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Houston’s Leading Black Information Source Volume 80 | Number 27

WEEK OF MAY 5, 2011 | FREE


CITY OF HOUSTON LAYOFFS Objective to save money



Feud shows mixed feelings


Commander in Chief... Death of bin laden confirms President Obama’s leadership President’s sister reflects on family

Dr. Maya Soetoro-Ng is a lecturer at the University of Hawaii and the author of a children’s book titled “Ladder to the Moon.” She’s also the sister of President Barack Obama. Named after Maya Angelou, she shares other interesting aspects of her life. She talks about her brother, his vision for his daughters, visits to the White House and childhood memories.  PAGE



TANGULA TAYLOR A Texas Children’s superstar leader

 PAGE 6


Spelling bee for Black kids

Houston is the site of a spelling bee championship for African-American youngsters. The competition is designed to improve the reading skills of middle school kids while helping them become better overall students. Organizers hope to inspire students to reach new heights. The finals will be held at Yates High School, and contestants are anxious to show what they know.  PAGE

3 • Serving the Houston area for over 80 years

Gerald and Anita Smith, chair Big Brothers & Big Sisters Annual Ball





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localbriefs Reynolds bill establishes truancy courts State Rep. Ron Reynolds (District 27-Fort Bend) recently passed House Bill 2132, which will create a consolidated truancy court that will provide consistency in dealing with truancy issues. The bill will allow county judges, with the consent of the commissioner’s court, to appoint magistrates to hear truancy cases. The county judge retains final authority over the decision rendered by the magistrate. “Since habitual truancy is such a strong indicator for future criminal behavior, it is important for our schools and the criminal justice system to apply proactive strategies together with meaningful sanctions in order to address truancy issues and ultimately reduce delinquency,” said Reynolds.

New Texas bill could cut predatory lending cycle Senate Bill 143, sponsored by Dallas State Sen. Royce West, aims to reign in the proliferation of payday loan companies in vulnerable neighborhoods. The bill will also ensure that interest rates charged by payday lenders are in line with state lending practices. Payday lending and auto-title loan companies have become a social and economic phenomenon that epitomizes the current reality for poor, working-class, and even some middleclass Americans – where necessities such as food, housing, and health care become more expensive while wages and incomes remain stagnant. And, this was before the current recession began putting even more downward pressure on wages, jobs, and living standards. Currently in Texas, lenders can charge up to 500 percent annual interest on payday and auto-title loans under a loophole in state law that allows the lenders to operate as unregulated Credit Service Organizations. According to the Austin-based Center for Public Policy Priorities, most payday lenders previously operated under the “rent-a-bank” model, teaming up with banks headquartered in states with lax or no usury laws. Under this model, payday lenders claimed they were loan brokers, thereby enabling them to evade Texas usury law.


Houston hosts first national

Black spelling bee The African American National Spelling Bee Championships (AANSBC), an organization headquartered in Houston, seeks to use the competitions to improve the reading skills of AfricanAmerican middle school children, and ultimately make them better, more confident overall students. The inaugural AANSBC finals competition will be held Saturday, May 14, at 9 a.m. at Yates High School, 3703 Sampson St. Winners from the hundreds of students at several Houston schools who recently participated in campus-wide spelling bees will compete in the championships for prizes. Organizers of the event hope to get more Blacks excited about spelling, a critical building block to teaching children how to read. They also hope to inspire the first African- American child to win the prestigious Scripps National Spelling Bee, an occurrence that has not happened in the event’s 85-year history (the fictional victory in the movie

“Akeelah and the Bee” notwithstanding). “We believe that the most important need in our community right now is the education of our young people,” said Jacqueline Terrell, executive director of the AANSBC. “Nationally, there is an achievement gap that exists between the performance of our youth and youth of other cultures, especially in the area of reading. We are using spelling as a tool to create better readers.” Research shows children who are good spellers become more confident readers. To this end, the AANSBC works to train children to be able to compete in spelling on a national and international level. This is done through the AANSBC efforts to provide teachers, business professionals and volunteers with the specialized training needed to prepare participating youth for success. “All children can learn at high levels when taught at high lev-

els,” said former U.S. Secretary of Education Dr. Rod Paige, who is an AANSBC advisory board member. “We don’t just want our children to memorize the words, we want them to strategize and understand the whole spelling system. We have to think non-traditional when it comes to educating our youth,” added Terrell. Terrell said the AANSBC is not in competition with other spelling bees, and has enjoyed a phenomenal response regarding youth participants and event sponsors. “The Scripps National Spelling Bee, Merriam-Webster and many others have donated prizes and sponsored this bee. The children participating in the bee are excited and have been working hard in order to compete on May 14th,” said Terrell. The objective is to expose middleschool aged African American youth (grades 6-8) to the origin and spelling of words, increase vocabulary and develop confidence which will catapult students to a higher level of education. “We are holding ourselves accountable for the success of our children and meeting a need that exists in our community,” added Terrell. The African American National Spelling Bee Championships is a 501(c)(3) public charity organization. For additional information, go to

City of Houston begins layoffs to save money By ASwAD wAlKeR Defender

The City of Houston recently began “downsizing” its workforce in an attempt to compensate for the city’s $80 million budget shortfall projected for 2012. Though Mayor Annise Parker is optimistic about Houston’s future employment prospects her office forwarded a memorandum to City Council members as well as department heads stating that “non-public safety” department workers would be the first workers targeted for layoffs. The layoffs are the first of many expected to go into effect by May 17. Individuals affected by this layoff will remain on the city’s payroll until July 1, the beginning of the new fiscal year.

News about city workers being laid off is bad news for Houstonians in general, but specifically for the city’s African Americans. Historically, the government (city, state and federal) is one of the biggest employers of Blacks. The percentage of Blacks working government jobs has for decades been higher than any other racial group. According to Parker economic improvements seen in the last month have allowed the City to reduce the number of planned layoffs by more than half. Parker is hopeful that further improvements will result in the number of remaining planned layoffs being reduced as well.x “That’s the only good news I’ve had today,” said Melvin Hughes, president of the Houston Organization of Public Employees Local 123.

“If there is further improvement,” the memo said, “it is possible that some of the remaining planned layoffs could be reversed.” Parker’s words, however, are little consolation to workers who have already received pink slips. Hughes communicated to union members that he expected the City to lay off hundreds by mid-May. The Mayor’s Office has yet to release the total number of terminations expected, but has said that the layoffs will result in service reductions for the public. Recently, Police Chief Charles McClelland said he had proposed laying off 181 police officers and 445 civilian workers to trim $39 million from a $685 million budget in the fiscal year that begins July 1. • Serving the Houston area for over 80 years




Mixed feelings about Obama unveiled

Sharpton vs. West by AFRO Staff

A war of words between the Rev. Al Sharpton and scholar Cornel West revved up recently after West made comments criticizing President Barack Obama. In an MSNBC special news program, West, a Princeton University professor, claimed Al Sharton that Obama is no longer working in the best interests of AfricanAmericans, but is instead protecting the interests of the financial sector. “I worry about you, brother, because you can be easily manipulated by those in the White House who do have the interests of Wall Street oligarchs, who do have the interests of corporate plutocrats who you opposed,” West said to Sharpton. “But you end up being the public face and Barack Obama ends up being another Black mascot.”

Cornell West

Sharpton countered that West needed to put the same pressure on his friends in Congress who have not pushed hard for a jobs bill and that any criticism of Obama was “hogwash,” leading to a shouting match that ended the show. TV and radio talk show host Tavis Smiley, a close friend and colleague of West, also offered harsh criticism of Obama. “The president knows his base in Black America is shaky,” Smiley said earlier on his radio show. “You can’t play that his-

tory card more than one time.” David Swerdlick, a political analyst and journalist, said that the criticism of Sharpton and Obama is unfair given the challenges the president had to face. “After firing his top general in Afghanistan for insubordination, enduring the ‘Ground Zero mosque’ controversy, and dealing with the Gulf oil spill, Somali pirates and a banking collapse that was waiting in his inbox on Day 1 of the job, President Obama is running low on juice,” Swerdlick wrote. The Obama administration, perhaps sensing frustration, has launched whitehouse. gov/africanamericans, part of a concerted effort to show what the White House is doing to address the needs of African Americans ahead of the 2012 presidential election.

Tornado victims try to pick up the pieces

U.S.briefs Proposed New Orleans univ. merger faces opposition Debate is heating up in New Orleans, as Louisiana’s governor seeks to merge predominantly Black Southern University of New Orleans (SUNO) with the University of New Orleans in an effort to improve both schools’ educational conditions. Both campuses were severely damaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. In the storm’s aftermath, enrollment and graduation rates at both schools plummeted, particularly at Southern. Supporters of the bill believe its passage would be difficult, as both the Black and Democratic Caucuses oppose it.

Oklahoma Senate passes bill targeting illegal immigration The Oklahoma Senate recently approved a bill that would create criminal penalties for undocumented residents who work in Oklahoma and for those who smuggle them into the state. The bill passed 37-8 and would authorize certain law enforcement officials to question people about their immigration status. A similar measure was part of an immigration bill Arizona passed last year. Gov. Mary Fallin, a Republican, told the Associated Press the bill would “empower” law enforcement to end human trafficking. Ed Martinez Jr., chairman of the Greater Tulsa Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, said the law legalizes racial profiling.

Obama recognizes Memphis sanitation strike participants President Obama recently recognized eight participants in the 1968 Memphis sanitation strike, a landmark event in civil rights and labor rights history. Obama invited the men to the White House to honor their courage during a turbulent era. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees embraced the Memphis protest against harsh working conditions and racial discrimination. While preparing for a demonstration, King was assassinated in the city on April 4, 1968. Following Obama’s meeting with the men, the U.S. Department of Labor marked the induction of workers into the Labor Hall of Fame. Compiled by AFRO Staff

by Defender News Services

The deadliest U.S. tornado outbreak since 1925 has claimed more than 300 lives across the South. Tuscaloosa, Ala., was among the cities hit hard, as a massive tornado wiped entire neighborhoods off the map and sent more than 800 people to the hospital. Tragically, nearly one week after the tornado, search and recovery crews struggled to pinpoint the whereabouts of at least 240 people. Survivors of the deadly tornado outbreak worked to rebuild their lives while coping with blackouts, waiting in long gas lines and searching for possessions hidden in rubble. President Obama traveled to Alabama to witness the devastation first-hand. As many as a million homes and businesses were without power, and Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley said 2,000 National Guard troops had been called in to help. In addition, the governors of Georgia and Mississippi issued emergency declarations for areas of their states hit by tornadoes.

VOLUME 80 • NUMBER • 26 MAY 5- MAY 11, 2011

Publisher Sonceria Messiah-Jiles Editor Von Jiles Associate Editors Reshonda Billingsley Marilyn Marshall Art Director Tony Fernandez-Davila President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama talk with residents of the Alberta neighborhood in Tuscaloosa, Ala., April 29, 2011, where deadly tornados touched down earlier this week. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza, To make donations, go to

Columnist Yvette Chargois Sport Editors Max Edison Darrell K. Ardison Contributing Writer Aswad Walker Webmaster Corneleon Block

The Defender newspaper is published by the Houston Defender Inc. Company (713-663-6996.. The Defender 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 2011 copyright. (No material herein may be reproduced without the written permission of the publisher). • Serving the Houston area for over 80 years



what’sup  Dwayne Johnson replacing

Howard in Charley Pride biopic

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has reportedly been cast in the long-in-the-works biopic of country music star Charley Pride. Terrence Howard had originally been cast in the lead role, but he dropped out as the production stalled. But the project is back on track with Johnson in the lead role. Pride confirmed the news in an interview with Canada’s Telegraph-Journal, saying, “(It) got fumbled… New management took over the studio that was ready to begin site work on it… And a decision was made to put all their resources behind thrillers – fast actioners. They felt that was where the big box office money was then.” Pride has also given Johnson his full blessing, after initially having doubts about his ability to tackle the role.

 Oprah announces ‘Farewell Spectacular’ at United Center

Tens of thousands of Oprah Winfrey fans will descend on Chicago in May for what Harpo Productions is calling “Surprise Oprah! A Farewell Spectacular.” Harpo announced that the star-studded show would tape May 17 at the United Center, just blocks away from Winfrey’s studios. The tapings will air on May 23 and 24, before Winfrey’s final episode of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” on May 25. Winfrey’s producers said the guest lineup would be a secret, but they promise “the biggest names in movies, music and television.” Tickets to the event are free, reports the AP. All tickets are sold out.

 Beyonce sued for $100

million over video game

Singer Beyonce was slapped with a $100 million lawsuit accusing her of being the “diva grinch” who ruined Christmas. The superstar was sued in Manhattan Supreme Court by a video game company Gate Five, which teamed up with her for a dance game called “Starpower: Beyonce,” the New York Post reported. The game was due out this November, the suit says, but went belly-up when the “Single Ladies” singer abruptly asked for more money last December. The suit calls it “a bad faith breach of contract so callous that, on what appeared to be a whim, she destroyed Gate Five’s business, and drove 70 people into unemployment, the week before Christmas.” The suit claims that Beyonce had “already negotiated lavish compensation” for the game, made an “extortionate demand for entirely new compensation” at a “crucial moment in the project’s development,” causing the main financier to back out.

Coming up …. Erykah Badu in Concert Arena Theater, May 21 8 pm Lavelle Crawford Comedy Show The Houston Improv, May 12-15


Maya Soetoro-Ng

Obama’s sister talks about book, family

by KAM williAMS Defender Born in Jakarta, Indonesia on August 15, 1970, Dr. Maya Soetoro-Ng is a lecturer at the University of Hawaii’s College of Education but is perhaps better known as the sister of Barack Obama. Named after the poet Maya Angelou, she has just published “Ladder to the Moon,” a picture book inspired by her young daughter Suhaila’s questions about the grandmother she never knew, Grandma Annie. Here, the “First Sister” talks about both her best-seller and about her family, including what it was like growing up with a big brother who would one day become the 44th president of the United States. KW: How do you feel about the birth certificate nonsense? MSN: My brother has said it all, and I really don’t have anything to add to it. It’s a non-issue and a distraction. KW: How did you come up with the title for your book? MSN: I came up with the title after being jostled into a memory of a postcard my mom had given me that I used to have tacked onto my bedroom wall of a painting by Georgia O’Keefe entitled “Ladder to the Moon.” It had a golden ladder suspended in a sea of blue with cliffs silhouetted in the distance. It emphasized the journey, the climb, and was both mysterious and also rather comforting. So, I thought it was very fitting to describe fortunate enough to see him a few times in the journey that Grandma Annie would take between. with Suhaila. KW: How does it feel to be named KW: What message do you want kids after Maya Angelou and have you ever to take away from the book? met her? MSN: Namely, that they are strong MSN: I did meet her many years and that they are powerful not only because ago when I went to see her speak on three they will shape the future but because they separate occasions. She knows that I was can already do much to heal today. And that named after her, but I haven’t seen her in the best things that grownups do, we do recent years, although my brother has. I for the children, and that they inspire great have always enjoyed the great rhythm in good in us. I also want them to remember her voice. And there have been ideas she’s that the world is intertwined and that we shared that were very influential to me, therefore have to be gentle in the way that A younger Obama hugs his baby sister. like the notion that words are tactile and we treat one another and the Earth, so that enduring and swirling around us. That’s our impact on others is benevolent and good. stuck with me and perhaps guided my choices as a teacher KW: How often do you get to speak to your brother KW: What message would you give to young students who and to visit the Obamas in the White House since he’s been aspire to the lofty heights of your brother? elected? MSN: Go for it! My brother didn’t run for student governMSN: I speak to him on a fairly regular basis, and I’ve ment, he didn’t get straight A’s, and he wasn’t perfect as a child. been to the White House quite a few times. He is concerned And he was much more interested in basketball than in student about making sure that his daughters and all of us are able to government. The key was that he never made any mistakes from have as much normalcy as possible. He doesn’t want his job to which he couldn’t recover. They were all mistakes that allowed be stressful for them. So, he still does many of the same things him to grow and develop. We came from exceedingly humble he did before becoming president. For instance, he spends every beginnings. So, as clichéd as it might sound to some adults, I Christmas in Hawaii and we engage in much of the same routhink that his life should remind children that they really can tines as before. And we spend summers together, and I’ve been achieve anything with the right support. • Serving the Houston area for over 80 years




Commander in chief Death of bin Laden confirms President Obama’s leadership

By Marilyn Marshall Defender


he recent death of 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden has shed new light on the leadership skills of President Barack Obama. For months, Obama’s critics have bashed his leadership, calling it at times “weak,” “timid” and “indecisive.” Politicians, talk show hosts and columnists condemned Obama for his domestic and foreign policies, and his response to issues ranging from the federal budget crisis to the turmoil in Libya. In a dramatic turn of events, Obama is now being hailed as “gutsy” for bringing down the world’s most wanted terrorist. During a late-night televised appearance from the White House East Room on May 1, Obama announced to the world that bin Laden had been killed after Navy Seals and CIA operatives stormed a sprawling compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The Al Qaeda leader was shot in the head and later buried at sea. Americans rejoiced at the news, and crowds waving flags and singing “the Star-Spangled Banner” converged on the White House and Ground Zero in New York City. “The death of bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation’s effort to defeat Al Qaeda,” Obama said. “But his death does not mark the end of our effort. There’s no doubt that Al Qaeda will continue to pursue attacks against us. We must and we will remain vigilant at home and abroad.” Military and intelligence officials learned last August that a “high-value target” was in the compound and began devising a plan for getting bin Laden. In the months that

followed, Obama presided over five national security meetings to go over the top-secret operation. The success of the operation would seem to prove many of Obama’s critics wrong. Two Houston political scientists say that Obama is actually a careful, deliberate and intellectual leader.

Obama’s style

Franklin Jones, a professor and chair of the Department of Political Science at Texas Southern University, said: “Part of the criticism of President Obama’s leadership style is based on his cerebral approach in explaining his positions on public policy issues. Another [part] is based solely on differences people have with the positions he takes.” In assessing Obama’s leadership, Jones said the President has accomplished most of what he wanted to his first two years in office, and that his supporters’ expectations were higher than what Obama promised. Jones added that Obama’s demeanor could give observers the wrong impression. “He has a thoughtful, professorial demeanor that does not resonate well in the rough and tumble field of politics,” Jones said. “So on first reflection he seems timid and soft, but when you see some of the policy results, there is toughness without the tone.” Richard Murray, a political science professor at the University of Houston and the Bob Lanier Chair in Urban Public Policy, also addressed the subject of Obama’s critics. “All presidents draw criticism from their partisan opponents, so much of the carping about President Obama is just the usual stuff we hear from the party that lost the last election,” Murray said. “There is, however, a sharper

President Barack Obama makes a point during one in a series of meetings in the Situation Room of the White House discussing the mission against Osama bin Laden, May 1, 2011. National Security Advisor Tom Donilon is pictured at right. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

tone directed at the 44th president because of, in my opinion, his race

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, along with members of the national security team, receive an update on the mission against Osama bin Laden in the Situation Room of the White House, May 1, 2011. Seated, from left, are: Brigadier General Marshall B. “Brad” Webb, Assistant Commanding General, Joint Special Operations Command; Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough; Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton; and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. Standing, from left, are: Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; National Security Advisor Tom Donilon; Chief of Staff Bill Daley; Tony Binken, National Security Advisor to the Vice President; Audrey Tomason Director for Counterterrorism; John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism; and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

and unusual family and political background.” • Serving the Houston area for over 80 years

How does Murray describe Obama’s leadership style? DEFENDER | WEEK OF MAY 5 | 2011





President Barack Obama talks on the phone in the Oval Office before making a statement to the media about the mission against Osama bin Laden, May 1, 2011. The President made a series of calls, including to former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton and others, to inform them of the successful mission. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)


“Objectively, I think Mr. Obama is careful and deliberative, especially in foreign policy/national defense – not a bad thing after the impulsive ‘gut’ leadership of President George W. Bush,” Murray said. “The President likes to surround himself with smart, energetic people like Bob Gates and Hillary Clinton when making decisions. He wants all points of view to be aired, then weighs the options and makes decisions.”




It’s only temporary

Though bin Laden’s death has quieted some of Obama’s critics, Murray said the silence will not last long. “Too many people have deeply rooted hostility to this president, and many critics play to this,” Murray said. Jones agreed. “There may be a short-term downturn in the criticisms levied at the president. However, when you announce that your top priority is to see him fail nothing that he does really matters,” he said. “Note the extent that the coverage of the assassination of bin Laden has generally minimized the direct role of President Obama and included the role of the Bush administration,” Jones said. “How do you think the President would have been portrayed if the mission had failed?” The death of bin Laden is expected to give Obama a boost in popularity, but neither Jones nor Murray thinks the President’s re-election is a given. “The distance between this and the election is long enough that other issues can develop and impact the outcome of the election,” Jones said. “At this point President Obama himself is what appears to be the focus of the opposition. “We also have to remember who actually voted in 2008 and what are the chances of that electoral coalition materializing in 2012,” Jones said. “Finally the quality of the opposition also has to be considered.” “The killing of bin Laden does not guarantee the re-election of President Obama, but it makes it somewhat more likely,” Murray said. “I thought he was maybe a 60-65 percent favorite before this episode, now maybe 75 percent. The other 25 percent mostly depends on Republicans not nominating someone perceived as not qualified [i.e., Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich or Michele Bachmann] and a sour economy in 2012.”


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A Defender & Texas Children’s Hospital Alliance

Sickle cell disease in Angola

Focus of new center T exas Children’s Center for Global Health has created a new initiative to combat sickle cell disease in Angola which will be led by Dr. Russell Ware in conjunction with Baylor International Pediatric AIDS Initiative, Chevron Corporation and medical experts in Angola. The initiative will organize a screening and treatment program for newborns with the hope of saving many lives through diagnosing and treating Dr. Kebba Jobarta examines a patient in Malawi. Photo by Smiley Pool. the disease early. from Texas Children’s Center for “BIPAI and Texas Children’s has Angola has one of Global Health to the Republic of a strong record of working with local the world’s highest rates of the Angola, where an agreement was governments and private partners in genetic blood condition sickle cell signed with the country’s Ministry of tackling what sometimes seem like disease, which affects up to 10,000 Health on March 22 to begin a pilot overwhelming medical needs in the of the country’s newborn babies program. The screening program is countries of Africa,” said Michael each year. Most cases in Angola Mizwa, BIPAI’s chief operating slated to begin later this summer in are undiagnosed and contribute officer and senior vice president. “We two large maternity hospitals in the substantially to the high mortality city of Luanda and is being supported believe that the Sickle Cell program rate for children. A staggering one in in Angola will become a model for four Angolan children will die before by $4 million in funding from Chevron Corporation. other programs across the continent.” they reach their fifth birthday due to The goal is to expand The good news is that there the lack of proper newborn screening, subsequent phases to Angola’s 18 are now tools to change this bleak diagnosis and treatment. provinces, simultaneously building outlook for African children born The key to improving sickle Angola’s capacity to address the with sickle cell disease – in exactly cell’s prevalence in Angola is early the same way that American children diagnosis and treatment done through disease through public health policies, health training and the with the disease are expected to live proper newborn screening. dissemination of clinical research. long and full lives. Dr. Ware recently led a team

healthnotes About Sickle Cell Disease in the United States Sickle cell disease is the most common inherited blood disorder in the United States affecting about 72,000 Americans and one in 400 African-Americans. The disease is characterized by red blood cells that are abnormally shaped and can result in painful episodes, serious infections, chronic anemia, organ damage, fatigue, infection, stroke and much more. Sickle cell disease affects millions of people throughout the world and is most common in people whose origins are African, Mediterranean, Arabian or Indian (Asian). About 3 million Americans and one in 12 African-Americans carry the sickle cell trait, which means that they do not have the disease themselves but could potentially pass it on to their children. Sickle cell can severely affect one’s quality of life, but because of advancements in early diagnosis and treatment, most children born today with this disorder have great potential to grow up and live relatively healthy, productive lives. The Texas Children’s Sickle Cell Center provides comprehensive, familycentered care and treatment for children with sickle cell disease. Serving more than 1,000 children each year, the program is one of the largest in the country and is participating in new research studies through the Sickle Cell Disease Research Network. Visit for more information about sickle cell disease.

Nurses honored during National Nurses Week Nurses are an essential thread in the fabric of our community, and every year these professionals are honored the first week of May during National Nurses Week, which serves to educate the public about issues, challenges and rewards in the nursing profession. Texas Children’s Hospital has more than 2,000 nurses, and each plays a big role in providing excellent personalized care to patients. Tangula Taylor, director of Nursing and Integrated Medical Record System at Texas Children’s, is just one

example out of many nurses serving on the board of the who are passionate, hardSociety of Pediatric Nurses working, caring and truly and as a past treasurer for the make a difference in the lives Houston Organization of of numerous children. Nurse Executives. As a leader in Recognized as a Texas nursing, Taylor enjoys Children’s Super Star the challenge of keeping Leader for her genuine her staff motivated and concern and compassion as makes every effort to make a leader, Taylor shares her communication positive and Tangula Taylor keys to success. productive. She is also a “As we all know, nursing strong member of the nursing community, is not just about helping the sick and

injured overcome physical illnesses, injuries and diseases, but also about offering a healing touch or healing words to a person in need,” said Taylor. “It is important to be able to connect with your patient families, as well as your peers and colleagues because providing excellent care is about collaboration and communication. Texas Children’s is thankful for their wonderful nurses and appreciates their dedication and hard work to provide the finest pediatric care. • Serving the Houston area for over 80 years DEFENDER | WEEK OF MAY 5 | 2011


Big coverage for the he little ones.

Texas Children’s Health Plan covers children from newborns to teenagers. We even cover adults and pregnant moms through STAR Medicaid. Families with children who qualify for CHIP pay $50 or less a year. Those who qualify for Medicaid pay nothing. CHIP and STAR Medicaid offer a wide range of benefits including checkups and shots, dental services, medications, and more. With Texas Children’s Health Plan you also get: ■

Over 2,100 doctors.

A 24-hour nurse hotline.

Free transportation to doctor visits.

Pregnancy support program and classes.

Help losing weight through the Keep Fit Program.

Learn how to play soccer from the Houston Dynamo coaches.

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sports 2011 NFL draft

Texans go for defense By Max Edison Defender


he NFL draft is like Christmas morning for football fans around the world. Millions of fans go to bed the night before the draft hoping to wake up and find a franchise quarterback, a rush linebacker, a dominant defensive lineman or a fleet-footed wide receiver under the football tree. For the hometown Texans, who finished 30th out of 32 teams in total defense, make no mistake about it, defensive help was at the top of their wish list. They were armed with a new defensive coordinator, Wade Phillips, who was out to find players that he could mold in his image with the 3-4 defensive scheme. They had eight picks in seven rounds: six defensive players (defensive end, two linebackers, two cornerbacks, safety) and two offensive players (quarterback, tackle). With the 11th pick in the 2011 draft, Phillips and the Texans selected J.J. Watt (6’5” 290 lbs.) from Wisconsin. He was an All-American first-team selection by the NFL Draft Report. He earned second-team honors from the Associated Press and Sports Illustrated. He was also a Consensus All-Big Ten Conference first-team choice and was named the most underrated defensive player in the country at his position by the NFL Draft Report. After the selection of Watt, Phillips was all smiles and explained the team’s decision. “I think you talk about value and you talk about need and we certainly needed a defensive player,” he said. “He was the top guy we had right there and right then. I like his ability. He’s our kind of player. He plays a hundred miles per hour every play.

This was the kind of player we want on the Texans defense. “He reminds me a lot of Phil Hansen, who I had at Buffalo for a while, that same kind of size, movement and temperament,” Phillips continued. “If he plays anywhere close to Phil Hansen, that’d be great for us. I think the kid is very talented athletically. He ran a 4.81, I believe, at 290 pounds. “They worked him out as an outside backer and he actually didn’t look bad at 290 pounds as an outside backer. He’s really a defensive lineman and at 6’5½”, 34 reps, he’s strong and we think he can come in and help our defensive line and play really well in our area. He is a good pass rusher. He will help us on the pass rush.” Watt clearly understands that because of his selection and the team’s futility on defense in 2010, there is a huge expectation placed on him. “I think it’s expected to be a first-round draft pick that you come in and perform,” Watt said. “No one has higher expectations for me than I do. I am going to come in and give it everything I have, and at the end of the day, I hope it helps the team win football games because, that is what it’s all about.” Watt describes what Texan fans can expect from him. “My biggest strength is my work ethic. I am going to put a ton of time in the film room, weight room, and on the field. Like I said, I am going to give you every single thing I have, every single play, and at the end of the day we’re going to win football games because of it.” In the second round the Texans continued their quest to improve their defensive personnel by selecting Arizona linebacker Brooks Reed (6’3” 263 lbs. 42nd

Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips explains the Texans defensive selections . BE Studios

overall). Reed has been compared favorably to Green Bay Packer ProBowl linebacker Clay Matthews Jr., a comparison he embraces. “It’s pretty honorable. He’s an awesome, awesome player. He plays with the style I want to play with. He plays the right way; he’s a complete player. He does everything. He pass rushes, plays the run, drops into coverage and I that is something I could do.” Rounding out the draft the Texans selected Miami cornerback Brandon Harris (5’10” 191 lbs. 60th overall) in the bottom of the second round. They chose another cornerback Roc Carmichael (5’10” 192 lbs. 127th overall) from Virginia Tech in the fourth round. To round things out they selected safety Shiloh Keo (5’11” 219 lbs. 144th overall) from Idaho and QB T.J. Yates (6’3” 219 lbs. 152nd overall) from North Carolina in the fifth round, and offensive tackle Derek Newton (6’6” 314 lbs. 214th overall) from Arkansas State and Rice linebacker Cheta Ozougwu (6’2” 255 lbs. 254th overall) in the seventh round.

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A happy moment for the Watt family as J.J. is introduced to Houston. BE Studios

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Jenzel Nash will take her immense talents to play basketball at UTEP following an extraordinary prep career at Worthing High School.

Nash caps prep career By Darrell K. Ardison Defender

This figures to be a busy couple of weeks for Jenzel Nash. The Worthing High School standout student-athlete will conclude her brilliant prep career with a fourth straight appearance in the Region III-4A track meet in Huntsville, followed by a high school all-star game and her senior prom on the same day. Nash qualified for the regional track meet in five events, including triple jump, long jump and all three relays (4x100, 4x200 and 4x400). She opened the 2010-2011 school year by winning the District 22-4A cross country title for the third consecutive year after finishing second her freshman year. “The regional meet is always so competitive because you have people who finished first, second or third in their district,” Nash said. “It always presents a major challenge for me.” On May 7, Nash will journey to Waco where she will participate in the inaugural Texas Sports Hall of Fame Texas Shootout. The event includes boys and girls all-star games at the Ferrell Center on the campus of

NASH FAVORITES Color: Hot pink Subject: Math Chill activity: Watching basketball Meal: Cornbread and collard greens Athletes: Candace Parker, LeBron James Career: Criminal justice Baylor University. Nash was the leading prep scorer in the nation this season at 37.7 points per game, including a 64-point outburst against Booker T. Washington. The game will also feature the nation’s top rebounder in Mande Driggers of Victoria Faith Academy. “I’m looking forward to playing in the game and joining some other players that I know,” Nash said. “It’s an honor to be one of the 29 players selected to play in the game.” One of those players will be Atascocita’s Chrishuana Parker, who will be Nash’s college teammate at the University of Texas at El Paso. The girls’ game begins at 10:30 a.m.

classifieds 

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               

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she would sometimes cry if we lost a district game or a playoff game, Nash said. “She had great leadership skills and I learned from her. I didn’t always want to be the leader. I had to grow into that role.” Whether it’s winning the cross country title, leading the nation in scoring and taking Worthing to the second round of the state high school basketball playoffs or qualifying for the regional track meet in five events, Nash has enjoyed a stellar senior year and now has the opportunity to play at the next level. “Jenzel deserves all the recognition that she gets,” Harris said. “She’s been a joy to coach for four years and I couldn’t be happier for her.”

Participate in the Family Eats Study

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The early start will allow Nash time to travel back to Houston the same day for Worthing’s prom later that evening. Two days following her high school graduation (June 4), Nash will begin summer courses at UTEP (June 6). Talk about a whirlwind finish. Nash believes her success the past four years at Worthing has been the direct result of her own hard work, great guidance from Worthing head coach Leslie Harris and a key influence from a former teammate. “Coach Harris doesn’t tolerate laziness or behavioral problems and I didn’t present either one of those,” Nash said. “She was behind me from the start. But when I messed up or had a bad game, she was always right there to tell me how to correct things. “She coached at the college level and played collegiately so she always knew the right things to say to me.” Nash revealed that former teammate Amber Jenkins had a huge positive influence on her before graduating after Nash’s sophomore year. “Amber knew how to get us all on the same page. She hated to lose at anything and

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The Children’s Nutrition Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine is looking for African-American families with 8-12 year old children to participate in an 8-session, internet program on healthy eating. You can participate from your home!

While you watch the Johnson family learn to eat healthy you may: • Access our nutrition website • Get healthy recipes • Complete online questionnares • Receive up to $70 for you and $70 for your child! You will need: • A high–speed internet connection • An e-mail address For more information, call or email Mamie White at 713-798-0501 or



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Big Sis Krupa Patel, Jerrica Jones, Ashley Walker and Big Sis Adrienne Simpson

The Dyson Family, Reggie, Amanda, Rejhi and Becky

on Thursday, May 12 at FREEDOM RIDERS……..HoustonPBS is hosting 7 p.m. at the Omni Houston Galleria Hotel. It’s a series of local events and television specials in support of the award-winning FREE and open to the public. Also, the documentary “Freedom documentary will air nationally on PBS Join Yvette Chargois Riders” by producer, writer on May 16. Continued success!........THE Events of the Week and director Stanley Nelson. BIG BALL…….The Big Black Tie Ball: More photos on A reception for him was An Evening of Masterpieces benefiting See Events on KTRK Ch.13’s Crossroads held at the Melcher Center Big Brothers Big Sisters was chaired by with Melanie Lawson Sunday Morning @ 11 a.m. for Public Broadcasting, Anita and Gerald Smith and raised a record-breaking amount of money that the home of Channel 8. To will benefit hundreds of children and match them with commemorate the 50th anniversary of their historic rides which galvanized the Civil Rights Movement, a mentor who will help them realize the masterpiece and part of the HoustonPBS Elevate Lecture Series, in each of them. Comcast and public artist and the station will present a panel discussion featuring community developer Reginald Adams were honored actual Freedom Riders from Houston and California for their outstanding service and dedication to our

The Gray Family, Ernest, Avery and Carol

youth. Spotted among the 400 guests in attendance were Kim and Jamie House, Angela and Albert Myres, Suzette and Kirbyjon Caldwell, Judy and Wayne McConnell, and Winnell and Doug Herron. Congratulations!...........RISING STARS AMONG US………More that 1,000 Eagle Scouts, past and current, came together for the annual Sam Houston Area Council Gathering of Eagles reception held at the Berry Center in Cypress. The newly created National Eagle Scout Association Outstanding Eagle Scout Award was awarded to Dr. Kenneth D. Wells, president of Alken Health Resources and six others for their outstanding achievements at the local, state or regional level. We salute all of you!........From Chag’s Place to your place, Ciao Darling! • Serving the Houston area for over 80 years

Houston Defender: May 5 2011  
Houston Defender: May 5 2011  

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