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Houston’s Leading Black Information Source Volume 81 | Number 7

WEEK OF DECEMBER 15, 2011 | FREE

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NATIONAL

Dealing with the

dropout rate  PAGE 8

TEXAS MINORITY voting power threatened

Senfronia Thompson

P4 OPINION SPORTS

JEFF LUHNOW Astros’ new GM

P14 CHAG’S PLACE

Russell Simmons

embraces movement The Occupy Wall Street movement has caught the attention of hiphop mogul Russell Simmons, who has maintained a visible presence at sites of the protest. Simmons is serious about his involvement, and is critical of the corporate influence which he believes contributes to inequality. He also believes the movement is growing stronger.  PAGE

6

Kwanzaa

countdown begins The celebration of Kwanzaa begins the day after Christmas, and Houstonians of all ages are gearing up for the annual, African-centered observance. Created by Dr. Maulana Karenga, Kwanzaa is a celebration of family, community and culture. The seven-day observance features seven principles, ranging from unity to purpose to faith.  PAGE 10

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Lou Gregory and Linda Lorelle at Women’s Chamber of Commerce gala

P16

NEXT WEEK

2011 TOP

Stories


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Stay Connected! Experience the Defender on the world wide web.

In The Book Corner

Top 10 non-fiction Black books for 2011

Cardow, The Ottawa Citizen

The Cartoon of the week

To see the Top 5, log onto defendernetwork. com 6. Ashamed to Die by Andrew J. Skerritt 7. Super Rich by Russell Simmons 8. Giving Back by Valaida Fullwood 9. Fail Up by Tavis Smiley 10. High on the Hog by Jessica B. Harris

Question of the Week Are schools doing enough to lower the dropout rate?

See more on: defendernetwork.com

News & Opinion Occupy the Dream

Benjamin F. Chavis Jr.

T

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WEEK OF DECEMBER 15 | 2011 | DEFENDER

Minority health:

newstalk

3

Houston has a problem By ASWAD WALKER Defender The most comprehensive survey ever released about Houston’s health reveals that race is still a major predictor of outcomes. Dr. Stephen Linder, principle investigator for the “Health of Houston Survey 2010,” led a University of Texas Health Science Center team that found race and ethnicity separated how people were doing, particularly regarding quality of personal health and levels of un-insurance. Overall, the survey discovered that barriers to health care services, high rates of chronic and mental health conditions, low rates of preventive screenings and unsafe neighborhood conditions are among Houston’s top health care concerns. In a nutshell, the findings revealed that in too many instances, Blacks, Latinos and Asians are neither getting health care in a timely fashion, nor accessing available preventative services. The Institute for Health Policy-sponsored survey gathered findings on health status, health care and lifestyle, as well as on social, economic and neighborhood risk factors from more than 5,000 randomly selected households, made up of more than 5,000 adults and 1,300 children. “Critical among the social determinants that affect who gets sick or not is income inequalities; not just being poor but also being in the presence of severe income inequalities – we know from literature one leads to the other,” said Linder. “Race plays a role as well,” Linder added. “In situations with lingering vestiges of segregation, or being marginalized in other ways, there are adverse health effects as well. These findings are not from the survey but from science, and they informed the kinds of questions we asked.” Linder put together a team, won funding from the Houston Endowment, and employed one of the nation’s leading survey firms. The results showed that among other things, the lack of health insurance continues to be a major problem. “What happens is, the uninsured access care later, and if their health conditions worsen, it’s much more costly. And postponed care becomes a bigger issue for children – especially preventative services like immunizations,” Linder said.

Survey facts and figures include: • While 34 percent of all Houstonians are uninsured, 28 percent of Blacks fall in this category. Forty-six percent of Hispanics are uninsured, though that number increases to 56 percent when undocumented individuals are factored in. • Twenty percent of Houstonians consider themselves to be in fair or poor health. Blacks and Hispanics have roughly the same percentage in this category at 24 and 25 percent respectively. Surprisingly, Vietnamese, Houston’s largest Asian group, have 36 percent that fall in this category. • Almost half of area residents – 48 percent – experienced difficulty buying food or paying their rent or mortgage at some point in the last year; an economic hardship that impacts health status. Compounding matters, 50 percent of area adults had no dental insurance last year. • The highest proportions of uninsured adults (34 to 62 percent), according to findings, reside in the Northline, Downtown-East End and Gulfton areas, neighborhoods that also have some of the highest levels of economic disadvantage, coupled with the highest proportion of residents in fair or poor health. • Northline-Eastex, Acres Homes-Greater Inwood and Sunnyside-Greater Hobby have the highest levels of children who lack insurance (18 to 31 percent) and face other barriers to health care. Linder added that less than half of the uninsured and sick are not going to get the care they think they need. “Many are not getting screenings for things like cancer – although Blacks in Houston are doing fairly well in this area,” said Linder. The area average of the unscreened among those eligible is about 20 percent. Blacks and whites in the city come in at 18 percent. Compared to other parts of the country, when it comes to the numbers of people categorized as in fair or poor health, Houston doubles the national average. Houston’s uninsured are almost twice that of the country’s numbers as well. In addition, Houston’s numbers with regard to people suffering serious psychological distress are at 7.4 percent – nearly double the national average of 4 percent. The two Black communities with the highest levels of

serious psychological distress are East Houston-Settegast and Northline Eastex. Linder was surprised by gender differentials as well. “We can’t figure out why there’s a gender split, but women are twice as high as men in numbers suffering from serious psychological distress. It’s the same thing with unmet health care needs. “As well, young girls are twice as likely as young boys to be uninsured,” said Linder, who hopes to uncover answers in subsequent years. “Houston has never had this kind of study before,” Linder added. “We’re setting the bar as a best practice for how this survey should be done. We plan to do this type of survey every two years so it’s like a surveillance piece to break up the myths.” The survey’s findings can be accessed by visiting www. hhs2010.net.

Runoff changes City Council’s look Defender News Services

The Houston City Council will have a different look. In the recent runoff, one African-American incumbent lost, while two newcomers won. Jolanda Jones lost her At-Large Position 5 seat to challenger Jack Christie. Jones received 46 percent of the vote (25,819) to Christie’s 54 percent (30,600). In a close race for the At Large 2 seat for Andrew Burks and Kristi Thibaut received 50 percent of the vote. Burks, however, who had a strong showing in Fort Bend County, came out on top with 26,156 votes, compared to 25,945 for Thibaut. In another close race, Jerry Davis defeated Alvin Byrd for the District B seat. Davis received 3,127 votes (51 percent) compared to 3,029 (49 percent) for Byrd.

localbriefs TEXAS SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY’S accreditation has been reaffirmed for another 10 years by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). TSU President Dr. John Rudley traveled to the SACS meeting in Orlando, and acknowledged the good news. “The university across the board, administratively and academically, has worked very hard to move the university forward to enhance its academic programming and strengthen its financial systems. We see this accreditation as evidence that the university is moving in the right direction. We are very pleased,” Rudley said…….. OCCUPY HOUSTON launched a movement to occupy the Port of Houston that landed about 20 protesters in jail. Protesters were arrested near the Ship Channel where they

blocked the I-10 ramp to the East Loop/610. Members of the Occupy movement held protests nationwide in a coordinated action targeting the nation’s ports…… ..‘SUNDAY MORNING LIVE’ will return to the air on Majic 102. In a letter to community leaders, Radio One CEO Alfred Liggins III said beginning Jan. 8, “We will return the broadcast of the [show] to its previous time slot of 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. each Sunday.” Liggins recently met with leaders to address community concerns about local programming and personnel……..STATE REPS. HAROLD DUTTON & SENFRONIA THOMPSON have received new assignments. Thompson was appointed co-chair of the Joint Interim Committee to Study Human Trafficking. Dutton was appointed to the Sunset Advisory

Commission, which identifies and eliminates waste, duplication, and inefficiency in government agencies… …..U.S. REPS. AL GREEN & SHEILA JACKSON LEE made recent announcements concerning legislation. The Housing Subcommittee unanimously approved the Homes for Heroes Act, which establishes a special assistant for Veterans Affairs and an annual report on veterans’ homelessness. The bill was introduced by Green and Congressman Michael Grimm. Jackson Lee said she will introduce “Zero Tolerance” legislation to combat sexual abuse of children. It would stop federal funds being received by institutions, employees or any other entities where sexual abuse of children is not immediately reported.

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DEFENDER | WEEK OF DECEMBER 15 | 2011

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Texas minority voting power threatened the high court’s ruling, five Black Texas legislators pubThe case of Texas licly expressed concern that redistricting took another the lower court-produced dramatic turn recently as the maps negatively impacted U.S. Supreme Court granted voting power in historically state Attorney General Greg Black districts. Abbott’s request to temporar“From the perspecily block interim redistricting tive of the Texas Legislative maps. Black Caucus we support Some view the fallout the interim plans for the from the decision merely as Congressional seats and the Garnet Coleman an inconvenience to Texas State Senate maps,” said voters and aspiring candidates. Houston State Rep. SylvesOthers, however, view the stay ter Turner, one of the five as a direct attempt to weaken initially voicing reservations. Black and Latino voting power He was joined by by dismantling critical proviHouston lawmakers Alma sions of the Voting Rights Act. Allen, Harold Dutton, The Supreme Court’s Borris Miles and Senfronia emergency stay means canThompson. didates now have until Dec. “We voiced our 19 to file for office. The stay concerns but we never asked could delay legislative and for a stay,” Turner said. “We Senfronia Thompson congressional primaries curwould have preferred the rently scheduled for March 6 until May. Supreme Court to stay out of this matter The groups involved in the redistricting entirely, because you never know what’s battle are scheduled to make oral argugoing on in the minds of Supreme Court ments before the court on Jan. 9. justices. The interim maps in question were “I hope they don’t do anything to drawn by a San Antonio court’s threeweaken or eliminate the Voting Rights judge panel after complaints were raised Acts, specifically Sections 2 and 5.” that the redistricting maps produced Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act during the last Texas Legislative session contains a general prohibition on voting bolstered the political power of Tea Party discrimination. Section 5 deals with the and Republican lawmakers while seriously process of “preclearance.” damaging the voting power of minorities. “Preclearance is what protects Black Abbott contended that the lower and Latino districts around the country,” court’s interim maps undermined the “will said Coleman. “Texas Attorney General of the people” and asked the Supreme Greg Abbott wants to get rid of preclearCourt to intervene. ance. The Supreme Court decision further “Preclearance means when a map complicated the redistricting issue. Prior to is drawn the U.S. Justice Department has By ASWAD WALKER Defender

to give its opinion on whether or not it harms minorities and their voting power. Because you have to wait for preclearance before you can have an election, if you remove preclearance, elections can be run on new maps even if they take away voting power from Blacks and Latinos,” Coleman explained. “This stay is the worst thing that could have ever happened because Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act is now in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, where there is no appeal of the rulings of the highest court in the land,” said Coleman. Coleman says he cannot predict how the current saga will play out, but believes there is ill intent behind Abbott’s actions. “The goal of conservatives is to get rid of the entire Voting Rights Act; that’s been their stated goal for the last five to 10 years,” Coleman said. “But they can’t get rid of it in Congress, so they go to the courts where they have the ability to win a case because the courts have conservative judges who agree with their point of view. “A removal of preclearance doesn’t just affect Texas, but every state. What the Supreme Court tells Texas to do becomes the law of the land. This stay is the most dangerous thing that ever happened with regard to the Voting Rights Act,” added Coleman. The San Antonio court’s interim maps were produced to allow Texas elections to take place as originally scheduled while lawmakers worked to achieve a final redistricting map resolution. “I can’t say right now whether the Supreme Court’s stay is good, bad or indifferent,” said Thompson. “Everything’s up in the air right now. People don’t know when the elections are; they don’t even know what the districts are.”

U.S.briefs Fallout continues from Florida A&M hazing incidents The suspected hazing death of Florida A&M band member Robert Champion is having a domino effect. Recently, three male members of the band faced charges in the beating of a female band member. Police said Bria Shante Hunter was hit so hard that she broke her thigh and had blood clots in her legs. Hunter was beaten three weeks before Champion died. Sean Hobson and Aaron Golson were charged with hazing and battery, and James Harris was charged with hazing. Earlier, FAMU President James Ammons received a reprimand from the board of trustees in wake of Champion’s death.

Thousands stage voting rights demonstration in NYC The assault on voting rights and voting practices drew loud and targeted protest in New York City recently as a coalition made up of civil rights, organized labor and community advocacy organizations staged a march and rally they called the Stand for Freedom in midtown Manhattan. The rally, attended by approximately 25,000 demonstrators, according to one estimate, marked a counter-assault on the drive to erode voting rights. The coalition initiating the march and rally included the NAACP, the National Urban League, Service Employees International Union Local 1199 and the American Civil Liberties Union.

Black conservative group blasts NAACP for actions Members of the Project 21 conservative Black leadership network are criticizing the NAACP for “crying wolf��� about threats to voting rights. They also believe voter ID laws are not discriminatory. “If you have to show an ID to check into the Holiday Inn Express, then it makes perfect sense that you should do the same when you are exercising the most sacred constitutional right – the right to vote,” said Project 21 spokeswoman Cherylyn LeBon Harley. “The idea that showing identification poses a barrier to my constitutional right to vote is both ridiculous and insulting,” added Shelby Emmett. “Does the NAACP believe Blacks are too lazy, ignorant or incapable of getting valid identification?”

UNCF steps up efforts to raise $5 million Defender News Services

Hundreds of minority students in their final year of college are in immediate danger of not graduating. “They have hit the economic wall and have nowhere else to turn,” said Pearl Algere-Lonian, director of financial aid at Xavier University of Louisiana, one of the 38 HBCUs that are members of the United Negro College Fund. To address the issue, UNCF initiated its CESA (Campaign for Emergency Student Aid) program in 2009, and hopes to raise at least $5

million in scholarship aid to help this year’s students get to the finish line. The average CESA grant is $1,600 per student, the difference between a dropout and a graduate. “Imagine what $1,600 means to a family whose average income is $29,000 a year,” said Dr. Walter Kimbrough, president of Philander Smith College in Little Rock. “Keeping these young people on track to graduate is critical. They are often the first persons in their families to even go to college. Imagine the pride the whole family has when the student is accepting his diploma,” said

Kimbrough. HBCUs graduate more than 50 percent of the country’s AfricanAmerican professionals. Yet in today’s challenging economy, students from low-income families are finding that sources of funds for their education are drying up. Federal programs have been cut, there is increasing difficulty getting private loans, and family income has been reduced because of job loss or a reduction in hours. To learn more about CESA or to make a donation, visit http://give.uncf. org/cesa.

VOLUME 81 • NUMBER • 7 WEEK OF DECEMBER 15, 2011

Publisher Sonceria Messiah-Jiles Advertising/Client Relations Selma Dodson Tyler Associate Editors Reshonda Billingsley Marilyn Marshall Art Director Tony Fernandez-Davila

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).

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DEFENDER | WEEK OF DECEMBER 15 | 2011

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Russell Simmons

shares his vision for movement

H

By Kam Williams Defender

ip-hop mogul Russell Simmons was among the handful of celebrities making a daily show of support of Occupy Wall Street (OWS) via a very visible presence in lower Manhattan and other cities. But since the police began banning and bulldozing the group’s campsites all across the country, it seems that the activists might have lost some of their momentum. I decided to track down Simmons to see whether he thinks OWS was just a flash in the pan or if it will be revived despite the recent crackdown. Kam Williams: Why did you join the Occupy Wall Street Movement? Russell Simmons: Well, I have certainly been one of the people who’s been very vocal about the government’s being more concerned about special interests than the needs of the people who elected the officials. There’s always been talk about this, and now we have a chance to have a real dialogue. Wall Street controlled the future of the people participating in the occupation. A lot of pundits keep asking, “What do they want?” It’s so clear to me what the protesters’ rap is all about. They’re occupying Wall Street and carrying picket signs that say things like, “I couldn’t afford a politician, so I made this sign.” You can trace their grievances and discontent back to all the corporate influence which has had a huge impact in terms of all the inequalities that people are suffering from…Whether you’re talking about healthcare, jobs going overseas, or tax reform, you’re always coming up against lobbyists. So that issue is critical. And this dialogue is bringing a lot more attention to it. KW: But are the politicians listening to OWS or to the lobbyists? Simmons: The politicians already in office don’t want

to change. A few might have and find purpose in joining the it in their hearts to change and movement. to start working for the people, Unfortunately, a few were but even some of the most disruptive, and the media would progressive politicians are silent give the bad apples the most atbecause they know that the tention and so OWS’ message was candidate with the most money being misrepresented. But OWS wins. was only taking care of people the KW: So, what’s the soluCity of New York should’ve been tion? caring for. So, the cleaning out of Simmons: On the day that the parks just means the revolution Mayor Bloomberg cleared out has to evolve. Zuccotti Park in New York, KW: What would your I went up to Boston where answer be to people who ask, I promoted a Constitutional “What, specifically, does Occupy amendment calling for public Wall Street want?” financing of elections, a very Simmons: We want the straightforward, no-nonsense, government to be controlled by no compromise amendment all the people, not by the richest which prohibits any expendione percent. That’s always been tures by any third party, by any the first demand. That’s a simple special interests or even by the enough message, and I think it’s Russell Simmons joins Occupy Movement protesters. candidates themselves. pretty clear now, even though much KW: Do you of the media has been disingenuthink the movement has been hurt ous in its coverage. We don’t want the heads of the biggest by getting kicked out of park industries to make all the decisions, because they’re not after park around the country? for the people. They’re for the corporations. Power to the Simmons: No, no, no… I people! think it’s only made it stronger. KW: So, isn’t business to blame for these problems The movement’s just beginning. more than politicians? It’s only a couple months Simmons: No, I don’t fault business. If you run a corold. I was at Zuccotti Park poration, your job is to maximize the return on investment almost every day. The for your investors. Good for you. But by the same token, kids down there were very we have to remember that corporations have no compascompassionate. They embraced sion. That’s why legislation and regulations are necessary. the homeless, and they were even KW: Do you anticipate seeing greater African-Amerikind enough to give free food can involvement in the Occupy Wall Street Movement? and tents to inmates just Simmons: Definitely. Veteran activist Dr. Ben Chavis being released from is coming aboard with his long history and great record Riker’s Island. in terms of organizing. I know that when the civil rights And some of community joins forces with the unions and with the stars those people of the cultural community, we can make this country much would come greater. out of jail

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EDDIE MURPHY & SPIKE LEE are said to be working on a new film about former Washington, D.C. mayor and current D.C. Councilman Marion Barry, according to reports. The project is to be produced for HBO and will chronicle the political life and turbulent times of Barry, who has been at the center of D.C. politics since becoming mayor in 1979. No timetable has been released for the effort to dramatize the career of the politician whose four terms as mayor were interrupted by an arrest in 1990 when he was videotaped smoking crack cocaine in a downtown hotel room. He served six months in prison for drug possession and after his release was re-elected mayor. Lee will direct the work…….. JAY-Z will become the first hip-hop artist to headline New York’s famed Carnegie Hall. He has scheduled charity concerts for Feb. 6 and 7 of next year to raise money for a United Way program aimed at reducing the New York City dropout rate and for his Shawn Carter Foundation. The foundation was established by Jay-Z and his mother in 2002 and has provided $1.4 million in scholarships……..50 CENT is coming out with a fitness book in 2013 titled “Formula 50: A 6-Week Total Body Transformation Plan.” The rapper said his aim is to help readers make positive changes and take charge of their health. It will be co-written by Jeff O’Connell, editor-in-chief of Bodybuilding. com……..LIL WAYNE has been named R&B/Hip-Hop Artist of the Year by Billboard Magazine. His hit album “Tha Carter IV sold nearly a million copies in one week and had four singles that climbed to the top of the charts. Nicki Minaj was named Top Rap Artist…….. OPRAH WINFREY’S network, OWN, has its first hit, an African-American reality show titled “Sweetie Pies.” It’s about an St. Louis family operating a soul food restaurant, and is causing the network to think about focusing more on Black viewership. “Anytime you have a program that pops like ‘Sweetie Pies’ did, you start looking at what drove it,” OWN president Erik Logan told Adweek. “And we saw that the African-American audience really had a connection with that show…We’re going to look at ways to nurture and grow that.” He added that the network still intends to strike a balance…….. STEVIE WONDER has never let his blindness stand in the way of success, and talked about competing on “Dancing With the Stars” with talk show host Ellen DeGeneres. When DeGeneres asked him if there was any truth to the rumor, Wonder replied, “I’m losing weight. When I get to where I feel like I’m gonna look good enough for what I wanna do, I’ll do that.”

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8

DEFENDER | WEEK OF DECEMBER 15 | 2011

Dealing with the

dropout rate By RESHONDA TATE BILLINGSLEY Defender

T

he Houston Independent School District is taking issue with the Texas research and advocacy nonprofit group, Children at Risk, after a new analysis of the average graduation rates for Harris County public

schools. That study revealed that while graduation in high school has increased over the last 10 years, Black and Hispanic students and those from low-income families graduate at much lower rates than their Anglo, Asian and more affluent classmates. At the same time, HISD acknowledges the dropout issue and says they’re working tirelessly to combat the growing numbers.

Disputing the findings

According to the Children at Risk study, roughly one-third of students in Harris County’s public schools leave without a diploma. The nonprofit calculated for the first time a decade of average graduation rates for Harris County. It also calculated graduation rates for all the public high schools with available data in Harris, Brazoria, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Liberty, Montgomery and Waller counties for the ninth-grade class of 2004-05. The rate reflects students who graduated within six years. The group used an alternative method to calculate the graduation rates than the Texas Education Agency (TEA). Their formula for calculation, led to a difference in results – under the Children at Risk findings, the schools are graduating far fewer students than what official state rates claim. For example, Children at Risk graduation rates puts HISD’s graduation rate 14 points lower than the state rate, at 60.2 percent. Bob Sanborn, the president of Children at Risk, said his researchers aren’t keen on the state method as it doesn’t require districts to gather proof that students are leaving for the reasons the school say. When a student is leaving the system to go into private or home schooling, or move out of the state, the state technically doesn’t count them as dropouts. “That is something we’re absolutely going to have to get under control,” said Sanborn. “If we truly believe that public education is the way to raise all ships, we can’t keep seeing this gap between those that are economically disadvantaged and those that aren’t.”

Sanborn said it doesn’t make sense that so many students would leave the public school system after their freshman year, when typically, students would leave the public school system earlier. He believes that students could be dropping out because they don’t think they can pass the state’s exit-level exams. Private schools don’t require these tests. Sanborn has always questioned the assessment from many districts that they were losing students to private schools, home schools, or relocation. The state doesn’t require proof the students enrolled in new schools – and doesn’t know if they end up graduating – so Children at Risk counts them as dropouts. Several school districts take issue with the way Children at Risk calculates its findings. “HISD’s 74.3 percent graduation rate is based on the formula adopted by the NCES (National Center for Education Statistics), the primary federal entity charged with collecting and analyzing data related to education. It is the official methodology that the Texas Education Agency requires all school districts to use. This data shows HISD’s high school graduation rate has never been higher, and this is true for students in every racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic group,” HISD said in a statement. Spring Branch ISD Superintendent Duncan Klussmann doesn’t believe Children at Risk has got it right. “I think they have missed the mark. It is misleading to call a student who withdraws to be homeschooled, attend a private school, or moves outside the state of Texas, a dropout. Only a student who does not complete his or her schooling should be referred to as a dropout. “According to the Texas Education Agency, Northbrook High School has an 84.1 percent four-year completion rate. My oldest child graduated from Northbrook High School a year and a half ago, and I know what a great place Northbrook is for students to learn,” Klussmann

cover

said. Children at Risk refutes the 84.1 percent that the TEA claims Northbrook has. According to Children at Risk, the number is actually 52.4 percent – a huge difference. TEA and district officials are adamant that the agency’s method is legitimate. Its system is based on a federal formula from the National Center for Education Statistics that is used by several other states. Officials with the TEA and several local school districts strongly defended the state’s higher graduation rate calculation, arguing that the Children at Risk method punishes schools by counting as dropouts students who leave for legitimate reasons such as moving out of state or the country. The combined graduation rate for all the districts in Harris County for the 2004 freshmen is 67.2 percent, up eight points from a decade ago, according to Children at Risk. HISD saw a graduation rate of 60.2 percent – an 11-point gain from a decade ago but it trails the district high of 64 percent before the exit exams, according to Children at Risk. “The Houston Independent School District has much respect for Children at Risk’s advocacy work on behalf of our city’s most vulnerable children. The organization’s efforts to draw attention to child nutrition issues, child sex trafficking, and the critical need for all of our children to have access to great schools is invaluable,” the statement said.

“HISD is committed to aggressively addressing the challenge of school dropouts by utilizing an array of interventions and strategies that target specific risk factors at the student, family, school, and community levels,” said the district.

Tackling the problem

HISD Superintendent Dr. Terry Grier is pleased with the way the district has tackled the dropout problem. “I can tell you I’m very proud of some of the progress we’ve made,” he said in an earlier Defender interview. “In 2007, our dropout rate for African-American students was almost 27 percent. In 2010, that had decreased to almost 14 percent. That’s a huge amount of progress. “Our graduation rates for African-American students have gone from 68 percent in 2007 up to 74 percent in 2010, so we are making a lot of

progress in drop have it going in Regardless o Children at Risk throughout Texa “This is why with an array of target specific ri school, and com that effective pr standards, and s the keys to stud ment said. “HISD is far problem, but the district is making Regardless o methodology is few students in across Texas are dropout crisis in the nation. “HISD is com dressing the cha utilizing an array that target spec family, school, a district. “In recognit drop out of scho often have multi HISD staff draw tions and action in a timely fashio levels. “Using a mo to the problem, community part strategic respon HISD adds t through collabor personnel issues early warning, ta tive and charter

defendernetwork.com • Serving th


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rpage

pout rates, graduation rates. We the right direction,” Grier said. of the findings, HISD agrees with that schools in Houston and as face a serious dropout crisis. y HISD is addressing the problem interventions and strategies that isk factors at the student, family, mmunity levels. HISD believes rincipals and teachers, rigorous strategic support systems are dent success,” the district’s state-

from solving the dropout e most inclusive data tells us the g real progress.” of which graduation rate used, the consensus is that too HISD and other school districts e earning diplomas. There is a n Houston, in Texas, and across

mmitted to aggressively adallenge of school dropouts by y of interventions and strategies cific risk factors at the student, and community levels,” said the

tion of the fact that students ool for multiple reasons and iple and overlapping risk factors, from a wide menu of intervenns to target specific risk factors on, and at appropriate ‘dosage’

odified public health approach HISD engages in a variety of tners to coordinate a unified and nse.” that plans to address the issue rative partnerships, addressing s, data analysis and monitoring, argeted programs and alternaschools.

he Houston area for over 80 years

Black schools included on low graduation list Children at Risk compiled a list of local schools with the highest and lowest graduation rates. The rates ranged from 37.5 percent at predominantly Black North Forest (with Smiley and Forest Brook combined) to 97.1 percent at Houston ISD’s DeBakey High School for Health Professions and Eastwood Academy. While HISD had five schools that ranked among the 10 best, seven of its schools ranked among the 10 worst. Other Black schools with low graduation rates include Kashmere, Wheatley, Boys & Girls Prep and Worthing.

Highest graduation rates (by percentage) DeBakey (HISD): 97.1 Eastwood (HISD): 97.1 KIPP (charter): 96.5 High School for Performing and

Visual Arts (HISD): 94.3 Carnegie Vanguard (HISD): 93.4 Kerr (Alief): 93 Clements (Fort Bend): 91.5 Harmony Science Academy (charter): 90.9 Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice (HISD): 88.9 Austin (Fort Bend): 88

Lowest graduation rates North Forest*: 37.5 Sharpstown (HISD): 38.4 Lee (HISD): 38.6 High Island: 45.2 Kashmere (HISD): 48.3 Sam Houston (HISD): 48.9 Furr (HISD): 49.3 Wheatley (HISD): 49.6 Girls & Boys Prep (charter): 50 Worthing (HISD): 50.2

*Combines data from Smiley and Forest Brook


10 DEFENDER | WEEK OF DECEMBER 15 | 2011

| defendernetwork.com

The significance of Kwanzaa

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By Aswad Walker Defender

hough Kwanzaa has been around since 1966 and has become a traditional observance for thousands, it is still a holiday unknown to many. Those who celebrate Kwanzaa annually and practice its tenets swear by the holiday as a way to bring positive, progressive change to families and communities, and hope for the holiday’s continued growth. Kwanzaa is celebrated during the last week of the year, beginning on Dec. 26 and ending on Jan. 1. Still, Kwanzaa is not a “Black Christmas,” but rather a celebration of family, community and culture, created by Dr. Maulana Karenga, long-time scholar/activist and author, to reaffirm and reinforce for Black people dignity-affirming and life-enhancing views and values. “I created Kwanzaa for three basic reasons,” said Karenga, who currently serves as a professor of Africana Studies at California State University-Long Beach. “To reaffirm and reinforce our rootedness in African culture; to give us a time as African people all over the world to come together, reinforce the bonds between us and meditate on the awesome meaning of being African in the world; and to introduce and reaffirm the importance of the Nguzo Saba and other communitarian African values – values that stress and strengthen family, community and culture.” During Kwanzaa, each of its seven days celebrates one of the Nguzo Saba – the seven principles that seek to provide individuals, families and communities with an African-centered value orientation and cultural grounding for living a self-determining existence. The principles are Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamma (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity) and Imani (Faith).

An African past

Created in the midst of the Black Freedom Movement, Kwanzaa is meant to be a community celebration focused essentially on Black empowerment, though it is common for practitioners to celebrate in their own homes as a family. The symbols, colors and rituals of Kwanzaa harken to an African past of glory and power while seeking to point modern-day celebrants towards a future of social, economic and political success. Kwanzaa celebrations traditionally include music, food, artistic expressions and the lighting of the Kinara which holds seven candles (three red, one black, three green). Spiritual focus and reflection and well as gift-giving are parts of the Kwanzaa experience. Deloyd Parker, founding director of SHAPE Community Center, has celebrated Kwanzaa for numerous decades, with SHAPE playing host to events annually. Parker views Kwanzaa not only as a seven-day celebration, but as an

instigator for celebrants to practice the principles yearround. “Kwanzaa is to be used as a tool to strengthen the cultural, social, economic, and political health of our community; doing it in a holistic way and bringing good into the world in the process,” said Parker. “It’s important to celebrate those seven principles – the Nguzo Saba – and more important, to practice them 365 days out of the year.” Parker is a member of the Greater Houston Area Kwanzaa Planning Committee, a group representing 15 different organizations, which has for several years coordinated a citywide Kwanzaa celebration with events taking place in multiple locations. “By having a citywide Kwanzaa we introduce these principles not only to our families at home but the community at large. So, from the smallest unit of family to the largest – community – we spread the values of Kwanzaa,” said Parker.

Kwanzaa’s growth

Karenga is pleased with Kwanzaa’s growth over the years. “Kwanzaa grows and expands each year and is celebrated by over 30 million people throughout the world African community on every continent in the world. I feel blessed to see my work flourish in my time,” said Karenga who mentioned SHAPE as one example of the thousands of organizations worldwide that regularly practice the Kwanzaa principles. Still, Parker would like to see even more growth. “Kwanzaa has not grown as much as I would like. But the reason we may not see some of that growth is because it’s integrated into the life of the people – in our values. “People look for growth in the celebration; I look for growth in the practice of the seven principles,” said Parker, who shared tangible examples of these principles enacted in Houston daily. “We’re creating more community, backyard and neighborhood gardens than ever before, and we’re seeing more collaborative efforts of all kinds. That’s the practice of the Kwanzaa principles. “How the Kwanzaa committee comes together – NBUF, Community Artists Collective, SEHAH, SHAPE, the

Shrine, and others – about 15 organizations share in the resources, ideas, and planning to make Kwanzaa successful. You can’t prepare for Kwanzaa without practicing the principles,” added Parker. The growth of Kwanzaa was experienced personally by Arkansas native Donna Jaha Kadirifu, director of the Judson Robinson Youth Center. “Before I moved to Houston I never heard of Kwanzaa,” recalled Kadirifu, who has since become a member of Houston’s Kwanzaa planning committee. “Working together as a group to build a better community, city, and country – that’s Kwanzaa. “The principles help Black people but they’re really life principles for everybody. Kwanzaa is important for the community, allowing us to come together for one common goal.”

calendar of events Saturday, Dec. 17 SHAPE Community Center hosts its annual Pre-Kwanzaa Holiday Market from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. at the 3903 Almeda location. Attendees will be privy to vendors, food, music, face painting and petting zoo. The event is sponsored by the Greater Houston Area Kwanzaa Planning Committee. Monday, Dec. 26 The citywide celebration will take place at the Third Ward Multi-Service Center, 3611 Ennis. Tuesday, Dec. 27 Day two of Kwanzaa, sponsored by NBUF, will be held at SHAPE’s 3903 Almeda location. Wednesday, Dec. 28 SEHAH Youth Center, 5110 MLK Blvd., will host Kwanzaa’s third day. Thursday, Dec. 29 Festivities will take place at the KCLA School, 3229 Hadley. Friday, Dec. 30 The fifth Kwanzaa principle will be celebrated at two locations: SHAPE’s 3903 Almeda building and the Nia “Old Central” Culture Center in Galveston, 2627 Avenue M. Saturday, Dec. 31 On the last day of 2011, the organization Afrikans Committed to Liberation will host a Kwanzaa Ball at SHAPE’s 3815 Live Oak building. Sunday, Jan. 1 Kwanzaa culminates, as it does annually, with festivities taking place at the Shrine Christian Center of Houston, 5313 MLK. Kwanzaa activities begin each evening at 6pm. There will also be daily activities specifically for children at additional locations, with most events running from 10a.m-noon. For more information about the Pre-Kwanzaa Holiday Market or the Kwanzaa 2011 calendar of activities call 713-521-0629 or 713521-0641 or visit www.shape.org.


defendernetwork.com | WEEK OF DECEMBER 15 | 2011 | DEFENDER

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About Kwanzaa founder Dr. Maulana Karenga Current occupation Professor of Africana Studies at California State UniversityLong Beach Education Ph.Ds in political science (United States International University) and social ethics (University of Southern California). Fields of research and instruction Ancient Egyptian (Maatian) ethics; ancient Yoruba (Ifa) ethics; Africana/Black studies theory, history and philosophy; African-American intellectual history; ethnic relations and the socio-ethical thought of Malcolm X Writings “Maat, The Moral Ideal in Ancient Egypt: A Study in Classical African Ethics” “Selections From the Husia: Sacred Wisdom of Ancient Egypt” “The Book of Coming Forth By Day: The Ethics of the Declarations of Innocence” “Odu Ifa: The Ethical Teachings” “Introduction to Black Studies” “Kwanzaa: A Celebration of Family, Community and Culture” Current project “Malcolm X and the Critique of Domination: An Ethics of Liberation” History An activist-scholar of national and international recognition, Karenga is one of the most

important figures in recent African-American history, having played a major role in Black political and intellectual culture since the ‘60s. He has, along with his Organization Us (www.UsOrganization.org), played a major role in various movements. He has lectured on the life and struggle of African peoples on campuses around the world.

He is chair of the National Association of Kawaida Organizations, and executive director of the African American Cultural Center and the Kawaida Institute of Pan-African Studies.

Africana and Black Studies • National Leadership Award for Outstanding Scholarly Achievements in Black Studies from the National Council for Black Studies • President’s Award for Scholarship and Service in the Development of Black Studies, the African Heritage Studies Association • Diop Exemplary Leadership Award from the Department

Awards • C.L.R. James Award for Outstanding Publication of Scholarly Works that Advance the Discipline of

of African American StudiesTemple University • Richard Allen Living Legend Award from the African Methodist Episcopal Church • Pioneer Award from the Rainbow PUSH Coalition and Citizenship Education Fund. Kwanzaa information www.OfficialKwanzaaWebsite.org

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DEFENDER | WEEK OF DECEMBER 15 | 2011

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automotive

2012 Buick Verano delivers compact luxury

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he Verano is Buick’s first sedan designed to compete in the compact luxury

segment. It delivers key features and characteristics found in the LaCrosse, in an efficiently packaged, right-sized vehicle for the compact luxury market. Verano’s features include 10 standard air bags, an available heated steering wheel and a Buick IntelliLink radio system with Bose Premium Audio and OnStarpowered connectivity that enables seamless communication between the Verano and the driver’s smartphone. The IntelliLink system uses Bluetooth or USB to connect the driver’s smartphone to a seveninch, LED high-resolution, fullcolor touch screen display radio. It also enables streaming stereo audio from the phone through various services. Verano is designed to be the quietest compact sedan on the road, while delivering a responsive driving experience. An Ecotec 2.4L direct injected with six-speed automatic powertrain combination is standard and delivers 180 horsepower (136 kW), enabling 0-60 mph performance of 8.6 seconds and an EPA-estimated 32 mpg on the highway. A 2.0L turbo engine will be offered in the future.

Verano design

Verano carries the modern Buick design cues introduced on the Enclave and carried through on the LaCrosse and Regal. Elements include: • An arching roofline connects a steeply raked windshield and fastsloping rear pillars to give the car

SPECS MSRP –$22,585 Engine – 2.4-liter four cylinder Transmission – Six speed automatic Fuel economy – 21 miles per gallon (city), 36 mpg (highway) Estimated annual fuel cost – $1,974

an elegant appearance. • Calligraphy-like strokes of chrome accent the Verano, including signature features such as the black chrome waterfall grille and portholes. • Blue translucent projector beam headlamps. • Standard 18-inch multi-spoke, forged alloy, polished machine face, sterling silver-finish wheels in the United States,

Verano interior

The interior is marked by seat comfort and support, design and craftsmanship, as well as softtouch materials, including ice blue ambient lighting inspired by the LaCrosse. Rich leathers, warm woods, metallic accents and soft ambient lighting make the cabin an inviting environment. • Neutral and medium titanium colors are offered on interiors with leatherette/fabric seating surfaces. • The instrument panel blends with an integrated center stack that houses the infotainment display, climate controls and radio controls. • Flush-mounted components within the center stack have a gap tolerance of less than 1 mm, while the instrument panel-to-door panel gaps are less than 5 mm.

• The interior pillar and other moldings are color- and grainmatched to the headliner.

Verano quiet tuning features

Quiet-tuning systems, processes and components are built into every facet of the Verano’s architecture. All are designed to block or absorb sound and dampen or eliminate vibrations. • The steel front-of-dash panel is sandwiched between two damping mats. • Nylon baffles are used in various hollow portions of the body structure and filled with soundabsorbing foam that expands when the body enters the paint oven. • The engine’s intake and exhaust systems are tuned for quiet performance • Isolated brake and fuel lines prevent vibrations. OnStar is standard on all Verano models. It uses GPS and cellular phone technology to automatically call for help in the event of crash. OnStar subscribers also can use the service to be Good Samaritans by sending help to other motorists, and to call for help in other non-crash emergencies.

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                                                                                                                                                               


defendernetwork.com | WEEK OF DECEMBER 15 | 2011 | DEFENDER

13

the joy of a smarter,

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14

DEFENDER | WEEK OF DECEMBER 15 | 2011

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sports

GM Jeff Luhnow:

Astros’ new face in a familiar place By Max Edison Defender

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he Texans have clinched their first AFC South division championship. The Rockets have finally begun their training camp, after a 140-day lockout. For another Houston pro team – the Astros – life under new owner Jim Crane is gradually picking up steam. At the recently concluded MLB winter meeting, the franchise made a definitive move naming former St. Louis Cardinals V.P. of Scouting and Player Development Jeff Luhnow as the team’s general manager, replacing Ed Wade. Luhnow, 45, has been a vice president with the world chamNew GM Jeff Luhnow will be tasked with rebuilding the Astros pion Cardinals since 2003. He has strated the ability to inspire and motivate staff in overseen the team’s amateur draft the front office and out in the field.” since 2005, and his drafts have been widely recogBorn and reared in Mexico City, Luhnow is nized as among the most productive across baseball. excited about the opportunity the Astros have afHis first three drafts, from 2005-2007, have proforded him. duced 24 Major League players, which is more than “There are a lot of things to be excited about,” any other Major League team in that time frame. he said. “The fans of the Astros should be excited Astros rookie owner Jim Crane is positive they about the future. We’re going to do everything have the right man to rebuild his franchise. we can to put the best product on the field, while still “He’s really been very successful in everything staying true to the vision and the strategy, which is he’s done, even before baseball,” Crane explained. really about creating a sustainable winner. “ “Getting to visit with him, it was easy to tell he’s a Luhnow will bring to the Astros the “new great leader, he has great people skills and I know school” database baseball personnel evaluahe’ll do a great job with us.” tion concept Sabermetrics. “When you look at his track record, he’s been a Sabermetrics was coined by renowned winner at every level of baseball he was put in posibaseball author and researcher Bill James. tion to lead. We’re very excited to have him,” Crane James and others created new statistics continued. with which to measure players’ producFor a franchise that is in a major rebuilding mode, tivity other than the traditional batting team president and CEO George Postolos needed averages and ERA. It’s often used to someone that had the skills to put the team on the right measure future productivity. track. He believes Luhnow is that man. “Technology is changing the “The Astros strive to develop one of the best sysgame,” he said. “There’s a lot of stuff tems in baseball and create a consistent winner at the that wasn’t there 10, 15 years ago, and Major League level,” Postolos said. you have to know how to utilize it. If “Jeff has the knowledge, skills and experience to you don’t, you can be confused by it or lead the baseball operations efforts at all levels and use it to make bad decisions. help the Astros achieve this vision. Jeff has demon-

“There’s information about every pitch thrown in baseball that will blow you away – the spin axis of the ball, the velocity when it crosses home plate, the trajectory of the ball at the plate. It’s fun to look at, but how you organize and utilize that information can help make front-office decisions.” Luhnow has multiple items on his agenda starting with the status of manager Brad Mills. Will the new GM allow Mills to take to the field for his third year? Also, what will be the status of pitchers Wandy Rodriguez and Brett Myers who, if traded, should bring in some top minor league talent to restock the farm system? There will be a lot of questions answered between now and February, when pitchers and catchers report. One thing for certain, although it’s early in the process, Crane is putting together a very capable management team to rebuild his latest business investment.

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Former Cardinals VP Jeff Luhnow is the new Astros GM


WEEK OF DECEMBER 15 | 2011 DEFENDER

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h.s.zone

sportsbriefs

Championship Saturday: Houston teams travel to Arlington By DARRELL K. ARDISON Defender

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our Houston area high schools that have never won state football titles are participating in the slate of state championship games at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington. Hempstead is facing Melissa in the Class 2A Division I state title game. The 14-0 Bobcats utilized two big plays on offense, a kickoff return for a touchdown and two fourth-quarter defensive stops to pull out a 21-14 victory over Tatum in a 2A Division I state semifinal game played in Waco. Trent Munden’s 94-yard kickoff return for a Hempstead touchdown late in the third quarter answered a Tatum score and gave the Bobcats’ the lead for good. Only two of Hempstead’s games have been decided by less than 10 points during the 2011 season. The other was a 24-23 victory over Stafford in the season opener. “It’s been a very special year for our players, our coaches and the entire community,” said Hempstead head coach Ricky Sargent, who’s in his seventh season in the community between Houston and Brenham. “When I came here, we had won three games in two years, so it’s easy to be overlooked when you’re trying to establish a program.” Melissa advanced with a 49-36 win over Muleshoe. Hightower, Dekaney and Manvel must wait until Saturday for their Top to Bottom: Justin Stockton, Bralon chance to make history. Addison, Tommy Armstrong, and Trey Hightower senior quarterback Williams. Bralon Addison was named the TouchAddison finished the game with down Club of Houston’s Offensive Player of the Year last week at the 32nd five rushing touchdowns and 229 yards on 14 carries. He also tossed a 36-yard annual High School Awards Dinner at TD pass to Donald Weathersby. Hightthe J.W. Marriott. ower led 41-27 at intermission. Addison, a Texas A&M commit“I have never been in a game ment at wide receiver, led Hightower where that many points were scored to a 54-35 victory over San Antonio at halftime,” Addison said. “I wasn’t Madison in the Class 5A Division I state semifinals in the Alamodome. Ad- surprised because we knew they could dison dashed 42 yards for a score on the score. Every time they did, we were fired up to score again.” game’s first play from scrimmage and Hightower scored touchdowns on the offensive barrage was in high gear. its first eight possessions of the game. “At the end of the game, I was The Hurricanes didn’t punt until the glad [Addison] was on my team,” said fourth quarter. Hightower head coach Barry AberThe 13-2 Hurricanes advance to crombie.

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Saturday’s 4 p.m. Class 5A Division I state title game against 15-0 Southlake Carroll, which rallied to defeat Dallas Skyline 28-24. Dekaney (13-2) received spectacular play on both sides of the ball in the Wildcats’ 56-19 victory over Mansfield Timberview in the 5A Division II state semifinals in Round Rock. Taking advantage of superb field position provided by the Dekaney defense, the explosive Trey Williams rushed for 227 yards and touchdown runs of 13, nine, 42, 20, nine and six yards in the rout. “The defense took over and gave us great field position,” said Williams, who had 140 rushing yards and four TDs at halftime. “Our quarterback [D’Juan Hines] stepped up and threw the ball to Austin Garrett for two touchdowns. We were making all the plays.” Dekaney will take on 5A Division II defending state champion Cibolo Steele in Saturday’s late game (8 p.m.) at Cowboys Stadium. Cibolo Steele scored 28 points in the second quarter en route to a 51-31 victory over Port Arthur Memorial in the state semifinals. Cibolo Steele’s run to the state title game went through Reliant Stadium last Saturday as Tommy Armstrong and Justin Stockton combined for 369 rushing yards and five touchdowns to derail Memorial’s longest playoff run in school history. “We’re just happy to be playing on Dec. 17th,” said Armstrong, a Nebraska-bound senior who had 139 yards on 10 carries and scored four touchdowns. “We wanted to show people we had more than Malcolm Brown [last year’s title game MVP].” Championship Saturday’s schedule begins at noon with Manvel facing defending Class 4A Division II state champion Aledo (13-2). Josh Martinez booted a 25-yard field goal with no time remaining in regulation to lift the 15-0 Mavericks to a 31-28 victory over Corpus Christi Calallen and advance to the state championship game. This is Manvel’s fourth year of varsity play and its first trip to state. Last year the Mavericks made it to the region finals. Last week head coach Kirk Martin won Coach of the Year honors from the Touchdown Club of Houston.

Lake Travis ends Pearland Dawson’s playoff run For the second time in two years defending Class 4A Division I state champion Lake Travis ended Pearland Dawson’s bid at winning a title. The 15-0 Cavaliers defeated Dawson 45-14 to advance to a state championship game for the fourth consecutive season. Lake Travis will play Hewitt Midway, a 51-20 winner over Tyler. Lake Travis quarterback Baker Mayfield tossed four touchdown passes in the penalty-marred contest held in the San Antonio Alamodome. This was Dawson’s second appearance in the state semifinals in the school’s four-year history. The Eagles played Lake Travis in 2009 and lost 57-12.

TCH to conduct Senior Football Showcase The Touchdown Club of Houston will conduct a Senior Football Showcase for all unsigned Class of 2012 football players on Feb. 18, 2012 at the Methodist Training Center at Reliant Stadium. The showcase will begin at 8 a.m. and last until 2 p.m. Free for all participants and colleges, the 2011 event hosted 27 NAIA, Division II and Division III colleges and universities coaches. The showcase generated 178 offers of scholarships to the 385 student-athletes in attendance. Requirements include for the athlete to be a graduating senior, have taken an SAT or ACT test, and meet one of the following: have a 2.5 GPA, be in the top half of his graduating class or have an SAT score of 1,000 or ACT score of 18. Go online at www. tinyurl.com/fbshowcase for information.

Sumlin goes to A&M, UH looking for replacement No wonder there are so many Aggie jokes. Texas A&M, after a week of stumbling around and offering the job to an array of guys who had no interest, finally hired UH head coach Kevin Sumlin. He will a inherit a program that horribly underachieved (6-6, 4-5 in Big 12) in 2010, but is loaded with talent, has a major recruiting class coming in and no shortage of resources. Given time, Sumlin will make most Aggies forget he’s Black. The Cougars on the other hand have the difficult task of replacing Sumlin. The Cougars plan to break ground on a new stadium next fall and join the Big East in 2013. They will conduct a nationwide search. Perhaps they should look internally at co-offensive coordinator Jason Phillips. If not try Oklahoma offensive coordinator Jay Norvell.

For the Rockets, the time to improve is right now The entire city is caught up in the Texans and the euphoria that surrounds their first playoff appearance. Almost nobody really noticed that the Rockets opened training camp last Friday and play their first preseason game (Dec. 17) and regular season game (Dec. 26) later this month. In order for the Rockets to stay relevant they desperately need to make a deal to bring some sizzle to their line-up. They were involved in a three-team deal with New Orleans and L.A. that would have netted the team acquiring Pau Gasol, but it was squashed by Commissioner David Stern. GM Daryl Morey has his work cut out for him and if he doesn’t come through, he’s done.

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16

DEFENDER | WEEK OF DECEMBER 15 | 2011

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For Event Coverage...visit

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chag’splace

Honoree Paula Harris and Dwayne Harris

Denise Hamilton and DaRhonda Williams

Lou Gregory and Linda Lorelle

Haleigh Reyes

The Logan Family, Callie, Renaldo, Karen, Olivia and Fauah

The Crump Family, Joseph, Lauren and Latasha

Mathew Knowles

Pastor Rudy Rasmus

HALL OF FAME.....The Greater Houston Women’s Chamber Fullmighter, Ailsha Odutayo, DaRhonda Williams, Gwen Jones, Jackie Muckelroy, Kimberly McCann and Patricia of Commerce is a nonprofit organization of highly influential McCann. Congratulations!..... HOME SWEET HOME...... and diverse women and men dedicated to the advancement This was the theme for the Children’s Museum of Houston and empowerment of women through avenues of leadership, 6th Annual Gingerbread Bash. Families education, advocacy and mentoring. came together in the spirit of the season that Recently they hosted their 2011 Hall Join Yvette Chargois was filled with laughter, fun and of course of Fame gala by honoring several gingerbread. The evening’s events featured women, including Paula Harris, Events of the Week More photos on defendernetwork.com one of-a-kind gingerbread houses fashioned HISD Board of Education president, by dozens of Houston area’s most artistic author of two books and CEO of See Events on KTRK Ch.13’s Crossroads with Melanie Lawson Sunday Morning @ 11 a.m. chefs, including “Kiss the Cook” Cakes MadisonHouse Publishing. The Chamber’s COO, Denise Hamilton, by Lisa Green. The kids took pleasure in sang the “National Anthem.” Terri special holiday activities, like designing their Thomas, a student at Woodson K-5 Leadership Academy, own gingerbread houses, sipping on Mexican hot chocolate, delivered the invocation, and Linda Lorelle, CEO of Lorelle taking photos with Santa, and accessing all of the museum’s Media, presented each honoree to the audience of over 400 action-packed exhibits. In the mix included the Logan family, in attendance. Spotted at the event were Dwayne Harris, Callie, Renaldo, Karen, Olivia and Fauah, the Crump Patricia and Remmele Young, Delesa Thomas, Staci family, Joseph, Lauren and Latsha, Vidal Smith, Maddie

Vanessa Bell Armstrong

Hunter, Haleigh Reyes and Lavonia and Hannah Johnson. Truly a magical event!........FOR THE GLORY AND THE GRADE.....Students in Mathew Knowles’ recording industry class at Texas Southern University have spent the semester learning about the music business from one of the industry’s top leaders. Knowles, the founder, president and CEO of Music World Entertainment has guided 25 students in the class through the many aspects and intricacies of the music industry. The students got an opportunity to put theory into practice. For their final project, the class went to the House of Dereon Media Center, on the Music World Entertainment campus, to pitch Mathew on investing in an independent label or a joint venture by using the tools they learned in class. Pastor Rudy Rasmus, Music World gospel ambassador, and Music World gospel recording artists Vanessa Bell Armstrong, Le’Andria Johnson and Brian Courtney Wilson were in attendance. Congratulations and continued success to all!......From Chag’s Place to your place, have a blessed week!.....

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December 15, 2011