosts girl’s showcase The Houston Independent School District athletic department hosted its inaugural Girls Athletics Senior Showcase recently at Finnegan Park (near Wheatley High School). Following the district’s success with a similar event for the boys the past two years, a decision was made to host an event for unsigned senior female athletes. More than 150 female student-athletes competed in front of college coaches and recruiters. Basketball, soccer, softball, track and field and volleyball athletes performed skill and speed drills while also competing in front of college scouts. Foster to represent Houston area in Alamodome The Foster High School varsity football team will kickoff the 2010 season with a trip to San Antonio for the 12th annual Texas Football Classic. The Falcons will take on El Paso Hanks in the first of three games on Aug. 28th in the final day of the three-day event.

• Project 10-05-03 - RFP - Arbitrage Rebate Compliance Services with a deadline of May 12, 2010 at 2 P.M. The pre-proposal will be held on Wednesday, April 28, 2010 at 2 P. M. in Room 2E26 at the above stated address. 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. Scwyana Smith

INVITATION FOR BIDS IFB NO. 10-16 Phase X Modernization and Site Improvements at Kelly Village Housing Development 3118 Green Street The Houston Housing Authority hereby invites bids from general contractors offering to furnish all labor, materials, equipment and necessary services required for Phase X Modernization and Site Improvements at Kelly Village Housing Development located at 3118 Green Street, Houston, Texas 77020, as stated in the specifications of Invitation for Bids No. 10-16. Interested bidders may obtain the Invitation for Bids package by contacting:

ANNA SIMOTAS PURCHASING OFFICER HOUSTON HOUSING AUTHORITY 2640 FOUNTAINVIEW, SUITE 408 HOUSTON, TEXAS 77057 (713) 260-0554 FAX: (713) 260-0556 Interested and qualified contractors may obtain the Invitation for Bids package, beginning April 20, 2010, by paying a FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS ($500.00) refundable deposit to the Purchasing Office of the Houston Housing Authority, located at 2640 Fountainview, Suite 408, Houston,Texas 77057. Deposits shall be made in the form of a Certified Check, Cashier’s Check, or Money Order made payable to the HOUSTON HOUSING AUTHORITY. A Pre-Bid Conference will be held on April 27, 2010 at 10:00 a.m. at the Kelly Village Housing Development Community Center located at 3118 Green Street, Houston, Texas 77020. The Bids must reach Houston Housing Authority no later than 2:00 p.m. on May 11, 2010. Bids received after the deadline will be rejected unless justification exists for consideration. A Fair Housing and Equal Employment Opportunity Agency. For assistance: Individuals with disabilities may contact the 504/ADA Administrator at 713-260-0528, TTY 713-260-0547 or


APRIL 25 – MAY 1, 2010 | DEFENDER


continued from page 1 TS: So, what’s happening? KW: Nothing much, how about you? TS: I have just been so busy, and I’m so excited. I have been doing soooooo much. Speaking engagements… producing… developing a half-hour sitcom… working on a movie… leading acting workshops all over the world…and hosting “My Black Is Beautiful,” an empowerment TV show I’m doing on BET for women. Do you hear me, Kam? KW: Yeah, so what’s the new TV show going to be like? TS: We’re doing makeovers, giving financial classes, answering questions about Black women’s imaging in the media, and much more. It’s so good! We encourage women to become mentors within their communities in order to teach young girls how to thrive in this society. It’s a good thing, so, I’m excited about having the platform and this opportunity because you know me, I love my folk. KW: Let’s talk a little about “Why Did I Get Married Too.” You were as phenomenal as you were in the original, which led me to name you the best actress of 2007. How was it seeing everybody again? TS: Thank you. It was fun. Honestly, we are like a family. We really are. The chemistry for the sequel was even better. It almost felt like we were actually on vacation together, organically. I got to tell you, it was like a family reunion. It was like, “Hey, girl!” and we just had us a good time. KW: You can’t beat shooting in the Bahamas. TS: To be honest, the Bahamas wasn’t fun. [Whispers] Kam, it was horrible. Not only was the shooting schedule insane, but there were so many bugs on that island that it was nervewracking. It was infested with these big moths called “money bats.” Imagine if every time you walked outside hundreds of them were all over the place and landing on you. It was so stressful and irritating. I’m not exaggerating. They also had these mosquitoes called “no see ‘ems” because you couldn’t see ‘em. Those things just ate us up. We had welts and bites all over our bodies. Ugh! I could go on and on. And then there were these other bugs like flying cockroaches that made a loud buzzing sound every time we tried to shoot a scene. KW: Gee, that sounds very different from “Couples Retreat,” your previous film, which was filmed in Polynesia on Bora Bora, another exotic location. TS: Let me tell you honey, they should have picked Bora Bora. Bora Bora was a dream! It was truly paradise. KW: Who do you admire most in your profession and have you sought out that person as a mentor? TS: Wow! Angela Bassett is a friend of mine and someone who I truly admire tremendously in terms of her work and her choices. KW: How has your life changed as a Christian, and who in the scriptures speaks most to who you are and how you’ve developed spiritually? TS: I’d say Paul. I just love how he went from being an unbeliever persecuting

Water Rates

continued from page 1 in monthly water bills. The Council may vote to raise rates by nearly 30 percent on an average residential household, more than twice the increase Mayor Parker proposed earlier this month. When the plan was first introduced, residential water users were slated to see a rate increase of a little more than 12 percent. Those who live in apartments and other multifamily homes could see a hike of more than 50 percent, even though, according to the proposal, they have done the best job conserving water. The revised figure, which would take effect over several years, comes after some council members complained that the rate of increase for multi-family, or apartment, users would be far higher than that for single-family homeowners. About half the council body expressed a desire to raise all rates to what it costs to provide the service. “We run a system to meet peak demand like droughts and fires and other emergencies, and all of those are fixed costs, so if people use less water, the cost of it has to go up some,” said Michael Marcotte, the Public Works director. Marcotte said the increase is needed to pay for maintenance and meet basic require-

Photo credit: Quantrell Colbert

Angela (Tasha Smith) and Marcus (Michael Jai White) show the conflicts of marriages in TYLER PERRY'S WHY DID I GET MARRIED TOO?. Christians to one of the most powerful people in the Bible. And how has my life changed as a Christian? Once you have the light of God within you, you see things within yourself that you did not know existed. Things that were hidden in darkness are now in light. I see myself as able to forgive… to love… I even see talents in myself that I didn’t see before. KW: How do you express the Christ you serve in the glamorous Hollywood milieu in which you work? TS: Your atmosphere does not change you, if are rooted and grounded in who you are. I do what I believe the Lord did, and that is walk in love with all mankind, which I don’t see a lot of Christians doing. Christians can be so judgmental, that it can turn off people who are considering converting. It makes me a little embarrassed, to tell you the truth, when I hear Christians criticizing others. I have to fight against being discouraged, because I don’t want to be connected with people who are so intolerant of much of mankind like that. God loves us all. He really does. And I want to walk in love with people. KW: What it was like for you to revisit the character Angela. TS: It was exciting and empowering, because although Tyler always jokes around saying, “Tasha’s just like Angela,” I’m not really. I’m loud and I communicate, but I’d never think of doing half the things Angela does. She’s an over-the-top character who just lives and speaks honestly without worrying about being politically correct. So, playing her, you get a sense of freedom to do whatever you want and to live vicariously through her. KW: What’s the most common feedback you get from your acting workshops? TS: People come to my workshop expecting just to learn about acting, but at the end many say they’ve learned something about life. They leave as better mothers, better wives, better

ments for water safety. Houston City Council Member Jolanda Jones was among the vocal opponents who wanted a “fair increase” for everyone. “You’ve got poor families that will be paying more than businesses paying more than people who live in a house. I don’t think you should be penalized because you live in an apartment,” Jones said. Marcotte said water bills would still be relatively low. “Lay those bills out that you pay for water and sewer

against all of the other bills you pay — whether it’s cable TV, telephone, gas and electric. I think you’ll find that the water and sewer system provide a pretty good value for the money that we’re charging,” Marcotte said. The increase would put the cost of Houston’s water at a higher level than many other major U.S. cities, including Miami, Oakland, Dallas, San Antonio, Fort Worth and Los Angeles, according to a rate study commissioned by the city.

husbands and better siblings. KW: After watching your acting studio video, [ .html] Larry Greenberg wants to know whether a white guy can enroll in your acting course. TS: Tell him “Yes!” and please bring his whole family. I’m giving a $20 discount to anyone who brings along a white person to my class. Tell him I want white people in my classes and to send an email blast to every white person he knows to come and visit me. [Laughs] KW: When you look in the mirror, what do you see? TS: Hmm… I see a beautiful Black woman who has overcome and who is pressing into her future and forgetting about the past. KW: What is your earliest childhood memory? TS: Wow! I remember being six or seven years old and always begging my sister to act out scenes with me while we were in our bunk beds. I would be like, “Can you be Chaka Khan while I be Diana Ross?” And let’s act like we’re at a party at Stevie wonder’s house and looking fabulous. But she would always just fall asleep.

KW: How’s your twin, Sidra, doing? TS: She’s great, thanks. KW: Who’s your favorite clothes designer? TS: I love Catherine Maladrino, Angela Dean and Nicole Miller. Catherine Maladrino designs that beautiful, high-class red carpet stuff. Nicole Miller makes beautiful dresses you can wear everyday. And when you just want to go and shut it down, you turn to Angela Dean. She made my dress for this premiere, as well as for the opening of Tyler Perry’s studio, that red sequined number. KW: Beautiful! If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for? TS: Wow, I was just telling my boyfriend that I want to be like Solomon, and instead of asking for riches ask for wisdom and creativity. KW: What is your favorite dish to cook? TS: I make a garlic cracked crab that will shut everything down. First, I roast fresh garlic in olive oil. Then, I sauté onions, peppers and basil in Old Bay seasoning with butter, heavy cream, wine and beer until it gets thick. Then, I let the fresh crabs cook in that sauce for about 10 or 15 minutes before roasting them. Woooo! Believe me when I tell you that my garlic cracked crab is soooo good. It’s dynamic! KW: When was the last time you had a good laugh? TS: Today. [LOL] You wanna know what happened? While I was filming “My Black Is Beautiful” I had my DNA traced and found out that I’m linked genetically to the Bubi people of Bioko Island. So, I eagerly asked, “Am I descended from kings and queens?” But I was told, “Sorry, your ancestors were definitely not kings and queens, but probably gatherers in the field.” [Laughs more] That was hilarious. I just laughed so hard. KW: Are you happy? TS: Thanks for asking. A lot of times people don’t really seem to care about that. How do I sound? KW: Elated, and you’ve got a boyfriend since we last spoke. TS: [Shrieks] I got a man, baby! A man! He is so absolutely wonderful. I am so in love. And I’m planning on getting married and having a baby by the end of 2011. KW: Congratulations! Who’s the lucky guy? TS: His name is Keith. KW: Best of luck to you both, Tasha, and thanks for another terrific interview. TS: Thank you. It’s so good to talk to you. KW: Same here.


WHY JOURNALISM MATTERS……..A warm Houston welcome was given to award-winning PBS journalist and best-selling author Gwen Ifill, who was the guest speaker at HoustonPBS Elevate Lecture Series, where she spoke about why journalism matters. A seasoned journalist, Gwen has covered six Presidential campaigns and moderated two vice-presidential debates. As moderator of the Peabody Award-winning Washington Post, she brings together some of the country’s best journalists to discuss the major stories of the week. Before joining PBS in 1999, she was chief congressional political correspondent for NBA News, White House correspondent for The New York Times and a local and national political reporter for The Washington Post. She’s fantastic! HoustonPBS created the Elevate Lecture Series in 2008 with the goal of offering Houstonians an opportunity to be inspired and learn practical, valuable information from some of the favorite PBS personalities as well as the country’s leading thinkers and experts. The event was held at the University of Houston Downtown and attended by Laura and Ernie Nesmith, Janice Harris, Mary Benton, Melanie Lawson, Maxsane Mitchell, Arthur Sanders, Jacqueline Boyden, Mamie Ewing, Donna Guess, George Conley, John Hesse, Dr. J. S. Stone and J. Stone, are just a few folks who enjoyed the evening and received signed copies of her best-selling book, The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama. Great Event!............BEATING THE ODDS…….There wasn’t a dry eye in the crowd as six extraordinary youth told their stories of beating the odds at the Children Defense Fund’s 2010 Beat the Odds Awards Dinner. Ms. Chag refers to Marian Wright Edelman, President of the Children’s Defense Fund and keynote speaker, as the “First Lady” of defending disadvantage American children. She has spent a lifetime working to guarantee every child a healthy start, a head start, a fair start, a safe start and a moral start in life with a successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities. The success of the event can be attributed to co-chairs Sharon Owens and Ed Smith, champions of children Philamena and Arthur Baird, as well as the crowd of over 300 guests. Spotted at the event were Jill and Kevin Roy Jr., Christine Johnson, David Jones, Camille Scott, Kelli KingJohnson, J. Kent and Ann Friedman, Merele Yarborough, Phyllis Williams, Fy-Fy Okocha and Vicki Stephens. Continued Success………..HATS, PEARLS AND 4” HEELS……..Any excuse to dress up and dine with friends is what Clarease Yates used to celebrate her special birthday and the ladies were happy to oblige. The elegant luncheon was held at the Artista Restaurant and attended by Yalila Guerrero, Monica Guidry, Keryl Douglas, Judge MiMi Yam, Cathy Lang, Althea Hart, Martha Garza, Evonne Hall, Esmin Tate, Denise Malloy, Diane Maben, Sharon Gray, Jackie Adams, Constance Charles, Christal Jackson, Janice Bond, Vanessa Hall and yours truly. Happy Birthday!........ KUDOS……..Houstonians are in good hands, as Police Chief Charles McClelland takes over the police department as “Houston’s Top Cop.” He began his career with HPD as a patrol officer in 1977 and worked his way through the ranks. He received a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from the University of Houston, followed by a master’s degree in sociology. This dedicated public servant has the respect, qualifications, experience and knowledge to lead the thousands of officers and civilian personnel and will take the department to a higher level. He’s a people person and believes in community outreach and the value of citizen’s input. We salute Chief McClelland and wish him continued success. God Bless!.......... Have a great week and remember to watch CROSSROADS on Channel 13 Sunday morning with Melanie Lawson for your event covered by Ms. Chag. Also, check out our website at to view the “Event of the Week.”…..From Chag’s Place to your place, Ciao Darling!

APRIL 25 – MAY 1, 2010 | DEFENDER

Arthur Sanders, Gwen Ifill and Jacqueline Boyden

Laura and Ernie Nesmith

Maxsane Mitchell and Gwen Ifill

Jill and Kevin J. Roy

Camille Scott and Kelli King-Johnson

Janice Harris, Author Gwen Ifill and Mary Benton

Christine Johnson and David Jones

Sharon Owens, Marian Wright Edelman and Ed Smith

Fy-Fy Okocha and Vicki Stephens

Cathy Lang, Althea Hart, Martha Garza and Evonne Hall

Esmin Tate, Clarease Yates, Denise Malloy and Diane Maben

B-Day Girl Clarease and Ms. Chag

MiMi Yam, Monica Guidry, Yalila Guerrero and Keryl Douglas

Sharon Gray, Jackie Adams, Constance Charles, Chistal Jackson and Janice Bond

Houston Defender: April 25, 2010  

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