OUR TIME PRESS April 4-10, 2019
WHAT’S GOING ON ■■
By Victoria Horsford
APRIL 2019 The month opens with April Fools’ Day on April 1. April is National Poetry Month. A few notable April 2019 dates and observations: Palm Sunday, 4/14; Good Friday, 4/19; Easter Sunday, 4/21; Passover begins 4/19; Earth Day 4/22; Ethiopian Easter Sunday, 4/28; International Jazz Day, 4/30.
WEEK IN REVIEW NY STATE: There was a meeting of disparate minds and temperaments. The new “three men in the room” configuration—African-American Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, African-American Senate Majority Leader Andrea StewartCousins and Governor Andrew Cuomo, all Democrats who were able to agree on a $175 billion NYS budget by April 1. According to Governor Cuomo, who is monopolizing media coverage of the budget, it is the most progressive budget in the nation. Incremental salary increases for the legislators and the governor was a part of the deal. Some of the budget highlights like congestion pricing, a revenue enhancement for the Metropolitan Transit Authority; criminal justice reform, ending cash bail for nonviolent misdemeanors and felonies; new commission on campaign financing; a 2% property tax cap; a plastic bag ban; education budget increase to $27.9 billion; and environmental safeguards will attract as many advocates as detractors. Alas, recreational marijuana and its distribution failed to make the budgetary deadline cut. There has got to be some equitable access to “cannabis” business for people of color. In the 10 states where cannabis is legal, few Blacks are engaged as entrepreneurs. The legislative session is not over for a few months. NYC Reminder: Participatory Budgeting Vote Week NYC is March 30-April 7. It is an opportunity for most NYC residents to identify and cast a vote for funds flowing to their City Council District
totaling up to $1 million, which will be included in the 2020 NYC fiscal city budget. Vote online: pbnyc.org/vote or call your Council member. USA: Congrats to Chicago, Illinois Democratic Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot, who will be the city’s first Black woman mayor and the first openly gay mayor. A former prosecutor, a political outsider, an avowed progressive who once headed the Chicago Police Board, Lightfoot has a platter full of problems with which to deal: violent crime stats, pension funds, decades-long government corruption, and local police department/ Black community relations.
BUSINESS MATTERS I first wrote about the former Congressman J.C. Watts, Jr.’s idea, “The Black Television News,” in 2008 during the Obama/McCain presidential campaign season. TBTN was hyped as a Black-owned cable channel which would be devoted to Black people with a Black perspective. The demographics today are 43 million people with $1.2 trillion buying power, or 2 out of every 3 minority dollars spent. It was an idea whose time had come. Its gestation period was long. It has been renamed the “Black News Channel,” which will be based at Florida A&M University, with an official
which dangles tax cuts to the same class of private equity funds of ‘opportunity’ from other people’s distress…..Using capitalization to fix the racial wealth gap will work only if there is a means to trans capital, assets, wealth or housing.” Columbia University’s Graduate Schools, Business, Law, International and Public Affairs will co-host Columbia’s 16th Annual African Economic Forum which convenes April 12. Forum keynoters include Muhamudu Bawuma, VP, Ghana; Mostafa Terrab, CEO/Chair OCP Group; and Wale Adeosun, Founder and Chief Investment Officer of Kuramo Capital Mgmt. Forum features six panels.
OUT OF AFRICA The 4/1 NY Times cover story, “Moscow Gains Clout in Africa,” details a new Russian strategy on the Continent designed to bolster its military and political goals, which has been in evidence since 2017. Russia is a major weapons supplier to autocratic African heads of state and to weaker governments. Russia has renewed ties with former USSR friends in Mozambique and Angola. Its military ties with the Central African Republic are disconcerting. Russian clout is ascending while American influence in Africa – humanitarian, military and economic aid – is descending. The Russian presence and interference in Africa is making America reassess its disengagement with Africa.
J.C. Watts November 18 launch date. [Visit: blacknewschannel.com] Addicted to business pages? You don’t want to miss this April 1 NY Times OPED, “The Roots of Black Capitalism,” by Mehrsa Baradaran, were not firmly planted in any federal government investment into sound Black economic reform. Black capitalism began with Nixon’s free market and American private enterprise, the cureall. That morphed into Reagan’s “enterprise zones,” Clinton’s new markets’ tax credits and Obama’s “prime zones.” Baradaran says those programs failed because “the benefits of capitalism always accrue to the owners of the capital,” who are not Black. Baradaran adds, “Trump’s tax cuts reform of 2017 and the ‘opportunity zones,’ a program
MUSIC: The City College Center for the Arts presents “A SOULFUL MUSIC CELEBRATION,” which tells Harlem History through song, gospel, Negro Spirituals and African drums at Aaron Davis Hall, CCNY, Convent Avenue at 135th Street, on Saturday, April 6 at 3 pm. Narrated by film, theater, TV actress Barbara Montgomery, the music celebration features M a r v i n Lowe, Brandi Sutton, Lucian Bradford, S a m u e l McKelton, La Fredrick Coaxner and Voices from Barbara Montgomery Harlem. FINE ARTS: Visit the DC Moore Gallery’s new exhibit, “David Driskell, Resonance: Paintings 1965-2002,” which opens April 11 and runs through June 8. The art world’s triple threat, Driskell is fine artist, art historian and curator. The DC Gallery is located at 535 West 22nd Street, in the heart of the Chelsea art district, Manhattan. [Visit: dcmooregallery.com or call 212. 247.2111] The NY-based Shared Interest nonprofit
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David Driskell hosts its 25th Anniversary Awards Gala on Thursday, April 25 at the Edison Ballroom, located at 240 West 47th Street, Manhattan. The distinguished honorees are Advocate Thulai Madonsela, former Public Protector, South Africa; Dr. John Kani, playwright/ actor, The Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility; and South African Airways. Founded in 1994, coincidental with the nascent South African democracy and the beginning of the Nelson Mandela Presidency, Shared Interest has helped provide economic foundations for the new democracy and provided access to credit and opportunity for low-income people to build businesses and sustainable communities. [Visit: sharedinterest.org]
NEWSMAKERS RIP: New Yorker William Francis Gaulman, Jr., 74, died on March 22. Billy joined the US Marine Corps and completed a 13-month tour in Vietnam in 1965. That indelible experience was the subject of his quasi memoir, “DANAAN POSTSCRIPTS,” a poignant page-turner, antiwar book, self-published a few years ago. Back to NY, Billy got married, had children and earned a BS in biology, coincidental with his long and productive career as a NYC fireman, then as a fire marshal. His 40-year love affair with sailing resulted in owning boats, navigating destinations along the Atlantic, the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean. William Gaulman is survived by his wife, Saundra, two children, Dara and LeShan, two grandchildren, JahiAamir and Kijani-Ali, his sister Joan, and one stepson, Donnie.
Criminal Justice Lecture Series in Ken Thompson’s Honor, Launched
ongratulations are in order to LuShawn Thompson on March 27 launched the inaugural Kenneth P. Thompson ‘92 Lecture on Race and Criminal Justice Reform, with NYU’s Centers on Administration of Criminal Law and Race Inequality and the Law. The discussion examined the issue of wrongful convictions and the roles that the prosecutors and various participants in the criminal justice legal system can play to ensure greater fairness in the delivery of justice. Professor Rachel Barkow moderated the conversation. The panelists included Patricia Cummings, supervisor, Conviction Integrity & Special Investigations Unit, Office of the District Attorney, City and County of Philadelphia; Derrick Hamilton, exonoree; Nina Morrison ‘98, senior staff attorney, Innocence Project; and Ronald S.
Sullivan Jr., the Jesse Climenko Clinical Professor of Law, Harvard Law School and architect of the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office’s Conviction Review Unit. Thompson was a dedicated and hard worker even as a child, serving his neighbors in Co-op City as a paper boy along with his brother, Dean, for several years. He attended NYC public schools; John Jay College in New York City, from which, in 1989, he graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice. From New York University Law School, he received his J.D. in 1992 and was awarded the prestigious Arthur T. Vanderbilt Medal for his outstanding contributions to the law school community. Ken’s strategic legal mind offered him the unique opportunity to serve as Special Assistant to the U.S. Treasury Department Undersecretary for Enforcement in Washington, D.C., and in
Ken & Lu-Shawn Thompson the General Counsel’s Office at the Treasury. During his tenure there, he assisted in the investigation and contributed to the report ordered by President Bill Clinton regarding the 1993 raid on David Koresh and the Branch Davidian Compound in Waco, Texas. Ken later went on to serve as a federal prosecutor in the Eastern District of New York under the leadership of U.S. Attorney Zachary W. Carter. There, he delivered an impassioned and convincing opening statement that led
to the successful prosecution of former New York City Police Officer Justin Volpe in the brutal 1997 beating and torture of Haitian immigrant Abner Louima. Ken was elected as Brooklyn’s first African-American District Attorney in 2013, having campaigned on the promise of restoring confidence in the criminal justice system. Among many innovations and initiatives, District Attorney Thompson established a model Conviction Review Unit, which, in only three years, moved to vacate or support the dismissal of the convictions of 21 people who were wrongfully convicted of murder and other offenses. He also implemented a groundbreaking policy not to prosecute low-level marijuana possession arrests in order to spare young people from the burden of a criminal record. District Attorney Thompson died on October 9, 2016.